While I Was Away

I’ve been busy. I’m sorry. I’m a horrible blogger. And the truth? I’m still busy. I honestly have no business creating a long list of catch-up posts when there is so much I should be doing. So I am going to try to catch you up in this one post, if you are still out there.

School: I’ve got a couple more classes under my belt. More A’s. I’ll be finished with my business degree in September. I’ve been working on the MBA applications. More on that in a sec.

Evan: Evan is still…Evan. They’ve changed his meds several times. Some of it has been good and some bad. The bad changes are the ones that had him literally awake for days, dark circles under his eyes, palor. It broke my heart. Until one day when his teacher called and said he fell asleep in school and we had to bring him home and let him sleep for almost 2 days straight, only waking him to get some fluids in him so he didn’t dehydrate. I hate it all and would love more than anything to just be able to take him off of all of them and get them out of his system, but I kow he can’t function without them. Now things are finally looking up. He came home last week, excited and proudly presenting this flyer from school. Turns out they are having baseball sign-ups and Evan wants to play. We signed him up. He’s never played a sport before because he has never shown interest. But we jumped on this, even taking him to get fitted for a glove and bat, getting him training gear. He’ll start practicing here at home this week, since he is too old to play tee-ball, and this is actually pitch baseball.

Zach: Zach was officially assessed at the 12-month level, developmentally speaking. He has started therapy after officially being labeled as developmentally delayed. I had some very overwhelming days where it struck me that I have one child with Asperger’s and another who is DD. I had to get past that to carry on. In the meantime, in absence of any verbal communication, the therapist has started teaching Zachy to sign what he wants. Simple things like “more”, “drink”, “all done”, “eat”, and “help”. He can finally express what he wants to us instead of having a meltdown because we cannot understand his grunts and shouts. And with this development has emerged some attempts to be verbal. He can get the intonation of the syllables of words, but nothing anyone can understand yet. But he is trying, which is more than he was doing a month ago. He continues to be social and adorable and loving. And he is so smart. He can clearly understand anything you say to him. He hs favorite places and knows the routes to those places and will cry if you turn the opposite direction in the car. We just have to catch him up a little bit.

Grad School: I got letters of recommendation from my direct supervisor and department director at work. I wrote a stellar cover letter and drew up a new resume. I had my transcripts sent yesterday. Yet about a month ago, I was having a weak moment, so I scheduled a time to go into my first choice school and speak to them about my potential for admission. I was armed with nothing more than an unofficial printout of my undergrad work. She basically told me there was a very little likelihood that I will be turned away with my academic record. But I have to take that damned GMAT. You may recall that I took two weeks off at the end of January to prepare for and take the test. And then I psyched myself out and wouldn’t do it. That was the low point where I called them and made the appointment. And then I bit the bullet and scheduled the damned thing. And tried and tried to prep for without the advantage of time off from work or school. As a matter of fact, I have finished two more classes and started 2 more in that time frame. I still feel underprepared. My stomach has been in knots for days. As in butterflies and queasiness. The exam is tomorrow. If all goes well, I will be started at one of the top-ranked MBA programs in October. Oh, and that’s another thing: because I went back and did an undergrad business degree and will be fresh from that with immaculate grades, I am elegible for their accelerated program. In other words, they will give me credit for my undergrad and I will only have 8 classes left to my MBA. So by Summer of 2013, I will be an MBA. Yeah. No pressure. I have to get in. Have to. No other options. I even submitted all of the financial stuff for grad school, and at a very expensive private university, I will even have all of that falling into place.

So there you have it. While I haven’t been present in the bloggy world, I’ve been doing plenty. I look forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs and hopw you’ll forgive me for my absence.

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Delayed

As you may know, I made the call to have Zach evaluated for speech. He just doesn’t say enough to mesh with my ideas of what I think he should be saying. I made the call, and they told me a couple of things. First, he has to be a few months behind in order to qualify for services through our state’s early intervention program. If there is too slight a delay, I can still get him help, albeit privately. Second was that, despite the fact that Zach is almost 2 years old, they are continuing to adjust for his prematurity by subtracting the number of weeks of prematurity from his chronological age, then rounding down the next whole month. So while Zach is 20 months old, as of this next week, they assessed him as a 16-month-old.

Until I got the letter.

I thought it was just speech.

They said no, that he is delayed in communication and fine motor skills.

AND  that he is delayed enough for services.

They weren’t supposed to say that. They were supposed to tell me everything is just fine and I am just a worrying mother. Not that my worrying is right on target.

Here in a few minutes, I am going to get up from this desk and do a quick dusting in the living room and maybe vacuum because the case coordinator is coming by today to meet us. To explain how this all works–physical therapy and speech therapy for Zach. Further testing, even, to ensure that it is only prematurity that has caused this and not some other issue. And about a million thoughts are swimming in my head.

What was it? The breathine? Mag Sulfate? Indocin? What about the damned pain medication that I didn’t want to take but had to in order to survive that ordeal? And not only am I wondering which drug I was given, but which dose? Which injection, pill, dosage increase did the trick? Or what if I would have been tougher and held on a little longer? And if so, how much longer would have been enough? A day? A week? Where did we fall short of that threshold where everything woulld have been okay.  I thought it was all fine. Zach is almst 2 years old, and I thought I was finally past all of this. That we made it through, completely unscathed. This is so fucking unfair.

And Evan. Having a child–any child–with an autism spectrum disorder makes you much more likely to have another with an ASD. Are both of my precious miracle boys disordered?

I cannot even think about it now. Right now, I am going to put down the textbooks for a little while and pull myself up by the bootstraps. And help my Zachy.

Moo, Dog, Eat, Bath, Bye, Go,

No, this is no an SAT or ACT question, as in what do these words have in common? This is a list of the words Zachary has said for the first time—in the past 48 hours.

What did I tell ya? That as soon as I start to worry about his failure to reach a milestone on time, he comes up with things on his own. And his little voice! That cute, sweet, baby voice is so adorable. It reminds me of the time when Evan really started talking. Only Evan was much older than Zach is now, and when Evan first really spoke, he spoke in paragraphs with enunciation tha belonged to a middle-aged college professor instead of a toddler. We would get stares anywhere we went, this mother and her child, speaking to one another like they were peers. It just goes with having a smart kid.

Zach is not Evan and Evan is not Zach. As Zachary’s personality unfolds, we can start to see that he is more like John than he is like me. Rambunctious, a lover of the outdoors, all boy. Evan is my intellectual child who would rather stay indoors with a computer or a good book. He’s temperamental where Zach is laid-back, much like John is easy-going and I am high-strung. Yin and yang. My boys. Zach wantts to play ball, and Evan would rather ponder the kinetic energy required to make the ball move.

And I love them both so much it hurts.

Holding Hands

Today, I tried something new, since John had the stroller with him in the car. Zach and I walked all the way to the neighborhood park, which is a pretty good distance when  your legs are 6 inches long (Zach’s, not mine). Zach did well, and his hard work was rewarded when we arrived, as he saw the swings and jungle gym and sand pit in a whole new light now that he is old enough to really enjoy them. Of course I took the camera, and I am glad I did. But I am not about to bore you with another long post of photos, all of Zach climbing on this or that, swinging, digging. But there is one photo I got that made my heart sing just a bit. And mourn a little too.  I intended to get just Zach in the photo, but I got something a little different this time.

Holding hands. Zachy and Mommy.

I have held both of my boys to my chest when they were really small. I’ve rocked them to sleep and cuddled them. I have kissed boo-boos and nursed a teething baby. I have stayed up all night, combing through my brain and baby books, trying everything to soothe a colicky baby. I have witnessed first words and first steps. I have had my day brightened by beaming smiles and the sound a baby giggles and childish laughter. But somehow, they grow. And they outgrow the little ball configuration on your chest. They get too big to wear in a wrap close to your heart. At some point, and you don’t even realize it at the time, but you look back and realize that the last time you nursed them was really the last time. If you would only have known, just had a small clue, you would have cherished it a little bit more. But just like that, it becomes a memory instead of something you just do.

And at some point, the concept of holding a child’s hand, of guiding them, becomes less literal and more of a metaphor for raising them. Oh, I still hold Evan’s hand. Just somehow, he doesn’t realize I’m doing it and the act is invisible to the eye. I hold on because I am their mother. And I love them enough to help them navigate the world as they find their own way. There is some cheesy quote out there, and forgive me for not knowing the exact words, or even the author, but it mentions that parents hold their child’s hand for a little while, but their heart forever.

One day, most definitely sooner than I would prefer, I will have to let go. It is at that point that I will hope that the cheesy quote is right. But for now, I’ll keep holding on.

(Almost) 18 Months and a Return to a Familiar Place

Zachy will be 18 Months next one week from today. As in halfway between one and two. I don’t know how this is possible when his birthday was jus yesterday and he was born just last week. But there it is.

He is so different from his brother. He loves being outside. When we go anywhere, he has to walk and be free. This has been the month where we had to buy refrigerator lock, make sure that the bathroom door stays closed, install more reliable cabinet locks. We have to take the knobs off of the stove after cooking, too. I thought they quit making stoves with the knobs on front for this reason, so that just tells you that the stove in this house is old as dirt. Today, I loaded the dishwasher, which I seldom use, only to have Zach keep turning it off. Which leads me to the most redneck thing I have done in my life.

Duct Tape. Duct tape is our friend, Y’all. I mean, we all know that it can be the hillbilly fix-all. But did you know that it is an excellent baby-proofing cure-all in a pinch? Turning the dishwasher off? Cover the dial with duct tape. Opening the oven door repeatedly? Duct tape on the side of the door buys you time until you can get to the store and buy a door lock for the oven. Playing with accordian closet doors, despite having just pinched his fingers? Wads of duct tape in the seams where the panels split keeps them from closing enough to squash tiny toddler fingers. There you have it: Redneck Parenting brought to you by Bitchypants.

I’m trying to come up with a list of new things he has mastered, but they are starting to blur together. Remember our sippy cup woes? Well, he finally will drink out of different ones. He is trying to use a spoon and fork, though he makes the biggest mess and eventually gives up. He still isn’t talking much, though I see a pattern with certain syllables and sounds. When Evan was this age, we were worried about his lack of vocabulary to the point that we had him evaluated by our state’s early intervention services. Turns out he had assigned his own nonsesne words to everything, and what sounded like jabber to us was actually a language he invented and mastered to represent the world around him. When he did start talking, it was with words that no toddler should even know, let alone pronounce and use in the proper context. I have a feeling this is also what is going on with Zach. He knows everything we tell him. He understands. The other day, I was looking for my stethoscope to leave for work. I kept asking John and Evan where it was. Zach ran off and came back with it in his little outstretched hands. What baby knows what a stethoscope is???? And he babbles the same sounds and syllables when we pass by businesses that we frequent locally. I think he may have more in common with his big brother than we imagined, and so I am trying not to worry. On the other hand, Evan was, after all, diagnosed with Asperger’s, so maybe I should be worrying…

So what are his likes and dislikes? Hmmm.

Likes:

Baths, Outdoors, Teddy Bears, Elmo (much to my dismay–I hate the commercialism of characters), chicken nuggets, V8 Fusion juice, jumping on our bed, puzzles, looking out the window, climbing, running, dancing to any kind of music, his GloWorm, the damned pacifier, yogurt of any kind, broccoli, books, ripping up paper, any toy trucks and making the vroom sound, McDonald’s (I’m so ashamed of that, but I assure you he has had it sparingly!), The Sesame Street theme song, and the damned J.G. Wentworth commercials–you know, “Call JAAAAAAAAYYYYYY GEEEEEEEE Went! Worth! 877 Cash Now! To which he will run to the tv, I swear!

Dislikes:

Getting dressed, diaper changes, his carseat, being carried anywhere, getting his teeth brushed, getting his nails trimmed, not getting his way, long car rides, riding in his stroller for too long, riding in a shopping cart for too long, mashed potatoes, when mommy reads or does any kind of school work, anybody being on the computer without allowing him  to sit on the desk and watch, being worn in the sling (this one makes me sad!), wearing bibs.

Okay, I think that’s it for now. Moving onward…

Happy 17 Months, Zachy. (All Night Blog-a-Thon #5 and Final)

Zachy-Poo is 17 months old today.

Wow. It flies.

So where are we? Well, I’m starting to worry a bit again, even though I know from experience that he does everything in his own time.

He still has the whole Caveman-grunt thing going on. You can say whatever you want to him and he seems to understand almost everything. “Zachy, bring me those shoes.” And he does. “Do you want some juice?” And he walks to the kitchen. “Give me the red block.” And he does. But he won’t say  any of it. He says Mama, Daddeeeeee, Bubby, Mooo (for cows), bye-bye. He waves. He plays independently when appropriate.  He walks, he runs, he climbs. As a matter of fact, one of his favorite things is to climb on the new coffee table and dive into John’s recliner. Cute? yep. But it makes me a nervous wreck, especially after his bath when he is wearing footed pj’s and can easily slide on the table. Gah! And he loves, loves, loves looking out the window. He will climb all over the back of the sofa just to get a peek outside. And my favorite thing he does now? “Zachy, gimme a kiss!” And he comes up to you with little fish lips and plants one right on your cheek while making the muaaaaa sound. It melts my heart.

We haven’t made any progress on the swaddler, pacifier, and just-before-bedtime 2 oz. bottle. I think I am going to start with the bottle this week, gradually reducing the amount he gets until he doesn’t get one anymore. Then the swaddler. Then the binky. He mainly only uses the pacifier for sleep, anyhow. We try to keep them away from him during the day, but he is cutting molars and has been a little tyrant lately. Poor baby. And you know how they tell you that you can try and try to keep things away from kids and they will just improvise anyway? Well he has quite the collection of large wooden puzzles–the kind with the knobby handles on the pieces. He must have been looking for a pacifier and couldn’t find one during playtime, so I caught him walking around with a puzzle piece in his mouth backward as if it were a pacifier.

And he dances. AND he has rhythym. To anything, really. My ringtone on my phone is “Icky Thump” by The White Stripes. And I swear, everytime my phone rings, he starts doing his little dance. It is so adorable and funny. Tonight, we were in the car and I had some rap playing. John looked back and cracked up because Zachy was fist-pumping. I swear. I gotta stop killing my brain cells and his by watching Jersey Shore around him. (yeah, I just admitted that publically, and I equate it to a train wreck where you just can’t look away, no matter how much you want to do so.)

He is starting to thin out a little bit. I bought him all 24 Months clothing for the Fall, and they fit decently enough to already wear. It seems they get bigger on him everytime he wears them as his shape changes from that of a chubby baby to the shape of a little boy.

I’m afraid he is going to follow in my footsteps in one way I hoped he would not: my sensitivity to everything. This week, where he ised to have only a tiny patch the size of a quarter on his lower back, he has developed large patches of eczema all over his back and starting on his belly and thights as well. We have got to revert to the days where we wash all of his clothes seperately in Dreft. I also have to switch back from the baby bath products I use on him to the Baby Phisoderm that I used up until he was about 10 months old.

We’re practicing using spoons and forks and sitting at the big table without the highchair tray. For right now, he mainly just uses the utensils as a shovel to scoop the food out of his bowl and onto the floor beneath him. It is hard not to give in and just try to feed him or to resist the urge to just give him finger foods in order to eliminate the hassle, but I know he has to learn to eat like a big boy.

He is still very much the baby. Cuddly. Sweet. He will come up to us, curl into our chests and make the “Awwwwwwww” sound. And he’ll stay there for a while. He does the same with stuffed animals. He’s just a Cuddle Bug. This is why I think it is so hard to break him of the swaddler and why I think it was so hard to break him of the bumper in his crib. He would scootch up to where he was snuggled up against it and fall asleep. Now he has cold wooden bars to cozy up to. But we did it. We were successful in that, at least.

He is starting to get a little bit of separation anxiety. He’ll follow me to the door when I leave for work and I can hear John trying to comsole him as I walk away. It breaks my heart. Now, he has even gotten to the point that when he sees me put on scrubs or my stethoscope around my neck, he knows what is going down and will cling to my legs. Absolutely one of the worst parts of being a parent, that it. But it has to happen. Especially considering my addiction.

Zach has turned into to quite the little fasionisto. I was organizing and purging his closet the other day, and I was horrified. He has 23 pair of Pediped shoes. Because he needs them all for his outfits, damnit. Each pair matches certain outfits. The problem is that he is now wearing their Flex line, and they are about $50 a pair. yeah, do that math. I gotta stop. It is an addiction, but I insist it could be worse. I’m not one of these moms out there spending a ton on themselves while their kids wear rags. (John insists that these habits of mine are to blame for Evan’s metrosexual tendencies. My bad. But having a penis is no reason to not be put together well!)

So anyhow, that is the update on Zachary. Still an angel. Still a miracle. Still my baby.

Mr. Personality

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It is so funny to watch Zach grow. Evan was fun, also, but on a different level. Evan would amaze us with his cognitive development, while Zach amazes us with his personality. And he has lots of it. And this week marks 16 months of Zachary.

He points and grunts at everything. And I do mean everything. John calls him The Caveman. Seriously.  Or he will bring what he wants to us. For example, when he wants juice, he will get his sippy cup and bring it to us, while he stands there with this expectant look on his face, as if to say, “Drink. Juice. STAT.” Another funny ting he does now? Well, we have been big on teaching “please” and “thank you”. When he hands me something, I am sure to give an enthusiastic “Thank you, Zachy” with a smile. He must like this, because everytime you put something somewhere, he must think you’ve accidentally dropped it and he simply has to return it to you. A couple of days ago, I put my dirty towel in a hamper. I think I was getting ready for work. So Zach brings it to me. And then he waits for the “Thank you, Zachy”. So you tell him, and when he walks away, you put it back where you put it the first time. Until he sees this and brings it back yet again. This can happen many times before one finally just gives up and keeps whatever object, this time the towel. It’s cutely annoying.

He’s got a temper and he loves McDonald’s. It’s really a bad combo. We let him have a Happy Meal once a week, always with apples and white milk. But he has learned that logo. Seriously. And he sees and and must instantly think of his Happy Meal. How dare we pass a Mickey D’s and not stop. It’s awful because then he gets pissed. Seriously pissed. And throws a mini Zachy tantrum. Little does he know that we have been dealing with his big bro’s fits for a decade and can handle anything the mini-man churns out for us. We Are Professionals at this tantrum shit. It isn’t that we can’t hang. It’s just that, well, have you ever seen h0w many fucking McDonaldseseses are in  Cincinnati???? And everywhere we go, John insists on getting on either I-75, I-71, or I-275, as they connect the city and you can go 70 and not stop at red lights. He will go out of the way, in fact, to get on an interstate. It’s silly, really, but then you can see every McDonald’s for miles. AND you get the little signs that pop up at exits, and, well, we have a lot of crying in the car as a result.

Zach is learning. Every single minute of every day, it seems he learns more and more. And he isn’t a baby anymore. He’s a little kid, asserting his independence whenever he can. Sometimes he is content to ride in his stroller (still the BabyJogger City Mini), but other times, he wants to do it himself. Food has become a challenge because he doesn’t have the coordination to feed himself with a spoon yet, but is too indpendent to let us feed him. It’s cut several things off of his menu for a short while. For example, he used to have some yogurt in the morning everyday, and we have had to pass on that lately unless I want to need a garden hose and S.O.S. pad to clean him up after breakfast daily. He gets upset when we get home from being out and about, and we try to carry him in the house. He wants to walk in himself. It really slows us down a lot, but he needs this for his development, and so we just plan a little extra time for everything. And unlike his brother when he was a baby, Zach is fascinated by others. This especially goes for other small children. At Evan’s appointment last week, he actually scared a little girl because, while we were letting him stretch his legs a little by walking up and down the hall, he saw the little girl and promptly started chasing her without warning. I had to quickly intervene, and he looked so confused at the kid’s crying. He just wanted to be friends.

So it continues to be an adventure. He’s fun and sweet and just a little rambunctious, and I  love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.