One and Done.

The past week has been… A Week. Work has been busy. Home life has been busy. And the one thing that I wanted to talk about, I really wasn’t in a place to talk about yet. Thus, radio silence here.

When we talked last, Luffy and I were (air quotes) decided. I’ve left out quite a bit since then. It took me all of two or three weeks to change my mind. Luffy hadn’t changed his mind though and, during a particularly rough week, Luffy made it very clear that he was very certain. Since my blabbering on about it was what appeared to drive Luffy over the edge, I vowed to keep silent. But then! Luffy told me that he did want another one. Yay! We appeared to be on the same page and I didn’t think about it anymore.

Except – me and my mouth – I casually referenced the second child thing last week and it sent Luffy into a tailspin. I blamed a stressful few days at work for him and hoped it would blow over. But then, last Thursday, the dumpling randomly woke up at 10:15 and couldn’t re-settle himself. Luffy and I took turns, but I ultimately ended up awake with the dumpling, getting to bed at 2:30am. The next morning, Luffy very kindly offered to get up with the dumpling to give me a bit more sleep, but when I did get up, I could tell something was on Luffy’s mind. We had already arranged for a mini lunch-date, but Luffy told me (via text) that he wanted to discuss this second child thing over lunch.

And I knew. Deep in my heart and my stomach. I knew what he was going to tell me.

I prepped myself and reasoned with myself and knew that, ultimately, I agreed with him. One child would be the best choice for our family. For so many reasons.

And yet, when we sat down and he actually said the words to me – that he was certain he would only want one child – I cried. I was saddened. For you see, much like the decision for the mode of the dumpling’s delivery was taken from me, so too was this decision. If the decision was solely mine and existed in a sort of vacuum where I could ensure everyone’s happiness and smooth-sailing, I absolutely would have a second child. Without hesitation. And for reasons I can’t articulate, other than yes. But, of course, the decision isn’t solely mine and I can’t guarantee that it wouldn’t be stressful or challenging (or, you know, ruin our lives, but I’m trying to think positively here). And so. The decision has been made.

We’re one and done. Truly.

It really is the best decision for us, for reasons that I won’t get into here (after all, some things deserve to be private). And even after just a couple of days with my adjusted expectations, I can already find so many more pros.

And yet. I found myself holding my baby even closer this weekend, trying to memorize exactly the way his small body feels when he sits in my lap or gives me a hug. It’s futile, I know. These moments are just as fleeting as his newborn days were (in hindsight of course!). And this evening, after a few hours of the back-and-forth he’s happy! he’s miserable! he’s happy! he’s miserable!, I was blissfully reminding myself that we’d only have to get through this once. It’s comforting and surprisingly liberating.

So yeah, a little anti-climatic for the blog I suppose, since I’m essentially confirming where we last left things. But yes, we’re one and done. Period.

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Life Data, pt 2

I’ve been a little obsessed with the last post. Oddly enough, this milestone seems monumental in ways that others have not. I keep opening the app, fiddling with the screens, looking at when the last updates were made to different modules. For instance, I last recorded a nursing session on October 31st, at 6:44am. It lasted just four minutes; he would fully wean himself just a few days later. My last recorded pumping session was October 9th at 8:28pm (which tells me I must have taught class, otherwise I’d never have pumped in the evening). I didn’t even update the session to include how many ounces I produced. Little bits and pieces of the dumpling’s data, there for me to review. As I was meandering through, I realized that I could export the data and my accountant-self got real happy. Without further ado, I present to you some numbers from the dumpling’s first 16 months of life:

Nursing:
– All total, we spent 23,765 minutes breastfeeding in twelve months. That’s a little over 396 hours or 16.5 DAYS.
– Our longest session was recorded was on February 4, 2017 at 57 minutes and I can tell that must have been an AWESOME day because the third longest session (at 41 minutes) is also from that day. Other than these two, most of the longest sessions were from the very early days (November and December 2016) and many of them occurred in the wee hours of the morning.
– The duration of each session generally shortens over time, with the 30+ minute sessions concentrated in his early weeks of life and the <5 minute sessions coming at the end as he grew out of nursing. There are a few exceptions though – for instance, a 28 minute session on the morning of October 7th, 2017 – that I hope I cherished as I got to spend an unexpected few extra minutes snuggling.

Pumping:
– All total, I spent 11,146 minutes pumping in eleven months. That’s 186 hours hooked up to a machine that I begrudgingly accepted.
– In those 186 hours, I produced 1,754 ounces of milk. That’s just under 55 quarts of milk or 14 gallons!
– To put those ounces produced into a bit more perspective though, the most I ever produced in one session was 9oz. The average pumping session yielded just 3.25oz and lasted 20 minutes.

Other fun highlights:
– In his first month of life, we changed 335 diapers.
– The longest recorded sleep was on January 13, 2017. He went to sleep at 7:15 Friday night and woke up at 8:30 the next morning. That was after his second full day at daycare. It also happened to be the day I decided I couldn’t take him back to that place.
– The dumpling has slept 12 hours or longer overnight just twenty times in his life. He averages about 9.5-10.5 hours right now.
– Our app has a note taking feature and I made some adorable notes about when he lost his umbilical stump (11/9/16), when he had his first real bath (11/12/16), and when he moved up to Size 1 diapers (12/11/16).
– As of his 15mo check-up, he’s gained just over 13lbs and grown 11.4in. 

And I’ll leave it on that note, as those are the only numbers that really matter, in the end.

 

One and Done

Luffy and I have decided. We’re changing our life-plan and sticking with our little family of three. One child. Just the dumpling. Honestly, other than my absurd wish to be pregnant again (anyone need these rose-colored glasses?) and hold a newborn (but only for like half an hour), the thought of just having one child brings me a lot of peace.

I wrote once, on a community board, that I feel like I’m too selfish to have another child. Not in a bad way, but more in a self-care way. Not to knock the dumpling or anything, but there are so many other things I enjoy in life. Plus, I’m not really into the whole mom sacrifices everything – her time, her body, her identity, EVERYTHING – to raise children. At the end of the day, I still want – nay NEED – time for myself. Time for my interests and hobbies, like exercising and travel. I’d really like to be able to teach at least three exercise classes a week again. Luffy and I would love to go to Italy again and we can’t wait to introduce our child to the joys of traveling. And hell, I need time to take care of myself. I’m a much better person with 15 minutes of peace and quiet. I don’t want to become a mother who hasn’t had a decent meal all day or whose children are well-dressed but she’s in sweats and unwashed hair. [Nothing against those mothers! It’s just not for me.]

With the plan for one child a go, Luffy and I have already started to become excited for the near future again. Travel! With and without the dumpling! We’re that much closer to getting a dog (because I refuse to be the primary care-giver for a puppy at the same time as a baby)! We’re that much closer to retirement! We’re that much closer to diaper-free days and meltdown-free days and – GUESS WHAT?! – we no longer have any newborn days in our future again! HOLLA!! WOOT WOOT!! and etc!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware we might change our minds and we reserve the right to. Once the dumpling’s a little more independent and we’re through the ups/downs of early toddlerhood (read: teeeeeeeeeth because the dumpling is getting four right now). Once he can talk to us, maybe? We might change our minds. And that’s ok.

Right now though, my mental health is a lot, er, healthier with the thought of having just one. And that’s ok too.

The Follow-up

We had our appointment with the neurologist this morning. It went well, all things considered. Really well, I’d say.

Our doctor did indeed have the results of the dumping’s MRI. He didn’t find any of the things he was concerned about (“crossed wires” or, even more frightening, a mass). He did note what’s called low-lying tonsils. Basically part of the dumpling’s brain protrudes through the base of his skull into his spinal column. Right now, all this means is something to monitor and triggers a follow-up MRI in a year. Our neurologist said that in the majority of cases like this (young patient, developing brain, etc), the malformation corrects itself. In about 25% of cases though, the malformation gets worse and he would be officially diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation. Which, if you open that link, is also a scary thing, but our doctor assured us that this is the type of thing we would have never known about without this early MRI and it’s quite possible that the dumpling will never have signs or symptoms of the condition. It’s simply a case of being able to know a little too much, much like his heart blip in utero.

As for the epilepsy, he’s been officially labeled as such, but in a softer, he’s-likely-to-outgrow-this sort of way. We’ll be continuing on the anti-seizure medication for two years. If he’s seizure-free for two years and has a normal EEG at that time, then we’ll discuss weaning him off of the medication. Another seizure-free year after that and we’ll be released from the care of the neurologist with a perfectly healthy preschooler. It sounds like a long road, but I’m hopeful that all will go smoothly and the dumpling will never have another seizure.


In other very important news, I bought the dumpling THE CUTEST pair of overalls at Hanna Anderson today and I cannot WAIT to try them on him!

Back to the routine

I must say, it feels good to slip back into a routine.

That was completely me. I lost all sense of the days and, even this week, I’m still lost as to whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday. I used to love the times of the year when you get to kick back and lose yourself in the days of leisure, but with a toddler who does much better with routine, it feels so good to sink back into our cozy routine.

Unfortunately, our routine is being disrupted yet again this Friday by the dumpling’s MRI. Luckily, it should be fairly short, all things considered. I mean, the poor baby has to be sedated for the procedure so I was concerned they’d want to keep him for monitoring. I spoke to the radiology nurse yesterday though and she assured me that we’d likely be on our way by 10am at the latest. I still plan to keep him home though, to monitor him myself, so Friday should be an interesting day.

Luffy and I were talking the other day about how strange it is, having a child, in certain situations. For instance, while I was talking with the radiology nurse, she told me that two adults can wait in radiology, but then only one adult can go back with the dumpling. She said that adult could remain with him until he was asleep and then that person (which, who are we kidding, is going to be me) will be removed from the procedure area. And when she said that, my heart just seized up as my mind conjured up the image of my son under sedation, all alone in an MRI room. I won’t be allowed to rejoin him until he’s in recovery and I’m praying that he will take longer to wake up because I don’t want him to wake up without me being there. I mean, if he wakes up and no one’s there… my heart can’t take that.

Or, another example of this odd phenomenon where my heart squeezes involuntarily: our daycare is hesitant to move the dumpling into the next class (the toddler class, for ages 12-18mo). The dumpling’s 14mo now and finally walking pretty well. He’s actually already on the school’s lunch plan and we’re beginning to shift his schedule to align to the toddler class, so we asked them about the timing of his move to the next class. When they hesitated, we pressed and they told us that they thought he was too small. At first, we were dismissive (and also probably a touch defensive), but really, he’s small?! He’s probably always going to be on the smaller side of the class, at least until he hits his first pubescent growth spurt. What’s the cutoff here? I mean, if you hold him back for his size now, what about the next transition? He just broke twenty pounds (which we know thanks to a visit last Friday to our pediatrician!*), did they want him to be 22lbs or 25lbs? What exactly was their goal?

So, I asked my mother. A long, long time ago, she worked in a daycare (actually several, including running her own in-home daycare). My first clue as to the depth of her concern was that I texted her and she called me back. (Complete sidebar here – whenever you elevate the method of conversation, it always feels a touch more dire. Like if you email someone and they text you in return – or, in this scenario, you text someone and they call you back instead. But I digress…) She told me that if the daycare managers were hesitant to move the dumpling because of his size, it was very likely that the next class has some “assertive” toddlers – i.e. the toddlers that are in the pushing and hitting phase. His teachers have told me time and time again that if another baby takes a toy from the dumpling, he just goes to find another. He has such a sweet and passive personality (most of the time!). My mother said that she’d listen to the daycare managers, because she’d hate for the dumpling to go from a stellar daycare experience (seriously, he loves his teachers and class so much) to a classroom full of “bullies” who will quite literally run him over, physically and figuratively. And y’all – my heart just hurt for my son. It made me want to scoop him up and give him a hug. Or follow him into the toddler class to run interference for him against all of those bigger, pushier toddlers. Or, better yet, just keep him in the infant classroom with the teachers who already love him! Yes! Let’s do that!

Parenthood, right? It’s frustrating and fulfilling and heart-wrenching, all at the same time.


Now for a little observation that I really want to jot down:

My sweet baby has always loved to read. He loves books and turning the pages and lifting the flaps and hearing the stories. One of his favorite books (which was actually one of my favorites as a child!) is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He also really like Sandra Boynton’s Doggies when he was really little, I think because of all of the doggie sounds. He’s gone one step further lately – he actually has favorite pages. And it’s very clear because he will thumb through a book with purpose until he lands on a particular page. And if we’re reading the book and I turn the page away from his favorite, he’ll immediately turn it back to have me re-read the page. Squee! Isn’t that just adorable?!

Right now, his favorite pages are the “nine dogs on a moonlit night” page from Sandra Boynton’s Doggies because we howl at the moon and he thinks that’s hilarious. His other favorite page is the “di-no-saurs sing-ing a di-no-saur song!” from her Oh My! Oh My! Oh Dinosaurs!. I think he likes it because I sing the words with much flair and embellishment. Plus, I occasionally decide to show off my skills at holding a note and hold on to the “song” until he’s smiling like a fool. Good times!

Anyway, wish us luck for Friday. I’m ready for next week when we can slip even further into our comfortable routines.

*The trip to the pediatrician last Friday was unscheduled but ultimately uneventful. The dumpling had a cold over Christmas, as I’ve mentioned. He ran a fever Friday through Sunday, but woke up fever-free on Christmas Day (Monday). He seemed to be improving and then he ran a fever again on Thursday afternoon. He didn’t have a fever Friday morning, but I spent a restless Thursday night with him as he tossed and turned and dozed fitfully. So, we went to the pediatrician’s for a clean-ish bill of health. Good thing too because the radiology people weren’t too jazzed about him having had a cold so recently and were quizzing me to make sure he hadn’t been diagnosed with the flu or RSV or something.

Post-holiday Recovery

Well then, that was depressing.

In hindsight, I think that I was just really upset over my parents leaving early. Even before the holiday, I had been bummed that they were only staying for a full day (Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning, so basically just here for Christmas Day). So the abrupt departure was something I just couldn’t deal with. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the dumpling was a lot to handle, but topped off with my parents being here for just 24 hours, and voila! Existential crisis du jour.

If I may though, the decision to have a second child has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s the dumpling’s mini-tantrums or my concerns over his development or perhaps the lackluster Christmas we had. Regardless, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to whether I want to have a second child.

Luffy’s ambivalent on the matter, so it’s really up to me. He does, at least, concede that I do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to our son, especially right now when we are in the grips of parent-preference (me, of course). It is nice to hear, in a way, that he sees everything that I do, but it doesn’t help the decision about a second child because I know that I’ll be doing most of the work. Hopefully, the dumpling will be a bit more independent when/if this hypothetical second child makes an appearance, but I know I can’t just focus solely on the young child and leave the older to fend for himself.

On the one hand, it feels like such a cop-out to plan my life out based on what’s easier right now. Right now, I can’t comprehend throwing a second child into the mix. Another strong-willed, uneven tempered being. I barely keep up with the dumpling as it is and I am always happy to turn him over to daycare for the day (mama needs a break too!). Honestly, just the thought of “I will only have one child” brings me a lot of relief and peace. And since it does, is that my gut telling me that I’d be no good as a mother of two? Is it taking the easy road or is it taking my feelings into consideration regarding our family’s future? After all, no one wants to be that mom who looks back at her life and regrets her children.

I feel like we’re at a crossroads of sorts. We ventured down one life path (have a child!) and we’re coming to a fork. The path that we’re on now has been fun, yes! With the dumpling’s laughter and smiles – watching him learn to crawl and walk and eat solid food. But it’s also been hard. With nursing around the clock in the beginning to newborn meltdowns to toddler meltdowns to colds and stomach viruses and febrile seizures.

This post is just all over the place at the moment. Basically what I’m trying to say is that raising a child is hard – oh so very hard – and I do a lot of the truly hard stuff. So if I choose to only have one child – is that taking the easy way out of life? Would I regret it later, that I never put in the hard work upfront to later enjoy the rewards of multiple children? Or, is choosing to have one child simply listening to my gut feeling that I’m unhappy right now and that child-rearing is the source of my unhappiness?


To add in one of my patented to be fairs, we have had a few tough weeks here recently. First with the shenanigans at Thanksgiving, then the seizure, and Roseola, and a cold, and possibly molars, and Christmas letdowns – it’s probably not the best time to be making life decisions. In the midst of the holiday blues, I even forgot that just weeks ago I seriously contemplated writing up a post about just how happy I was. At the end of October and first week or so of November, I was completely content. I felt it to my very core, the feeling that all was right in my little world. I didn’t write the post, because I thought it would come off as too braggy – look at me and my cozy little family! – but now I’m sad that I didn’t. It would have been a nice reminder of just how happy my life can be.

The Aftermath

[Click here if you’re wondering what I might be referring to.]

Questions for the group: when will I stop compulsively watching the dumpling sleep? When will I stop latching on to random things (why’s he doing that thing with his leg? he’s never done that thing with his leg…) and wondering if they’re a sign or symptom? When will I stop feeling his forehead and cheeks for signs of a fever? When will I stop grabbing the thermometer when he cries in the middle of the night? When will I stop questioning whether this outburst is a symptom of his medication as opposed to a typical toddler tantrum? When will I stop looking at my child and wondering if this was a turning point (we had a great first year with him and then he had that seizure and things were never the same)? I know that’s an irrational thought, but it still crosses my mind and I wish it wouldn’t.

I told you that he was in the monitor’s blind spot when it happened. We bought a second monitor to eliminate the blind spot and I am absolutely perturbed that, in the day of Prime Now and same day shipping, it’s not getting here until next Tuesday. We now have both infant Tylenol and children’s Motrin on-hand. Previously, I just had Tylenol. I will no longer wait for a “moderate” fever to treat him and Motrin, with its 8 hour life, will be my go-to.

As terrifying as Monday night was, one of the worst moments occurred Tuesday when we got home. He needed a diaper change and my breath caught as I walked into his room. It was exactly as we left it. My slippers cast aside. The cloth diapers I’d grabbed as rags to catch the drool and vomit. Paraphernalia from the paramedics – a syringe wrapper and cap, for instance. The dumpling’s zippy on the chair and his pj’s in a heap on the floor. I couldn’t deal with it and asked my mom to straighten up. Just this morning, I went to grab his laundry and saw the pj’s. It all came rushing back as my mind conjured up the image of my son, convulsing and panting, eyes unfocused and hands drawn to his chest. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to put those pj’s on him again.

I know that time will soften this, but I can’t help but wonder how much time it will take. Part of me wishes we could fast forward to the point when all of this is an afterthought. For the year when I’ll say something like, oh yeah, you did have a seizure as a baby. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to stay positive and enjoy my son without all of the worries clouding my brain.

As a little PS anecdote, the paramedics who treated him Monday night were back on shift today. They stopped by our house to say hi and see how he was doing. They were happy to see him up and about. I was deeply touched by the gesture and wish that I could find a way to repay them, to thank them as profusely as they deserve.