Friday, June 20, 2008

Major milestones

This week, PB licked a pretzel... while not a major milestone for most babes, this is a milestone of epic proportions for MY babe. She put a piece of food in her mouth voluntarily (!!!) .. a feat which has not yet been repeated, but for which I am extremely proud. You'd think my child had won the Nobel Prize, that's how freaking proud I am of her.

Her feeding therapist is also proud.

Her feeding therapist. Who knew these job descriptions existed?

My insurance pays a lot of money for a very nice lady to come to my house twice a week and play with my baby. Seriously. And it squicks me out.

Sure, it's goal-oriented playing, but it's a process that involves trying to get PB to bite, lick or chew things, and which generally involves PB putting toys (or her own fingers) into Miss Shannon's mouth.. an exercise that pushes my squick factor to the limits. My child is sharing toys, and all the germiness that comes with saliva, with a stranger who also shares toys (and most probably saliva and germs) with other children, who are also strangers to me. I feel like I'm in the midst of a germ-a-palooza.

Still, for that minute where my child giggled at her own boldness as she stuck that pretzel into her mouth, it was all worth it.

Sometimes those milestones that others take for granted are the ones we celebrate the most here in the Grail household.

Friday, May 30, 2008

That ain't how we do it here, son....

I know I've mentioned here that G is a mama's boy. That is his defining characteristic (even more so than his quirky behavior, or nonconformity). Lately he's been having a lot of anxiety about moving out. Poor kid, he's only four and he's freaking about living on his own.

Like most things that provoke anxiety in G, this one was totally my fault, and totally unintentional. See, I made the mistake of telling him that he was going to move into his own house.... some day. It came about kind of innocently: I was tucking him in bed one night and he voiced the opinion that he couldn't wait to be daddy's age so he could sleep in my bed like daddy does, which is infinitely preferable to his own bed. Envisioning the next 60 or so years of having to lay with him to get him to sleep, and feeling a little queasy at the prospect, I blurted "by the time you're daddy's age, you'll be sleeping in your own house". He freaked out at the thought of living somewhere - anywhere - that didn't involve me. I assured him that he was not going to be forced out before he was ready*... but we have still revisited that topic several times. After all, G will be five in just a few short months. In his mind, five is a gloriously grown age; the oldest (and tallest!) boy in his class at school is already five. To G, five brings the promise of being older, more independent (and taller! bless his little heart, that's soooo important)... and with age comes the anxiety of leaving the nest.

Yesterday a new wrinkle occurred to him - although I have assured him that he is welcome to keep his room (and his toys) under my roof for as long as he desires.... I have made no such assurances about PB.

He has many plans for PB, and none of them involve her moving out.

G is fascinated by the concept of pregnancy. He loves the idea that babies grow in bellies, and he was highly indignant when he learned that his belly lacked the proper plumbing for it... it took a little while for him to connect the concept of "only girls can be moms" with "PB is a girl", but once he did, he promptly decided that when she is mom's age, PB will have a baby in her belly.**

Yesterday he voiced his master plan for keeping our family whole and intact for decades: When my babies are grown, G will live with us, and since I am not available for marriage, he will settle for his second choice, PB, thereby ensuring that neither he (who has been assured a safe place in the house for as long as he wishes) nor PB will ever be forced out. Since they will be married (and since he is unable to birth his own children), PB will have a baby in her belly and will graciously allow him to be the daddy. Here, I feel compelled to add that he really has no concept of the biology of conception; in his mind, the baby just appears in utero as if by magic, the father has no involvement in that appearing, and is deemed the father by virtue of his marriage to the mother.

Oh my. Not exactly my plan for successful offspring.

Setting aside the squick-ness of his plan (I mean really - sibling marriage? and coparenting? eek!), and reminding myself that he is, after all, only four and young enough that he still believes that "P*wer R@nger" is an attainable career goal, I can momentarily be proud that however much they pester each other, however many times G refuses (loudly!) to share his toys, his games or his mom, deep down, PB is still important to him. After all, despite the fact that he believes girls are gross, there is one girl that he thinks is ok enough to be his friend, even if she is his sister.

... he dealt with it pretty well when I dished up the double-dose of disappointment by informing him that PB could neither be his wife, nor the mother of his children; his familial plans were apparently a desperate attempt to keep his baby sis from being kicked out of the house. having been assured that was not our plan for PB, he was no longer interested in pursuing the idea of marriage... or children, thankfully!

~ ~ ~

*unless, like, he reaches 30 and still isn't ready, but he doesn't grasp the nuances of situational ethics, so I let that one slide.... for now. If he reaches his 20s and still thinks there's no place like mom's, we'll revisit the topic.

** and if that's her desire, please, please, let it be an easy journey.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just taking a minute...

to say I'm still alive. I'd like to say it's been busy here and that's why I haven't been writing, but the truth is that while it has been busy, I'm more stuck in that place where I don't know what to say. I guess I'll just start updating and hope I reach some level of bloggy inspiration.

Overall things are going well here. As I'm typing this, P'Bean is standing, holding on to the chair next to me and chucking pretzels at the dogs. She's got enough hair for a little palm-tree pigtail on top of her head with a girly little bow and she's round enough that she's certifiably pinchable. She's come a long way since my last update. I look at her and I'm still amazed when I think "I did that". It's particularly apt in this case - P'Bean is exclusively breastfed. I'm attempting to embrace that and be proud of it, but the fact remains that it's not by choice. Not by my choice at least... so if it sounds like I'm bragging that my lactation was sufficient, I'm only trying to impress myself. It turns out that all the spitting up PB did as a babe was because of her reflux.. the reflux that no one knew she had til after she started on solids. We started those right about 6 months, and baby food gagged her. We thought that was kinda cute in an "oh, look, she takes after her Gran who chokes on everything" kind of way... but when a full month of attempting solids yielded nothing more than a progression of the gagging (we moved on to spitting! and vomiting!), I started thinking maybe she wasn't ready.. so I dusted off my referral to the ever-trusty Dr Google and started doing searches like "how to tell if the world's most perfect baby is ready for solids". Dr G informed me that one could ascertain this by watching how baby mouths objects. So I started watching. After a full day I came to the realization that (a) I am really slack in my babyproofing and (b) PB doesn't put anything into her mouth. I casually mentioned it at a visit to the pedi, who confirmed Dr Google's diagnosis of "something ain't right", and fired off a few more referrals. The pediatric GI suspected reflux, cut a script for some rockin' baby antacid, and sent her to the OT for a 'feeding test'.. and now here we are, almost two months later: the only thing that PB will voluntarily eat (besides her ever-favorite nah-nahs*) is her baby antacid. She loooooooves that. By the time the reflux was caught, it had already created bigger problems. They've called it an aversion, said that she's orally defensive and despite repeated attempts at desensitizing her to textures, and weeks of tactile/facial stimulation, PB is no closer to eating 'real' food now than she was at birth. C'est la vie, right? I'm about to pack it in and admit that karma is forcing me to seem like the poster child for lactation. First G had dental issues that interfered with his nutrition, and we extended my extended breastfeeding (have I ever mentioned that he didn't wean til he was nearly 3? yeah. I was 'that' mom), and now Beans, who is working on a family record for exclusive breastfeeding. I need to just admit defeat and join L@ Leche.

Seriously I didn't start out this update intending to spend so much time discussing lactation. These things just happen. My bloggy inspiration apparently came in the form of breasts.

At any rate, other than Bean's feeding quirks, she's still very nearly perfect... and in all honestly, I'm not freaking out that she can't eat. It'll get worked out, and until then, it's not like anyone's too worried. My delicate little Princess is built like a tank. She has a double chin, triple thighs and is in the 95th and 97th percentiles for height and weight, respectively. The major complications of her feeding issues (so far as the pedi and Google have informed me) come in the form of malnutrition and decreased growth. Those aren't even a blip on the PB radar.

G is doing pretty well too. He's in the final weeks of pre-k and we've already turned in his paperwork for k'garten. I have to admit this: whenever I think of that, the phrase running through my head is holy fucknuts, how did that happen?? I'm a lot a little worried about k'garten because G is still having some trouble with his innate need for non-conformity; at our most recent meeting, his teacher confessed to me that she, too, is worried about how he will do next year. I'm adding that to the list of "I'll worry about it later because I've got enough going on right now". His k'garten physical included some mildly worrying news, but nothing too serious, I don't think. (though it's hard to hear "skeletal defect" and not think something is seriously wrong, I'm mostly reassured that it isn't too serious), which brings me to my next topic, B and his family planning decision.

Between G's physical and Bean's consult with the GI and OT (which all came in the span of a week and a half), B is none too keen to even discuss the idea of any future additions to the Grail household. He has informed me that he does not want any future fertility treatment. Ever. Not that I was going to run out and grab some clomid or anything, but I was a bit put out anyway. I can't fault his reasoning, so I'm just letting it go for now... For now, I understand that he's worried about his babies and he needs to work that out in his mind before he is comfortable with the idea that their issues are not genetic. We will have to have an extended discussion on the topic later, because really, does met count as treatment for IF or treatment for IR? I really need to go back on my met for the IR, but I'm not going to be 'that woman' who starts IF treatment without the knowledge of her spouse**.. and if he's truly that worried about the possibility of problems with a future babe, even metformin without birth control would feel like a betrayal of the sacred Grail matrimonial trust. We haven't had that indepth discussion yet, but I'm sure it'll be blog fodder for the future, and by then I'll have figured out where my head is in that discussion. We'd already decided any future IF treatment would be met and the good ole 'if it happens, it happens', but hearing B say it in such a definitive way made me realize that I definitely do want one more and some part of my mind had already formed a Plan B if Plan A didn't work. B is much closer to the "our family is complete" mindset than I am. I'm sure that one will work out, too.. and it's not like I haven't got enough going on as it is that I'm even worrying about future Grail-lets just yet.

... because, despite the fact that future children are an as-yet-unresolved discussion in our house, we do have a furry new addition. Just in case P'Bean's clingy stranger-anxiety phase and G's constant need for mama-attention isn't enough. We have a puppy now. I had this great little rent-a-pup scheme going on that totally backfired. I was doing a little puppy-sitting for a guy on B's ship, which worked out well: B's friend didn't have to worry about what to do with his dog when the ship sailed, the kids got a little fuzzball to play with on occasion, and I got a reminder that no matter how cute a fuzzball is, I didn't want one fulltime... and then the fuzzball's owner came to the realization that puppies are a big commitment. They take a lot of work, and a lot of time, and if you take a baby who is of a breed that is rather big and rather attention-needy and leave him home for hours on end, destruction ensues... as he grows, so does the destruction... and the next thing I knew, we had a puppy.

.. and now, that puppy is chewing on PB's cute little hair bow, and PB is squawking her displeasure (did I mention the bow is still on PB's head?). I think that's my reminder that my blog-time is up. I have pics (of puppy, of kids, or both) if anyone's interested... I'm slogging my way through a couple months of bloglines and hope to be caught up soon.. and with a bit of luck (and maybe even some non-breast inspired inspiration), I'll actually start blogging here again.

*I'm not entirely sure where she got the idea that my ta-tas are nah-nahs, but that's what she calls 'em. I refuse to put that one in the baby book as Bean's first word, but there it is.

** yeah, I do know one of those.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pardon my rambling..

So... I was talking to my neighbor yesterday. Before I go into this, probably I should mention that she's a decent person and I do like her. Sometimes she just doesn't fully engage her brain before her mouth opens. Or maybe she's just prone to voicing things that other people only think, and wouldn't actually say out loud. Either way, she's not a bad person. Hell, I have those flaws sometimes too. Ok, a lot of times.

Anyhow, Neighbor was holding P'Bean and mentioned that she's been thinking a lot about whether they should have another baby. P'Bean is (naturally) a perfect babe and inspires these thoughts in people. people other than me I mean. her very perfection fills me with terror - what if I've achieved the pinnacle of reproduction and anything more would be pushing my luck?

As it turns out, my neighbor is also worried that asking for a third perfect child would be too much, seeing as how she's already got two perfect kids. I kinda misunderstood that one. I thought she was worried because she's got two really well-behaved children and hell, that doesn't really happen three times, now does it?

No, as it turns out my neighbor is worried about genetic perfection. Because, you know, she's just turned 30 and her risk for Down syndrome increases after 35. I swear, this woman keeps forgetting that I'm older than she is. Apparently she also forgets that her longest period of 'trying' for a baby was 3 months. Because she's worried about a theoretical risk five years in the future.

I know that this is one of those things that women worry about. (although maybe not as vocally or as horrified as Neighbor.) With all the talk about 'advanced maternal age' and 'risks' and all. Like there's some switch that gets flipped at midnight on the eve of a woman's 35th birthday whereupon her ovaries turn into that proverbial pumpkin and the uterine fairy godmother runs off with Prince Charming leaving this poor advanced-aged woman's reproductive organs adrift and directionless, I guess... but this just doesn't seem like a Big Fear to me.

It's a 'potential' and not an 'actual'.

I'm working extra-hard this year to only worry about the things that are actualities, and not stress over potentials. Most of us have enough actual problems that we don't need to worry about the maybes.

I know an awful lot of people that have been struggling to wrap their minds around their children's individual challenges lately. Things that seem small to an outsider (or at least not Big, if not exactly small either).

It's something that I've been struggling with lately. G has a few quirks that can be difficult. Maybe they're not as obvious to the general public as Down syndrome, but they are as obvious to me as if they were branded on his forehead. I just want his life to be easy. I want him to fit in and to be one of the kids.

Most recently, I've been struggling to wrap my mind around G's speech problem. Seems like a small fear, doesn't it? I mean, he's bright and healthy, his physical development has been perfect.. but he just can't seem to make his mouth work the way his brain does. We've made great strides in his communication and he can generally get his point across to the people who matter.. but I learned a long time ago that 'speech' and 'communication' do not mean the same thing. Or, as his speech therapist summed it up: he compensates well.

True that, he does. If he can't be understood he will go into a torrent of descriptive phrases and charade, expertly combining words and pantomime until his audience can figure out what he's trying to say.

Problem is, this only works if the audience is as determined as he is. Other kids, they aren't generally so persistent. If they can't understand him, they go one of two ways: either they give up on talking and just play without too many words, or they give up on him.

That is not what I want for my son.

What may seem like a small fear to others has become a big deal in my everyday life. It hits like a physical blow when I hear people comment on G. Most commonly I hear things like "what's wrong with him?" .. although there was that one memorable little boy at the park who wanted to know if he was speaking Chinese. Kinda makes me want to scream.. see, G's speech problem is almost exclusively with articulation. His vocabulary is above-average, his receptive language is just fine.. in English that means he understands every damn thing people say about him.

During one of his evaluations, the psychologist mentioned that before G starts kindergarten, she wants me to bring him in for an IQ test so that I will have actual numbers to bring to school because the schools have been known to make assumptions about intelligence based on ability to speak. That hurt, too. I expect that from random kids at the park. I don't like it, but they're not exactly trained professionals so hey, it's not like they know better.. but his school? Sigh...

They have warned me that his school will expect less of him.. that he will have problems reading because of his speech.. that this will be a long uphill battle that will take probably years of intensive therapy to conquer... and will likely involve therapy for his self-esteem as well, as this will all take a toll on him..

What the hell? It's a flippin' speech problem!

When all this started I figured he'd get a little speech therapy once or twice a week and in a few months things would be just ducky. He got speech once a week for the first six months. Twice a week for the next year and a half. They've just increased him to four times a week (two group sessions, two individual) with plans to increase that to five times a week (two group, three individual).

My saving grace is that they expect he will overcome this obstacle. Some day he will talk and be understood. I don't expect he will ever completely blend in to the crowd (because his personality doesn't encourage that sort of thing... but I love that he will have that option if he wants it. I realize that is a gift.

.. and while I'm doing all this realizing, I realize that if anyone had told me years ago that I'd consider a speech problem a Big Deal, a Life-Altering struggle, I'd have rolled my eyes and called 'em an ass-hat, as I am wont to do.

So really, I guess every fear is a valid fear... but my couple-weeks-late resolution still stands: valid or not, I will not worry about things that have not happened.

That said... I know that as Big as G's speech problem seems, it would not have stopped me from wanting him. Perhaps we have achieved reproductive perfection in PB. Perhaps any future child would have a newer, scarier Big problem.. perhaps he-or-she would have a known Big problem. Or a known small problem. Or not. I'm not going to let that make my decision for me.. when B comes home (in just a few short weeks!) we're planning on starting the pre-trying trying*.

*I'll explain that phrase in my next posting. this one has been exhausting to type out, and I'm not really in a mindset where I can switch gears to another new topic immediately.. this got a little more involved than I'd intended for announcing that we'd decided to bite the bullet and consider attempting another baby in this lifetime. this decade even. no matter how scary it seems.