Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Trick of the Eye

If you look at my fishbowl from a certain angle, nothing has changed. I wake up in the morning and hold a crying Anna. Ben sleeps in for an hour longer. I kick my husband's butt out of bed after he hits the snooze button too many times. I make coffee. I drink it. I stay at home and care for the house and children.

It's a trick of the eye and refraction, because something has shifted again.

A couple weeks ago, Chris and I looked at our financial outlook, and it was mightily bleak, especially with the increased utility costs. Either he needed to get a second job or (gasp) I would have to get a part-time job. It would be months until Chris could get a raise, and we can't wait that long. The hole we're digging just gets deeper.

I offered to email the HR department at EB, my former employer, and ask if I could work in the call center on Saturdays and one evening a week. I had started out in the call center many years ago, and I didn't mind the job. Without saying anything to me (but I found it out from my secret sources in the company), someone in HR started digging around to find me a position in the corporate side.

The connect-the-dot picture started coming together. The imaging department always needs help. Before I resigned, the head of that department had written me a letter of reference recommending me for any job in his area based on my impressive eye for detail. Voila.

My dear friend Mary came over that weekend to show me how to do the work (she used to head the department). When I took the Photoshop next a couple days later, I was very slow, but accurate. I was offered the position. It pays more than I was expecting, and I was able to make my own schedule.

When I was a proofreader at the company, I always knew that if I ever had to leave the position, the only other place I'd really want to work is in the imaging department. I knew it would be a good fit for me. I had my first full shift this last Saturday. It was bliss. I was by myself in the cubicle farm, steadily growing more proficient with the work. I was also able to listen to audiobooks while I worked. That's like crack for Cheryl.

I like the job. The kids don't have to go to daycare. I'll be bringing in enough money to start digging ourselves out of this hole.

So really, nothing much has changed. I still use crayons to color at least two pages daily. I make at least one PB and J sandwich a day. I still fold laundry and wash dishes. I still bring the dog outside every two hours. I still nap with Ben every day. Life is good. And I get a small break every week to leave the house and play on the computer, utilizing a skill set that is very satisfying.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Anna and the Horrifying Tonsils

Anna had her 1-year well child visit this morning. She's back on track as far as weight goes, and her exam was perfect ... except for one part. Her tonsils.

"For her size, they are enormous. I was horrified when I saw them," Dr. Sarah explained.

Outwardly, she is showing almost no signs of infection. She's drooling a lot, but she is also cutting a tooth. Her ears aren't infected, and her nose isn't running. Our only concern today was a hacking cough she gets when she lays down in her crib.

The tonsils are causing sleep apnea and obstructing her airway when she sleeps, which is why she snores and wakes up frequently. It's also why she coughs only when she's lying down and why she drools like a Saint Bernard puppy.

The first course of action is two weeks of antibiotics on the slim chance that there's a deep infection in her tonsils that didn't clear on its own. We go back to Dr. Sarah for a re-check in 4 weeks. If her tonsils are a normal size, we're fine. If they aren't, we'll be referred to an ENT. The doctor said that surgeons are VERY hesitant to remove tonsils on a child her age. They prefer to wait until 2 or 3 years old.

Honestly? I'm very worried about her. Chris has sleep apnea and has to wear a CPAP at night, so I know a little about the condition. It's risky territory. But I'm also relieved that I'm not going insane. Whenever I tell someone that Anna is still waking up every 2 hours or so at night even now that she's 12 months old, I feel a bit like a failure, like maybe we didn't stick with sleep training long enough or maybe I'm drinking too much caffeine and it's affecting the breastmilk. Knowing that there's a reason why she's waking up all the time ... well ... it offers some comfort for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To Anna, on her first birthday

Did you know that my precious baby girl is one year old today? Hard to believe how quickly this year has gone by. I still remember distinctly what her birthday was like and the crazy week leading up to it. Sigh. She's a year old now.

I wish I had good pictures to throw up here, but I don't. She's having another photo-shoot this weekend, so you'll have to wait for those.

But let me paint a word picture for you.

She's gnawing on the edge of the entertainment center right now. I'm not surprised. Everything gets tasted at least three times. Her first tooth is *this close* to the surface, and the front of her outfits have been soaked for the last two days as the drool flood settles in to saturate our lives and our furniture.

She pulls herself up to standing and pushes whatever she can to get herself across the room on her feet. Such great strides, but she's not feeling confident enough to let go and stand on her own, let alone take more than one or two tentative steps. Soon. The tops of her feet are always dirty as a testament to my terrible house cleaning. She crawls everywhere, and that's where her feet come in contact with the floor.

When she sees Ben, her eyes always light up. It's automatic, and it's such a relief, considering how poorly he treats her sometimes. Watching them play together is one of my greatest joys. She loves to play with his choo-choos, unfortunately only while he's playing with them or right before he wants to play with them. We had to tear down the choo-choo tracks because she thought they looked better in a mad jumble. She drinks his sippy cups of juice, and God help him if he leaves a half of a PB and J sandwich on his table.

Her smile is easy and sweet, and when she finally lets loose a giggle, it's infectious. Her blue eyes sparkle and dance with private amusement long before she actually chuckles. My favorite moment in the last month with her was a private little minute we had while nursing. I was watching her suckle away, and I started tickling her under the arms, behind her knees. She tried so hard to keep concentrating on her task at hand, but she couldn't help it. She began to grin widely, breaking the latch for a moment, then the giggling started. I could feel it rumbling through her body before it escaped her throat. Before long, we were both laughing hysterically.

She's my delight. On Criminal Minds the other day, the hot guy called Garcia his "God-given solace." That's my Anna. She heals the fractures and soothes the friction burns from an abrasive day. I love watching her explore and grow every day, and I'm so glad she's in my life.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Dog Walk

Tomorrow morning we bring Molly Dog to the vet to get spayed. A couple weeks too late. Not that she's pregnant... but she's been in heat for the last two weeks. Let me tell you. That's a nasty, gross situation.

With the weather being rainy and my ears being infected, we haven't gone for many dog walks in the last few days. I needed a break from the mayhem tonight, so I took her for a walk by myself.

The quiet was nice. The fallen leaves still crunched and swirled a bit when I walked through them. Shadows from the trees and shrubs cast long fingers across our path. Cars drove past, and I heard Molly's ID tag tinkling against the collar and the leash.

Did you know that I can see the Dudley Tower from my backyard? It's only 11 stories, I think, but it's tall and it's beautifully lit, and I can see it from the backyard between the odd, mystery structures of the factories along the river. I didn't go in the backyard tonight, but I thought of the Tower being there. Of living within sight of downtown. Of living here in the town where I was born.

It just feels good to me. I'm getting more active in community activities through Citizen Wausau. I'm extending myself and participating. I'm digging down deep in the dirt and sowing my seeds and growing some roots. Because this is what the non-nomads do.

There's a house in the middle of the next block that is always beautifully decorated on the outside. They have a collection of miniature pumpkins out on the porch right now. Very cute. What struck me tonight as I shamelessly gazed through the open, lit window, was that their dining room is painted what appears to be the exact same color as our dining room is painted. And that made me smile.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Separation Anxiety

In two weeks, Anna will be one year old. She took her first step on Sunday. Just one step, but it was enough to make me weepy. She's awesome.

But this post is about Ben. My dear Benji Boy. Oh, how I love him. In the last week, however, he has presented us with new challenges in patience and compassion. He's dealing with some very strong separation anxiety issues. If we're getting ready to leave the house to go to the store or go for a walk, he starts to panic that we'll leave without him, and he screams and wails, running for his shoes and his jacket. We try to convince him that we won't leave without him, but every time he turns around and doesn't see one of us in his field of vision, he panics again.

At night, we'll go through our nighttime routine, ending in storytime with Daddy upstairs. Even if he manages to relax and fall asleep, he wakes up or gets out of bed within 30 minutes, realizes that no one is up there with him, and he has a panic attack. One night we brought him back upstairs 10 times before he finally passed out from exhaustion.

This is a typical developmental phase that kids usually go through before second year. Lots of babies have separation anxiety from their parents. It's a matter of learning object permanence. Ben's issue has such a strong emotional component, it breaks our hearts while it frustrates us. When life is happy and peaceful for him, he's affectionate and funny, playful and charming. I'm always wary for something to set him off.

Last night, we let him sleep in bed with us. Normally, this is forbidden. We were desperate, I guess. Neither of us wanted to sleep upstairs with him, and we weren't looking forward to the now commonplace back-to-bed dance that leaves Ben in gulping sobs. We may be pushovers, but we gave in.

The strong-line-parent in me didn't want to. I wanted to be strong and insist that Ben sleep in his own bed at a time that we set. I told myself he was being manipulative, and that this was a test. But the gooey-intuitive mommy in me felt that this just wasn't so. Something is going on in his spirit, something topsy-turvy, and he is just letting us know. Maybe if I hug him closer and give him as much security as I can, we can help him through this phase, and he'll become the independent and easy sleeper that he once was.

Tonight, we're blowing up our air mattress and putting it next to our bed. It's a compromise. He'll be separate, but he'll still be able to see us and hear us if he needs to. Next phase would possibly be to reverse the baby monitor. Can you imagine it? Setting up the video monitor so that he can see our bed and us in it. That might be a silly/crazy idea, but it might work.

In other news, our dear new doggy Molly is in heat. That's kind of messy and gross. She has her spay appointment at the end of next week, so at least this will be the only time she has to go through this. Behavior-wise, she's not awful. She's better with Chris than she is with me. I'm trying to be the alpha dog, and it's not like I feel nervous or passive around her, but it must be evidencing itself somehow, because she doesn't walk well on a leash for me. I'm trying.