Friday, November 28, 2014

Halloween 2014

The first time I asked Carter what he wanted to be for Halloween, he said, "Baa, baa, black sheep."  I thought for a minute about making a sheep costume, and then I thought about how terribly that could go.  I mean, that idea has the potential to end up on some website somewhere highlighting the worst homemade costume fails in the world.  So to avoid epic levels of embarrassment, I simply asked him again what he would like to be.  This time he said, "Fireman!" 

I found a fireman costume at HEB for $8.  Sold.

Of course that left me wondering what I could make for Harrison that would coordinate.  Again, a terrible idea came to me first--what if H-man dressed up as a fire hydrant?!  Nope, terrible idea...and not just because we have a dog and that could create a potential indoor urination problem.  I settled on making Harrison a little onesie that looked like dalmation spots so he could be the firehouse dog.  A few hours and some fusible fabric later, this was the result:

Pretty cute!  Good thing we took this picture at the beginning of the night, though, because about 5 minutes after Carter refused to wear his hat and Harrison had a major poo-splosion that splattered all over his outfit.  It was a goner before we even said one 'trick or treat.'
And although Carter refused to wear his hat for Halloween, he wore it to Sunday school that weekend and to school the following Monday.  That's a two year old for ya.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

3 Months Old

Our sweet little Harrison is 3 months old today, and it’s also his first Thanksgiving.

I’m so thankful for our little man.  He has the best, most chunky-cheeked smiles.  He smiles as he goes to sleep, smiles first thing in the morning when he wakes up, and smiles while he poops!  This month he’s started “talking” to us and to his little toys and seems to be growing more and more aware of the world around him.  He’s been rolling from front to back and looks like he wants to crawl already, even though he’s still several months away from being able to do that trick.  (I hope.)
The symptoms of colic seem to be fading, although he’s made it clear that he still has some strong preferences (and there are loud, crying consequences for not following procedure).  He very much prefers to be held all the time, and since he tips the scales at about 14 pounds, mommy and daddy are canceling their gym memberships and simply working out at home by holding that adorable little dumbbell. 
**Just kidding—we never had gym memberships.  But seriously, our biceps are getting strong.
Carter is still his favorite person, in fact we weren’t getting any good pictures during his monthly photo shoot until big brother came into the room, and that’s when we captured this sweet smile.  He’s also a big fan of slobbering all over his fingers, a fun little body part he only recently discovered. 
We just can’t wait to see what this little butterball turkey does next. 
Happy 27th, baby, and happy first Thanksgiving.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Colic Me Crazy

*Disclaimer: if you've not had a child who suffered from colic, this post may come across as cold or selfish as I talk about the difficulties the parents of colicky babies face. Be assured that I love my baby very much and that the purposes of this post are not to say anything disparaging about him, but rather to describe the difficulties I've faced recently and to hopefully help (if only by commiserating) someone else who may be going through the same thing.

If you have been around me in the last 8 weeks, chances are you've heard me complain about Harrison's having colic. (You would also know about Harrison's colic if you live within a 3 block radius of our house--the kid's lungs are very strong!)

What is colic? Well, let me tell you, since I've basically become an expert by frantically looking up internet resources in every spare minute. Colic is intractable crying that occurs in about 25% of babies. It generally starts around 2 weeks and begins to wane around 3 months. Doctors often use Wessel's criteria (also called the rule of three's) to diagnose colic: the baby cries for at least three hours, three days per week or more, for at least three weeks.  Some folks guess that colic is due to upset stomach issues while others attribute it to a method of coping with the stimulation of life outside the womb (they call it the '4th trimester'), but as of yet the cause is unknown. And without a known cause, there is no cure, of course, so the crying just goes on until the baby outgrows it…or until you go insane.

Does that sound miserable? It is.

Colic is no joke, y'all. One day a few weeks ago Harrison cried for 4 out of 5 hours that we were awake before noon. Add to that the fact that I haven't slept through the night in about a million years and you've got a major problem.

Anyway, in case someone out there reading this post is looking for some company for their misery, allow me to enumerate some of the worst features of colic.

1. The noise

Oh the noise, noise, noise. There have been studies done on the sound of babies crying and do you know what they found? Crying stresses people out. Literally. Cortisol levels actually increase at the very sound of a crying baby. This is your body reacting to the sound like it would react to an intruder, a danger, a fright--as a threat. Your heart rate increases, your breathing speeds up, and your head pounds. If you think I'm being dramatic, go ahead and search Youtube for a video of a baby crying, then listen to it on full volume right next to your ear (because this is where you're holding the baby as you try to soothe him). How do you feel after 1 minute? 5 minutes? An hour? It's miserable. Somehow that sound crawls into your brain and stays there, jumbling all thoughts except for that one pleading 'please stop crying' over and over like a Gregorian chant. It even affects your ability to tell time. I started timing Harrison's crying sessions when the colic started to try and determine if I could figure out any patterns. What I found instead was that time stops when your baby is crying. At times I could've sworn that he had been crying for hours and it had only been 3 minutes. Sometimes I'd allow myself to put him in another room to cry on his own for 5, 10, or 15 minutes while I composed myself again--those minutes flew by! In these past few weeks I've even had phantom crying episodes where I thought he was crying but went in to find him peacefully sleeping. I have probably lost half of the hearing in my left ear over this (he prefers to be held on that side). The noise is an assault in itself.

2. The isolation

When you have a baby who's suffering from colic, your first instinct is to hibernate. In the safety of your own home, the crying is horrible, but at least it's not embarrassing. But let's say you have to get out-- let's say you have nothing to feed your 2 year old because you haven't left the house in a week and so you have no choice but to go to HEB. Then let's say that right when you get to the very back of the store that your baby starts a full-blown atomic colic fit. Well, if you're like me, then you'll be that crazy lady crying next to the hot dogs in HEB with your toddler yelling about lunchables and your infant turning red with anger like some kind of Incredible Hulk gone wrong. Abandon ship, leave the cart and the groceries, exit the store, retreat--retreat--retreat. And back into isolation you go (after stopping at Sonic or Mcdonalds for food for the toddler--you're crazed, but you’re not a jerk). The crazy thing is, while you feel like you should never leave your home again until the child is twelve or thirteen, the HEB situation is the exception, not the norm. Annoyingly, most of the time you take the baby out he will act perfect or sleep the whole time and people will look at you like you're insane when you describe the incessant crying spells that you've grown to dread. So my advice is to get out when you need to or want to, but keep an eye on the nearest exits lest you end up making a longer walk of shame than is absolutely necessary.

3. The accusations

To be fair, there aren't many people who make accusations outright, but sometimes well-meaning folks say things that sound like accusations of poor parenting to my noise-scarred ears. The reflex response someone has when you tell them your baby has colic is to say something like: "Have you tried ----? It worked for my cousin's sister's boyfriend!"  They're only trying to help, and I do grasp that, but to me it sounds like this: "You totally missed it! If you had been paying attention, you could've fixed this a long time ago."  Another typical response: "Yeah, my daughter was just like that." If you don't shudder as you reminisce about your days in the throes of colic, then your baby didn't have colic, ok? She just cried once or twice when she was hungry. That's different.

Let me suggest some more supportive responses in case you find yourself in a conversation with someone like me. Great response: "What have you tried so far? Are you looking for something else to try?" This one is great because it assumes that as a mom you naturally would have spent hundreds of dollars, several trips to the doctor, and a significant chunk of your phone's data plan searching for solutions to help your child. It also asks the mom if she even wants to think about more treatments right now. Sometimes it can start to feel like there's a lot of snake oil out there and not many real treatments.

Another good one: "I'm so sorry. That's really hard. I don't know much about it, but I do know that it's temporary. It will end." That little phrase 'it's temporary' is my mantra right now. Someday the colic will go away and I will have my little boy instead of my little boy with colic.

4. Not knowing your son/daughter

This is the one that makes me cry. The absolute most difficult and horrible thing about colic is that it doesn't allow you to get to know your baby. Colic is an eclipsing disorder that covers over your baby and hides his personality from you. That is cruel. In a way it reminds me of how you feel about your child when he's still in the womb--you love him but you don't know who he is yet, and you're dying to find out. Except that in the womb you can take solace in the face that he's supposed to be in there, that he's comfy and warm, that he's happily growing strong enough to meet you one day soon. With colic you experience that same overwhelming desire to know your son as a mother should. To know how he likes to be held on his left side and that tummy time makes him mad and that he makes funny faces when he poops but instead you only know that he's expressing sadness or fear or anger with all this crying and you just can't know why or how to help him--or anything else about him, really. Even in the quiet times you're afraid to do something that might set off another fit, so you peer at him from afar instead of pressing your face next to his. You encourage him to sleep when he's happy instead of keeping him awake to stare into his blue eyes. You hold him and try to comfort him but make no progress and have to set him down to take a break rather than feeling the sweet relief of being able to calm your child. It's not fair. It doesn't feel good. It's not what you pictured when you dreamed of this child.  And that is hardest part of all.

5. Wondering: Is something wrong?

One of the biggest issues with colic is that you can drive yourself crazy wondering if you are missing something that might be causing the crying, something medical like reflux or some kind of pain condition.  When you ask the doctor about this, she will ask you a bunch of questions to try and discern what could be going on.  This will be an exercise in futility.
Dr: Does he cry after feedings?
Me: Yes
Dr: Does he seem upset when he spits up?
Me: Yes, he cries when that happens
Dr: Does he cry if you make him lie down flat on the ground?
Me: Yes
Dr: What about if you keep him upright for feedings?
Me: Yeah, he cries then, too.
It’s like a terrible, terrible real-life version of the boy who cried wolf…when you cry all the time, how can we determine when you really mean it?  In your moment of more rational thinking, you realize that all of his symptoms exactly fit the diagnosis of colic and that other than driving yourself crazy with worry, you have nothing to fear.  Shortly after thinking these rational thoughts you will return to worrying, haha.  Such is life.

So that's my list of the most horrible things about colic. If you're going through it yourself, I'm so sorry. It's really hard. Hang in there. It will end. It will end. It will end.
As for us, in the past two weeks I’ve started to feel like Harrison is gradually coming out of this haze of colic and becoming more and more like a normal, albeit high maintenance, baby.  And I love that, you know?  I can finally start to know who he is.  He loves to be held.  He likes bath time, but not for too long.  When he smiles, he does it completely—bunches up his big, fat cheeks and gives it everything he’s got.  I love that boy, and I know we’re going to get through this together.  And I’m not even going to hold this against him.
(Except for extra hugs and kisses.)