Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fuzzy Baby Sister

Isaiah has been extra everything lately. By that I mean he has been extra funny, extra sweet, extra fussy, extra amazing, and extra challenging. The extra fussy and extra challenging parts stem from Isaiah having his first ear infection ever. He made it to almost two years old before he finally had one (he was diagnosed on Sunday and his birthday was on Wednesday.) Michael and I were rather shocked on Sunday when Isaiah became inconsolably fussy, because he is always consolable. He cried for an entire 45 minutes, which he hasn't done since he was a month old. We didn't know if an ear infection was worthy of an urgent care visit to a late night pediatrics clinic, but after he was completely unable to sleep because of the discomfort, we decided that we didn't care if they laughed or rolled their eyes at us - we were going to the doctor. Thankfully, they didn't look at us like we were paranoid idiots for bringing him in; in fact, when the doctor came in and saw the huge circles under his eyes and his sad little face wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, she exclaimed, "Oh, he looks just miserable." I could have kissed her. Isaiah was immediately given amoxycillin and Motrin, and he slept well that night.

Isaiah was almost himself right away, but he still had a little trouble sleeping and was more easily frustrated. Still, he held himself together pretty well during the day. The tough part came when Michael got home from work. For some reason, when Isaiah has a bad day, he likes to take it out on Michael, which is completely unfair. Even if Isaiah has had a bad day because I have been dragging him around on too many errands or I have been impatient, Michael is the one who bears the brunt of Isaiah's tiny wrath. I was reading in a book called From One Child to Two that toddlers will abuse their parents because they know it's safe. The author said it's something both toddlers and teenagers do to their mothers and fathers because they know that their parents will still love them. It's true that Michael has a gift of near-infinite patience (both with Isaiah and with me) and that when Isaiah meanly refuses Michael's hugs or pushes Michael away as we all snuggle on the couch, Michael sweetly forgives him and tries again. If Isaiah treated me that way, I would probably just cry and pout like a toddler myself.

I've told Isaiah so many times how blessed he is to have such a wonderful daddy, and that so many little boys don't even have daddies to come home and love them. He doesn't really understand that yet, though, and when I talked to my mom about it, she said I would do the same thing. My dad is a meteorologist, and when I was little, he was a forecaster who was rather low of the totem pole, and so he had to work all sorts of crazy evening shifts and weekends. When he came home, all he wanted to do was hold his baby girl, and I would scream every time he touched me. I feel very guilty when I hear about it now, but it does give me perspective that this will end. I have yet to ask Michael's mom if he did the same thing to his own dad, too. I also have a feeling this stage will end rather abruptly when the new baby is born, because Isaiah will need Michael so much. I think one way to help him is to prepare him for Michael’s homecoming each day. I’ve found that Isaiah is much happier if 15-30 minutes before Michael walks in the door, if I start getting Isaiah ready and excited by saying, “Oh boy! Daddy’s coming home soon!” I wonder if he feels that Michael coming home is too much of a surprise otherwise.

Isaiah has finally shown interest in the baby, which came through a funny source. For his birthday, his Grandma and Grandpa Walz gave him a book about having a new little baby in the house, and he refused to read it, look at it, or listen to it for several days. I thought it was maybe too overwhelming for him to think about a new baby at our house, so I let it go, but I was disappointed and worried about Isaiah’s reaction to a real baby if he didn’t even like a book about babies. However, his Uncle Peter had given him a little puppet that looked like a baby seal and came with a blankie and a bottle. He didn't pay much attention to it at the party (because he was surrounded by so many seductive Thomas toys,) but one morning he found it in his toy box and picked it up. He began feeding the bottle to it, and so I put my hand into the puppet's mouth and began to make eating noises and coos. Isaiah promptly became obsessed. I made crying noises, cooing noises, burping noises, and sneezing noises. Isaiah smiled down at the fuzzy little seal like she was actually his precious new baby sister, and we spent almost an hour just feeding the "baby."

Then, when it was Isaiah's lunchtime, he wanted the baby to sit with him, and when it was his naptime, he wanted the baby to sleep with him. When he woke up, I somehow couldn't find the baby seal (it had gotten stuck between two blankets) and so I substituted a baby doll my grandmother had given us. I was worried Isaiah would reject her because she wasn't a fuzzy baby seal, but he just fed her the bottle and burped her and kissed her. He even sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her, and he gave her one of his Thomas the Tank Engine toys to play with. You could have knocked me over with a feather. At dinner, he fed the doll chocolate milk from his own sippy cup and even stuffed a kernel of corn into her mouth. (We'll have to watch out for that with the real baby, I guess.) Then during bedtime stories, I had Isaiah hold the baby doll while I read the story his grandparents had given him. He actually enjoyed seeing the pictures of big brothers with their baby siblings. Thank you God! I only hope Isaiah isn't too disappointed when he learns his baby sister isn't a silent little doll or a fuzzy seal.

One last thing – Isaiah’s real birthday was yesterday, and so all day we practiced telling people how old he is. I repeatedly asked,
“Isaiah, how old are you?” and then because he didn’t know yet, I answered my own question,
“Isaiah, how old are you?”
Isaiah, how old are you?”
Finally, I asked Isaiah and waited for him to answer. I had to ask three times before he realized I wasn’t going to answer my own question. Then his eyes lit up, he smiled a great big smile and he jumped with joy as he shouted,
“I don’t know!”

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Birthday Wishes

I have been planning Isaiah's 2nd birthday party for weeks. Unfortunately, a nasty virus didn't seem to care about all the work I had put in, and Isaiah got sick. It started as just a cough on Monday, but by Tuesday night, he had a high fever and was lethargic and stuffed up. I woke up at 4 a.m. that morning to give him some soothing liquids and medicine and to rock him back to sleep. His cough was the most disturbing part because it was so deep and obviously painful. Whenever he coughed, it just racked his entire body and he often cried at the end. Even after he had fallen back asleep, I couldn't rest again. I sat up the rest of that night looking up symptoms on WebMD trying to figure out what he had, and I went over and over the decision of whether or not to cancel his party on Saturday. On the one hand he could possibly get better by the weekend, but on the other hand, he would probably still be contagious. I finally decided that the party needed to be canceled. I also debated whether or not to take him to the doctor. His cough sounded very bad and painful, and his fever was pretty high, but it was so cold out, I didn't know if a doctor's visit would do anything but make him more sick.

Isaiah and I just ended up staying at home on Wednesday, because Michael and I really didn't want to take Isaiah out in the cold unless it was absolutely necessary. I kept Isaiah upstairs the whole time in Michael's and my room filling him with lots of apple juice and snuggling with him as we watched Thomas movies on the portable DVD player. Despite all of my internet searching the night before, I wasn't quite sure if Isaiah had croup, the flu, a cold, or what. I did know, however, that whatever he had the advice was actually pretty similar: give him Tylenol for his fever and keep him well hydrated. Those were two things I could definitely do. Actually, I think I overdid it a bit on the hydrating part, because Isaiah was so full of fluids that twice he actually peed through his diaper and onto me. His coughs were still painful to watch, but we actually had a good time together. He cuddled all day and we read lots of books. One problem, though, was that he kept insisting that he was hungry, but he didn't want anything that I suggested.
"Hungry," he would tell me.
"Do you want bananas?"
"No banas."
"Do you want toast?"
"No toast."
"Do you want cheesy noodles?"
"No cheesy noses."
Finally after he woke up from his nap and told me that he was hungry, I would have given him anything he asked for - fruit snacks, oreos, you name it. So I just asked him what he wanted to eat. He put his finger to his chin in his thoughtful position and then answered,
"What? Did you have a dream about penguins...okay, but what do you want to eat?"
"Eat penguins."
I promise you, we have never eaten penguins in this house, nor have we alluded to eating penguins or mentioned that penguins are tasty or anything. I assumed he meant that he wanted to eat animal crackers shaped like penguins, so I went and got the box of animal crackers.
"Isaiah, do you want these animal cracker penguins?"
"No - eat penguins."
After much convincing, Isaiah finally settled for rice. I still have no idea where he got the idea of eating penguins.

The next day, Isaiah and I trekked to the doctor despite the sub-zero temperatures. She said that although she couldn't tell me the exact name of the virus Isaiah had, she could tell me that she had seen three toddlers with the same exact thing that morning. She mainly just eliminated things that it wasn't. He had no fluid in his lungs, no infection in his ears, and nothing else that would indicate a need for antibiotics, so we were just sent home to wait it out.

We decided that although we couldn't have any kids over for Isaiah's party, we could still invite grandparents, aunts and uncles, and adult friends, assuming they had the restraint not to suck on Isaiah's sippy cup or put his toys in their mouths. I was still really disappointed, though, and I realized that it was a rather selfish disappointment, because Isaiah wouldn't know that he had been jipped out of playing with kids. In fact, he loves it so much when our family and friends come over, I knew he would be perfectly happy. I had to come to terms with the fact that my discouragement was really for myself because I had fostered the idea of Isaiah playing with his cute little friends, and I had already pictured in my head the adorable photographs that would be taken of kids racing around in their train costumes or playing the other games I had for them. I finally just made myself suck it up, because Isaiah's ideal party didn't really need to include kids and games the way I had pictured it. So, after Isaiah went to bed the night before the party Michael and I stayed up until midnight decorating so it would all be a surprise, and we kept Isaiah upstairs for the entire morning until it was time for his party. It was actually really fun to have a picnic breakfast and lunch on Isaiah's bedroom floor, and it was exciting to keep the party a surprise. When he came down, he exclaimed over the balloons and the party favors, and he was so happy to see everything. The party was actually really great. I could relax and focus on Isaiah, and Isaiah loved being the absolute center of attention. He had a wonderful time, and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday party for him.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I think I've forgotten this before...

Being pregnant for the second time is like having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I awake with eerily familiar symptoms, feeling as though I have forgotten this all before. The baby will kick a certain spot on my right side, and I will have a sudden flashback to Isaiah kicking that exact same spot, which I had conveniently forgotten about until now. (What is it with that very tender spot being kicked anyway?) It makes me wonder how much of the last pregnancy I have forgotten. I'm also more forgetful in general. This past week I couldn't find the salt that I really needed to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I looked through every cupboard in the kitchen and every shelf of the pantry. I finally made them without the salt (they weren't very good at all) and just refrigerated most of the dough so I could add the salt in later after I had bought some more. The next day after getting groceries, I found the salt in the fridge behind the milk.

Isaiah is still in the fun stage where he repeats everything I say. I know some parents really hate this stage, but I find it quite enjoyable. Everything is just so much cuter when Isaiah says it. I love hearing adult phrases come out of his mouth, such as,
"Ohhhhh man!" and
"Party hard!"
He also does mock-adult facial expressions to go with them, such as putting his finger to his chin while he says,
"Hmmmm....wonder...Gornon is." (That means, "Hmmm, I wonder where my Gordon movie is.")
Or sometimes when Michael is upstairs, and Isaiah wants him to come down, he will mimic me by putting his hands around his mouth and calling,
It also helps when he adds in his fun mispronunciations, such as asking for more "mock-a-moley" on his taco.

I frequently make Isaiah repeat things on camera so that I have a record of him being very cute, in case, when he's a teenager, he tries to deny that he was ever this sweet.

We have also been watching home videos together of Isaiah when he was a newborn. I read in a book called "From One Child to Two" that it's a good way to introduce your toddler to the idea of what a baby is like, since little kids are usually interested in themselves. Michael and I have been pointing out "little baby Isaiah" in the videos and talking about how much we love him. We've also been dropping phrases around about how his baby sister will come live with us soon. So far, Isaiah ignores most of these hints and shows no interest in talking about his baby sister, but that makes sense because I imagine it's a pretty confusing concept to him.

Michael and I have been working on getting Isaiah to sleep the entire night in his own room in a twin bed, and it's been going very well. He'll sometimes wake up around 5 in the morning and want to crawl in bed with us, but we don't really mind at all, and I think he sleeps better for most of the night because he's by himself and actually has room to roll over. (The extra room in our bed is also very nice.) I've been expecting Isaiah to become attached to some cute little stuffed animal now that he doesn't cuddle with us at night, and I've tried to give him several very adorable and very soft things for snuggling. He has rejected them all, though, sometimes even getting angry and throwing them out of bed. On Saturday for his nap, though, Michael found something that Isaiah wanted to snuggle with in bed - a wooden spoon. Isaiah refused to part with it at naptime, and he slept with it clutched to his tummy the entire time. Then he woke up with it still in his hands hours later and brought it downstairs. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dance Dance Disorganization

There is so much I didn't know before I became a parent. Not just little things, like how to change a really dirty diaper with only two wipes (because that's all you have left in the diaper bag,) but major things too. I won't claim that I understand God's unconditional love or immense forgiveness and grace, but I can definitely say I'm a lot closer. I don't want to belittle the knowledge that childless people posses, because I'm sure they know a lot of things I don't. I may never do things that they will do - I can say with certainty that I won't climb Mount Everest or travel around the world, but rocking my child to sleep in my arms is a life-changing experience I wouldn't trade.

Being a parent also stretches you - reaaally stretches you sometimes. I thought that because I was a teacher and worked with young kids before I had Isaiah that I was a pretty patient person. Nope. One or two times of trying to get my child to take a nap unsuccessfully for two full hours showed me exactly where the limits of my patience were, and then they were stretched. I was a little worried that our new baby would really get the short straw because I wouldn't be able to give her my undivided attention for hours and hours the way I did with Isaiah, but then I realized that I will probably be better at my job for her. I won't make her first bath freezing cold (which I did with Isaiah because I was terrified I would burn him,) and when she cries I will have the patience to listen and figure out what is wrong instead of crying myself. Hopefully I will make fewer mistakes, or at least different ones, with her that will even out the fact that I am a shared mom. Plus, she'll have Isaiah, who is absolutely more interesting than I am.

We just had our first family music class together this last Thursday, and it was so great. Basically it was 45 minutes of forced fun with other parents and kids Isaiah's age. The teacher led us in songs and dances, which Isaiah didn't do at all. Michael and I were pretty good at them, though, and the teacher stated that it was normal and fine for kids to spend just as much time looking in the mirror wall as they did doing actual class-related things. We did learn that Isaiah really loves to play with scarves, though. There were a couple of songs where every person was given a sheer scarf to wave around and hide under while we sang a danced, and Isaiah thought he had gone to heaven. I think I'll have to make a trip to the fabric store pretty soon for a couple yards of sheer fabric. Who knew hiding under a see-through scarf pretending to be a jack-in-the-box was the greatest game ever invented?

I have also begun planning Isaiah's 2nd birthday party, which should be a lot of fun. For his last birthday, he was the only kid there and the rest of us were adults. Not that he cared one little bit. I think, though, that this time (as long as schedules are permissive) there should actually be some kids coming. I'm so excited to plan little games, I'm going to have to spend a lot of time reminding myself they probably won't get played anyway. Oh, and his party is a choo-choo-train theme. If anyone has decoration or other party ideas, send them over.