My Comfort Zone Ends at my Front Door

February 29, 2008

You would be so proud of me.  Yesterday afternoon, PJ was awakened prematurely from his nap by a guy working on the neighbor’s cable right outside his bedroom window.  When I went in to check on him, he was hiding behind the blinds watching the action.  Even after getting him up from his nap and getting his snack, he kept hovering by the windows on that side of the house to watch.

After a little while, the neighbor came out with his two youngest boys.  Of course PJ thought that was cool, and the three boys kept playing through the window.  It was cute but kind of sad to watch my son interact with his peers through a thick piece of glass.  It felt like the ultimate of social deprivation to me, to make him play with other kids only through a window.  There was no real reason he couldn’t go play with them.

So I put his shoes on him (and pants, which were off yet again), grabbed BabyN, and the three of us went outside to socialize.  Do you have any idea how far out of my comfort zone this is?  The neighbor makes me a little uncomfortable (it was the husband, not the wife), and it’s tough keeping up with PJ while I’m holding BabyN.  But I knew one of the best things I can do to help PJ right now is expose him to other children his age.

We didn’t stay out too long; all that standing while holding a huge baby was killing my back.  But PJ got a good half-hour of playing with other kids.  It was very interesting to watch.  The older boy was about 4 and the younger one about 15 months.  PJ was almost the exact same size as the little one, except that he’s much skinnier.  In some ways, they were more similar, especially in their verbal interactions–or lack thereof.  Yet I was also able to understand better how PJ scored so highly on social skills.  He got along great with the four-year-old, the two acting much like peers anytime language wasn’t involved.

It’s funny how much more I learned about my little boy by watching him interact with other children, other than his little brother.  The other times that has happened, he was in the church nursery or something, where I wasn’t actually present.  It also made me start looking for things I can do with PJ and BabyN to encourage such socialization that won’t take me too far out of my comfort zone.  And yes, I do believe we’ll be looking into a preschool or Mother’s Day Out sort of program for the fall.  Yikes.  It’s hard to believe we’re already ready for that!

It Makes Sense to Me Anyway

February 28, 2008

I apologize for yesterday’s lengthy rant.  I won’t take it back and say I’m not frustrated as all get-out about this unnecessary, wasteful trip, but I probably didn’t need to go on about it for that long.  I’ve noticed that I definitely have more positive phases and more negative ones.  I’m clearly in a negative one right now.  The phases have to do with what kind of a day I’m having with the joint pain.  Needless to say, it’s been bad lately.  The last two or three days have been the worst yet.  M and I are trying to work out a plan to get me to the doctor.  Unfortunately, we can’t do so until after his trip.  It all comes back to that, doesn’t it?

There’s not much else to talk about other than that.  The rest of my life is this difficult process of learning all over how to interact with my son.  It’s harder than you realize to make those changes, to form new habits, and to remember all the things I’m supposed to be doing.

My mom and husband have been very helpful as I’ve fought the inevitable guilt.  I keep wondering how things would have been different if I’d pressured PJ’s doctor a little more back when I first started worrying about his language skills.  After all, I see him every day while he only sees him a few times a year for a few minutes at a time.  If I’m worried, shouldn’t we at least look into whether that’s a valid concern instead of just brushing it off?  My mom was telling me just yesterday, though, that she has all sorts of regrets about how she dealt with situations with us as we grew up too.  We all pulled through it fine and it doesn’t accomplish anything to wonder about those what-ifs.  Although I obviously know that, it doesn’t hurt to hear it again.

I also asked M yesterday if he thought that being pregnant with BabyN caused some of the issues.  For several months, I was unable to give him the same attention I wanted to because of the morning sickness.  I also wondered if it hurt that I couldn’t play on the floor with him at all in the last few months.  M pointed out that because I couldn’t move as much, I had to rely on PJ much more to start doing things for himself.  That’s why he is so much better at listening and understanding than the other areas of communication.  If things had been different during the last year or so, he might be just as far behind in his responsive communication as the other areas.

I’m constantly reminding myself that this isn’t anybody’s fault.  Perhaps if I knew all the tricks they’re teaching me, I could have helped PJ earlier and kept him from getting as far behind…but there is simply something wrong with PJ and how he processes things.  Nothing I have done or haven’t done is behind PJ’s problems.  It’s not worth beating myself up about.  And he’s getting help now.  That’s what’s really important.

(Thanks for listening to me comfort myself.  I think that’s really what this post is.  Now I have it written, so when I lapse back into guilt, I can go back and read this and remind myself that it’s pointless to feel guilty.)

Have a Nice Trip

February 27, 2008

There’s a lot more reaction to the results yesterday that I’d like to get into, but I don’t know that I have the heart to today.  M and I discussed most of it yesterday, so at least I’ve gotten it off my chest.  He feels the same way about much of it.  Let’s just say it’s a combination of guilt, regret, and relief all rolled into one.  And we worry about this affecting our relationship with both boys, the way the focus will be forced to turn back to PJ, as it appears as though he is still the needier one, even with a baby brother around.  I’m coming to terms with it and will be fine, but it’s going to take some getting used to.  And you’re all right–eventually he will catch up and all of this will be a thing of the past.

So on to other things…we found out on Monday that a frustrating business trip M thought he’d managed to convince his boss not to send him on was happening anyway.  The big boss of the company found out and didn’t care if it was entirely irrelevant to the project M is working on.  They’re going, and it’s happening next week.  The company is dropping lots of cash on the trip, between last-minute plane tickets and hotel rooms in an expensive area of an expensive city.  M’s annoyed because it’s a huge waste of time and money.  He’d rather stay home and actually get stuff done on the project instead of fishing for one shred of help for the project that he probably won’t get.  Besides, he’d rather be close to me and not alone in a hotel room halfway across the country.

When he interviewed for the job, he was told that travel like this would be practically nonexistent.  Maybe a class in another city in the state from time to time (the one where my parents coincidentally live, so we could tag along), but very rarely more than that.  Needless to say, we’re both incredibly frustrated that that isn’t the case.  This will be his fourth trip in less than four months, all out of state by a long shot.  Some talk has come up about more trips in the relatively near future, one possibly to Japan.  I mean, that would be totally awesome, but I would be much more excited about the possibility if he hadn’t been gone so much recently.

I keep hoping a good job opportunity arises in the city where my parents live, one that M just can’t turn down.  He fights daily frustration with his job, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why he hasn’t actively looked for a new job yet.  Sure, they take pretty good care of him (other than the insurance getting ridiculously awful, which was the main reason he took this job over a different one in the first place), and the people in his department respect him and make sure he knows that, but if you still hate your job, why stay?

Anyway, sorry for the rant today.  I guess I’m more annoyed about all of this than I thought.  I’m sure everything with this newest trip will end up fine, as it always seems I worry for nothing about these things.

He’s In

February 26, 2008

PJ’s evaluation this morning lasted about two hours, and by some miracle we were all up, dressed, and ready to go by eight this morning when they showed up.  I even had make-up on.  I am so taking a nap this afternoon.

The good news is that he will be receiving help.  The better news is that he is actually ahead of the game in the social area–seriously, how did that happen?  It’s certainly not genetic, and it’s not as though he gets much peer interaction.

The bad news is that he qualified all too easily for services.  He came in at a 17-month level in the area of cognition (remember he’s 28 months old).  Most of the problems there were related to his speech, though; they don’t really think he’s that far behind in most of his thinking.  What they saw from his language skills, too, came in somewhere between 12 and 18 months.  That one was harder to tell as well because he does do some things near his age level, but so many are still so far behind.

I actually fought tears a little bit when I heard the results.  I knew he was behind, but I was guessing they were going to tell me he was at about a 20-month level.  To think he’s at least a year behind, if not more, is a little scary.

But he’s getting help now.  For the moment they will come work with him once a week.  They also gave me a whole list of things to do at home to make the sessions help just that much more.  It’s going to be difficult to make all those changes in how our most basic interactions work, but they will be worth it.  With any luck, we should start seeing massive improvements within the next few months.  I’ll keep you updated (how could I not?).

Tests and Evaluations

February 25, 2008

PJ has his language evaluation with ECI tomorrow morning.  Naturally, it comes on the heels of a mini-explosion, with several new words this weekend.  He also started kissing us sometimes, something totally new for him.  I’m thrilled for the new developments, but I’m hoping they won’t be what keeps him from getting treatment.  I know without a doubt that he’s pretty far behind; this evaluation is just to determine exactly how far behind he is.  The worst case scenario is that he’s five months behind because six months is the minimum for treatment (I think).  I would hate for him to be that far behind but not quite enough to get the help.  The best case scenario is that they discover he’s not really behind at all, but I know for a fact that this isn’t going to happen.  With any luck, we should finally get the help he needs after tomorrow.

Lessons of a Second-Time Mother

February 24, 2008

My little baby is getting so big.  Last night, M and I took the boys for a walk (enjoying the gorgeous 70-degree weather) in the double stroller.  It was exactly the second time that sucker has gotten used.  I think we took the walk more out of guilt for not using the extravagant gift from his grandparents than anything else.  Anyway, BabyN sat in the stroller like a big boy, without his infant seat.  It was the first time he’s ever travelled anywhere facing forward (unless you count the baby carrier).  We’re also looking at starting solids sooner rather than later.  I thought after he starting sleeping through the night that I’d be ready for that, but I’m still not.  I remember how disappointed I was to realize I wasn’t solely responsible for PJ’s nutrition needs when he started solids.  I don’t want to feel that way again.  That day was the start of him spending less and less bonding time with me while breastfeeding–as it should be–and I know I’ll miss that so much more this time around, with what could easily be our last baby.  I’m so proud that BabyN is such a big boy and growing up so fast, but I know better what I’ll miss when he outgrows each stage and I’m reluctant to push him into that next stage any earlier than absolutely necessary.

Is It the Hair?

February 23, 2008

The funny story from this morning: We’re watching 102 Dalmations (I hate Saturday morning TV), and Cruella DeVille reminded M he needed to call his grandma.  I’m not entirely sure of the connection, but it cracks me up either way.


February 22, 2008

Gosh, I’m tired this morning.  I stayed up too late last night, between the good book I couldn’t put down and the fact that even when I did, the joint pain was bad enough it would keep me awake anyway.  (By the way, it got better for a few days, so I figured it was okay.  Then we got some rain the other day and it’s been bad ever since.)  Then both boys woke up at the same time this morning.  It was really a reasonable time, especially since it was BabyN’s first feeding in over twelve hours, but less reasonable when you consider how late I fell asleep.

Maybe I’ll get a nap when the boys go down for one.  I can always hope, right?

In other news, recently we decided to drop a big chunk of money on a new computer for M.  It’s really nice; I particularly love his monitor.  We decided that there was no need to get rid of his old computer either, as we didn’t need the money and it still works great.  That has become my desktop–and I still have the laptop for blogging, etc.  We are so lucky!  The problem is that when we rearranged our study to accommodate two desktop computers, something about the new configuration has rendered our old computer’s wireless card ineffective.  In fact, the whole computer seems unstable now.  I can’t play around on it for more than a few minutes without the wireless signal disappearing or the whole thing crashing.  M’s ordered a new, better wireless card for it, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt until then.  We got a couple of good laughs out of the situation, joking that the computer just missed him and didn’t like me.  Why else would it suddenly start freaking out for only me?

There’s not much else to talk about today.  I’m starting to get the writing bug again, so if I disappear for a few days, it’s because I’m focusing on writing silly stuff for me again.  I wish I could tell you this stuff is good and going to be published someday, but it makes for a good hobby if nothing else.  At least I know it’s not really good and haven’t set my hopes on it or anything.

And yay.  It’s Friday.  It may have been a short week, but I am so ready for the weekend.

Family Matters

February 21, 2008

Wow, talk about crazy stuff happening around here.  Well, technically it’s happening with our families and we’re not even affected, but crazy nevertheless.

First, we heard on Tuesday that my nephew’s homecoming from the hospital is imminent.  At the time he had one or two simple tests to pass, which were pretty much givens, and then he could be released.  They were saying by the end of the week, so maybe tomorrow even.  When M was talking to his brother, the brother was freaking out.  They feel totally unprepared to have the baby at home already.  I remember that feeling all too well.  Do you ever feel completely ready for your first child, not knowing for sure what exactly you need to take care of it?  I kind of doubt that is just a preemie thing.

That exciting news comes on the heels of a massive event affecting the town where my MIL and FIL live (just a few miles away from my BIL and SIL).  I’m not going to give too many details because it’s made the national news, and I’d prefer to keep a little privacy about locations here.  Because of the massive event, though, my in-laws were evacuated from their house and were just recently allowed to return.  Their house was damaged as a result of the event, and now M’s doing his best to convince his father it’s worth getting the house officially inspected for insurance purposes.  It’s possible the house was damaged enough that it will be condemned.  They’ve just put lots of money in remodeling the house, too, so that would be disappointing to have to start over.

Then I talked to my mom yesterday and she updated me about what’s going on with my siblings.  My older brother and his family have been fighting the flu for weeks now, and it’s now on its second round through the family.  Fortunately the baby has gotten the weakest case of it, but it stinks to have to care for a young baby when you’re sick as well.  I feel bad for them.

But not as bad as I feel for my little brother.  It turns out that he is also sick, but not with the flu.  He has shingles.  I didn’t know too much about the disease before yesterday, except that it normally affects older people, is connected somehow with chicken pox, and can cause excruciating pain.  Apparently it can also cause blister-like skin problems.  My brother has these on his face and is terribly embarrassed by them.  Also, because it is a result of the chicken pox virus, he has been advised to avoid anyone who has not had chicken pox or the vaccination for it.  Like young children.  Like his baby girl.  And the virus can stick around for months and months at a time.  Even if he avoids the worst of the pain, he’ll still suffer quite a bit from not being able to be very close to his daughter at all during that time.  I know I’ve recently admitted to not liking my brother quite as much as I did growing up, but I still feel awful for him right now.  Even if he’s been kind of a jerk lately, he doesn’t deserve to go through this.

Update: M talked to both his mom and brother earlier today.  Assuming the baby’s wee-wee surgery goes without a hitch, the baby should be home later today.  We heard the disappointing news that he’s on an apnea monitor, but M’s brother doesn’t think it’s a big deal.  I hope they don’t have the experience we had with it and that he turns out to be right.  It also seems odd to me that although my SIL is planning to breastfeed, she has yet to even try.  Don’t you think that would have been a good thing to get the baby used to before he left the hospital?  Whatever.  Apparently they do things differently there.  They’re happy, their baby is coming home today, and he’s healthy.  Everything else will resolve itself in time.

The Downside

February 20, 2008

It was early morning, just about the time the sun started to rise.  BabyN woke up hungry and proceeded to cry to let me know of his desperate need for milk.  I stumble bleary-eyed into the boys’ room to rescue BabyN from his bed before he wakes up his big brother.  As I open the door, I am greeted with a happy squeal and a toddler rushing towards me.  Ignoring him and still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I proceed to BabyN’s crib where I grab him and make a mad rush for the door.  PJ follows.

I have to make a split-second decision using my sleep-deprived judgment skills.  Do I let PJ out to play, several hours before he usually gets up?  Can I handle my extra-stubborn and -mischievious toddler when we’re both short on sleep?  Both of us being cranky is a recipe for disaster.  Would it be better to leave him in his room, hoping beyond all hope that he’ll break his own rule for once and go back to sleep after dawn?  Can I handle the screaming that will ensue when I do so?

I mumble something to PJ about how he needs to go back to sleep and swiftly close the door behind me, trapping him in his room.  Immediately, loud screams emanate from the room, barely muffled by the door.  Guilt eats at me as I head back to my room to nurse BabyN from bed.  It’s bad enough that I expect to give up and live with a ticked-off toddler as soon as BabyN quits eating.  I hate being forced into such a position–either doing what I know is probably best for the situation and feeling guilty about it or doing what I think other people might think is right and giving in to PJ’s every whim and suffering for it.  I hate feeling like either a bad mom or a martyr.

Eventually the screaming stops.  I occasionally hear a happy squeal or some chattering from the boys’ room, but nothing to indicate he’s truly unhappy about my decision.  Then BabyN dozes off in my arms.  Reluctant to move him, I give in to my original decision and relish the moments with my youngest.  After some time, I drifted off as well.

Did PJ go back to sleep?  I have no idea.  He’s defying every rule he’s ever been given this morning, often only seconds after I remind him of it, and he’s had to go to time-out twice already (usually a last resort).  I have every reason to suspect he’s been awake since dawn.  Yes, I feel a bit guilty for leaving him in his room awake for all that time, but it was with the intention of getting him to fall back asleep.  And it’s not as though he was unhappy about it. 

But I’m still questioning my wisdom in that decision.  I feel like I was forced to make a bad decision or a worse one.  Did I do the right thing?  I wish I knew.  But apparently I’m the only one worse for the wear by it, and that’s only in my insistence upon reliving that moment at the door, whether or not I closed the door on my firstborn.  Sometimes this mommying business can be difficult.