Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's a bit like having a newborn again.

Caleb is sick. He came down with a fever Sunday afternoon after the boot sale and has been battling the fever and vomiting since then. It's Caleb's first real sickness, if you don't count the off-and-on colds of winter. We saw a pediatrician yesterday who said it is either a stomach virus (yes) or Fifth Disease (no.) Caleb's cheeks were really red yesterday, which is why she wanted to make me aware of Fifth Disease (a viral rash that starts with redness of cheeks, also called "Slap Cheek" and then spreads to the arms and torso.) The good news is that as Caleb's temperature has come down, his cheeks are far less red, so I'm convinced it's just a stomach bug.

But trying to figure out how to deal with a sick baby feels a lot like having a newborn again. Caleb and I are normally on a pretty good schedule. He eats five times a day -- two bottles and three "meals" of baby food. He naps about three times if we stay home. If we're out, he just naps when he can (in the car or stroller.) Since his stomach is upset, the Dr. didn't want me to give him diary products, which means no bottles of formula until his stomach settles down. So he's getting lots of diluted pedialyte, at her instruction. He's pretty much eating tiny meals all day long and napping off and on for short periods. Very newborn-like.

Today for the first time in ages we took a nap together. He's much more snuggly while he's ill than he normally is. On a regular day, he wants to be down on the floor playing or in his jumperoo. And he likes to nap in his own crib -- he never falls asleep in my arms anymore. Today, though, he snuggled up with me in the couch and we slept together for about an hour. It was a sweet silver lining.

It's frustrating to not know what's wrong or what he wants. I really hope he catches on to the sign language soon, because I would love to know how I could help him, or at least know what's bothering him.

On top of that, he's finally cutting his first tooth.

Boy, this is fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Boots Ads and Boot Sales

Wow. I am SO tired.

Today I went to my first ever car boot sale. (Your car's "boot" is the trunk. A car boot sale is, essentially a huge collective garage sale. Bring your crap to sell in your car, set it up in front of your car and hope to make a few pounds!) It was pretty cool. We solicited donated items from my husband's squadron to raise money for the squadron booster club, and managed to make a couple hundred pounds. Sweet! (Given the current exchange rate of almost exactly double, two hundred pounds is about four hundred dollars.)

Caleb was SO good, considering the fact that we were up at 4 in the morning to get ready for this thing and he was out with us in a strange environment till almost noon. His Pack 'n' Play (or "travel cot") was a hot item. Everyone wanted to buy it, but I had only brough it to put him down occasionally. Next time I'll bring a sign, "Travel cot not for sale...Nor is the baby!" That was the next most popular question. "How much for the baby?" Ha. Ahahaha. Ha. After the fiftieth time, I got tired of telling people to come back and negotiate when he got crabbier at the end of the day.

Tommy and I managed to leave the sale having only spent 5 pounds, which is miraculous. We bought a new dog bed for the Z's crate. Their current bed are becoming a bit too stinky for our liking, despite a recent wash. There were lots of baby toys for sale, but nothing I was willing to part with 10-15 pounds over.

We learned a lot in this first experience that I think will make us better boot sellers next time -- such as presorting the clothes and bringing more tables. My favorite experience, though, was when Tommy's coworker was attempting to sell jeans to a lady and kept asking what kind of pants she wears and telling her we had all kinds of pants. I don't think he realized that "pants" are underwear here. She abruptly change directions and left in a hurry!

In other news, I LOVE that song they play on the Boots commercial. (Boots is a British pharmacy that I really like.) Anyway, since at least Christmas they've had these ad campaigns with this great song, Ernie K. Doe's "Here Come The Girls." Their latest ad campaign has mom chasing their kids to slather them up in SPF, with that song behind it. It's just a great song, and really effective! It makes me want to shop at Boots. I can't remember looking forward to a commercial before!

(I'm also loving the new Weezer single, "Pork and Beans," but that's really no suprise, is it?)

And finally, if Caleb was a super hero, I think his name would be Nearly Naked Baby. And his superpower could be looking fantastic in a diaper, 'cause he does.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


While vacuuming my bedroom the other day, I moved the Pack 'n' Play where Caleb slept for the first two months of his life. In moving it, I accidentally bumped the button that plays soft, classical lullabies. I used to press that button so many times a night hoping he'd sleep a little longer or go to sleep at all.

Hearing the music again absolutely froze me in my tracks. I literally had to sit down on the edge of the bed because I was overwhelmed by the raw, vulnerable emotions that came flooding forth at the instant I heard those first few notes. I immediately remembered those first few weeks of never sleeping more than two or three hours at a time. I could feel the sharp anguish of trying desperately to get Caleb to nurse. I remembered the deep frustration and anger of losing my internet connection for three weeks and feeling so unconnected with the world, and more importantly, my husband in Iraq. I sat there for a few minutes, just allowing myself to remember how difficult life was for those first few weeks.

In retrospect, it's clear I was suffering from more than baby blues, that I had a pretty good bought of post-partum depression frantically trying to drag me down. And while I never felt like I was a danger to myself or Caleb or anyone else, I was just so wicked sad and emotional and unstable during that time.

I've said it before, but it's so true: My mom saved my life. My mother's 24-hour-a-day presence, support and help kept me alive and marginally sane. I remember crying so often in my mom's arms. I remember being so exhausted that the stupidest thing would set the two of us off laughing, and we would be so punch-drunk that we'd laugh for ten minutes until we forgot what we were laughing about to begin with. My mom made me meals and brought them to me in bed on the third floor of our house. She came with me to every doctor's appointment (which were frequent then) and kept Caleb when I had to make vet appointments after Zeus started having seizures just ten days into Caleb's life.

I remember a follow-up appointment with my OBGYN where I wept because of the nursing problems I was having. Dr. A was so comforting and reassuring about my efforts without being pushy. As she told me that it was okay to let go of nursing, she said, "Before you know it, he'll be five years old and pulling a box of Triscuits out of the cupboard to feed himself." And although he's not eating even Gerber Puffs yet, I think of this comment every now and again as I feed Caleb his green beans or bananas, and it makes me smile.
All of the stress and struggle was so momentary, so fleeting. But in the moment, it was the most soul-wrenching, overwhelming experience of my life so far. To be able to say that makes me a very fortunate woman. And as I sat on my bed, remembering all the emotions of that time, I am glad it is behind me. But I am even more grateful that it wasn't worse than it was.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Let the Moonlight Take the Lid Off of Your Dreams

Caleb, you're 8 months old today. As it does every month, this milestone blows me away.

But today I'm not going to write about how mobile you're becoming (even though it's just by a series of rolls and not by crawling) or how I keep wondering when you'll cut your first tooth.

Today I want to talk about your sleeping habits.
Now I should say that I'm super lucky to have a baby who sleeps like a champ and has for quite some time. You rarely wake in the middle of the night, and will put yourself back to sleep almost every time you do wake. You're down by 9 and up by 7 almost every day. And you take pretty good naps, if you're given the chance. No, you actual sleep patterns aren't really worth commenting on, except to say, "Good job!"
But the way you sleep. Now that's something else.

When my mom (your MamMaw) was staying with us while Daddy was in Iraq, she and I used to laugh at how noisy you were in your sleep. My friend Kristy dubbed you Sir Grunts A Lot, and that you did. You spent most of your night grunting and groaning. I guess sleep is strenuous when you're a newborn.

You outgrew your gruntiness, but not long after that, you learned to roll over. And you haven't stopped since then.

I never know where I'll find you in you're crib. You don't know this, but I'm supposed to put you on your back when you sleep. But since you've learned to roll, you refuse to sleep on your back. This isn't terribly unusual or cause for concern, though.
What makes me laugh isn't the rolling, it's the complete change in positions. I'll put you on your back with your head towards the window, and five minutes later you're conked out on your tummy with your head towards the door, on the opposite end of the crib. Sometimes you wedge yourself into a corner, even occasionally changing your position to fit the corner, as in the shape of an L. Or I'll find you with your face pressed against the mirror in your crib, breathing little pools of condensation at your reflection.

This is my fault, I'm afraid. You've inherited the weird sleep bug that I have. When my dad used to come kiss me good-bye in the morning, he would generally find me with my head down at the foot of the bead, blankets askew, and bum high in the air. I've been know to sleep walk, sleep talk, and sleep act. When I was 16 I used to wake up to find myself sitting straight up in bed acting as if I was filling orders at Hardee's (my first job.) In more recent years, I even punched your poor father in the head, because I was convinced that his head was a crystal ball about to roll down the stairs. (Blame Harry Potter for that one!)
I genuinely hope that strange sleep positions is as bad as it gets for you. Because it can be stressful to have such an active sleep life. I once lost my pajama pants for at least a day because I couldn't remember what I did with them when I took them off in my sleep. I hope you never lose your pajama pants.

But as much as I hope it doesn't get this extreme for you, I have to admit that I smile whenever I look in on your crazy little sleeping body. I love that we already have something in common so young and can't wait to find out what else we'll share as you grow older.

I love you, sweet boy. Happy 8 Month Birthday.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Caleb Goes Swimming

Today I took Caleb to the Leisure Centre for his first attempt at "swimming." I was convinced he would like it, since he loves bath time and has no real aversion to water. Clearly, I was wrong.

Before we went out to the pool, there was a line of shower heads with a sign informing you to shower before you enter the pool. This is not a foreign concept, since all American pools have these signs, too. But in America, I generally disregard the instruction unless I'm super hot and sweaty. I didn't want to give Americans a bad rep this morning, and in the name of being a good ambassador for our team, I turned on the shower head and quickly jumped in with Caleb resting on my hip.

Bad idea.

The shower freaked him out. He began screaming, and I walked out of the spray and did my best to calm him down. He was just about back to normal, so I decided to take him to the kiddie pool. Apparently he wasn't ready for the pool. He cried and fussed and just generally made it known that he was not at all happy about this. I spent the next 20 minutes taking him in and out of the pool and trying everything in my repertoire to distract him from the scariness of the two-foot deep pool. Nothing worked. So I gave in and we went home.

I'm not giving up! I figure he didn't like peaches at first, either, but I've managed to convince him of their merit. Surely I can do the same with swimming, right? I'm very persuasive!

Anyway, at least he looked good!

(Trunks from Tesco)