Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Did Not See That Coming

There are a great many things about parenthood that never crossed my mind.  I knew it would be hard sometimes, trying even, but I didn't think about the ridiculous minutia that would eat up my life.  None of this is major.  None of it keeps me up at night.  None of it is newsworthy.

And yet.  Good god.  It's the little things.  It's the little good things that make me love this parenting gig, and it's the little annoying things that make me want to rip my hair out.  There are plenty of both, but these are some of the annoying variety that make me stop in my tracks on a daily basis and go, "Really?  REALLY?"  Which probably makes me look really crazy.

Here are just some of the things that I did not anticipate:

  • Every second of food preparation takes time.  You know it's going to be complicated when they're babies, but you think it's going to get easier as they get older.  They'll eat what I eat!  Maybe.  But I still have to cut up grapes for the love of god.  Everything needs to be triple washed.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Placed in the correct receptacle.  Provided with the correct utensil.  Anything goes awry and it is rejected.
  • Sleep is a production.  Like a full-on, directors, grips, make-up artist, craft service table, special lighting, sound check, dress rehearsal with costumes production.  And it has to be exactly the same every. single. time. or there will be no sleep.  And oh holy hell, we all need the sleep.
  • The screaming.  There is a lot of screaming.  Usually it comes from them, but (unfortunately) sometimes it comes from us.  And it is just so... LOUD.  You hear other kids screaming and you think, "Not my kid!"  And then it is your kid and you're like, "Well, shit."
  • That I really would never get to eat a warm meal again.  Again, this was one of the things where I was like, "Not me!  I will not cater to every tiny desire my kids have.  Nope!"  But then, it's real life, and your kid becomes a vacuum cleaner, so by the time you've finished triple-washing and cutting the organic grapes into quarters, you plop them down in front of your kid, who INHALES them and immediately thrusts the bowl at you with, "More."  Damn it.
  • Leaving the house will take at least half an hour (with an additional 15 minutes for each additional kid) and you will always forget something.  The diaper/potty, shoes, jacket, snacks, drink production is relentless.  I keep thinking it will get easier and faster, but it never does.
  • I am no longer capable of talking on the phone or carrying on an intelligent, adult conversation.  If the kids are awake, they interrupt every 5 seconds.  If the kids are not awake, I am too tired to carry on an intelligent adult conversation pass the remote please.
  • Every one of my anxieties would be quadrupled in reference to my kids.  I would begin to have horrible fantasies about all the possible harm that could befall my little babies.  I would worry endlessly (beyond my usual psychotic barrage of worries) about all the things that have happened or might have happened or could happen if x, y, or z were to occur.  I would have to stop reading any and all books about parenting or children because of the sheer volume of anxieties said books create in me.  
  • That I would become a nutty mama bear type.  I didn't think I would be so protective of my kids. I thought I would be able to remain logical (HA!) and see when I needed to let them figure things out and when they were, in fact, being assholes.  But holy shit is that a struggle!  Every fiber of my being wants to coddle them and protect them and rip the face off of anyone who hurts them or their feelings.  But I don't.  I mostly don't.  It's still hard, though.  
  • I now cry at the drop of a hat.  I was never the weepy type.  I used to cry (and when I did, BOY did I), but never as easily as I do now.  Now, if you look at me funny, I may burst into tears.  Show me a picture of a brand new baby = misty.  Commercials involving children going away to college?  Waterworks.  Movies or TV shows where kids may be in danger?  Hysterical sobbing. I could barely watch The Hangover because I spent the entire movie worrying about that poor (FICTIONAL!) baby.  I am a lunatic.  A weepy, sobbing lunatic.
  • I will never, ever sleep again and Daylight Savings will become the worst thing that's ever happened to me... twice a year.  I knew sleep would be tough while they were babies, but I did not realize that I would become freakishly attuned to their every tiny noise and that said tiny noises would continue to wake me up until the end of time.

On the upside, I did not anticipate the level of joy and wonder these kids would bring into my life.  I underestimated the amount of love I was capable of feeling in a single moment.  I had no idea the kind of glee my own kids could bring out in me.  I hadn't the faintest idea how much enjoyment I would cull from a single snuggle.  So there is that.  There is definitely that.

UPDATE: A friend reminded me of another thing I did not see coming

  • That I would be constantly exhausted for the rest of my life.  No matter how much sleep I get, no matter how much coffee I drink, even when I'm filled with glee and sunshine and kittens and rainbows... still. so. tired.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Night Terrors, Nursemaid's Elbow, Barf and Fireworks... OH MY.

Well.  That was a week.

Last week was tricky.  Last week was tricky enough that I couldn't really write about it until this week.

Hi Last Week!  I'm looking at you with some distance!  I have perspective!  And you still suck!

First up: Our first foray into night terrors.
I had heard of night terrors and know a few people whose kids have had them, but I didn't know any real details.  I was hoping we might have passed that window.

We did not pass that window.  Apparently, that window is open.

I was watching T.V. one day last week while my husband was out running errands, and I heard this strange gaspy noise over the monitor.  It was quick, and I wasn't sure what I'd heard, so I turned down the sound on the T.V. and listened closely.  I heard it again- a strange, sudden gasping- followed by a sudden cry.  I jumped off the couch and ran to the Big One's room, where I found him gasping and panting, looking panicked on his bed.  I asked him if he was okay, if he'd had a bad dream, and he started to sob.  He started to cry so hard that he began to hyperventilate- something he's done since he was a tiny baby- and then started to cough and gag and choke on the coughs.  I pulled him into my lap and he pushed me away; trying to calm him only seemed to make it worse.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  I wasn't sure if he was terrified from some awful dream, or if he was having his first asthma attack (his father has asthma and I'm constantly terrified that he'll get it as well), or if something was seriously, frighteningly wrong.

In the middle of this, my husband walked in the door and saw what was going on.  He was equally confused and also tried to comfort our son, but got the same reaction.  It only seemed to upset the Big One more.  We asked if he wanted to lie down and sleep, and he said yes, and then hiccuped and gasped himself to sleep.  We must have checked on him eight times before going to bed that night, but he seemed fine.  His breathing normalized fairly quickly and he slept fine the rest of the night.

In the morning, I asked him about this episode, asked him if he'd had a bad dream.  He had no idea what I was talking about.  This child has a freaky memory.  He can literally remember things from when he was two years old.  He ALWAYS remembers his dreams.  Of this most horrifying experience, he had no recollection.  Nothing.  Nada.  It was at that point that I realized it might be night terrors.  I asked some friends and Dr. Google and realized that was likely the case.  Night terrors.

The next night the exact same thing happened.  Identical.  Except this time, we'd read a couple articles and listened to some advice.  We tried not to touch him much or talk to him too much.  We tried to just sit with him and quietly coo at him until he calmed on his own and went back to sleep.  Again, he remembered nothing in the morning.

I supposed it's good that they don't remember these things in the morning.  I think it's better that they don't recall the look of terror and helplessness on their parents' faces.  Night terrors are scary, but I'm relieved that it isn't my son that's terrorized by them.

*   *   *

Hi.  Feeling upbeat?  Cheery?  FILLED WITH UNICORNS AND GLITTER?!?  No?  Okay. That'll happen later.

SO.  Last week the kids also caught a lovely summer bug, which resulted in high fevers and the Little One's first barf.  After eating strawberries.  And taking cherry Tylenol.  Can you picture it?  YOU'RE WELCOME.  The poor kid puked bright pink vomit all over himself, the couch, and the bathroom and scared the bejeezus out of himself.  Did I mention it was also the hottest week we've had this summer- mid-90s- and we have no air-conditioning and no cross-breeze?  Mmm hmmm.  Nothing quite like the smell of fresh vomit on a hot day.

This bug went from one kid to the next, and we were down for the count for a full week.  Stuck in a house that smelled like barf on the hottest days of the year with fevers.  And half the couch out of commission.  It was swell.  But they got better!!  And Nature's Miracle really is a miracle and took the vomit right out of our couch.  Seriously, it's amazing stuff.

*   *   *

SO, also.  Ever heard of nursemaid's elbow?  It's super common, and it's super fucked up.  It's a partial dislocation of the elbow that you can find out more about here, but all you really need to know is: #1. It can happen when you swing young kids around by their arms, lift them quickly by the hands, wrists, or arms, or if they go boneless while holding your hand (and you try to hang on to their hand OR lift them by the hand).  #2. It really hurts the kiddo and makes you feel like shit if you're the one holding the kid when it happens..  #3. Once it happens, it WILL happen again.

The Little One has now partially dislocated his elbow FOUR times.  FOUR.  And it sucks, you guys.  There is screaming and crying and pathetic whimpering.  There is cradling of the arm and looking at me like, "Why won't you make this stop?!?!"  IT SUCKS.

This time- the FOURTH time- the Big One did it.  It was totally an accident, they were just playing and the Little One reached out and the Big One grabbed his arms and pulled and I yelled for him to stop and it was already done.  I knew before he even cried.  It happens so quickly and easily now.

Last time, the third time it happened, we were at the Big One's birthday party and friend was there who happens to be a doctor.  He did a little research on the spot and fixed it right then and there.  And he showed us how.  It was quick and seemed easy and once it's fixed it's all better.

So, this time, the Little One was whimpering on my lap while the Big One was intermittently hiding in his room and bringing apology offerings of blankies and stuffed animals, and there I was on the internet refreshing my memory for how to do this.  And wondering whether I could do this.  Can I reset my own child's elbow?  Can I?  NO.  Yes?  No?  Yes.

I went back and forth wondering which was worse: Was it worse to drag my two and half year old hurting son downstairs, torque his dislocated elbow into a car seat, drive him (crying) to Urgent Care, and wait for who knows how long for them to snap it right back into place?  OR was it worse for me to try and do this when, really, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I decided the former would suck more.  I don't know if it was the responsible choice, but it was the choice I needed to make.

I'd watched two doctors fix his elbow one semi-complicated way in Urgent Care, and I'd watched my friend (and his research video) do it another, easier looking way.  I decided to go the easier looking route.  I looked up a million different tutorials on how to do this and finally found one with very clear pictures that made sense to me.

The hard part was trying to hold my poor boy still enough to get a proper hold on his hurt arm.  It was awful right up until I did it.  But it was quick.  And I did it.  I popped my son's elbow back into place and I watched the immediate relief.  And then I cried into his hair as he reached for his lovey with the arm that he had just been unwilling to move.  I did it.  We did it.  I did it.

Nursemaid's elbow sucks.  I know it will probably happen again.  And I know I'll probably have to fix it again.  And I do not look forward to that.

Be careful with your squishies.  They are small and much more fragile than they seem.

*   *   *

Okay, STILL not filled with unicorns and kittens and rainbows and poufy clouds and sunshine?  No?  BUT THIS HAS BEEN SUCH A HAPPY, UPBEAT POST!!!   Eh em.  Okay.  It's coming.  Really.  Here.

SO, also, also.  Fourth of July happened in there.  While the kids were sick.  And everyone was exhausted.  And our house still smelled like puke.  And no one was sleeping.  BUT.  Because no one was sleeping, we got to watch the fireworks with the Big One.  And that.  That, my friends, was amazing.  Watching his little eyes grow wide in the dark while he listened to these strange sounds- sounds that scared him- and watched the lights bursting in the sky....  Well... that made us forget about all of the crappy stuff.  We bundled together on the balcony and drank hot cocoa and stayed up way past our bedtimes and talked and talked and talked.  And we watched the fireworks.  Together.  And we hugged the whole time.

So there.  Warm and squishy, after all.

*  *  *
Once again, this post has NOT been sponsored in any way by Nature's Miracle.  I'm just really, really glad it took the puke out of my couch.  Like, REALLY glad.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Where's My Village & More Stuff They Say

I have a new post up at Rattle & Pen about the disappearing "village" in modern parenting.  Where's my village, yo?  Go check it out here.

But while you're here!!  Here's some more adorableness from the mouths of my little lunatics.  They're nutballs, but I love 'em.

Big One:
"That's my spirit!" meaning, that's the spirit.

Holding an improvised vacuum extension limbo pole over my head:
"Mommy!  Let's lahmbo!"
"You mean limbo?"
"Yeah!  Now it's you're turn to mambo!"

"up-spied-down" = upside down
"up-spied-up" = right side up

"Lightning the Queen" = Lightning McQueen (from Cars)

Little One:
"Meez" or "pweez" = please
"brudder" = brother
"wap" = lap
"tincrumbers" or "kidcumbers" = cucumbers
"Fprinkles" (aka: sprinkles) = goosebumps
"fwaht-fwahts" = flip flops
"swars" = stars
"shit" = sit OR chips, so he very often says things like, "Daddy shit.  Brudder shit.  Shit, meez!" or "Yummy shits.  Eat shits.  More shits, pweez."  I love it so hard.