The week for Milestones

As timing would have it, Elliott decided that he wanted to start wearing underwear and using the potty the Friday before our trip to Mexico. The first round of potty training didn’t go well and after several months without success we decided to shelve the attempt. From everything I read we put to much pressure on him to use the pot. So he took control of the thing he knew he could-his bladder and bowels to resist the pressure.

After much parental guilt and discussion between the hubby and I – We told him that it was his body and that he needed to be ready to pee and poop in the pot. We apologized for pressuring him and told him to tell us when he was ready. And from then on we didn’t mention it to him. If he would complain about the cold wipes during a diaper change we would remind him that TP wasn’t wet or cold. Or if he would complain or fuss about diaper changes we would tell him that he could decide/choose to use the toilet anytime but until then we had to wear diapers.

I also decided to skip the pull-ups and the training potty and go straight for underwear and the big toilet. I wanted simplicity and less mess (counter intuitive but true!).

So 3 days before our 5+ hour plane trip plus countless airport hours we switched from diapers to underwear. He is doing great. We have had several accidents, of course. But this is a way different experience for us both. The timing is his and he is in charge. What an awesome feeling for him!

Elliott has also strongly resisted dressing and undressing himself. This is partly our fault as his folks. And partly his way of asserting himself. More often we would rather just do it for him and get out of the house than wait and wait and wait for him to get around to it-if he ever did. What we weren’t seeing was the big picture as it relates to self confidence and independence. We were also short changing him as it relates to coordination.

However, since he started using the pot we have required him to start putting his clothes on and taking them off. This is especially important after he has an accident-he has to sit on the pot, then clean up the pee (to the best of a 2 year olds ability), then put his wet clothes in the laundry and get dressed again. All of these things are normal events-but act as a deterrent for him. The benefit is that he is so proud of himself afterwards!

I suspect that alot of Elliott’s new found confidence is from the swim lessons that he took the 2 weeks prior to our trip to Cancun. There are several schools of thought as it relates to swimming. The classes we took we the life saving type and therefore they took a fairly hard lined approach to learning. Elliott hasn’t been exposed to the tuff love method to much-so it came as a big shock to him. There were a lot of tears the first few days and a bunch of pool water swallowed.

The lessons were simple-they were designed to tap into our innate ability to swim. The instructor always orients the child to the side of the pool and then sends him on his way.
At the end of 2 weeks Elliott felt very confident in himself and had learned the basics of life saving swimming techniques. Many people think this method is mean and won’t subject their children to this type of learning. And if my son had a fear of water I might not consider such a harsh method. But, Elliott has zero fear of water-he goes down the water slide at his Grandparents pool, jumps off the side of the pool into the deep end without a care for who will catch him, and last summer walked straight into the Ocean. I had to run in with all my clothes on and get him. So, these lessons taught him to swim as well as a healthy fear of the water.  A win-win in my book.

The finger saga continues.  Elliott has had 2 post-op follow up appointments with the surgeon.  Both appointments went well.  The doc thinks there is still something in his finger based on the swelling, but is hopeful that his body will be able to break it down and absorb it.  We follow up again in 2 months.  Again, as luck and timing would have it-the Sunday before we leave for Mexico I noticed that one of the stitch sites was infected.  There was a bubble of green pus.  I called the nurse line and she said to come into the ER and they would treat it–she didnt recommend waiting until we returned in case it was something more serious. 


The doc who saw him said it looked like a stitch was stuck inside, and was causing a light infection.  She took a needle and popped the pustule and sent a sample to the lab.  More antibiotics and we were on our way. I took the liberty of removing the other 2 stitches that appeared to be stuck myself.  Our medical deductible has almost been met.  Yes, that is $6k we are going to have to pay out of pocket.  We dont need anymore medical bills. I even cancelled Spencer’s last PT session because I think it was more of a formality than a necessity.  

Since this is the week for milestones–Spencer took the hint and started rolling over.  I bought him a travel tent/bed for our trip.  I knew we were going to be spending a fair amount of time at or in the pool.  So, I wanted to be sure he was comfy and in the shade.  One day while Elliott was swimming, Spencer was enjoying some tummy time in his tent.  Next thing you know he was on his side then on his back again.  And so it begins–his active journey.  Since he can now move about, we are also allowing him to sleep on his tummy.  He seems to enjoy sleeping both on his back and on his stomach.  Neither position elicit more sleep than the other though.  Boo. 


4 months and growing

All is well here in baby land.

Elliott is recovering from his surgery.  His finger is still pretty swollen.  The surgeon said it could be from where they effectively broke it, or it could be that he still has a piece of the frond in his finger.  The good news is that the infection is gone.  The bad news is that if the swelling persists and his little body doesn’t absorb the frond, he will need an MRI and another surgery to remove it.  I haven’t received a hospital bill yet, but I cringe each time I open the mail box.

We also had him tested for allergies–and all things are negative.  What we may have thought were allergies could have been a chronic cold.  He still is having a facial skin reaction to something…but we haven’t been able to nail down what yet.  All things considered though, Elliott is back to his joyful, silly, energetic self.

Spencer is awesome.  He is a very happy, easy going baby.  He is extremely vocal and will tell you when he needs something.  He, like Elliott is growing up to be a big boy.  I took Spencer to his 4 month appointment a couple of weeks late, but he weighed in at 17 pounds (90%) and 26 inches long (90%).  I looked back at Elliott’s numbers when he was the same age and Elliott weighed more but they are the same height.  Spencer is also a WAY better sleeper than Elliott was.  Perhaps that is because we co-sleep with Spencer and we didnt co-sleep in the same way with Elliott.

As for me, I accepted a temporary part-time consulting position.  The office is too far from my home to consider anything permanent, but I like the flexibility of being able to work from home on occasion.  I feel like a productive member of society again.

I put my Stroller Strides membership on hold for a while because of all the medical issues we have had as well as the drama that SS has been dealing with regarding permitting with the City of SD.  I still need to find some sort of exercise outlet to help me lose 10 more pounds (if not more) and we are thinking of joining the YMCA.  I loved getting outside with SS and socializing with the other Mom friends I have made, but I also want to get a break sometimes, and the Y offers babysitting services.

This awesome photo of Spencer was taken by Jenna Rowe Photography

The saga of the swollen finger

A Mom’s work is worry…or so they say?  Well, I must be working OT.  Or so, I feel anyway.  While I recognize that this is small potatoes compared with many families medical issues, this was scary for our family.

About 5 weeks ago, Elliott was angry and struck a pygmy palm tree with his hand.  He cried for a bit, and was over it.  I looked at the wound and didn’t think anything of it.  It wasn’t bleeding, there wasn’t anything stuck in his finger that I could see, and he was back playing fairly quick.  But, the fronds had spines on them and I knew that one must have poked his finger.

A few days later I noted that it was swollen and he wasn’t using it.  I mentioned it to the hubby, who in typical hubby fashion, said not to worry about it.  I called the nurse line at the peds office and they had me come in.  By this time the finger was really sore and he was complaining about it.

The doctor noticed some redness and spots on the top of his hand, but no other signs of a problem.  She thought that perhaps it was infected and wrote us an RX for 10 days of Keflex, 4 times a day.  40 doses!!  After several days on the meds, I hadn’t seen any improvement in the swelling, so I called the ped office again.

We went to a second appointment, and I ran through the whole story to a new pediatrician and resident.  They thought that perhaps he jammed it, similar to a basketball injury.  But, just to be safe ordered an xray.  The xrays were negative for a break/fracture.  So, the doc said, in a very dismissive, insulting way–to go home, take the rest of the antibiotics and call if the swelling was still there after we completed the meds.

I went home feeling like I was overreacting and started to question my intuition and parenting skills.  On top of that, I was almost out of medication and he had only been on it a few days.  I called the pharmacy only to realize they shorted us a bottle of the medication.  I had to walk through the dosage math with the tech to convince him that they did it wrong.  Some of my confidence was subsequently restored having discovered that it wasn’t my dosing error but their mathematical error. But, having to go back to the pharmacy again bites.

During this same time period, I was finally able to get Elliott in to see an allergist.  He has had what can only be described as allergy symptoms for a few winters.  They did the skin prick test for environmental allergies and all of them come back negative…  I am now feeling extremely over protective and wondering if I am being a hypochondriac.  Not to mention that our insurance deductible is $6k–so all of these visits and meds are out of pocket until we reach our deductible Yes, SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Elliott finished the medication.  We celebrate hubby’s 40th birthday party. Another week goes by and I notice the finger is still swollen.  I ask around to be sure I am not being crazy and paranoid (this occasionally happens), and I call the nurse line again.  2 days later the doc calls back and says they are going to refer me to an Orthopedic doc.  I ask him what his line of thinking is…and he says, that they are out of ideas.

Hmm, ok.  We go to the Orthopedic doc on Friday morning.  They don’t have our appointment on the books, but take us anyway.  But, first we swing by the lab and Elliott gets his blood drawn for a RAST test.  He had 2 skin reactions to what both his daycare provider and I thought was peanut butter.  More worry and panic.  Needless to say–Elliott was not pleased to have a blood draw.  But all things considered he was fairly reasonable about it.  And stopped crying as soon as I released his arm.

We see the ortho doc, who is about as quirky as Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  In fact he looked in my diaper bag twice if that sheds some light on it.  Well, he ordered 3 more x-rays.  Urgghh.  More x-rays!!!  Elliott has had x-rays 5 times and 4 of them have been in the last 6 months–ankle (not broken-phew!), clavicle (broken), chest (Bronchitis), hand/finger twice.  He comes back and advises me that he has a bone infection.

Um, excuse me?  Yes, I heard him right.  Osteomyelitis.  He started saying things like blood work, hospital admittance, MRI, surgery.  I called the hubby and asked him to leave work and meet me at the hospital asap.I was very nervous and needed support.

The doc wanted to get more blood work to help confirm his diagnosis. Poor kid braved out one blood draw, but now needs a second one — on the same day!  The blood came back OK, so they wanted to order an MRI.  Apparently for a kid to get an MRI they have to put them under general anesthesia.  So, we were looking at a hospital admittance.

Uh, not exactly what I had planned for my Friday. But, ok I am rolling with it.  Trying to stay calm for my son’s sake.  He was hungry and thirsty and begging me for water–and since he was going under they wouldn’t let him eat or drink.  We end up waiting several hours for a room vacancy, and by then the anesthesiologist for MRI had gone home for the night.  We finally speak with the surgeon who was confident that either way surgery was needed.  And by skipping the MRI we would save thousands of dollars (see above for insurance deductible)

So, at 6:30pm he went in for surgery on his finger.  They drilled 4 holes in his bone, released the pressure, took some samples of the bone and tendon fluid, and stitched him up.  It was heartbreaking handing him over to the OR nurse and watching him walk back to the OR with her.  Everything went great, and the surgery only took about 40 minutes.  We were out of recovery and back in the room by 8:00pm.

And by 9pm he was drinking water and eating Popsicles on my lap.  By 10pm he was fast asleep with Daddy by his side.  Only one parent can sleep in the room with him, and since Spencer wont take a bottle–I had to go home and the hubby had to stay.  I was back bright and early the next morning, and he was already running down the halls and eating a HUGE breakfast.

He received a few doses of antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory through his IV (which thankfully they inserted after he was already under–thanks to the strawberry scented ‘special air’).  By noon the doc had cleared him for discharge.  They re-dressed his bandage since it was already 3/4 of the way falling off…he is a 2 year old after all.  And sent us home with meds for pain, and another antibiotic.

There was a slight mix up with the RX–as in the doc wrote the wrong one.  We filled it, paid $179 for it, only to discover after talking between us that it was the wrong one.  The nurse verified our theory with the doc and the pharmacy reluctantly refunded our money.  They didn’t have the new Rx, so the nurses called all the pharmacies in our area only to concede to an intra-pharmacy transfer (in-patient to out-patient)…sheesh!

$125 lighter and several hours later–we finally leave the hospital at 4pm.  Freedom at last!

Elliott doesn’t seem to notice the bandages, hasn’t complained about his hand, and has slept 2 solid nights without waking once (something that hasn’t happened in more than a month).

What an ordeal.  But, I learned an important lesson.  You may have already guessed it.

It is to trust myself.  I know my son.  I know when something isn’t right.  I know that even though he wasn’t directly complaining about pain-that something was wrong.  And that sometimes injuries manifest themselves in other ways–like night waking or malaise.

Baby Love

Remembering back to when Elliott was a wee one–I recall not liking the baby phase AT ALL.  I suspect that my anxiety played a role in that.  But moreover, I suspect that my lack of experience and exposure to babies in general was more the culprit.

This time around, I am in love with the baby stage.  My wee one is the.most.adorable baby I have ever seen (of course!). And, granted there are several super duper cute kids around these days.  My eyes are fixated on mine.  He dishes out smiles by the handful, he laughs and giggles with ease.  He is a great sleeper (this is subjective of course).  He rarely fusses (again subjective).  What more could a Mama want?

My older son is adjusting well to life with a younger brother.  He hasn’t tried to hurt Spencer yet, unless you count trying to give him water from a sippy cup or putting the corners of his lovie in Spencer’s nose.  And he is only slightly jealous of him and his toys.  Elliott has clearly marked his territory though, by licking each and every teething toy that Spencer owns.  As well as taking several other non-teething toys and calling them him own.

I feel like we are finally finding our groove.  Things are getting easier and having two kids in more comfortable.  It was tough for the first 10-12 weeks.

Fight your own battles

Everyone always says they don’t want to end up like their parents.  And then, at some point in our parenting career, we do something that our parents did.

There is an Oh Shit moment.

I had that moment this morning.  My mother was, and continues to be stoic with her feelings.  She didn’t express a lot of empathy or sympathy towards our childhood pleas. She despised whining.  She always told us to fight our own battles.  I understand that she was trying to encourage my younger sister and I to become independent and strong women.  I get it.  But, sometimes we needed the coddling.  We needed the support of our role model, our Mom–we were little kids after all.  We needed to be shown how to respond, how to behave, how to fight back.

So, I have found myself lately acting in the same manner towards my toddler. He is capable of doing simple tasks by himself-putting his shoes on, taking off his clothes, climbing up into his car seat.  But, he refuses and gives a fake attempt and then says-Nope, I cant.  Then he whines for me to help him.  Knowing that he can do things on his own, I have been strongly encouraging him to do it himself.  He will then cry about how he cant do it and whine more.  The cycle of whining and crying will escalate the longer I insist he do it himself.  I reach my wits end, and end up yelling, he cries because I have hurt his feelings and he thinks I am mad at him (rather then frustrated at the situation).  We end up in a no-win situation.

I realized that I was not being empathetic to my son.  I was looking at the problem and only wanting to move towards the solution; without allowing myself to feel for him and he plight.  I wasn’t allowing myself to see that he was really upset over me not helping him.  I began to wonder if he was upset for the same reasons I was as a child?  Did he feel abandoned by my refusal to help him?  Am I do more harm than good by not helping him?

So, today I am slowing down.  I am taking it easy on him and myself.  I am lowering my expectations.  I am choosing not to yell, and instead I am trying to look deeper into him and look at the reasons he is refusing.  I want my boys to trust me and know that I will always be there for them.  My love is unconditional.  Yes, they will have to fight their own battles still, but I hope to be able to provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

5 week update

Phew, the holidays are over.  I love being with family and celebrating, and gifts…but with a newborn and a very spirited toddler-well chaos isn’t far behind.  In fact, I feel like I am either chasing or being followed by a little tornado.  Everytime I pick up one mess, another is being dumped out behind me.
Spencer, so far, is an awesome newborn.  He is now moving into the infant stage and seems to be getting more comfortable with life outside the womb.  I am doing so many thing differently with him being the second child and all.  Part of the differences are due to way in which he made his way into this world, many of them are because I am a more confident parent, and some are due to his easy going disposition. 
I was convinced that Spencer was going to be a hyperactive kid who never slept.  But, in fact, it is just the opposite.  While we are 5 weeks in, he is a great sleeper both at night and naps. He is rarely fussy with the exception being when he has to poop—which so far is every 3-5 days.  We have already had 3 poonami’s—which consist of him blowing his diaper, onesie, outfit and carseat out.  He loves baths and seems to just melt into the tub whenever we place him there.  He is starting the quiet alert stage—where he just looks around and takes in the lights and colors. 
Elliott is still an amazing little kid.  He continues to be great at sharing his toys and still has a compassionate side to him.  He is becoming a very good conversationalist and has an awesome memory for names and details.  Elliott loves all things trains, trucks, cars, diggers and airplanes.  He seems to have a preference for things that GO.  Although we spent over an hour last night together putting together puzzles (he only wanted to put together the train, drums, car and animals puzzles…go figure). 
Our battle with potty training is ongoing.  He was going pee in the potty with regularity and staying dry in between.  I was just about ready to move him to underwear full time.  He could even hold his bladder all night on most nights.  He has however decided to assert his own variety of independence and now refuses to pee in the pot, and won’t hold his pee at night.  His pull ups were getting so soaked through that 3 times they leaked.  Pull ups are just not meant to hold that much pee…  Plus, he now has a rash caused by the wet pull up and his refusal to pee in the pot (and our lack of changing it often enough).  So, he is back to wearing diapers until he decides he is ready to pee in the pot again.  We keep asking him, and we make him sit there still but it is a battle every time.  It makes me wonder if it is a battle I shouldn’t be fighting.  This is one of those areas where I am uncertain as to the ‘right’ thing to do.  Should I force him to sit on the pot even though it causes him distress?  Or do I just keep on keeping on, and hope that sometime in the future he will change his mind and decide he is ready?  The potty training experts say that you shouldn’t go back, and once in pulls up don’t go back to diapers…  But, he is a willful child and doesn’t like being told what to do.  Yes, like his Mama, he already has an authority complex.  The battle rages on.
I love being a Mom to two boys.  I feel like I am adjusting well to life with two children, although it has its challenges.  I had a small amount of free time with Elliott.  I now feel like I don’t have any free time.  Even something as mundane as a shower needs to be carefully scheduled and cleared with the hubby.  I can see how this lack of ‘me’ time could build resentment and frustration if you aren’t communicating your needs often and clearly.
Speaking of needs—nap time if over and mine needs a feeding and diaper change. 

34 weeks and a Potty training update

34 week appointment this past Wednesday. It seems that all of a sudden all of the pregnancy symptoms have kicked into high gear. Backache-check. Exhaustion-check. Pelvic pressure-check. Hemorrhoids-check. Constipation(continued)- check. Heart Burn (so bad I cant sleep)-check. Restless Legs-check. Leg cramps-check. I do feel grateful that I have managed to keep these aches and pains at bay for so long. And they are only intermittent, and all things considered I really feel very good.  

After my Midwife appt. I actually felt relieved having voiced all of my concerns. It was as if what I really needed was for someone to hear my complaints. She offered some helpful suggestions–take Calcium/Magnesium for the RLS and take it easy for everything else.  

The baby was head down when she checked, and wants to wait until my 36 week appointment to confirm positioning. In spite of the evidence that he isn’t supposed to have much room in my uterus–he can still move around plenty and not without notice. Thursday he was hiccupping under my rib cage again. We spoke again about options since it is getting closer to my due date and Elliott came at 38.5 weeks.  

The options presented if he is still breech at 36/37 weeks are to schedule and perform a version (ECV) where they hook me up to an IV, and attempt to manually move him into head down position. I say attempt because occasionally babies don’t move. They can then place a support band around my tummy to ‘hold’ him in place until I deliver. Neither the ECV nor the band ensure he will not move again. If he moves again, they can perform the procedure again. Or I can wait.  I am most likely going to wait until I go into labor. If I present to L&D and he is still breech I will be having a C-section and if not, I will attempt a VBAC. The midwife seemed fine with this decision as she confirmed that babies can and do move from breech to head down up until labor. 

The potty training is hit or miss. Some days are great with few accidents and dry underwear for most of the day.  Other days (yesterday, for example) are accident after accident, fighting to get him on the potty, and frustration by all parties involved.  The successes are he will use public restrooms, isn’t afraid of the toilet flushing, and his aim is getting better.  He can also hold most of his pee all night long (8pm-6am).  The not so good parts are he is always wet after nap time, wont poop in the potty, and isn’t telling me all that often that he has to go pee. The other positive is that somehow potty training has improved our relationship in an awesome way.  I suspect the amount of one on one time we are spending together is having a positive influence on us both.  Plus, me being down on his level so much more, and all of the extra hugs and kisses and words of praise and encouragement.  Whatever it is—I am grateful for it.  

Milestones and updates

We have been flying under the radar these days.  Elliott was going through a nap/bedtime refusal period where he wouldn’t take a nap 3 out of 4 days.  He would get up repeatedly from his bed and play with his toys, or run around the house.  When I would try and put him back in, he would cry and scream and get out again. We fought like this for 2 weeks or so.  I decided to talk with his daycare provider, who in turn spoke with Elliott. And I spoke with all of my friends with kids.

They all suggested the same thing.  Once its time to go to bed–the child needs to stay there.  No exceptions.  So, we reestablished the rules of staying in bed (with the help of our daycare provider).  Then, if he got out once, I took a stuffed animal away.  If he got out again, I put him in his pack-n-play to sleep.    Needless to say–he hated being confined to the pack-n-play and after a couple of days in there, he was back on schedule.

But, then on top of the nap strike– he wouldn’t go to bed without kicking and screaming, crying and fighting.  He was sleep deprived and was getting up in the mornings around 5 or 5:30am.  Elliott is the classic kid where sleep begets sleep–the more sleep he gets, the happier he is, and the longer he naps and sleeps in.  If his naps get cut short, or we get out of our routine for to many days–he starts to wake early, nap short, and get very cranky.

We moved his bedtime to 8pm, reestablished the naps and the bedtimes solved themselves.  During the sleepless weeks, hubby thought it would be a good time to kick the Pacifier habit as well.  His logic was–as long as none of us were sleeping, we might as well bite the bullet and make the the change.  The last time we tried to get rid of the paci–none of us slept and one of us was traumatized.  This time it was an easy transition, and we haven’t looked back.  There was hardly any talk of its absence.  WooT!  Three cheers for something good coming out of 2 weeks of struggle!

While both the hubby and I are careful planners with some things…others things we are more whimsical about.  Deciding that NOW was the time to start potty training/learning was one of those whims for me.  Let me explain–we have been practicing the potty for about 4 months.  Sometimes he would use it while other times he declined.  The challenge was that he would only pee standing up–which was a mess to say the least.  Monday, after I picked him up from daycare I decided that we should start training him the next day.  I put all the diapers away, moved the changing table mat to our bedroom in prep for baby #2, and repacked the diaper bags with pull ups and changes of clothes.

Tuesday morning we told Elliott what to expect, put a pull up on him, and set the timer for 35 minute intervals.  We also went and bought a new potty chair because ours sucked.  I LOVE the new chair because it is easy to clean, sturdy, and he actually will sit on this one.  Elliott seams to like it because he can sit easily on it and not spray pee all over the place and he can empty to bowl into the big potty.  So, we have established a sitting only rule for the potty–and have had great success these last 2 days.  We have handed out many stickers and M and M’s, cleaned up a few messes from diaper free time and my back is killing me from leaning over and squatting in the bathroom.  But, today he pooped in the potty for the first time; which I think took him by surprise because he looked totally shocked when he saw what was in the bowl.  And he seemed kinda nervous about what had just happened.  We also have taken him into public restrooms to pee yesterday and today and he seems fine with using public bathrooms.  Although I am still learning the best way to handle his penis spraying pee all of the place…All and all I think we are well on our way.

Nothing new to report on the pregnancy front–32 week appointment was uneventful.  Baby #2 is doing fine, he was head down yesterday as far as she could tell, his heart rate is normal.  In 2 weeks I go back and if the midwife isn’t 100% certain of his position–she will do a quick ultrasound to confirm.  I told her that I was certain he can still move around as sometimes he has the hiccups and I can feel them in my ribs and sometimes  I feel them in my pelvis.