Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wren and Frost

Frost (5) and Wren (4 mths) like hanging out together. When Wren first came home Frost said: "Wren is so cute I just don't know what to do with him!" He liked to make faces at Wren, jump around in front of him and be generally noisy. He was particularly pleased when Wren was scared - his eyes widened and his arms flew up. It was interesting for him.

I spent a lot of time "saving" Wren from startling experiences at the hand of his brother and trying to train Frost to understand what babies like (quiet voices, slow movement and gentle touch).

Now Wren is 4 months old and he is proving me wrong. Frost stands in front of Wren and shouts loudly, leaping around like a monkey. Wren comes closer to laughing than he ever has - his mouth is wide, shouting and shrieking back at Frost, his legs peddling and arms waving in delight. Frost does a spluttering raspberry with his mouth showering Wren in saliva. Wren hoots and smiles and hoots and smiles in joy. Frost does it again. Wren sticks out his tongue and tries to hoot at the same time.

They are in the bath. Frost splashes Wren. Wren looks bewildered then kicks and hoots watching Frost the whole time. Frost drops a bath toy on Wren's belly. Wren grabs it and tries to eat it before Frost grabs it away. Wren hoots and kicks again his hands clenching and opening in the air.

They are having a good time.

Its hard to figure out how to cultivate a sense of balance for Frost - not to be too excited by Wren and expect him to play like a 5 year old but still allow this exuberance between them, this crossing of lines and not behaving like a mummy or daddy. Frost wants to rough-house and knows Wren can't but can't hold back a kind of mock rough-housing in which he does things like pillow-fight with Wren (in slow motion and holding back all force). Here is something he wrote at school. If you can't read his writing it says "MY BABY BRUTHR LOVES ME EVEN WHEN I HIT HIM WITH PILOWZ"

The picture shows Frost hitting Wren with a pillow while he is on the wedge we use for diaper change. It is a realistic portrayal.

In other news, Wren has a bumbo. He was feeling anxious about keeping up with Ramona after he saw her in her bumbo so he asked me to get him one. He loves it. It gives me lots more time to do things while he watches and looks around. He is at that stage where he feels it is very important to be sitting upright rather than leaning. If I lay him in his swing or reclined chair he suspects I am putting him to sleep or leaving him in the woods and struggles to lift up his head and lean forward. It helps to prop him up further but then he rolls sideways and has to squark his dismay. The bumbo is just great except his swollen left leg is a bit tight in it. Have to work on that on Monday.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sleep Plan B

Last night I instituted PLAN B to get Wren to sleep more. This is PLAN B:
  1. Nurse Wren at bedtime (around 9pm).
  2. Turn on the new White Noise machine
  3. If he wakes up before 5 hours have passed, help him back to sleep without nursing. Some yelling is okay but shrieking and choking in desperation when set down are not. This is not a Cry It Out attempt, yet, although I am not picking him up immediately to give him a chance to get back to sleep on his own.
  4. Nurse again after 5 hours.
  5. Nurse again after 2-3 hours if its near morning, or after 3 hours if its far from morning.
Last night it went okay. He went to sleep at 8pm, woke at 9pm - went to sleep again at 9.30pm (nursing) and slept till 2am. I rocked him to sleep. He woke again at 4am and nursed to sleep and then nursed again at 6.30am until 7.30 when we got up.

Strangely, he woke almost as frequently as before but because I didn't feel I had to nurse him every time and was prepared for him to cry in protest it wasn't as stressful. Julie, from my Listening Mothers group, spoke of her decision to change her attitude to sleeplessness when she couldn't control her baby's sleep and I think there is some truth in that. If you are happy to nurse all night then frequent wakings aren't an issue. I am not happy to do that and yet I'm okay with soothing him back to sleep for now. I hope this works.

Meanwhile, I spoke with the cardiology nurse about Wren's swollen leg. They suspect (from my description and the history) some "unilateral iliac vein compression". The nurse said she would talk to Dr Lewin but since it was stable and there was not much discoloration she felt they could wait till Monday's clinic to look at it further.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Last night was a bit better

Last night was a bit better. Wren slept from 9pm till 2.30am and then another 2 and 2.5 hours. The first longer stretch gave me enough respite to rise above the reptilian brain for the day. Oh, and I watched Race Around the World Allstars while nursing. It sure amuses me to watch people rushing around the world on jet planes when I have been stuck on the couch for months. Tonight, Wren has gone to bed late and is thrashing around in very active REM sleep which makes it hard to sleep next to him. Josh has turned up the heat to make white noise. Mental note: buy white noise machine this week.

Cardiology clinic coming up

Wren has his next cardiology clinic visit at Children's on the 23rd. He will have an echo, EKG, general exam and a consult with his cardiologist. In particular we are concerned to see whether there is any increased turbulence around his LVOT, aortic valve, coarctation and descending aorta.

We also want to have his left leg pulses checked to explore this swollen leg business, update his meds since he has gained many pounds in the past 2 months and ask about the possibility of a trip to California in summer.

I am hopeful since he looks so good but I can't help but feel a flutter of panic at putting him down on the bed for his echo. Not only does he wriggle and fuss immediately, I just hate seeing those rainbow colors on the image where there "should" be nice clear red and blue (laminar) flow.

I spoke to the ped today about his leg which is still larger. She said my hypothesis about it being a combination of some venous constriction post cath and congestion from the shots is plausible. She recommends one shot at a time in future.

Anyway, we shall post an update on Monday afternoon.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Sorrows of Sleep Revisited

Wren is sleeping badly, again.


I thought of ending the post there but the temptation to vent about it is too great. His current sleeping habit looks like this:

9pm - nurse to sleep.
9.45pm - wake screaming to tell me to nurse him to sleep again. If we misunderstand and try and rock him to sleep or soothe him in some other way he has to shout louder and get in a frightful frenzy to intimidate his parents.
2am - Wake fretful. Cough. Escalate to screaming if I don't nurse him soon. Cough.
5am - ditto
6am - ditto
6.30am - ditto
7.30am awake and cooing to himself.
9-9.45am nap in crib
noon - 12.45pm nap wherever (crib, car, sling, lap)
3-3.45pm nap wherever
5.30-6.15 nap crib

If he is in the car he sleeps longer. If he is in my lap he sleeps longer. If he is in the crib it is 45 minutes clockwork.

While he screams in the dark of an evening Josh asks "do you want me to get him?" and I am just incoherent because I don't want anyone to have to get him. I want one hour of awake baby-sleeping time. Tonight Josh managed to get him back to sleep pretty quickly so I don't have breastfeeding resentment :
[Definition: "breastfeeding resentment" this is the sensation by the breastfeeding mother that she doesn't WANT to nurse her baby any more at all thankyou because it is really a vampiric barnacle that should have been gestated by an elephant to keep it in another 9 months till it was civilized and independent and could eat foliage and sleep suspended in the trees. If we descended from the apes what happened to that ability? Huh? Tell me THAT! This is not something that you talk about if you are into attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding. It doesn't mean I want to give him formula I just don't want to nurse him right now or now or now.]

.... but I am still wary of him - like an antelope who sniffs a lion somewhere. Our bedroom is the thicket in which a small predator is lying.

The Gun Safety Discussion

After yesterday I decided to broach this issue of going with the pack and throw in the gun safety message again for good measure. Frost and I had been reading a book and were getting on well. Here is the transcript:

Me: Frost, I just wanted to talk about doing things that your friends suggest... you know, like yesterday with the ketchup?

Frost: I always do what people ask me to. If my friends ask me I just say "yes"

Me: But you don't have to do things if you feel they are wrong. I think you are big enough to decide if its a good thing to do.

Frost: But I just say yes because I don't want to hurt their feelings.

Me: Its good that you don't want to hurt their feelings but you can still decide whether its a good thing and say no if it isn't.

Frost: Actually, I only do imaginary things if they ask me. If they said will you kick and punch me I wouldn't do that. I would say "no, I think that would hurt".

Me: Uh huh, and if they said "go and kick the cat" you could say "no" because you know it would hurt the cat.

Frost: Well, if I had an iron foot and a bear was chasing you wouldn't you want me to kick it?

Me: Yes, I guess I would. Another thing - you know how you were joking about guns yesterday?
Well, if you saw a real gun lying around you shouldn't touch it. Just leave it alone and call a grownup.

Frost: I think it would be okay to pick it up. Because you wouldn't just find a gun unless it was after a war and after a war it wouldn't have any bullets left.

Me: Sometimes guns have bullets in after a war and some people have guns in their homes and they might go off if you touch them.

Frost: What if the gun was in a tree?

Me: Then you go away from the tree and call a grownup to get it down.

Frost: It would be even worse if I found dynamite or a bomb!

Me: Yes, you should call a grownup then too.

Frost: I wouldn't get a match and light it like a candle by mistake!

Sources of influence

So this morning I come upstairs from putting out the garbage and Frost is jumping up and down on the living room carpet.

"Mum, Mum, do you want to get the 100 piece Betty Crocker cake decorating kit?"
"The what?"
"Cos there is so much in it and there is a lot of good decorating things and you could do a lot of good decorations!"
"Why do you think we need it?"
"To make decorations!! Its only $10. You think thats a lot because of the price of cotton candy yesterday but its so coooool!"

This encapsulates my objection to commercial television.

The reference to cotton candy comes from our visit to the Seattle Center and Whirligig with Sheri, Marina and Zephyr yesterday. Frost wanted cotton candy but I said it was too much sugar and money. The boys had a lot of fun but I have noticed that Frost is very impressionable - be it commercials or friends - he has yet to develop his own compass with sources of influence.

On the way home from the Seattle Center Zephyr and Frost were pretending to be the good guys in Star Wars and shooting space ships aka cars from the enemy faction. Frost said "wouldn't it be cool if we found a real gun and could shoot people?" Zephyr disagreed. He said that then they would go to jail. Frost suggested it wouldn't be a problem if they were too young for jail.

After I explained about compassion and juvie if you were under 18 they pondered that a moment. Frost said in that case they should do it when they were 17 and 3/4 then. At that point I retreated into the mantra about gun safety. Zephyr knew that one but Frost was still into his whole performance as a tough star hero and couldn't be convinced back down from his role as super-shooter.

As my Dad said in an email to me today: "Why do your family have this passion for the violent??" [Now hang on there! David and I played toy soldiers and cowboys and indians. We shot each other to death with cap guns: "Bang, Bang you're dead!" "Aaaaaaargh"]

Also in the "doing things to be cool" Frost squished a cup of ketchup against the wall of the Seattle Center House, asked me to open the window so the boys could throw my face creams outside and encouraged Zephyr to throttle him - then cried when it hurt.

Clearly we need to have a few heart-to-hearts when he is in a sombre mood.