We're hanging in there. Feels like a whirlwind hit this household over the past 6 weeks. Now that we have a chance to stop and catch our breath, we realize that Rhiannon heads back to work in less than a week. August, here we come. Giraffe and zebra outfits with matching headbands. Does Rhiannon now how to select ensembles for our children or what?
Two years ago, on a 720 mile drive, Brooklynn developed an attachment to a blanket. We thought it was great. She would hold it in her car seat. She held it when she went to sleep. She used it to calm herself down. She never had used a pacifier as a baby, so this was her soothing device, or more literally, her security blanket. And it would be ok. Kids outgrow this stuff eventually, right? But no only does she hold her blanket; she chews it. After two years of being in her mouth, the blanket is not great looking[1. We have a few different blankets, but she has settled on one of them that we only have one of to be her main nighttime one.]. She needs one at school for naptime. She needs one at home for nighttime. We have mostly eliminated the blanket during the days, but we still coordinate our laundry schedule around her nap time to make sure a blanket is available.
At the end of the week, the blanket smells disgusting, especially on Saturday morning when she brings it with her and wants to stick it in my mouth while we lay in bed. "You want it, it's good," she tells me. No Brooklynn, I most certainly do not want that thing anywhere near my face. And so, it's time for the blanket to go[2. If only she didn't chew it. I like to hold a pillow when I sleep, so I'm not really one to talk of soothing issues, but at least my pillow doesn't reek of stale saliva at the end of the week.].
We've been talking with her for quite some time that when she is a big girl, she doesn't need her blanket. She agrees. In June, we settled on when she turns three, she doesn't need her blanket. Except for the fact that we had a long road trip coming up again, so we pushed back to mid-July.
No, blanket right? Not when you're a big girl? Nope, and nope. Big girls don't have blankets, from the mouth of a three-year old. Her cousins don't use blankets. Other kids at school don't use blankets.
So last night, after Rhiannon and I discussed the fact we would rather go through the pain of blanket separation before she goes back to work in August, we initiated the removal of the blanket.
We talked to Brooklynn about how she really doesn't need one. Agreed.
We talked about how if she sleeps through the night without a blanket, she could have a good treat in the morning. That's very good.
We talked about how if she goes for three nights and earns three stickers, we can go to the pool this weekend. Wonderful.
And then it came time to go to bed. She grabbed her blanket and climbed in. Remember, no blanket. We were really trying to get her to give it up voluntarily because she is a big girl now rather than just taking it from her or having it just mysteriously be gone one night. She took the blanket out of her mouth and handed it to Rhiannon.
And then immediately grabbed it back and started crying.
We talked about all the reasons why she didn't need it, and the fact that she has her Curious George monkey to hold, and she agreed to every one of the statements we were making, all the while clutching her blanket tightly.
So eventually, we stopped trying to talk her into giving it up. We kissed her goodnight, and as I was getting ready to leave her room, she asked, "Daddy, you want my blanket?" and held it out to me.
So I took it. I told her she was a very big girl and I got two steps away before she started screaming.
I took the blanket outside her room while she dissolved into tears and sobs about how she wanted her blanket. She wants to give it up, but she has no idea how to soothe herself without it. So I sat with her. Her fingers were rigid and outstreched with both hands held awkwardly at her sides. I had to hold her hands and cuddle her to stop some of the physical stress she was going through not having a blanket to hold.
I laid down with her. Rhiannon came and talked with her. Thirty minutes later, she was still sobbing. Finally, Curious George playing and being silly and the fact that it was an hour past her normal bedtime was enough to get her to sleep.
She made it 5 hours before she was in our room crying for her blanket. Rhiannon went back and laid with her again for a little while. Let's hope that this bedtime routine doesn't become a habit as well.
Night one with no blanket is over. We hope that was the worst. I don't know how naptime today will go, or tomorrow with no blanket at school. At this point, with all the work and crying we put in last night, we really don't want to go back. Step one in being a big girl complete.
Maddison could take it or leave it, but we did get her to sit with Brooklynn for a photo.
Just before we went out the exit gate and back up to the mall, Brooklynn requested to go back and walk through the clear tunnels to sea the fish swimming over the top of her again.
And her favorite fish out of all of them? The sharks. And their big toothy mouths.
Brooklynn came into our room last night, just like she does what feels like most nights of the working week. She stumbles in, navigates her way around to my side the of the bed where, depending on how late we were up and what stage of my sleep cycle I’m in, I may or may not already be awake. Last night, I was not awake. It was about 3:10, and the first thing I can remember is a small voice in my head saying, “Daddy. Daddy. Wake up.”
On the weekends, when Brooklynn wakes up in the morning before us but after the sun is up, we don’t try to put her back in her bed. It’s light outside and it’s hard to convince her that she should be sleeping. So, instead of getting out of bed, I grab her and haul her up beside me.
On a good morning, she will be tired enough that she’ll drift off next to me and we’ll all get another half hour sleep. On a bad morning, she’ll be awake enough that she’ll bug me by shifting around and tapping my arm and head for ten minutes before leaning close to my ear and whispering, “Daddy, I want breakfast.”
In the dark last night, my half-awake brain started rearranging pillows to bring Brooklynn in to bed with me. It wouldn’t be the first time. A couple weeks ago, Rhiannon woke up to an open bedroom door, checked to see if Brooklynn was up, and eventually found her laying next to me. Still, it isn’t a habit we want to start, and just before grabbing her I realized what I was doing and picked her up to carry her back to her own room instead.
We don’t know why she wakes up and comes to our room in the night. She usually doesn’t want water. Maybe she kicks her covers off and doesn’t know how to tuck herself back in. This is something we really need to work on. And maybe she just wants to know we’re still around.
I tucked her in with both the sheet and the blanket, at her request, and went to walk back to my own room. As is typical, she hadn’t said a word since she woke me up. It’s one of the reasons we really don’t know why she comes over so often. As I closed her door, I heard her say, “Daddy.”
I paused and waited, because at that time of night, running low on sleep, I’m never 100 percent sure that what I think I hear is accurate. Then again, quietly. “Daddy.”
I opened the door and walked back to her bed. Kneeling over her, I asked her what was wrong. I expected to hear that she wanted a drink of water, or that I didn’t tuck her in right and the blanket was too high or something like that.
“Daddy, you forgot to give me a kiss.”
We’ve had our moments with Brooklynn recently. It turns out dealing with a toddler isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and I struggle to stay patient with her at times. Couple that with a slight lack of sleep in general, a lack of time, and split attention between two kids and we ask a lot of her to be a big girl and go with the program. Some days are better than others.
But in the end, we still have a little girl who loves her parents very much and wants nothing more than to be loved and cared for right back.
We’re working on that love not being required at three in the morning.
If you haven't been to flickr recently, click through the link on the image. They've changed their layout[1. Yeah, it might be a little late compared to some other photo sharing options, but it's better than nothing.].
Brooklynn has a friend that lives next door, and last weekend[1. Before the 24 hours of rain that we so desperately needed came late Sunday.] she was invited over for a mini pool party in their backyard. It was in the 80s in early May, so even though the sun was out, it was still worth getting outside. One thing when Brooklynn and Dylan get together - there are snacks. Lots of snacks. Always with the snacks.
Brooklynn has been a little sick with a spring cold over the past couple weeks. She's also been a little temperamental as a result, so there are times[1. Like when she's tired at the end of the day.] that we tread lightly and try to use fun reasoning to get her to do what we want rather than straight commands. Right now, one of the easiest ways to convince her of something is to remind her that Mason[2. Mason is her friend that she stayed with when Maddison was born.] might not like it if she doesn't cooperate.
I'll give a couple examples:
-Brooklynn, do you want to take a bath? No? Well, will Mason like it if you smell bad? (And in she goes.)
-Brooklynn, we need to clip your nails. Will Mason like it if they are long and scratchy?
And now she's even coming up with her own statements...
-Looking in the mirror after having pony tails put in: Mason will like my hair.
-Putting on lotion: Mason will like it if I smell good.
So, she's very concerned about what Mason thinks. And she always wants to go play at his house. It boils down to the fact that our two year old has a boyfriend and is very concerned with making sure he's happy with her.
Crap. We are in so much trouble.
I had something good planned to finish up for tonight, but tonight turned out to be the worst night of parenting that we've had[1. And it was not the younger one giving us issues...]. Ever.
So, here's a blurry photo of the two girls snapped with a cell phone, a picture of Maddison chewing on Rhiannon's shoulder, and one of Brooklynn pretending to take a nap on a volleyball in the back yard. Enjoy.
The weather this past weekend was gorgeous - highs in the 80's, blooms on the trees, flowers in bloom. Yesterday, it was in the 30's with a couple inches of wet snow. Too much a good thing an all. We did make sure that we got out and enjoyed the weather while it was nice. It's amazing the things Brooklynn does on a playground compared to fall last year. She's zipping down slides, quickly climbing up ladders, and generally getting around a lot more than she used to. I can already tell we're going to have some injuries at some point as she tries out new things and pushes her boundaries.
The price of being a growing kid I guess. We'll do our best to prevent the bumps and bruises and just enjoy the ride.
When I pick Brooklynn up from her school after I finish work and head home with her, she usually has two concerns. The first is if she was a good enough girl that she gets a treat. The second is if she can hold Maddison when we get home and see her.
Yeah, we're working on getting those switched and eliminating the need for a treat entirely. Still, we're not going to complain about having two great little girls.
On our way home today, Brooklynn decided that she didn't really want to get back in the car after we picked up some food. On a Friday afternoon after my first full week back at work with extra driving and a baby at home disrupting my sleep, it wasn't exactly what I wanted to deal with. Still, she picked a great wall to sit in front of[1. If only I hadn't taken the picture with a pole right behind her head...].
I think we're all looking forward to the weekend.
From the "list of things to do but the items on said list may take longer than the 5 free minutes I currently have", one of those items is to write down the timeline surrounding the period when Maddison chose to join us. It's been a work in progress for more than a week at this point, during which I have attempted to appease family members with little daily snapshots from our life with a newborn. Today I'm in the mood to cross something off of some list, so the entire story is presented as follows.
Brooklynn was a scheduled induction two days past her due date. That one was mainly an insurance issue due to Rhiannon's benefits changing on July 1st. Since Brooklynn up to that point had shown no interest in joining us in the real world and ended up being a decent sized baby, we figured that it probably wasn't a bad thing we did a little prompting.
As I mentioned earlier, Maddison was measuring ahead of schedule by about 3 weeks. Knowing that Brooklynn measured right on track and still ended up a hair over 8 and half pounds, this was a little concerning[1. I think Rhiannon was more concerned than I was, and rightfully so.].
Our family doctor and the OB all agreed it would be best to schedule an induction around 39 weeks if Maddy hadn't already come on her own, so we made arrangements. Brooklynn would stay with a friend that goes to her daycare. We would do the induction on a Friday so that would mean a Friday night sleepover and no need for the other family to get her up and going on a work morning.
If Maddison did come during one of the earlier weekdays, Brooklynn could still get picked up or dropped off as needed. And if we had an absolute emergency during the middle of the night, our next door neighbors offered to help us out until we could get everything straightened out.
It all seemed so simple. We had been through an induction before. Rhiannon went in the night before for the "ripening" medication with the actual labor inducing Pitocin and an epidural to be administered around 7 am the next morning. For Brooklynn, Rhiannon got her first hours of pain-free sleep during that day and I mainly hung around the hospital keeping an eye on the monitors until things progressed far enough to start pushing late in the afternoon.
We both hoped that things would go a little bit faster this time around[2. Famous last words.]
On Thursday night, we had supper at home. I commented to Brooklynn that this was her last family meal as an only child, but I don't think she had any idea what was going to happen the next day. We didn't make a big deal about her baby sister. Instead we focused on how much fun she was going to have at her sleepover the next night after school.
After she went to bed a little before 7:30, our neighbor came to hang out just in case she woke up while I took Rhiannon to the hospital. I carried up the bag for her, and after being waved through to the maternity floor by a couple ladies sitting at the main entrance, we checked in. Apparently the hospital lacks a little in internal communication, because we were actually supposed to check in downstairs, but we were quickly taken to the room where Rhiannon would stay.
After she changed into the hospital gown, I went to check if a nurse was coming in soon. The nurse at the desk turned out to be responsible for Rhiannon's room and said she would be in shortly to see us. I explained that I was taking off, and I saw the look of "What kind of husband are you leaving your wife alone overnight" cross her face until I finished by mentioning that I was going home to stay with our toddler.
I headed home. Brooklynn had stayed asleep the entire time. Our neighbor headed back to his house next door and I did a little cleaning up in the kitchen so we could come home to a relatively neat house. I made sure my phone was not on vibrate so it would wake me up if Rhiannon did call during the night and got a solid night of sleep[3. Rhiannon and I figured out this was the first night that we have spent apart since before Brooklynn was born.].
I was just getting out of the shower around 5:20 on Friday morning when Rhiannon called.
She was already progressing toward labor when she checked in on Thursday evening, so they gave her the lowest of the four possible dosage levels of the starter medication. At some point early Friday morning, she started feeling real labor contractions. With the timing of the epidural with Brooklynn, she had never actually felt any contractions, so this was a first. Her reaction:
She called the nurse a little before 4:30 to mention that they might want to think about getting the epidural for her before 7, and shortly after that call her water broke. We knew from the 38-week ultrasound that there was a little extra amniotic fluid, and Rhiannon said that she could confirm it by the amount of bed sheets and towels she went through. The anesthesiologist arrived and, working around the contractions, placed the epidural.
So that's what I heard a little after I got up. Rhiannon was farther along than anticipated. We briefly discussed the option of dropping Brooklynn off at her friend's house early that morning since the house was closer to the hospital than daycare, but instead decided that I would still take her over myself. I hoped to get going a little early.
All week long, while Rhiannon was home, I had been taking Brooklynn to daycare. And almost every morning, she would ask where her mommy was. I explained that Mommy was still sleeping because baby sister made her tired, and this usually was a satisfactory answer. On Friday morning, I didn't close the door to our bedroom, so Brooklynn realized as we headed downstairs that Mom was not still sleeping. Mom was not in the house. And things spiraled from there.
I didn't get out the door early. I barely got out the door on time and it felt like I hit every one of the stoplights along the way. Rhiannon called again at 6:45 expecting to hear that I was getting close to the hospital. I was in the middle of trying to get Brooklynn calm enough to leave her at daycare. The fact that Mom wasn't home had upset her and thrown off her whole morning, so even the talk of her exciting sleepover wasn't enough to settle her down.
Her doctor had come in to check on her, noticed that the baby was responding to the contractions showing on the monitor, asked where I was, and said she was going to change clothes.
I have to give Rhiannon credit. I was 15 minutes away when she called, she had a doctor telling her that they would wait as long as they could (but no guarantees), and she still sounded pretty calm. If anything, the fact that everything was moving so fast probably helped her not get too worked about everything.
I drove faster than I should have. I turned right and flipped a quick U-turn to skip a longer light that I just missed. I called Rhiannon when I was a few minutes out to check in and asked her if I should just come up to the room right away and not bother bringing in the rest of our overnight bags. They were still waiting for me, and yes, please come straight up. I pulled in the parking lot, grabbed my camera, and jogged in to the hospital.
The nice part of dropping her off the night before was that I knew exactly where I was going. I walked into the room and the doctor, who had been waiting for me, said we would get started right away.
For Brooklynn, the epidural was a little strong. Rhiannon couldn't really feel anything from the contractions, didn't have any feeling to push against, and one of her legs was completely asleep. They don't let you eat anything, so she had also gone an entire day without food.
With Maddison, the epidural was better. She had just enough feeling that there was no pain but she could tell when to push. It was still 7 am (I made it when I was supposed to...), so she wasn't really that hungry yet, it didn't take nearly as long as the second time around.
Three "pushes". 10 minutes of real work, and about 12 minutes after I walked in, we had a new baby. If they wouldn't have been able to wait for me, there is a good chance I would not have been there.
As rushed and frantic as you might think I would have been, everything seemed very calm and relaxed. It took me two tries to cut through the umbilical cord with Brooklynn. This time, just one simple snip and it was done. Been there, done that.
Maddison ended up two ounces lighter than her sister and 9 days earlier in the schedule, so it was good we got her out when we did. It did appear that she was coming sooner rather than later. No cone head shape. Relatively little crying. And we had the whole day to just hang out with our new baby.
We never did send Maddy down to the nursery. Aside from one time when they took her to do vitals and blood sugar testing, she never left our room. We didn't need any formula to supplement her.
Brooklynn came on Saturday morning, full of exciting news about her sleepover[4. Which, from all reports, went very well.] and thrilled to see her baby sister. We told her the name we had picked out earlier in the week and she was firmly of the opinion her sister would be called Allison. Maddison is less than impressed with Brooklynn overall. Brooklynn likes to be right in her face, touching her head, grabbing her hands. Maddison looks around as if to say where are the non-clumsy large people and can they hold me again?
Brooklynn loves her baby sister. We love both of our girls. Everybody is home, healthy, and sleep deprived.
And in the end, everything worked out. Easiest 12 minutes of my life.
Brooklynn has been singing songs she's learned for a while now. She's even taught us a few new ones recently. But the actions that go with the songs is a little newer. This past weekend, we got a full rendition of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, complete with hand motions to the corresponding body parts.
Coordinated and smooth it was not, but she demonstrates significantly better control of her limbs than her younger sister does right now[1. It really doesn't take much to have more coordination than Maddison. Just saying...].
Brooklynn has a new room under construction. This past weekend, she took naps in it both days. There are no blinds on the window, and with the snow that's still hanging around in the backyard, it was pretty bright in there. No matter - several hours of combined napping later, we figured she was pretty ready to make the switch at some point. So, painting is complete, the bed is put together, and sheets and pillows are in place. After her bath, she requested to sleep in her new room. We said sure.
She sat on her new bed, read herself a story, and let us tuck her in. Along with a new room, she's also making the switch to real covers rather than the small blankets that she's used in her toddler bed. So, we tucked her in, turned off the light, and shut the door. Again, quite light in the room with no curtains, but we didn't have a night light, so that might be ok.
She opened the door a few minutes later and Rhiannon led her back to bed. A few minutes and the door opened again - my turn.
"I wan't to sleep in my other room in my big girl bed."
She walked back over, I brought her humidifier back, and she climbed in her old bed. Good effort, Brooklynn. She's still excited about it, but it might take a little while. Still, the excited part is what counts.
We went out for dinner with some of Rhiannon’s coworkers on Saturday night, meaning we had an adult night out with no small-people tag-alongs[1. Other than the one that Rhiannon insists on bringing everywhere with her. Let go already, right?]. When we got home, our babysitter asked us if we had taken any vacations recently. We haven’t, but apparently Brooklynn told a rather elaborate story of how she and her grandpa flew on a plane to watch a basketball game. When we left for dinner that evening, Brooklynn was drawing wavy lines and small squiggles on her white board and telling everyone it was sea turtles swimming in the ocean.
Yesterday, she decided that she was a train like Thomas the Tank-Engine. She called herself Thomas and said we should too. When asked directly where Brooklynn was, she would point to herself and say, “Right here!” while looking at us with an expression that seemed to indicate she worried about our sanity. I mean, where else would she be when she’s right in front of us? Silly mommy and daddy.
But other than that, only Thomas would respond to any sort of requests.
She also likes when her stuffed animals carry objects, talk, and dance. Yesterday, I got kicked off a stool at her table to make room for teddy. Apparently it was his seat first.
We have confirmed imagination happening in our house. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we have full-fledged tea parties and princess sightings[2. Rhiannon is very excited.].
Sometimes, at the end of the day, when everyone is a little bit sick and a little bit tired, and when some of us can't take medicine due to parasites living inside of them[1. This does not refer to me but rather to Rhiannon], and the tiny person in the house requests fruit loops for dinner, well... You just say sure.
We've been struggling a little bit in the mornings as of late. We are currently blessed with a toddler who doesn't want to get dressed, at least not for me. She doesn't want to go to school and she doesn't want to eat breakfast. She would like to lay in bed in her pajamas. Rhiannon tells me that she's two. It's a phase. I will also admit that I have not been the most patient of people at 6am in dealing with Brooklynn's phases. This morning, as I searched for Brooklynn's travel mug that we apparently left at school yesterday, Rhiannon was the one to go in and get her up. I went upstairs to find Rhiannon and Brooklynn playing a game where Ruffy (the puppy) and Rabbit, her two current favorite animals, where helping to take off her pajamas and get her dressed. And it worked. No tears, no crying. Well, nothing wrong until we got to the part where her travel mug was at school and she would have to wait until then to have her chocolate shake for the morning[1. Yes, our two year old enjoys a chocolate protein shake made with water and coconut milk. She doesn't get chocolate milk at home, so I think this is something pretty exciting for her.]
It's also times like this when I see Rhiannon making things a game succeeding where my attempt at direct logic has failed when I realize that I really don't understand children. I will happily play blocks and dance around to music, and, when frustrated in the morning, I will also tell Brooklynn that her recent behavior has been unacceptable[2. If you are chuckling in disbelief that I told a two-year old her behavior was "unacceptable", that was also Rhiannon's reaction when she heard it. No, I don't think I actually expected it to work, but man, it felt good to say it.] and she needs to shape up.
The hardest thing I think that Brooklynn is facing right now is the fact that she wants to do everything herself[3. "No, me do it me own self" as she likes to say]. She puts her own food in the microwave and closes it. She takes her own clothes off and puts them on herself. She can lift and carry that 10 pound bag of flour her own self, thank you very much.
If she gets hurt doing something, well, maybe she will allow us to give her a hug and make it better. And if she spills a little when she carries her bowl of soup across the kitchen to the table, then it's ok for us to help clean up. Every day, she does a little more on her own. She's going to be a big sister, after all. No time to act like a baby and let Mom and Dad do everything for her. Especially no at 6am when she's still a little tired and crabby.
So, moving forward, I'm going to make the attempt to practice patience and stay positive, even in the face of utter and completely irrational thought and actions.
Because, really, who doesn't want a stuffed puppy to help with putting our clothes on in the morning? I think everyone one would probably be in a better mood with a little bit more of that going on.
After about 20 days off from any morning schedule, it's hard to expect a two year old to seamless transition back to a strictly scheduled routine, but that's what we're asking Brooklynn to do. Three days in to this week and it's going. I'll leave that without a clarifier.
She's been eating breakfast in her pajamas and taking her sleeping blankie downstairs with her, but we've all been getting out the door on time. She's not at all thrilled to see me in the morning when I wake her up, but that might be a little bit our fault for letting her stay up like it was still Christmas break. I'm sure we'll get it figured out again eventually.
Considering the picture below was taken at 6:15 am and she had already finished her oatmeal, I guess I could finish my previous though: it's going ok.