Monday, November 21, 2011

Five Months in Five Paragraphs

Samuel Lenox turned five months on the 18th. He's teething something terrible, and the only relief he can manage is gnawing on his own fist or nursing. The acid reflux is much better, and we've stopped giving him the meds for that. He's rolling over, grabbing things, pre-crawling, babbling (especially when he's in pain from the teething). He loves to smile at his parents and big sister, and nearly anyone who will smile at him. Samuel and his father were baptized together on August 21. It was a special day- he looked adorable in his too large all-white tuxedo. His dad wore a handsome suit that fit!

We had vacation at the end of August, and had a flurry of doctors' appointments before we were to leave August 27. SL's pediatrician was concerned about the sound of his breathing, and the concavity of his chest when he breathed. We braced ourselves for a visit at CHOP, and very relieved to learn the cause: tracheomalacia. The cartilage in his trachea is not rigid, and he sounds like Darth Vader when he breathes. He should outgrow it by 2 years. Click here for more information.

Our Maine vacation was cut short at the beginning and the end. Hurricane Irene delayed our leaving Philadelphia from Saturday to Monday, and prevented us from going to camp until Thursday, when power was restored. In the meantime, our friends JD and Lisa played gracious hosts to our toddler and newborn; our friends with their toddler, Eli, and his five year old cousin, Noah; and our friend, Ellie. It was great seeing everyone, meeting Lisa for the first time, and seeing a very pregnant Hil!

We were thrilled to finally get to camp Thursday. Our excitement was brief; Friday morning I checked my messages and discovered my mom, who lives in Brooklyn, had been rushed to the hospital Thursday, September 1. She'd had a stroke. Mom insisted that my family not cut our vacation short. We made our apologizes and everyone at Family Camp sent us off on Friday with their love and best wishes for my mom. I'm pleased to report she is recovering. Her speech and memory were not affected, and she's doing physical and occupational therapy to regain the use of her left hand and leg.

Tallu and SL have been travelling with me since September to visit my mom and help take care of business as she convalesces. God bless the resilience of little children, because their mom is doing everything she can to keep their lives normal during this upheaval. They've visited her in hospital rooms and now the nursing home, much to the chagrin of strangers, nurses, and security guards. I've had to take them with me because I cannot afford a sitter, and Samuel is nursing, so I don't want him far from me. They've been a bright spot in a tough time for their grandmother. They've only caught the common cold, thanks to the change in weather. The combination of being a mother of two children and caretaker to a parent have left precious little time to update the blog the way I did when SL was Tallu's age. There's so much more to write, and I'll make sure to find the time to keep up with number 2 as I did with number 1.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Worst Day Ever

I'm about to tell you all about THE worst day I've ever had as a parent. I think I've let so much time pass because, for a while, I couldn't think of the incident without crying.

My husband woke up in the middle of the night to find me gone from our bed, and scoured the house looking for me. He was dressed and ready to leave our sleeping child alone in the house to look for me, only to find me whimpering in a corner in our basement. I told him what happened that day.

Tallu is pulling the books off the shelf after I had just cleaned her room. I tell her to put the books back on the shelf or I'm taking the shelf out of the room. She continues to take the books off; I get up and push the bookshelf into the hallway. She starts crying, and that makes me angrier. So I threaten that if she doesn't stop crying I'm taking the kitchen from her room. She starts crying harder. I grab the kitchen and shove it into the hallway, yelling at her all the while.

Then I stop.

I hear my daughter bawling, begging me to stop taking her stuff.

I look in the hallway at the mess I'd made of her stuff, and of her. I go back into her room, sit on her bed and start wailing, head in my hands. She's still bawling, only now she's saying "Stop crying, mommy, please stop crying!" I'm sobbing "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." I'd completely lost control, because her tiny fingers couldn't put the books back on the shelf in the anal-retentive way I'd organized them. Because she's playing with the bookshelf like it's a toy. It's on the wall across from her bed. It's the focal point of her room; of course, she's going to play with it! If I put the kitchen in that space, she'd play with it all the time! D'uh, Mom! I wipe my tears, and bring everything back into the room. Only this time I put the toy kitchen on the wall facing her bed, and put the books on the bookshelf haphazardly, in the space where the kitchen used to be.

It was a horrible experience for both of us, one that Tallu still recalls on occasion. "Remember when you threw all my stuff out of my room, and you were crying and I was crying?" she'll sometimes ask. "Yes," I say, "I remember." It still hurts that she remembers and recalls it, even a year later.

What did I learn that day? I learned that my child was two, and she didn't give a damn if the books were arranged in size order or alphabetically. I realized she would play with the kitchen more if it were in her line of sight. I learned that if I put the books on the shelf in a way she could take the books on and off the shelf easily, she would. I discovered that I didn't need to keep her room neat all alone, she could help me. I thought to myself as I stacked the books on their sides on each shelf. "I don't care how she puts the books on the shelf, as long as she puts the books on the shelf, I'm cool with that," I told myself that day. I continue to tell myself when she does something I find annoying that I am the adult, and I must be in control of my emotions and responses, so that I can model healthy behavior for my daughter (and now my son, as well).

What's New with Tallu

In this issue:
Potty Trained!
Big Sister-hood

The Great Chop
So Angry, She Could Spit

I took this pic of Tallu the morning I was in labor with her brother. Since this pic, she's become an older sister, slept in a berth on a train trip to South Carolina, fell and hit her head on the ground near a pool (she was fine, no need for a hospital visit), fell and split open her chin (five stitches!), and been trapped in the house when not traveling with her family because it's been too damned hot outside.

Tallu is out of diapers and diaper-like underwear! I forget exactly when this happened, but it was before her brother arrived. Her dad and I were hesitant about letting her sleep with no overnight diaper, but we figured it was safe when she was consistently waking up dry. My mom suggested stopping her from drinking at a certain time, but I've found that if she goes to the potty before bed that's enough. Of course there have been accidents, but that's par for the course. I'm just grateful she was finished the diaper thing before her bro came, with no regression phase after his arrival.

Their grandmaman brought Tallu home the Monday after Sam was born and witnessed their meeting. She was very surprised when Sam turned his head at the sound of his sister's voice. Tallu talked to him inside my belly all the time, so it was no surprise to me that he'd respond that way.

Tallu's adjusting very well to having another child in the house. Sam hasn't interrupted her life much more than he did while he was in utero. She was trapped in the house because I was pregnant in the winter, and she's trapped in the house now because it's too hot for either of them to be out this summer. They are not sharing a bedroom, and her bedtime rituals are unchanged. Tallu is allowed to touch her brother, although I wish she would touch him less, and she is rather affectionate toward him. Sam, in return, smiles at her, coos at her, and focuses on her when she is near him.

Tallu also got a haircut, which was so very necessary with this heat. I took her to my stylist a few days after she became a big sister. She loved every minute of it! She got her hair washed in the back by Ursula, who ushered her back to the front to Shelley's chair. Tallu was grinining from ear to ear every time she looked in the mirror. It's a short bob, and it makes her look like big girl. She has another appointment scheduled at the end of September.


No update would be balanced without some misbehavior, right? Tallu has this habit of spitting when she's really angry if she's received the answer 'no'. There's no distance, just a foaming at the mouth and letting it fall to the ground in my general direction. When it happens, I send her to her room to go to sleep or calm down and something is taken away for the day. I'm sure there are many of you out there who are shaking your heads at what sounds like a very casual response to rude behavior.

Here's my thinking: she will do it more often if I get all riled up with her. I have to be the grown-up and respond appropriately. She's usually super-tired when she does it, so the way to adjust the attitude is to go to sleep. She'll wake up refreshed, or she will have time to calm down. We talk about not spitting again, and spitting at me is not the way to make me change my mind about something. Then we move on. It's a rare occurance, but I have to remember she's immature. She doesn't get what I've said no to anyway, so isn't that the greater victory?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Right on Time

Here is Tallu's baby brother, otherwise known as Samuel Lenox Green Hull.

Now that two months have passed since his birth, which happened on June 18th, 2011, let me tell you what happened.

Friday the 17th I decided that I needed a belly cast kit, and Tallu's big sister gift from Samuel, and Samuel's welcome gift from Tallu. So the family went shopping, then had dinner at a fast food restaurant. We got home, put Tallu to bed, then my husband and I got to work on the belly cast. I think we finished some time after midnight, got washed up and went to bed.

I awoke at 7:19am Saturday morning with menstrual cramps. I waited a little while before telling my husband, just to be sure. Around 9 am I called my mother-in-law to let her know the day had come. Tallu was supposed to go to a neighbor's birthday party and then Sesame Place with a friend, but she had to skip the birthday party. My husband caught our neighbor and his family before they left for the party site to make our apologies and to give the gift. I was in early labor when my MIL arrived, and we chatted for a while. We gave Tallu big hugs and told her to have a great weekend, and we'd introduce her to her baby brother when she came home!

I spent the rest of the day laboring at home. My husband timed contractions, I walked around, sat on my exercise ball, and did lots of deep breathing. My instructions were to call when contractions were two to three minutes apart, lasting a minute OR when my water broke. I called before either of these thing happened, because I was anxious to get to the birth center and take my antibiotics and labor there. I also talked to my doula friend and texted her while she was at a fair in New Mexico. She warned me that my water could not break until minutes before birth, as hers did.

Let's go back to the antibiotics. I tested positive for Group B strep, which is harmless to mom but dangerous and potentially fatal to baby. Baby is exposed to the strep bacterium as he comes out of the birth canal into the world. The laboring mother takes antibiotics to protect the baby. So, my labor's progressing steadily, though erractically, but I'm not meeting either requirement. I don't care though, because I know I need the antibiotics, so I call around 3pm. The midwife says to call when the pattern is better established. Husband and I time contractions and wait. At one point I did say aloud "Maybe we should just go to the hospital." But I waited it out because I really wanted to give birth in the birth center.

Finally at 5pm I call back. The contractions are not as close as they want but I'm feeling ready. Midwife says she and the nurse will meet us at the center at 7pm. *Sigh* I keep on the ball, breathing and living through the contractions. By the time we get in the car at 6:30, I'm singing "Wait, baby, please wait!" through strong contractions. I really felt as though I could have had the baby in the car. The midwife, nurse, and we were all driving from Mt. Airy to Huntingdon Valley to get to the birth center. The nurse arrived first, then us. We greet each other at the door, but the nurse doesn't have the key to the building, and the midwife is on her way. Luckily, another door was open, and we three were able to get in a few minutes later.

I get the IV after a contraction, and when the midwife arrives she washes her hands and checks me; seven centimeters dialated. I'm laying in bed but the contractions are too strong, so I ask to get in the tub. I didn't stay in long, but it felf good while I was there. I had to get out because with each contraction I felt like I needed to push. The midwife checked me again once I dried off, and I was 10 centimeters. It's 8pm, and I'm ready to push. My water hasn't broken, by the way.

My options at this point are to push and hope the pressure of the baby's head will rupture the sac, or the midwife can break it for me. I felt like pushing anyway so I opted to give it a try. That push did the trick. My next few pushes were, in hindsight, pretty weak. My husband says the nurse said something about a vacuum or going to the hospital, and the midwife said that the baby's heartrate was slowing as I was pushing. She felt inside and said he was hiding behind my pelvic bone, and that he needed to come out now.

My problem was that I couldn't see him in my mind's eye, so I couldn't focus on moving him out. Once she said he needed to come out, now, I focused on pushing out a baby that I couldn't see. I know it doesn't make any sense, but with Tallu I could see her in there, so I could focus my energy on moving her down and out. This time I had to push and pray I was working hard enough. On that last push I remember screaming "Help me, I need help!" because I didn't understand what I needed to do. But help came, and so did Samuel Lenox, at 8:26pm.

The nurse weighed him and measured him. 6lbs, 8 oz, 20in. The midwife checked me. An ugly tear that needed to be stitched. It took some convincing, but I laid kinda still for it. My husband made me a ham and cheese sandwich, I had some apple juice, fruit salad, and laid in bed to relish the sight of my son in my husband's arms.

The nurse checked Samuel and me every hour until 12:30am. Then we packed up and went back home, four hours after the final push. It was a little strange, but also wonderful to drive home that night with our tiny baby to spend our first night together in our home. The pic at the left of the entry was taken on June 19 in our bed. We were able to spend time alone, the three of us, until Tallu came home Monday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"In an auspicious hour"

A friend was kind enough to drive from South Philly with two boxes of cupcakes, a gift each for CharlieGuy and Tallu, and some welcomed company for my kid in the form of her four year old son. She blessed me with the words "B'Sha'ah Tovah," a traditional blessing to pregnant women in Hebrew, which means "in a good or auspicious hour." It has been a calming thought and a simple prayer since I learned the phrase Friday.

It has also helped me to talk to my doula, who is in NM and is coming back to Philly two days before my estimated due date. I wrote a quick note on her Facebook wall late Friday night: "I am silently freaking out. Talk me down :-D" She called me that night (which was 1 AM my time), and left me a message. Hearing her voice calmed me, and chatting on Facebook Sunday felt good, too. I told her I thought her next godchild was waiting until she's in town to emerge. We'd both love for that to happen, though if I were rich I would buy her a plane ticket out here now! She did say she would understand if he couldn't hold out another week.

We are anxious for the birth mainly because of the impending family vacation that happens two weeks after my estimated due date. My husband's siblings and their families will converge upon Hilton Head, and I don't want him or Tallu (or myself!) to miss seeing everyone all together. However, the longer CharlieGuy stays inside, the better it is for his health.

"Not my will, but Thy will be done." "B'sha'ah Tovah" This baby will come when the time is best. We will work together in that transition whenever it happens, and then I won't be pregnant anymore! I won't be able to sleep on my stomach for a while, but I will no longer wish for a forklift to help me in and out of bed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

No, THIS is the most pregnant I've ever been!

I am typing this post from my bedroom as I sit on a blue exercise ball, feeling queasy and uncomfortable as I tend to these days. At the stroke of midnight I will be 39 weeks pregnant. I have survived two mini-heatwaves, a tumorversary party, and the Odunde festival without going into labor.

My husband has been a force of nature in this house, painting our living room, putting up pictures, moving books and bookshelves from what will be the nursery down to the living room (with the help of our neighbor/friend), and restoring the walk-in laundry basket to a large bedroom. We've bought some clothes for CharlieGuy at yard sales, and received some in the mail from our pals in Seattle. I've washed the new stuff, and old things like the baby car seat, the swing cover, and the seat to the activity center. I guess this is the nesting phase people talk about, which I totally missed last go-round. Our bags are not packed for the birth center, but Tallu and CharlieGuy's car seats are in the car.

Last Wednesday was my 38 week appointment. I found out that my iron level is normal, but I have tested positive for Group B strep. Group B strep lives on the body in the gastrointestinal, genital, or urinary tracts. I just happen to be colonized right now (carrying the bacteria). I'm not sick, but during the pushing phase the baby could be exposed to Group B strep, which could lead to a blood infection or meningitis. Odds are that won't happen, but as a precaution the midwife will give me antibiotics while I am in labor, same as she did when I gave birth to Tallu.

My instructions are to call the birth center when I have had strong contractions four to five minutes apart for an hour, OR if my water breaks, whichever comes first. If my water breaks the midwife wants to give me the antibiotics as soon as possible. [I just looked at the clock, and it's 12:01AM- Happy 39th week of gestation :-D]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just Venting

It is impossible for me to get everything I need to get done these days, and I'm only going to feel like even more of a failure when number #2 gets here. My bedroom floor has looked like a dirty clothes hamper for months, and up until last month, the downstairs violated several health codes. I need staff and the aid of modern technology to improve the quality of my life and to affect the illusion of my being a dilligent housewife and attentive, loving, stay at home mother of two children.

Staff means putting Tallu in daycare come September, and having a sitter this summer so she can have someone to play with and pay attention to her while I play nursemaid, get some sleep, and find the strength and time to do laundry and house cleaning for her, her father, her brother, and her mother. Staff also means a housecleaner come once a month to mop and dust. The aid of modern technology includes a dishwasher, a washing machine and dryer, and extra storage throughout the house.

It is no small miracle that I've survived the past three years of domesticity without the amenities I seek. I recognize that there are mothers and fathers who are in my shoes, and don't complain, just do what needs to be done, and would spit in my face for my whining. There are answers to my problems. They won't come in the form I imagine them, is all.