Where to start? Well, first of all, we’re all just fine. Darwin is happy and healthy, Leah is happy and getting rounder by the day, and I’ve started my new job (!!!) and love it. But of course there are other things happening in our lives and in the lives of those we love as well. I’m in this place where my family that I love and lives all the way on the other side of the country is going through something that sits squarely on the hard/sad/frustrated/angry/overwhelmed side. I’ve been holding onto information about our sweet nephew for a while, trying to decide how to talk about it. It isn’t my story, but it’s affecting me deeply, so I’ve decided to toe the line between not sharing information that isn’t mine to share, and lightening this load by writing it down.
Our nephew is three months old. When we learned of his birth, and soon after that he was not well, I had crushing doubts that we would still have him with us at this point. His due date was two weeks ago. He’s eating, gaining weight, being cute. He has a big brother who adores him. Darwin loves to point out photos of baby “Pen-ley” on the photo app we have for them. He also had a brain bleed sometime in his first few days of life that resulted in several neurosurgeries, the latest of which was today. Everyone says the NICU is a roller coaster. He was days (hours?) from discharge when they discovered what would turn out to be the reality that his first surgery was not successful at relieving the fluid buildup in his brain. He showed no symptoms, and it was only an MRI at the point when they were ready to discharge him that brought the problem to light. My heart breaks for my brother and sister-in-law. They have been his parents and his advocates, while also loving and parenting their 3 year old, and working. If this had happened before I was a parent, I think my reaction would have been different. Now I think about it and just cry.
So there. That’s what I’ve been holding onto for the last three months. I’ve spoken about it with a few friends, but not at length. This doesn’t go into the details that should not be shared because, like I said, most of it isn’t my story to tell. For those of you reading…have you had a NICU baby? What was the most helpful/least helpful thing to hear/receive as you were taking care of your child? Please don’t share loss stories, I can’t handle that at this point, but I would love to hear your success stories for those with NICU graduates.
Yesterday afternoon I nursed Darwin at nap time but she fought against falling asleep. It was a swap day (I have the kiddos in the morning and hypothetically get to work all afternoon), so I really needed to get her to nap. No go. She was so awake that I finally packed her up and took her home, where I broke down the co-sleeper into a pack’n’play, put her in it, and walked away. She was actually fine for about ten minutes. I let her fuss and then cry for about five minutes before going in and patting her butt to calm her down (ever since she was bitty…). Once calm, I laid down on the bed next to her pack’n’play and she chatted to herself, spun around, bounced, sat up, then laid down and fell asleep. On her own. Last night, same thing. Nursed, into the pack’n’play, 15-20 minutes and she put herself to sleep with no fuss!
Come to this afternoon. Another swap day. Darwin nursed. Then she laid on the couch where she naps at our friend’s house and put herself to sleep in a well-lit room, watching me. I am one proud mama. That’s three sleeps in a row that were unassisted!
As of last Thursday, Darwin is 18 months old. A year and a half. 548.5 days (the extra day due to leap year). Two years ago I was about three months pregnant and celebrating hearing a clear and strong heartbeat (for record keeping, that was on 3/3/14). This year we are celebrating a strong, smart, joyful, capable, communicative toddler.
I waited till today (okay, now it’s yesterday), the 14th of March (also known as pi day!), to write this post, because it coincides with the 18 month appointment that we set up so long ago (when did 3 months go so fast??). Measurements and vaccinations, and now, the biggest holy shit moment- the next time we see the pediatrician, barring illness or accident, will be with TWO kids. Darwin has graduated to 6 month visits just in time for little sibling to bump us back to 8 week visits.
The vital statistics
Weight: 25 lbs
Height: 32.5 inches
Head circumference: 19.09 inches (big head baby!)
I’ve found that I love going back to see when Darwin did the funny, sweet, difficult, and silly things that she has done each month. It passes so quickly that I forget. So, what do I want to remember about 18 months?
- Darwin loves to sing. She sings in the car with her Little White Duck album. She sings in her co-sleeper while she’s falling asleep for nap and nighttime. She asks us to sing specific songs. Specific to the point where if you sing the alphabet song in English and she wants it in French, well, in her words “no-no!”
- Peek-a-boo finally involves covering her eyes, and she does it enthusiastically. She plays Peek on the changing table. In the car. Over the edge of the co-sleeper. The bed. She plays it with us, with the animals. She is an expert-level peek-a-booer.
- Sentences are no longer unusual or novel. Some of the more common ones include “I don’t like it”, “Cheese please”, “I want that”, and “I don’t want to/I want to”. The last in a very whiny tone that we’re working on moderating…
- Eating with a spoon now involves actually getting food into her mouth most of the time. Darwin is a messy eater, there’s no denying that. Especially when you hold up her buddy N for comparison, who is a very tidy eater, and will stop eating if things get to messy and wait for a clean up. Darwin has no such compunction. Favorite foods include yogurt with cinnamon, rice cereal with cinnamon, blueberries, a squash and banana food pouch, Chex, beans, and most favored – cheddar cheese.
- Movement-wise, Darwin has graduated to running. She is still reticent to climb on things, and has had a little bit of a backslide in being willing to slide backwards off the bed, asking “help, help” instead.
- Going outside. Outside is the most coveted place at all times. It does not matter if it is pouring buckets, she must be OUTside. She shrieks with joy when we tell her we’re going outside. We must be careful to prepare her for a “car ride, not outside to play” if we’re going somewhere.
- Bubbles! Bubbles all the time. Darwin requests them any time she sees the bottles. She also has figured out where the bottles are at the grocery story (eye level for a toddler. jerks) and requests them there as well.
- Belly kisses for little sib. Darwin will kiss her MamaLee’s belly now. She clearly doesn’t fully comprehend the existence of the little Bee, but is beginning to get the idea as the belly grows.
- “Pizza!” Any time we ask Darwin what she wants for dinner, the answer is pizza. We have pizza every Tuesday night with our friends, and it has become almost a joke to ask Darwin throughout the day on Tuesday: “what’s for dinner?” She gets so excited.
- Visiting her grandparents. Monday mornings are for grandma and Darwin to spend time together (and Mamas to get some work done). When I ask Darwin if she wants to spend the morning with her grandma, she practically bounces out of her shoes.
- The family we swap with. Last night Darwin was laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and was singing a song that was simply the names of each member of the family in a loop. I feel so lucky to have people in our lives that my kid loves so much. And that I get to be a part of their lives too.
- Pulling the wagon. Darwin has a little red wagon. Sometimes she rides in it. Mostly she wants to pull it. It’s full size.
- Dancing is AWESOME. Darwin loves to dance to music. She now bops back and forth and sometimes sways her cloth diaper butt back and forth. It slays me.
- Jackets, and mittens, and hats, and shoes, and socks. Basically any accessory is the best thing ever. It is officially time to order her the first Red Sox ball cap in her size. She keeps swiping mine, and it’s so cute I’ve been putting it off, but she needs one now.
- CHEEEEEESE. Particularly “cheddah.” Clearly she is our kid, because if she could sustain herself on cheddar cheese alone, she would, happily.
- Darwin has two stuffed bunnies, one from one of Leah’s uncles, and one from one of her aunts. Darwin loves to make them hop. If she has one, she immediately looks for the other, or demands we find it if they have been separated. Tonight she asked for them at bed time. Leah is doing bedtime now. It is glorious. Last night I did an hour worth of chores while she waited for Darwin to fall asleep. Effing DST.
- Running up to people she knows is just adorable. Who doesn’t love an 18 month old throwing herself at them with a great big grin and outstretched arms?
- “I love you.” My favorite. In response, spontaneously, to her lovies, in the bath, in the car, walking down the sidewalk. This kid has a lot of love to go around.
- And one to grow on…we attend a UU church. It’s a great community. The religious exploration program is great for all ages, and Darwin goes to the infant/toddler room for care for almost two hours while I get to work as a youth adviser. She has attached herself to one of the caregivers, and just adores her. The other day, Darwin actually fell asleep in her lap. And stayed there for 45 minutes. I finally picked her up so that the poor woman could get some feeling back in her feet and arms! The trust Darwin has in the world makes me know we’ve done something right.
Smiling the day after turning 18 months
Darwin’s newest word is ‘why?’ For whatever reason, I didn’t expect that to be coming on so early!
Last night we went for our evening walk (spurred on, as usual, by happy shrieks of ‘outSIDE!’). I was standing in the driveway with Darwin in her backpack, waiting for Leah to finish leashing the dog,when Darwin started asking for the moon. The night was clear and cold, and the stars were out, but no moon, so I told her that it was a new moon and that we couldn’t see it when it was new. She immediately said ‘why?’ I was floored! I went into a long explanation about how the light from the moon is actually reflected sunlight, and when the Earth is directly between the moon and the sun the sunlight is blocked. She kept asking why. Finally I pointed out Orion’s belt and she said ‘yeah-yeah!’
Apparently I’m going to have to start brushing up on my physical sciences earlier than I thought!
‘Are you awake?’
… lays head on my belly …
Snoooore…send reinforcements. I’m stuck.