Gag Me

The Monkey’s room had taken on a fetid smell. It reeked of dirty, No. 2-filled diapers left to fester in a humid sweat-box. But the diaper pail — which does a faboo job of containing those smells — was empty. And had been recently cleaned. I even checked under the changing table to see if a diaper had mysteriously jumped tank. No dice.

I found the source of the smell soon enough: The crib. More specifically: The sheets. I have been putting the Monkey to bed with a bottle of milk/formula mix each night. Although I have waterproof pads under the sheets (and on top of them) to catch said spills, apparently I missed a spot. There was a puddle of rotting milk in the center of the bed, conveniently hidden from sight by said waterproof pad.

I almost fell over. And then I felt wretched: My baby was sleeping on top of rotting milk?! It was as though the clouds parted and a million fingers pointed down at me at once, a chorus of voices chanting “SHAME.”

Two words: Epic fail.

Needless to say, I opened the window, changed the sheets, washed them on the “sanitary” cycle in the washing machine, and slapped a clean set of sheets, waterproof pads, etc. on the bed. Then I apologized to the kid.

But I seem to be at an impasse now: He likes the bottle before going to bed, but he’s hit and miss with the intake: Sometimes its the full 8 ounces. Other times, he’ll drink 4 ounces. Still other times, he’ll barely drink 2 ounces before flinging the bottle across the crib, where it inevitably starts dripping on the sheets and stinking up the place again. And around 1 a.m., when he wakes up again, he won’t go back to bed without a bottle.

People? I’m getting REALLY tired of washing and changing those sheets every other day.

So last night, I changed it up a bit. I gave him his milk — as usual — when he went to bed. But at his 1 a.m. wake-up? I gave him 4 oz of water. He drank half of it and went back to bed. No fuss.

So I’m thinking … I’ve been just laying him down with his bottle and walking out the room to let him fall asleep by himself. Should I stay in there with him for the 2 – 20 minutes it takes him to fall asleep, take the bottle, and then leave?  Should I cuddle with him for that time, like I used to? (But I think its important for him to get to sleep by himself!) Should I give him the bottle while he’s awake and just sit next to him on the couch until he seems done and THEN take him to his room to lay down?

I’m running out of ideas and I donated my “Magic 8 Ball” eons ago. I need help.

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Long-Awaited Good News

Since the Monkey was born, I’ve had a recurring nightmare. It usually happens every two weeks or so, and just thinking about it gives me goosebumps and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

In my dream, I wake up for no reason in the middle of the night. The house is silent. All the lights are off. I walk into the Monkey’s room to check on him (something I don’t do in real life, because we have a video monitor and I never want to risk waking him up).

Sometimes he’s thrashing in his bed, struggling to breathe. Other times, he’s just laying there — completely still — not breathing.

I never find out what happens. As soon as I see he’s not breathing, I jerk awake — flinging covers off, arms and legs flailing, lunging for the video monitor. When I see his little chest rise and fall, I can finally gasp for air myself — I never realize I’m holding my breath until then.

I always wake the Hubbs when this happens. He looks at me like I’m crazy, asks if everything is OK, and at my nod, turns over and goes back to sleep. (Probably grumbling something about having an insane woman for a wife.

Dream analyzers will say that my dream is obviously rooted in fear. To which I say “duh.” I have had VERY GOOD reason to fear. We kept the Monkey in our room until he was 10 months old on doctor’s orders — because of his breathing issues (chronicled earlier), he was at increased risk for SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.

And I’m NOT supposed to have nightmares over that?

I’m sharing this with you, because we got some good news yesterday. Great news. Fantastic news.

Yesterday was our check-in with McDreamy, the ear/nose/throat specialist. He took a look at the Monkey, noted that his weight has increased and that he is now in the 25th percentile (which means his nose is NOT affecting his eating), checked his ears, nose, and throat, and declared that we never had to see him again.

The Monkey has OFFICIALLY grown out of his laryngomalacia. His nasal passages are still small, and he’ll always have the pyriform aperture stenosis, but they’re big enough that when he has a stuffy/runny nose from teething, he can still sleep at night. By himself. Without me sitting in a chair all night. For a week.

In other words, CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH.

I could have kissed McDreamy then. Instead, the Hubbs and I settled for grinning like cheshire cats and congratulating our son for doing such a good job GROWING. You’d think he had told us the winning lottery numbers. I felt like collapsing into a puddle of relief. 

I STILL am feeling that relief now. Because he’s strong. Because he’s grown out of it, just like they predicted. Because I finally feel like he’s SAFE.

And maybe, just maybe, the nightmares will go away.

Time

Have I ever mentioned just how much I look forward to picking the Monkey up each night? At exactly 6 p.m. each night our car pulls into the babysitter’s driveway and I practically leap from the car and hustle up the stairs to knock at the door.
Why?

Because after the babysitter opens the door and we step inside her house, we’re greeted by laughter and smiles as the Monkey runs across the room to wrap our legs in a bear hug before lifting his arms and declaring “bo-bo” — his attempt at “powh-powh”, Cantonese for “up” or “carry me.”

Once in my arms, we share hugs and kisses while we hear about his day — how he ate, how he napped, if he said anything new, etc. Most times I’m distracted by a tiny hand pressing into my cheek and a little voice whispering “Ma-Ma” reverently into my ear.

Then we’re off, heading home, and pointing at trees, cars, clouds, and birds the entire way. Once we’re inside the doorway, the game changes.

We wrestle on the carpet. We play chase along our hallways and hide behind open doors. We watch the Hamster Dance Song and Gummy Bear videos on YouTube. We crawl through colored tubes. We push a small driver around the neighborhood or house in his red buggy. He eats dinner. We wipe yogurt from the walls. We watch the cat eat shredded cheese from the floor. We splash in the bath, slather on lotion, and slide into pajamas. We snuggle on the couch, in the glider, and on the bed before giving him a bottle and putting him to sleep with a bottle, nuzzle, and a kiss.

The Monkey is usually bonking or in bed by 7:30 p.m. In that short hour-and-a-half, we try to squeeze in as much fun, as much snuggles, and as much quality time as we possibly can. Its the reality of being a working parent.

Its why we treasure the weekends.

The Return Of Harry?

So … remember Harry? As in: Harry the hairy ovarian cyst? The one I had to have removed when I was three months pregnant with the Monkey? Apparently he has a sibling.

I am SO NOT HAPPY about this.

Went to the OB today for a regular check, and since she was said remover of Harry, she wanted to put the scope up my wahoozit and make sure no new cysts were growing. Especially since I’ve been having some odd, slight cramps lately.

And guess what she found? A sibling for Harry. A 5 cm sibling, to be exact. This time, the cyst is ballooning out of my left ovary. Harry took half of my right ovary with him after he was evicted from my body. If this one doesn’t “resolve on its own”, I’m anticipating a similar thing to happen with the left ovary.

While losing half of my right ovary wasn’t supposed to affect my fertility, I wonder what potentially losing half — or all — of my left ovary will do. I’ll be the girl version of a guy with one nad. Do guys with only one nad have decreased fertility? If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? What’s the sound of one hamster clapping?

Why am I so weirded out by this? I’m not sure. Most likely reason: Having to recover from abdominal surgery with a boisterous toddler running around does NOT sound easy. Or fun.

So please, send me SHRINKING thoughts …

The Birthday Week Extravaganza

Like I mentioned before, the Hubbs and I took the Monkey’s entire birthday week off to celebrate and have some quality family time. It was the BEST IDEA I’ve ever had. That week was jam-packed with fun and memories.

Speaking of memories: On your child’s first birthday, it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to reminisce about where you were/what was going on the year before. So the day before his birthday, Hubbs and I would look at Sean and tell him things like: “It’s 1:30 p.m. At this time last year, we were at the hospital and being checked into a room.” When I put him to bed at 8 p.m. that night, I told him: “Momma still wasn’t even pushing you out yet. You were still in my tummy.”

When he woke up the next morning, at 7 a.m., we celebrated with pancakes, fresh fruit, and yogurt. And by 10:15 a.m. we were on the road for a short trip to S.F. and later to visit the Hubbs’ grandparents. At exactly 10:30 a.m., I looked at my son, happily sucking on a bottle as he watched the world go by outside his window. We were — literally — across the street from the hospital where he was born. My eyes met Hubbs’ in the review mirror.

“At this time last year, they were taking you away from me.” The tears were starting to well up as the memories hit me — as if it were happening all over again.

“Don’t.” Hubbs looked at me through the mirror. “Today’s a happy day, remember?”

He was right. I nodded, wiped my eyes, and took the Monkey’s offered hand in mine. But although we didn’t say anything about it for the rest of the day, the two of us were on edge. Because even though he’s healthy now, apparently a year isn’t long enough to ease the trauma of some memories.
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What would a birthday week be without presents and cake, right?


Apparently THIS is the best part of opening presents: Not ripping through the carefully taped regular gift wrap. Oh no. The tissue paper is apparently the gold mine.

The Monkey had a ball just flinging it around him, completely ignoring his faboo presents, until I started putting it on his head like a hat. He turned it into a game — he’d rip the paper from his head and hand it to me to do all over again.

His biggest giggles came from me putting the tissue paper on my own head, and he’d stand up, reach up for the paper, tear it from my head, and hand it to me to begin the game anew.

And you thought birthdays were all about the presents. Nope: Cake.

During the course of two parties, THIS was the dirtiest he got with the cake. Which is rather good, if you ask me.

He tried the frosting. He tried the chocolate cake itself. But the gold mine was the strawberry creme filling wedged between the two layers of chocolate.

So after trying everything else, he would neatly dip one finger into that strawberry cream, then lick it off. He got about halfway through his slice when he threw up his hands in surrender.
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What else did we do? We went to the zoo for the first time. This wasn’t a random outing. We have a jungle theme in the Monkey’s room, and EVERY DAY before we go to bed and as soon as he wakes up, he points to the various animals and says “dat.” So we name them: Tiger, elephant, monkey, giraffe, lion, frog, and bear. From this game, he’s learned to say bear — although it sounds like “buhr.”

So to the zoo we went. And despite bringing a stroller, the Monkey spent most of the time either in our arms or hanging on fences, trying to get closer to the animals.

At left, we’re at the giraffe enclosure. The kid spent 10 minutes carefully placing his little feet under the fence. Once that was accomplished, he couldn’t figure out how to get the rest of his body under the chain link, so he contented himself with watching the animals strip leaves from the branches with their tongues.

But the biggest hit were the flamingos: A huge flock of bright-pink, over sized, squawking birds.

The Monkey was enthralled. As the enclosure was opposite the main gate, we stopped several times to watch them squawk, preen, shimmy around, and do their thing.

Each time he’s point, “oooh”, at them, and say “dat!” We almost got him to say bird, but it came out more like “urd”. At the end of the day, we were all tired, but happy. The Monkey completely crashed at the end, but had a great time. We can’t wait to go again.
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Finally, we had professional family portraits taken — something I’ve wanted to do from the second the Monkey started crawling.

Its so hard for us to capture his smiles and actions — more than half of our photos end up fuzzy or motion-blurred.

Its even harder to get all three of us in a picture and the Monkey looking toward the camera without someone dancing behind it.

We went to a park with our photographer and his very lovely wife (hi Christina!), who helped get the Monkey’s attention and looking toward the camera. And just in case you’re wondering: YES, the Monkey was flirting with her. There were some big-time eyelash bats thrown her way.

And the photos? They’re absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

He specializes in wedding photography, but if you’re interested in his work, go to: http://www.johnstubler.com.

Lazy Sundays

After putting the Monkey down for a nap on Sunday, I washed what felt like a million pieces of tupperware, sippy cups, and bottles before collapsing onto the couch and falling asleep. The neighborhood had a quiet, idyllic feeling — everything was still and warm. It was perfect napping weather.

Maybe half an hour later, I heard Hubbs go into the nursery. The Monkey was obviously awake. Yet, my eyelids drooped closed again. A minute or so later, footsteps stopped a few feet away from me. Someone giggled.

“Who’s that?” whispered Hubbs. I turned to look at them, opening one eye. The Monkey practically jumped out of Hubbs’ arms: His feet kicked off Hubbs’ chest, his arms were extended, and he was smiling like mad:

“Momma!”

“Hi Baby,” I murmured, catching him mid-swan dive and bringing him close for a snuggle. He happily flopped next to me on the couch, and laid down using my arm as a pillow. He pointed at the ceiling, and babbled. He pointed at Hubbs and said “dada” but when the Hubbs reached out for him, the Monkey buried his face in my T-shirt; then he looked up, batted his eyes at the Hubbs, and planted a kiss on my cheek.

The kid knows how to work it.

We lay there for probably 10 minutes, as we both fully woke up. The Monkey took turns laying next to me, giving me kisses and hugs, and using me as his personal jungle gym. But what really made that time special, was how he’d consistently look into my eyes, whisper “Momma” and give me some kind of hug/kiss before laying his head against my shoulder and sighing.

It melted my heart, and I stored it away in my memory for times when I’m feeling emotionally drained, physically tired, and downtrodden. At those times, I can remember those 10 minutes and feel refreshed, recharged, and unconditionally loved.

It reminded me that every day with this tiny person is special. That every day is the chance to tell him he’s loved. That every day is blessed — even if we sometimes lose sight of it.