Saturday, January 24, 2009

Toddler Love

I owe you all the obligatory tear-streaked inauguration post and trust me it's coming but here's a quickie:

I love my toddler. Of course I love my toddler; what I mean is that I love having a toddler. I've worked with kids of many ages, including babies and preschoolers all the way through high school, but somehow skipped toddlers so I never knew much about them. Jo has his moments (many of them at 3 or 4 a.m.) but generally I find toddlerhood delightful.

He is walking carefully, slowly, occasionally, definitely still a skill to be practiced -- when he actually wants to go somewhere he crawls, and fast -- but he's catching on.

I love watching him learn words. (Here is the current list, from his baby book: rah-rah [see previous post], mama, moo, hoo [as in owl], woof, night-night, yeah, no, ba-ba [nursing/bottle], bye, baby.)

I love how affectionate he is: with us, with his daycare providers, with his daycare playmates, with his stuffed animals, with the long-suffering dachshund. He has taken to climbing into our laps just to hang out. So sweet!

For the past two evenings he has been climbing out of the bathtub into my lap, to hug and cuddle. Last night I finally clued in and just climbed in the tub with him. He loved that. He also took one look at my naked chest, widened his eyes, signed "milk," and grabbed me. Adorable.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Facts, Fun & Otherwise

*Jo figured out how to blow his nose. He wrinkles it up, sniffs loudly and (since he is currently and often congested) rivers of snot pour out. This is actually in the fun facts category because it is seriously helpful to be able to encourage him to blow (by pretending to do so yourself). We've been able to avoid aspirating, which he hates, a number of times since he gained this new skill on Thursday.

*We met X and his moms, who are our neighbors. X is delicious and his moms are lovely.

*We seem to have a picky eater. I hadn't been thinking of him this way, but Co pointed it out (she herself was a picky eater as a kid). And it's true that compared to lists of foods other kids his age, or even younger, will eat, he is just not that versatile. He enjoys feeding himself, but will not actually eat very many finger foods...except carbs. He is a carb fiend and happily gorges on Cheer.ios, pancakes, bread (especially challah and Mommy's homemade!). He also loves strawberries. Everything else we feed him is a puree. We constantly offer him food from our plates and intentionally prepare foods we think he might like. Our pediatrician is fine with his progress, however, so I'm not seriously worried.

*Jo has now been to two first birthday parties (besides his own) and at the latest one we gave him some cupcake. Refined sugar and all. He loved it (see above).

*In addition to saying "Rah-rah" (this is both the sound a lion makes -- roar -- and Jo's word for lion) he now also says versions of "moo" and "woof woof." He may also be trying to say "quack." Stay tuned.

Here is a video of Jo identifying a "Rah-rah" in one of his favorite books, Dear Zoo.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Visuals & Details

Just in case you were morbidly curious, here is a picture of Jo's eye the day of the surgery.

His godfather says Jo should say, "You should see the other baby!"

We have no pix of the cyst itself, though the doctor did show it to us, and if I had a camera phone, I would not have been above snapping a shot. The resident said it was the largest dermoid cyst he'd ever seen. That's my boy!

The whole experience of surrendering our baby for surgery was, of course, terrifying. My mom told Co on the phone that she'd "never" be able to let someone whisk her kid off to be operated on. But I think you just don't know what you can do until you have to do it. We wanted to be in the room while they put him under, but the nurses said no, so what else was there to do?

Perhaps the worst part was denying him food and drink. It wasn't as bad as we'd anticipated, because the instructions for babies his age are that they can have breastmilk up to six hours before surgery, and then water or juice three hours before. So we woke him and "dreamfed" at about 1:30 so he could get some final ba-ba (that's his new word for nursing!!), and then I got up at 4:30 to give him some apple juice (his first time). He was cranky while we waited for surgery -- started at 8:30 -- but it would have been a lot worse without our planning, I think. It was really hard for both Jo and Co, though, because he REALLY wanted to nurse and she REALLY wanted to oblige.

We weren't thrilled with this hospital when Co gave birth there, but were assured by our trusty pediatrician that they have excellent pediatric opthalmological care. And indeed, we were pleased. Our boy was attended by a senior pediatric anesthesiologist (head of the department) along with two residents, and operated on by the doctor we met in his office to receive the diagnosis, along with an experienced resident. The nurses were attentive and lovely.

The surgery itself only took about an hour, just as predicted, so we really didn't have time to worry too much. The hospital didn't seem to have wireless (it really isn't the best place, ugh) so I actually got some productive work done. Before we knew it, we were being called to come hold our boy as he came out of the the anesthesia.

I'll admit now that it was a little scary to see him, face-down and wailing hoarsely, in his lemon yellow hospital gown and blue shower-cap head cover. He continued to wail and wail even as we held him. He's super-strong (other parents comment on it) and in just a few seconds he had yanked off the cardiac monitors and was working on the IV in his foot. The nurse said it had to stay, and it was seriously difficult to keep our angry little guy from tearing it out.

My hippie-crunchy-mama moment: as Jo raged on, I asked when we could feed him. The nurse replied, when he calms down. Um. It seemed pretty clear to me (and to Co) that only ba-ba was going to calm our boy down. After a few more minutes of carrying on, the nurse asked what we planned to feed him. Co said "breastmilk," and the nurse replied, "Oh, that's fine." Jo latched greedily and calmed immediately. I suspect we could and should have done that as soon as we had him in our arms. We're both too quick to listen to authority figures (but I had reached a point where I was going to tell Co to stick the boob in his mouth, against medical advice if I had to!).

Once he'd nursed, he fell asleep, and was transferred to the other recovery room, where we waited about another hour while he nursed and slept on and off and was finally cleared to go at about noon.

The whole experience, as I hope this post conveys, had some frightening moments, and some confusion and insecurity, but was for the most part as routine as the doctor assured us it would be. However, I feel like I had a brief, brief insight -- a veil was lifted ever so slightly -- into the life of a parent who must wrangle more frequently and intensely with the medical establishment. I had the thought: I can do this. I don't want to, and I hope to God I don't have to, but I could do what I had to do.

Thank God our Jo is on the mend.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Memory Lane (The Boy is Well!!)

Most importantly: we are home with Jo, and he is just fine. Even anesthesia can't keep our boy down for long. He's currently on the floor playing with his stuffed rooster.

He was operated on at the same hospital where he was born. The hospital was still decked out for Christmas, just as it was on December 13 and 14 of last year. It was strange, to say the least, to go back there in the dark and cold, bleary with lack of sleep. This year we had to arrive at 6 a.m. for an 8 a.m. surgery; last year we were released in the evening. This year we got little sleep, since Jo perhaps sensed something and managed to stay up until 11:30 the night before the big event; last year, we were awake with little respite from the morning of December 12 through the evening of December 14.

Though by the time I wrote this post he was up and playing, he spent much of his surgery recovery day regressed to his newborn state. Co and I spent hours on the couch while Jo nursed and slept, nursed and slept, nursed and slept...and we cleared out the DVR (this is a whole other post, but I am deeply in love with our new DVR). His face was scrunched up from being sleepy, and from not being able to open the affected eye, so he even looked like my newborn boy.

Seemingly unrelated but tied together by the title:
I am always quick to post about my mom when she drives me crazy so I ought to share the nice moments, too. The night before the surgery we got two CDs in the mail from her, with a gift message that read "Happy winter": these recordings from my childhood (we had the records, of course). During our Chanukah visit to the Happy Valley, where Mom and Sister both live, I saw just those two records at my sister's house. Our agreement is that all of the childhood treasures my mother has saved -- books, toys, musical instruments, records, our old wooden high chair -- will stay at my mother's house where they can be enjoyed by both grandsons. However, an increasing number of these items have found their way to my sister's house, including those records. It makes me sad. I didn't mention my feelings to my mom, but she has always had the uncanny ability to read my mind (I used to accuse her of reading my diary because, really, how else could she *know so much*?). And this time she used her power for good.

It felt really good to dance around the house to music I remembered from childhood with my little boy, the night before his surgery.