Thursday, May 17, 2007

Frost (and Wren at 5 months)

It was beautiful morning - bright golden sunlight in our yard against a backdrop of bruised purple storm clouds. Wren sat in the chair waiting for me to make breakfast - chewing on a toy - and slept tolerably well last night giving me that crucial 3 hour block of sleep TWICE. The sleep chart has been updated with lots of blue. The only spot against the sun this day is that little winged critters have invaded our food supply. I opened a box of raisins today (to make celery almond butter aka "ants on a log" for Frost's lunch) and bugs flew out. That is not good, right?

My feedback from yesterday's post about Wren at Five Months was that there was not enough about Frost while Wren is five months. Admittedly, this was from Granny who has a vested interest in both of the young things with Y chromosomes so I have decided to add a bit about the boys together.

The Digital Morning
To start with, Frost is still very digitally mesmerised. In the morning he has one TV show and its always Futurama. Futurama is his favorite show. He sits eating breakfast of cereal with soymilk on the side (or no milk at all) and then gets dressed. He likes to play with Wren who is often in the living room too and is especially pleased when Wren smiles and responds to him. This is pretty easy because Wren is very excited when he sees Frost - he hoots and flaps his arms, arches his back and straightens his legs rapidly in a bucking motion. If he's sitting up on a cushion he falls down.

After School
Frost comes home from school tired and flops his bag down. Wren follows him with his eyes. It is usually time for Wren's nap which works well because Frost isn't interested in being social just yet. After he wakes up we usually head out into the garden where Frost rushes around using the hose, or cars or action figures or sticks and Wren watches getting sprayed (by mistake or on purpose?) and generally taking the role of audience to all this action.

Frost and Wren bath together. Wren sits in a baby bath in the big tub and Frost complains he takes too much space but demands he be in the bath regardless. When Frost plays with Wren I feel he dances on the edge of catastrophe. He loves to splash, to make waves, to shout and dance like a hooligan. Wren is mesmerised but it makes me nervous and I am always hovering waiting to intervene. Yesterday I didn't intervene quickly enough and Wren fell on his face on the grass... more on that later.

And Its Foot Day!
This morning I noticed two new things on the Wren front. If naked, Wren can now grab his toes and pull them. He seemed fascinated by his feet and kept grabbing and pulling. This is not easy for him with a diaper but I am going to give him more naked time today to practice.

He has also started sucking the insdie of his cheek. I think its that crazy suck reflex he has and its easier than finding a thumb. I noticed it yesterday (even one of the pictures shows him doing it) - part of his lip sucked in - but its regular now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sleep Diary

The Sleep Diary Project has commenced. It updates every time I post data.

If, at any time, you have a suggestion please let me know. I record when he is asleep (dark blue) and how he got to sleep (text). It is in half hour blocks so there is some inaccuracy but will give the general idea.

The link is on the left under SLEEP DIARY.

Wish me luck.

Wren is 5 months old

Wren turned 5 months old this past weekend. He is a very different baby to the one we brought home from hospital. Actually, he is quite different to how he was a few weeks ago.

Wren is very noisy thesedays. He squeals and hoots when other people are talking. We think he is having a conversation. He cries in a cross way and in a hungry way and in a crazed-mostly-asleep way (at night). He is particularly talkative in the afternoon and likes to 'talk' when you are holding him and during diaper change.

Yesterday (5/15/07) Frost was horsing around with Wren, swinging a toy dangerously close to his nose. The toy had a little stretchy part to it that made an interesting buzzing noise when released. Each time Frost repeated the swinging and buzzing routine Wren went into peals of hiccoughy laughter. It was the first time I have seen Wren laugh repeatedly and the most genuine laughter (rather than snorting or a kind of gulping smile) I've witnesssed. Frost was very proud to have been the one to amuse him.

Moving Around
Wren is much happier to be set down on the carpet than he was a month ago. He used to fuss but now he sets to work moving about. He swings his legs up and over to lie on his side and reach for toys I set beside him. He rolls back onto his back and then tries to grab his feet. Most of the time he grasps bunches of pant fabric in his hands and tugs on his knees but sometimes he gets hold of his calf or a foot (especially if he gets a bit of help).

Yesterday, I set him down and went to fetch a new outfit for him. When I returned he had rotated about 90 degrees by this process of rocking and half rolling.

He can roll from front to back easily and does this seemingly by accident whenever I set him down for tummy time. During tummy time (still not his favorite) he pushes on the floor with his feet and scoots forward so that his arms become pinned under him. He complains about this until I free his arms. Even Frost knows to help him get his arms out from under him and open them into a nice stable position or he will topple over onto his back.

If I hold him he presses hard with his legs. I sometimes dress him when he is standing up because its easier to get clothes around behind his back. He is always happier upright and lookes around urgently, craning his head around until he would overbalance if I wasn't holding him firmly.

This desire to see what is going on is becoming a problem with nursing and carrying. He dislikes behing carried backward (facing in) although this is the most comfortable position for me. He prefers being sideways, outward facing or on my back. He is always swinging his head around to see what I am doing (washing, cutting vegies) and has little patience for being set in the chair while I work nearby when he could be held to share the view.

Vampires Feed
Nursing is a bit of struggle as he keeps jerking away to look up at me if I speak or someone enters the room. Noises, even subtle ones like the cats bells, will distract him from nursing and after a few breaks he loses concentration completely and starts smiling and cooing at me with no further interest in eating.

I am not sure whether it is my irritation with his night nursing but I have fallen into the habit of saying "Wren needs to feed" rather than nurse or eat. The term "nursing" is not common in South Africa (or Australia?) - we used to say "breastfeeding"... so "nursing" still sounds a bit of a euphemism for me... one more American sleight of hand to avoid a bodily function as in bathroom for toilet. Now we avoid saying "breast" entirely. Well, I seem to have dropped the breast part which would be okay but Joshua finds it a bit alarming. He says that vampires feed and humans eat. Perhaps it is subliminal because Wren sure feels like a vampire these nights.

No, he's not sleeping. Yes, it a serious issue. No, I don't know what to do about it and I don't want to talk about it other than to say I dislike nights and feel that the sleep problem is having a seriously detrimental affect on my life, activities and relationships. I am going to post a link to a sleep chart I am starting showing Wren's sleep behaviour. It will be linked from the front page later today. If you are interested you may look there. Otherwise I hope to mention it no more. Its bad (4 wakings each night) until I say otherwise.

Wren is still on baby aspirin but its much easier to give it to him now that he can eat the tablet rather than have it mixed with water. He has figured out how to spit out water or Zantac I squirt into his mouth with a syringe. He gets a thoughtful expression and pretty soon he has worked all the liquid out onto his chin and pjs. It is very frustrating.

We plan to introduce solid food in a month or so when he is six months old. Our pediatrician suggested lamb if we are concerned about his iron stores.

Wren is no longer on iron supplements although he gets the Tri Vi Sol containing Vitamin D.

Wren weighs around 19lbs and is very plump looking. His next official weigh-in will be at his 6 month pediatrician appointment but our bathroom scale is probably not far off.

When people see Wren they always say one of three things:
"My, he's a big boy"
"Oh, I love is hair" or
"He's such a beautiful baby!"

Of course, I think they are all true. He has a very regular and appealing face and his hair has a big tuft in front which reminds us of a mohawk. Of course, he is large - about 90th percentile.

I have some new pictures taken this morning showing Frost and Wren in the living room.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Camp Orkila and other extreme sports

We went to Orcas Island over Mother's Day weekend to stay at Camp Orkila with a school group. We had never been there before and elected to stay in the heated "condo" style accomodation to give us a little privacy and comfort with Wren. The weekend was lots of fun (and food) but I have come home feeling like I need to be checked into a Day Spa for the Real Mother's Day.

However, lest I sound overly gloomy - everyone had a lot of fun on the Giant Swing. It was a swing made of cables into which the swinger was clipped from a climbing harness. Frost and Josh were hauled up into the heights of the forest together and plummeted down when Josh released the catch. During the first two swings Frost apparently told Josh that he was getting "plane sick" and was "going to throw up". Josh said he talked him down and by swing #3 Frost was shouting that it was so cool he wanted to swing for 10 years. They were both flushed with adrenaline afterwards.

Frost loved the smores by the fire and playing in the little orchard or meadown around the main firepit area. He was less interested in organized activities and meals than I had expected. Next year we will bring a baby jogger so I don't have to carry Wren all day, a pair of walkie-talkies so I can keep track of Frost and perhaps a Golf Cart so I can actually relax a bit and make it up and back from the farm in time for lunch.

Wren slept okay the first night but had lots of trouble the second night. I was up at 5.30am creeping around and making decaf coffee. Later, I took a walk across the paddock before the sun made it over the rim of the forest and it reminded me very strongly of walks I have taken in the Natal highlands - that pastoral feeling with the blush-pink light and the air full of birdsong. There were red-winged blackbirds living in the bullrushes around the pond trying to woo their brown-winged mates and the sky had that thin haze of a clear day before the heat has built. Even the way the path swayed slightly as it wound across the paddock made me feel an ache of happy sadness - the feeling that you want to capture this moment and set it in some way that can be revisited endlessly. I talked to Frost about wanting to share walks with him sometime and he said that I must have been happy to SEE the birds and HEAR the birds but I couldn't SMELL the birds.

On the way back to Seattle, after Wren had yelled for about 30 minutes in a state of exhaustion, we pulled into a rest stop and swung him in his carseat until he fell asleep. I came up with the concept of the Parents' Olympics which would feature such extreme activities as:

  • The running carseat insertion manoevre in which the parent is required to swing the baby to sleep in a 30+lb containment device and then run alongside a moving car and insert said device into the clasp without stopping the car and thus waking the baby from its eggshell sleep.

  • The Baby Iditarod in which a parent is mushed by child and infant which it tows around through rugged terrain while trying to yelp encouragment and enthusiasm along the way.

  • The Baby Carrier Contortion Move where the parent must follow complex instructions that appear to have been translated by someone who is not a native speaker to put on a device which could seriously harm their infant if assembled incorrectly. Acting on faith and instinct the parent must then insert the infant, put them to sleep, perform housework and then shift the infant from front to rear carry. Points are lost for dropping infant or waking infant or swearing at carrier. Bonus points are awarded for a serene attached demeanour and loving glances to infants fuzzy head

  • Baby Relay where parents pass the infant back and forth without waking it. As in "will you hold him a moment?" "okay" "argh, can you get your hand out from under his head?" "no" "okay, how about..."

So, its good to be home. I have that feeling I remember as a child of loving hiking in the Berg and of being smoky and having bathed in rivers and slept in caves but loving KFC even more afterwards. Of really appreciating the fact of a fridge or, in this case, of being able to set Wren down on the couch and put my feet up and be digital and not have to nurse Wren all night to keep him from waking anyone.

Today its all business. Frost is mastering Level 7 and side quests in Super Paper Mario. He is on a time quota and can't believe I count screen time as including time repeating steps when he died the first time. I am putting garbage out, putting out all the masses of yard waste Dad generated while weeding our garden, mopping the kitchen, doing a week's laundry and generally catching up on the duties of a domestic goddess.

Tomorrow, Frost is going to have his teeth seen again because he has a strange sharp lump on one tooth since his sealants last week. In the afternoon I will be lying on the couch waiting for the Cable Guy to come and fix our dish which seems to have pulled loose from the roof and is generating a frustrating amount of black screen "no signal" time.

On top of all the usual... the sun is here and I can smell summer in the air along with the blooming and growing of flowers and weeds in abundance. I still haven't confirmed Frost in any full day camps and really need to get him in somewhere soon. We have a half-day school-based one and a Stone Soup Theatre performance but I was thinking of one week of doing something else.

Wren turned 5 MONTHS old on Sunday (Mother's Day) and I will post an update about him soon.

For me, mothers day began at about 9.15pm when I dunked my feet into a bath of hot parrafin wax and then wrapped them in plastic and lay back on the couch in my pajamas to watch half an episode of CSI. Bliss. Wren slept till midnight which was sweet too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

thinking of...

I'll be posting our update soon... we've been away and are exhausted but happy to be home.

Meanwhile...please send some prayers/good thoughts out there for two "heart" kids facing repeat surgeries. Jilly is scheduled for her Fontan at UCSF tomorrow and Gabe is having OHS on Tuesday to repair Supra Valvular Pulmonary Stenosis. He had an arterial switch at 12 days old but, according to his blog "his pulmonary artery has stopped growing at the switch site because scar tissue is obstructing it".

Feeling the Love across Cyberspace