As hard as it is to believe, James is 1 today. And although I had intended to remember Every. Single. Minute, I have of course neglected to write things down/organize the pictures/imprint everything on my brain. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to write down some of the things he’s doing now in hopes that I can at least capture a little bit of a picture:

Words: His first word was “uh-oh,” although some people have questioned whether that counts. Since he used it in the appropriate context, I decided that, yes, it did. (I will not mention that he moved from “correct context” to throwing things off the edge of things and saying “uh-oh,” which, yes, disputes the whole statement, but still…) “Buh-buh,” whispered almost under his breath, and a wave represented “bye-bye.” It was said on the same day as “uh-oh,” but not used again for about a week. He now waves quite easily, but the actual “buh-buh” is saved for special occasions. “Ma-ma” came next, but I’m still not sure if that means me; sometimes it means a bottle, sometimes he just keeps saying ma-ma-ma-ma-ma as he putters along. The newest one is “moe,” meaning “more.” This most definitely means bottle, although he also uses it occasionally when he just wants something.

So, at one year old, his vocabulary consists of these four words. At the same time, he makes it extremely clear  when he wants something and is not being attended to.

Walking: He is now at the point where he is taking 2-3 steps at a time and then collapsing into whatever (hopefully soft) thing he can find. He thinks this is all quite exciting, and often laughs hysterically while doing it. (Or perhaps is laughing hysterically at us as we lunge towards him, trying to prevent him from knocking his head on the ground.) Whenever possible, he is on his feet — whether that’s finding a toy or stool he can push around to use as a walker, something to hold on while he makes his way around the room, or someone’s hands as they walk with him. Even crawling involves being on his feet, as he never got down the hands and knees part, but rather just sticks his butt in the air and walks around on hands and feet. Surprisingly (or, I supposed, unsurprisingly to anyone who has been through this stage before) he is incredibly fast. I was trying to make spaghetti sauce tonight before Kelley and Lucy and Will got home and found that I could do one thing (turn on the oil, throw in the garlic, dump in a can of tomato sauce, etc.) in the time that it took for him to get from the sink to the bottom step of the back stairs. I have to say, it made making dinner a much more active process than I am used to. Then again, I’m not exactly what you’d call used to making dinner, so it certainly wasn’t the worst of things.

Food: James wants to eat whatever it is that you’re eating.  Sometimes, as with his birthday spaghetti dinner, this is fine. When you are munching on an apple, however, not so much. (Actually, we tried with an apple — paper thin slices, then diced — but it was still too hard for him to eat. For now we’ll stick to much softer things.) He has complete disdain for baby food and only allows you to feed him from a spoon if it’s something that requires his adult companion to eat with a spoon as well — like yogurt. (And forget that whole Yo Baby thing. He sees the baby on the container and laughs. He wants the grown-up thing.) We have taken advantage of  all the Gerber toddler snacks and finger foods, which do seem to work. Puffs and yogurt melts are particular favorites. This is indicated by the way he suddenly leans as forward as possible when he sees them, sticks a fist up in the air, kind of like a “Charge!” gesture, and starts yelling, “Moe! Moe! Moe!”

Teeth: Four at the moment, two bottom front, two top front, but if his drooling and fussiness over the past few days means anything, more are imminent.

Demeanor: I have to say, James is generally a pretty easy-going, smiley baby. Although he does cry when he’s unhappy, he doesn’t really have a tantrummy alter-ego  the way Will did. (Um, does.) Although he does seem to be having a little bit more stranger and separation anxiety these days, he’s generally quite friendly and open with anyone he comes into contact with, and absolutely loves his big sister and brother. (The way he lights up when they come into a room is wonderful. And to see all three of them when they’re cooperating together? Priceless.) He’s rarely fussy for a prolonged amount of time, so far the only major exceptions being when he’s about a week away from teeth coming in. This week is actually almost the fussiest I’ve seen him, which I think is a combination between teeth and walking — that whole thing where major milestones also create enough upheaval in a baby’s life for them to show unhappiness about it.

Sleep: For the most part, he goes down without much fuss between 7:30 and 8. He does wake up occasionally, so it’s not like he’s a perfect sleeper (and I’ve of course guaranteed a bad night tonight), but he generally sleeps through until the next morning. By next morning, however, I mean 5:30/5:45 a.m. And according to the sleep “experts,” that’s the equivalent of sleeping through the night. We’re waiting for the day where James is old enough to keep Will company downstairs so that our two early risers can do their thing, while the rest of us sleep in.

What else? He bleats like a lamb when he’s excited. And then he squeezes his fists together, holds them in the air, and tightens up completely. Once I got past worrying that it was some kind of seizure, I thought it was great. (The daycare people love it. The daughter of the woman who runs the daycare tries to think of things that will attract his attention just so that he’ll be excited enough to do it.) … He likes to put his feet up and relax. Whatever he can find to rest his feet on, the trays of his high chair and stroller are particular favorites, he will. When we take him for a walk in the stroller, he grabs on to the stroller above him, puts his feet up, and is ready to roll. … Unlike Lucy and Will, he’s not a particular fan of being in the car. In fact, that’s one of the few times he just cries and cries. It’s gotten better as he’s gotten older, but until we’re actually moving, he’s not entirely happy.

The hair: Two haircuts before age 1, but the mohawk is still there. (see above)

Well, I’m sure there’s a lot more I could post, but I’ve been up since quarter to six this morning and I’m pretty damn tired. (Plus I’ve probably jinxed myself out of any decent night’s sleep tonight.) So, happy birthday, James. We love you!

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I knew it was inevitable: the Darth Vader breathing, the barky cough… Yes, folks: the middle of the night trip to the ER has come upon us once again.

I write this as I lay on the bed with James asleep on my chest, knowing that — at 5:19 a.m. — what I should be doing is falling asleep, but too hyped up to be able to close my eyes. (Although, to be honest, it could be the 10-minute dose of epinephrine I got along with James. The only way I could keep the face mask on him was to hold him to me, practically cheek to cheek, and take in that mist as I sang “Don’t Fence Me In” to him over and over again. Which, come to think of it, might have been the reason he was crying and *not* the medicated mist blowing in his face. After all, Lucy and Will have clearly inherited the my-mommy-is-not-allowed-to-sing-out-loud gene. Who knows how early it starts?)

Happily, medication now inhaled, he seems to be breathing much better. There is not a strider to be heard. (I can assure you I wouldn’t be writing this if the situation were otherwise.) I’m not sure what the doctor will say about staying overnight, but I’m feeling much better about everything right about now as is James, it appears, given how soundly he is sleeping.

With that in mind, I thought I’d jot down a few things for future reference;

1) That thing I was saying to someone earlier today about needing to purge and then repack the diaper bag? That would have been a good thing to do before going to bed. That way I might not be lugging two diaper bags and several stray blankets — “just in case” — around with me right now.

2) Thank goodness for my iPhone! I remember this experience several times over with Lucy and Will. Lying alone in the middle of the night with a sick baby is awful. Having the world be at my fingertips — whether it’s being able to text Kelley and other family re. progress, getting (o.k., fishing for) support (knowing that if I posted anything about where I am right now I would almost immediately be receiving well wishes from friends near and far), or distraction (I have nine whole chapters of story posted and ready for editing, not to mention facebook, twitter, general web surfing, and, oh right, three months’ worth of emails I could start to return)… Well, it certainly helps pass the time and, more importantly, keeps my mind from wandering and worrying. Plus I can be getting all these thoughts out of my head so that I can maybe get some sleep!

3) Be careful what you wish for: I kept saying how much I wanted to spend some major quality time with James on this last day before he goes to daycare. Spending it at Children’s Hospital wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. (Considering something very similar happened with Lucy re. this coming Friday, I would just like to state for the record that, as much as I’d also like some quality time with Will, could we try for a non-medical-related, purely happy thing? I mean, I’m good with a movie, even a trip to mcdonald’s in a pinch. Something that doesn’t involve doctors, nurses, or any type of emergency worker would be more than fine with me.)

4) Pee* when you can. Although I’m not sure I would have done anything differently (having a doctor tell you that, yes, a 4 a.m. trip to the hospital is advised certainly provides you with a level of urgency), a sleeping baby lying on top of me for going on an hour now isn’t exactly doing my bladder any favors.

*apologies to my mother and anyone else offended by the use of this word

5) Wear layers. I am wishing that I’d thought to put on a short sleeve shirt when I left the house as it’s been quite warm in this room during these last few hours. Of course, now I’m happy to have long sleeves as it seems as though the air conditioning just got turned on. Options would be good.

And, last but not least, 6) Trust your instincts. Or, rather, I should say, trust your instincts when they say to call the doctor: When I heard the telltale croup signs at 3 a.m., I was proud of myself for calmly bringing James over to an open window and then bringing him outside for a few minutes. And as, 10 minutes later, (and, yes, at kelley’s much-calmer-than-I-even-though-I-was-doing-quite-well-thank-you-very-much suggestion) I sat on the floor of a steamy bathroom telling myself not to panic because we’d been here before and knew what to look for. Still, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to just check in with the dr. Low (lo?) and behold, she says to take him to the ER because ‘this isn’t something we like to see in babies this age’. And then to have the attending physician say he wants us to stay in the hospital for the whole day and night because croup doesn’t peak until the third night and given how severe the symptoms were in just the first few hours…

Um, well, nice job, jen, on the not panicking. Missing that he was getting worse and not better? Not so much.

That said, I am glad that, so far, I seem to have learned enough about this mothering thing to realize that the instinct I’m trusting isn’t my ability to diagnose and treat my kid’s illness but instead to know that it’s never a waste of time to make that 3 a.m. phone call to the doctor’s office, even when you think everything is going o.k. I’m really hoping that, as the ER doctor just said, James will ‘impress us’ and not need breathing meds every three or four hours today. If it turns out, however, that he does need that medication, we’re spending the next 24 hours at a world-class children’s hospital. Considering the circumstances, there’s no place I’d rather be.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 4 weeks since James was born. In some ways it’s been easier than I had expected. Lucy and Will have been incredibly helpful and I’ve been able to mostly go with the flow rather than have a lot of, well, expectations of how it would all play out. So, for example, these days the first thing on the morning agenda after getting the kids to school (which, to be honest, Kelley is still handling more often than not) and James fed is to somehow manage to get some more sleep. So far, James has been mostly cooperative as he tends to fall asleep after nursing. That usually brings us to around 10:30 or 11, which is when I get to eat.

Unfortunately, in order to eat it generally means I need to transfer James off of my lap, the options being the car seat, the swing, or the boppy lounger. Depending on which one I choose, I’ve generally got about 10 minutes before he wakes up crying. Although I’m not sure if this is an entirely good thing, with #3, it is a little easier to ignore the crying, at least for a few minutes. During minute one, I have to admit that there is a bit of frustration — and, yes, guilt about the ignoring — on my part. Once I’ve got some food in me, though, I can move on to minutes two and three where I remind myself that I don’t really have anything to do each day other than to take care of James. Since that mostly entails feeding him, letting him sleep and changing his diapers, well, that’s pretty doable. The fact that I can watch tv or read during some of that certainly doesn’t hurt.

Not that it’s always smooth sailing — things are seeming a lot easier as I write this since James is happily sleeping in my lap at the moment. Still, I feel like I have much more realistic ideas about how this all works this time around; it definitely makes a difference.

(And I will be sure to read this myself in a few hours when James is fussing and Lucy and Will are fighting and I am starving because I haven’t eaten a decent meal in an entire day. For now, however, I will happily stay in my state of denial. Um, I mean serenity.)