March is brain injury awareness month. Two years ago our son sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall off of a bed. He was inches away from and supervised and it still happened. So here’s my plea: please don’t put your infants on elevated beds. Don’t leave them unsupervised on changing tables or couches for even an instant. Don’t set them on counters or forget to buckle them into high chairs. Accidents happen every day, but some of them, like ours, are avoidable. Spare your children the pain and yourself the grief. Keep kids on the floor or buckled in safely.
Two years ago was the worst day of my life.
It started like most others that week. Play time with Eli, breakfast together, picking out an outfit, cleaning up toys. Nothing unusual. And then just moments before we started packing to leave the hotel we had been staying in all week, it happened. Eli threw his pacifier over the edge of the bed, I bent down to get it and he fell.
The sound will forever be implanted in my brain. The ambulance ride, the silent tears, the fear, all of it is still fresh when I let myself think about it. There are just some things that the brain never forgets.
One hospital discharge was followed hours later by an admission to a different hospital and a scan showing a bleed on Eli’s brain. We were able to see the bleed on the scan from across the room and even my untrained eyes spotted it instantly. It wasn’t just a bump on the head, it was a brain injury.
We spent 4 days in the hospital managing Eli’s pain and nausea and watching for changes. He had 2 seizures at home right after discharge and weeks of vomiting from the pain and irritation of the blood that had pooled on his brain. To say that our world was upside down wold be the biggest understatement I can imagine.
In the past two years, the world has slowly righted itself.
Eli is now 2 years and 10 months old. He is the most fun kid I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I wish you could all spend a day with him. Even when he is the most two-ish two year old, he’s still hilarious and kind and really, really cute.
This is going to sound like a brag, and it really probably is, but he is very, very bright. He can count forwards to 20, he can count backwards from 10, he knows all his letters and numbers on sight, he can spell his name and identify just about every shape. There is no question that his cognition was spared. His gross motor skills are pretty good too, and this was once a major area of concern for me. He walked a little later than we expected and dragged his left toes for a while. But now he runs and jumps and kicks and marches and does all the things his peers do, symmetrically and mostly with ease.
There are other things that aren’t as fabulous. He has some obvious motor planning difficulties, especially when it comes to fine motor skills. It took him well over 6 months (he was past 2.5) to figure out how to do the spinning arms that we do when we sing Wheels on the Bus at swimming. We practiced and practiced and he just couldn’t do it. There was an 18 month old next to us who picked it up in seconds and I have an 8 month old I see at work who can do it, but Eli could not figure it out. It took him almost 3 months to figure out how to hold up 2 fingers for his age and he still holds up a 3rd one at least 50% of the time. He finally mastered the thumbs up after months of sticking up his pointer fingers or doing finger guns. So far, this doesn’t seem to bother him and we do our best to not stress him out or make it a point of focus, but it’s something we’re keeping tabs on for the future.
There is no way for us to know if this is the result of that injury. It was close to area of the brain that controls motor planning, but he was so little when it happened that we have no way to compare his skills before and after. We opted not to sedate Eli for an MRI, so we don’t know if there are areas of overt damage. We don’t know, but also, we don’t care.
Eli is who he is. If this injury caused those issues, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t change the difficulty he has, it doesn’t change how we approach it. Honestly, our child got a brain injury and the biggest issue is that he can’t hold up 2 fingers easily? I can’t even continue with this part because it’s ridiculous. We are unbelievably lucky. We do not allow ourselves to lose sleep over this.
The damage it did to me was and is much less obvious, but it has also faded considerably. The nightmares are few and far between. The guilt is pretty much on par with what I imagine anyone would feel coming out of this. These days I just enjoy being a mother. I don’t let fear guide my decisions, I don’t let it slow any of us down.
Two years ago I wondered if any of us would ever be okay again- mentally, emotionally and physically. I wondered how we would ever be normal again or how life could ever go back to the way it once was. And it might not ever be the way it was then, but that’s okay. We learned about the fragility of our child’s life, we learned to take safety seriously. And we also learned to count our blessings because things like this happen in the literal blink of an eye.
My world crashed into the floor that day. Two years later, we are changed and a little scarred, but we are good.
Tonight’s photo shoot went much better than last month’s. Will wasn’t much more well rested, but I think we’ve figured out how to entertain and distract him better, which is mostly a good representation of how this month has gone. But! I have a happy baby picture, so that is how I will choose to remember things.
Today you are 7 months old! Seven! You are way closer to one than to birth. It’s completely insane to me how fast this month went. And how much you have changed. You are so much more a person now, so much more you, if that makes sense.
You now have two teeth, thank God. That second one was a real bear. I walked into daycare to pick you up last week and your teacher said you were so happy and asked what was different that day. All I could think of was that tooth, which had finally broken through the day before. You’re so much happier now and those teeth are just adorable. Not that the single tooth wasn’t. You know.
Speaking of adorable, you found yourself this month, in the mirror at least, and you think you are pretty fabulous. You smile and giggle and coo at yourself. It’s adorable. You do the same anytime you can get your brother’s attention, which admittedly is pretty rare. If he had any idea how much you love him, I think it would knock his socks off.
Your sleep is a heaping pile of suck right now. Let’s just leave it at that. I’m tired and my neck might not ever be the same after all these nights on the couch. Probably half the nights this month have involved you sleeping on me in some capacity. I am tired. Really, really tired.
You are an excellent sitter these days. You don’t transition out of sitting very well yet but we’re working on it. While on your tummy you can pivot rapidly, get up on all fours and move backwards with ease. Forwards? Not so much. We’re working on that too. But not very hard because mobile babies are way more work.
Your likes this month include: mom, dad, Eli, Addie, the cats, peas, sitting, nursing, the Ergo, your banana toothbrush, Motrin, crinkle paper.
Your dislikes this month include: sleep, sleeping alone, sleeping in your own bed, Zantac, being set down, being alone, post vaccine fevers.
Your personality has really emerged this month and it is big. You are an extrovert. You want people to see and hear you. You want them to look you in the eye so you can smile at them. You want to be held all the time and put down never. You are sensitive though and cry easily and hard. There are times I’ll set you down and lean to grab a diaper and by the time I come back a nanosecond later, you have tears on your cheeks.
I don’t know much about raising or being an extrovert but I’m trying hard not to change you. You are so different from your brother and it’s fascinating to watch you grow but it’s a struggle to not compare you all the time. I have to remember that you are Will and he is Eli. You’re not a second edition of the same person, you’re entirely you and that is a wonderful thing.
Despite my frustration with your refusal to sleep, there is something very sweet about being the only place you feel comfortable enough to rest. It’s a unique privilege to get to be that for you- your refuge. I hope that as you grow and (dear God hopefully) stop needing me so much at night, that you know I will always be your resting place. My heart is at peace when I’m with you and you can always aand forever find sanctuary in my arms.
William Louis, I could not love you more if I had to. You are one of the great loves of my life and I hope you never forget that. Happy 7 months baby boy, we love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.
So we went to Disneyland yesterday. It wasn’t really a planned trip as much as a spur of the moment, my husband was finished with work early and I was off and why not? (The answer to that is: fatigue, lazy, naps)
About 12pm, Eli had a major blood sugar crash. He had refused breakfast, had a small snack but his favorite way to manage blood sugar crashes is to refuse to eat. So he’s hot, hungry, and crabby as all hell. I finally managed to get half a cookie into him (it’s about getting something in, not nutrition at this point. We’ve talked with our pediatrician about this and they agree) and he perked up some. But the crash had taken its toll and he was exhausted. We decided to cut our trip short, but we went on a few short lined rides first.
Typically, we restrict Eli’s pacifier use to his bed and the car, but since he was so pathetic, we gave him his pacifier (his “pup”) in the stroller. The whole pacifier issue is a longstanding parental screw up. Basically, we thought we were going to be SO SMART and cut holes in all his pups. And surely, this would wean him of his addiction painlessly, right?
Ha. Haha. Hahahahahaha. Wrong.
Instead, Eli just stuck his finger in the hole of his pacifier and plugged it so it worked fine. So basically, he went from sucking on a very flimsy pacifier that the pediatric dentist said was no big deal (and specifically mentioned was much better than sucking on thumb/fingers) to basically sucking on his finger. I cannot. I do not know what to do because if we take away his pacifier now, he’ll just suck on his finger. I can’t be sure, but I think I was just outsmarted by my 2 year old.
So anyway, Eli had a pacifier in his mouth as we were leaving the park when we came across Goofy. Like, a person in a Goofy costume and he came over to our stroller. This in and of itself was pretty rare because usually the characters are pretty carefully guarded, and here was this Goofy all up in our space. And then he grabbed Eli’s pacifier from his mouth and pretended to throw it away.
And. Um. I can’t be sure but I’m pretty sure a giant cartoon dog may have judged my parenting.
I mean, he’s not wrong, but he also doesn’t live in my house. And the pediatric dentist said to ditch the pacifier by age 3 and I don’t get to sleep through the night as it is, the last thing I need is more strife at bedtime. So 2 more months, exactly. I do not know what we’re going to do, but I suppose the worst case scenario is that we’ll let him go live with Goofy. Or something.
Is this rock bottom parenting? I think it might be.
I’m writing this on my phone while lying flat and still on my bed. Because my baby does not sleep anymore and he’s in his pack n play next to my bed not sleeping. But I want him to be sleeping. You can see where the problem is.
I want him to be sleeping for several reasons. One of which is the caramel apple in my refrigerator. The other is that I don’t want to repeat this whole process in an hour. I’m already going to have to repeat it at least once, probably twice tonight. Once upon a time, William was a model sleeper and now he is not.
Now Will hates sleeping.
I cannot understand this because I would give my left foot for a full night of sleep, but not Will. Oh no. He’s perfectly great on broken sleep. He’s cheerful the mornings after being awake for over an hour in the middle of the night. He is pleased as punch to start the day at 5:45.
I am tired.
I’m not really looking for advice because we’re just in a really tough spot with not having a room for him. I have feelings about sleep training in general but I cannot and will not attempt sleep training when my boobs and me are like 12 inches from his face. That’s just not cool. Not to mention that we live in an apartment with thin walls and lots of neighbors.
And so I hide in the dark. I wait for him to either fall asleep or cry. I reinsert his pacifier 839295 times and I cross my fingers that tonight will be the night. Tonight we’ll only get up once. Or tonight he’ll go quickly back to sleep after eating. Tonight I won’t have to sleep with him on the couch or kick my husband out of bed.
I mean. One of these days that’s all going to happen right? RIGHT? You can lie to me. I’m desperate.
(The third revision of this post occurred after a second nursing, a brief two minute nap and then giving up and eating the caramel apple over Will’s head. Tonight seems unlikely to be the night.)
I find that I have a hard time writing about breastfeeding without putting a bunch of caveats onto it. So here they are. I know that this is going to wax a little pro-exclusive breastfeeding, but truly, I think formula is wonderful and I think mothers who feed their babies are wonderful. Period. I know that successful breastfeeding is part hard work, but it’s also part luck. I’ve experienced good luck with that (Will) and really bad luck with it (Eli). So when I talk about this goal I met this week, please know that it’s not that I think anyone else who doesn’t meet this goal is in any way not successful or not a fantastic mom. Because, like I said before, if you feed your babies, I think you’re great.
When Will was born and he latched, and then proceeded to nurse for 6 straight hours the first night of his life, I told my husband that my first nursing goal was just to survive the first few weeks. I had never nursed before, so I did not know about the pain that came with nursing and all I wanted was just to survive it. I wanted to get to the point where I could nurse him without wanting to scream.
When we reached that point and nursing got easier, my next goal was a big one; 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. I can tell you why this goal is so important to me and it has virtually nothing to do with the benefits of breast milk. It was a goal that was a direct result of having a persistently inadequate supply when I was pumping for Eli. From the first week of Eli’s life, I didn’t make enough milk for him. I tried everything and I couldn’t do it. So for me to be able to nurse a baby, without supplementing, was a lofty goal. One that almost got derailed with William’s GERD induced nursing strike in December.
This weekend, I met that goal. On Sunday William turned 6 months old and we made it the whole way without supplementing. He’s gaining weight pretty well (he’d be gaining more if it weren’t for his GERD), he’s happy and he’s as healthy as a baby can be while in daycare (which is to say, not very healthy most of the time).
I have hundreds of pictures of Williams smiling. People comment all the time about how happy he is and how fun he is and they are right. Will is truly an exceptionally happy baby. Except when he is in pain.
When we figured out that the cause of his nursing strike and associated screaming was reflux, we got some short term relief with medication. And after a few weeks of sad Will, we got our happy baby back. And then the dose wasn’t enough and he started to struggle. We upped the dose and he came back. And we’ve been doing that- a few days of happy Will, then sad Will, Zantac dose adjustment, repeat. We’re on our 4th? 5th? dosage now and he’s still struggling. And it’s heartbreaking.
The current rise of reflux is being made way worse by teething. His saliva is more acidic while teething so his reflux is more painful and ugh. It’s just awful. He arches and writhes and screams this high pitch scream that makes it very clear that he is not okay.
Last night I made the horrible error of trying to do a “dream feed” (where you quietly wake the baby up just enough to feed them and then put them back down) and instead I fed Will for about a minute before he refused to nurse and SCREAMED his face off for a half an hour. We ended up sleeping, poorly, on the couch all night.
This morning, I was trying to get ready for a birthday party for one of my husband’s past and future coworkers and Will would scream, to the point of gagging, if I was not holding him. It was awful. He’s so obviously uncomfortable, wanting to nurse, but then stopping after just a minute or two and then crying.
He has his happy moments and I cherish them, but a large part of the time he is really sad. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be so small and have so much pain that you can’t control. To have eating, the ultimate comfort, be the source of discomfort.
And on a selfish level, it’s exhausting. I love this baby so, so, so much. Truly. He is the sweetest baby and I cannot for even an instant imagine my life without him. I can’t underscore that point enough, because I’m about to complain. I really need some rest. He went from getting up once a night to getting up 3 or more times a night on the nights he doesn’t end up sleeping on me on the couch. He loves his dad, but at night or when he’s really hurting, I am the only one that will do. I haven’t slept more than 3 hours in a row all month and I’m just exhausted. My biggest concern is Will’s comfort, but my secondary concern is for my own sanity.
Will has an appointment with the pediatrician on Tuesday and we will be discussing this at length. Zantac is clearly not cutting it. We either need a different medication or a referral to a GI who can give us better direction. We’re also checking Will’s weight. If he has dropped below the 25th percentile, they will be doing a series of tests to make sure nothing else is going on. Because he was over the 75th percentile at 2 months and is dropping past two major percentiles (50 and 25th), their office policy requires them to do bloodwork. It’s probably a good thing even if I suspect it’s just the reflux that’s slowing him down.
Basically, things are not great here. And it’s both sad and exhausting. I’m hoping very sincerely that after our appointment on Tuesday we’ll be on the right track to helping our baby be happy again.
I never expected to be a different mom with Will than I was with Eli. I mean, I guess I did want to be happier and more laid back, but I didn’t anticipate that my parenting style would change as much as it has. And yet, here we are, and the second verse is very much not the same as the first.
First baby: Didn’t take a shower for 4 days after giving birth (I know) because I was afraid to leave the baby alone.
Second baby: Had the glorious hospital shower experience and if hospital shower was a religion, I’d now be a member.
First baby: We didn’t even buy a bouncer because “it isn’t good for the baby” and “he can just be held or lay on the floor.”
Second baby: Spends time every day in a bouncer because dinner making, toddler butt wiping, hair drying, etc, require a baby to not be entertained.
First baby: Vacuumed daily for the first several months out of fear of the baby eating carpet lint or cat hair.
Second baby: Hahahahahahaha. I think Will might be half made of cat hair by now.
First baby: So excited for 6 months old for solid foods, new toys and the big countdown to the first birthday.
Second baby: So excited for 6 months for one reason: Motrin. Hallelujah.
First baby: When the baby couldn’t sleep, I’d stay up and rock him. Our bed was no place for a baby.
Second baby: When the baby can’t sleep, my bed is the best place ever for the baby.
First baby: Teething, while difficult, was exciting! Baby teeth are adorable!
Second baby: Teething, while difficult, is not exciting. Baby teeth are evil.
First baby: The nap schedule is firm and sacred. Nothing shall interfere.
Second baby: What nap schedule?
First baby: Introducing solid foods was so. much. fun.
Second baby: Solid foods are so. much. work.
First baby: The instant a pacifier hits the floor, it gets washed with soap and water or a pacifier wipe. Which we purchased.
Second baby: The instant a pacifier hits the floor, the 5 second rule goes into effect and maybe the pacifier gets wiped off on the underside of my shirt. Maybe.
First baby: Had the cats, but no other kids around.
Second baby: Has a big brother who is the coolest. person. ever.
It’s not all bad being second.
So no, your eyes do not deceive you, Will does appear shorter this month. Tonight’s picture was a hot mess due to Will being super overtired and his parents being really set in their ways and unable to get him to bed when he’d like us to. I got 2 smiling pictures and a lot of arching and crying pictures. All the arching caused him to slump and thus he definitely looks shorter. But I swear he’s not.
Hopefully next month he’ll sit up and be happy.
Today you are 6! Months! Old! Half a year! I cannot begin to tell you how quickly that time has gone. It seems impossible that you are already half a year old. It seems even more impossible that tomorrow you will be closer to 1 than you are to the day you were born.
This was a pretty decent month in terms of health and happiness. It did start with a second ear infection and more antibiotics for you, but you really handled it like an absolute champ. You also got your first tooth. I have to say, you didn’t handle it quite as well as I expected you to. Eli was always sort of like, huh, there is some discomfort here and whoa, a tooth. You were like, WOE. WOOOOOOE. WOE. There is something in my mouth. WOE. For days. Basically I have some concerns about the next 2 years of your life.
That sort of makes sense since you have generally become very sensitive this month. You love me the very most and if I’m in the room, I must be holding or touching you in some capacity. And if I’m not in the room, I need to get into the room. It’s pretty delightful for me, I’m not sure your assorted grandparents love it as much as I do. You still do really well with daycare drop off and really like your daycare teachers, but you squeak and squeal and kick your little legs as soon as I walk in the door to pick you up now. It is just the best.
As much as you love me, you’ve also really become attached to your dad. He works pretty horrible hours right now and often comes home right when you’re melting down before bed and truthfully, it had been getting to him. He was worried you were going to associate him with that end of the day grumpiness, but you have not. If he sings your son or even sort of smiles at you, all is well in your world again. It’s the absolute sweetest thing to watch.
You are an increasingly decent sitter these days. When you’re engaged with a toy you can sit independently for 5-10 minutes at a time. When you’re done sitting you just topple right over with absolutely no regard for your safety. No attempt to catch yourself whatsoever. It’s not taking years off my life at all.
Your likes this month include: Mom, Dad, Eli, the cats, Aunt Claire, pups, nursing, the small Sophie the Giraffe tethers, your thumb, swinging at the park, sitting up.
Your dislikes this month include any moment mom isn’t holding you, teeth, ear infections, zantac, the time it takes to go from nursing on one side to nursing on the other, bottles.
I cannot tell you what a delight you are, my sweet baby. You dazzle strangers in public every day and people stop me to comment on you all the time. They are captivated by your eyes and enraptured by your easy smile.
We did a trial swim class with you yesterday and you just took it all in, smiled and were even totally fine when the teacher dunked you. The parents were all so amazed at your reaction, but it’s just you. You’re just happy virtually all the time. I was not the least bit surprised.
We still have some work to do on sleeping, but oh my goodness you want to be a bed sharer so badly. I have gone from a staunch no babies in the bed person to an if the baby is still not asleep after an hour put him in bed so we can all sleep person. And as soon as I put in the bed you just snuggle your little head in and zonk right out. I know that it’s not a particularly good habit but I wouldn’t trade the snuggles for the world.
(In this picture, the pillows were added after I had gotten out of bed, and only to make sure there was no time for him to roll anywhere in the 2 seconds between when he woke up and when I saw this on the video monitor and rushed in to get him up. There is typically no bedding that can smother him. Promise.)
This seems like such a time of rapid change. Tomorrow you’ll eat food for the first time (sweet potatoes!), and I strongly suspect you’ll be crawling in some fashion in the next few weeks. I’m sad that your babyhood is already winding down because I have enjoyed it so much. I want to extract and distill your sweet spirit so that when you’re a rambunctious disagreeable toddler I can go back and remember these months. You are truly the sweetest baby and I am thankful for you every single day. I don’t know what I did to deserve to be your mom.
Happy 6 months, William. We love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.