Monday, February 23, 2009

Wounded baby

My poor baby... his face is healing, but now he feels extra yucky because of the immunizations on Friday. And he's super-congested, which makes it really hard for him to eat or sleep without discomfort. We're also trying to work with him more on some things the doctor suggested at our doctor appointment on Friday... Neck control (needs more tummy time) and re-shaping his head. He really likes to sleep on his right side, and this has apparently started to flatten his skull, and started to cause his forehead to bulge a little bit. Yikes! I wish they would have told us about this at our first doctor visit-- to be aware of it, and to switch his head from left to right every other day, so that he doesn't develop any flattening or anything like that. But noooo, they wait until 8 weeks, at which point his skull has already started to change and firm up. Sheesh, people!! I'm going to go warn my friend who is a new mom about this, so that she can avoid having to do what we're doing (i.e., worry about whether or not we'll have to have him in a molding helmet if his skull is still misshapen at the 4-month doctor visit). Ugh. Who knew being a parent carried so much responsibility? ;)

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Daycare Incident: Ethan's Face vs. A Pack of Hungry Wolverines

Okay, so how do I begin? Let's see... Ethan started to get a bit congested and feeling yucky this week, so I kept him home most of the week and simply called in sick to work to be with him. I did go in to KinderCare on Oakdale Road and start the paperwork so that I could start him in daycare there part-time (a few hours a day) this week. That way, I could get used to being away from him a bit at a time... I'd have him mornings, then take him in for a couple of hours in the afternoons. It was working out alright, except that I started having reservations about the facility right away. First of all, almost every time I went in, there was chaos. Kids crying, screaming, noses dripping down their faces, food crusted on other kids' faces, and so on. Just out of control, usually, although there were times when it was calmer. Then, one day I noticed after I got Ethan home that his shirt had been wet with formula (probably during a feeding) at some point-- from the front collar all the way to the back of his neck-- and they had never changed him, so it had dried like that. Hmm... then, another time I noticed when I changed his diaper that they had obviously not cleaned his bottom completely, because there was still a little bit of dirty area on his back. Hmmmmm.... And then came the kicker, on Friday 2/20.

I dropped Ethan off at around 12:30 or so, and then went out to run errands (return a few purchases, redeem my pedicure gift-card, get his birth certificate, etc.). At around 2:20, the asst. director of KinderCare called me. She said, "Oh, this is a courtesy call from KinderCare-- we just wanted to let you know that Ethan got a little scratch today. It did break the skin a little, you'll notice it when you get here, but don't worry, the head teacher washed it thoroughly and he is okay. They've been giving him a lot of TLC ever since then, and he's doing fine." I asked a few questions, and she said that a toddler had been near him and had accidentally reached over and scratched his face a little bit. Well, needless to say, I was irritated, but she was making it seem so minimal that I just continued on my errands and planned to pick him up at 4:00 as usual. I also planned to tell the director about all of my concerns, and try to find another place for my baby, because it just didn't seem right to me.

I finally finished getting the birth certificate, and went over to pick up Ethan at 3:45. First, I met with another director type person, and told her my concerns. She reassured me that they would talk to the teachers about making sure he gets cleaned thoroughly, and changing his shirt if it gets soiled, and also gave me a lot of talk about the scratch incident. I hadn't seen the baby yet, at this point. She said "Well, we don't like to keep the infants and toddlers separated, because they learn from each other, they are curious and like to explore.. it's just unfortunate that this toddler was able to accidentally scratch Ethan's face. We are going to talk to the child's parents and make sure that they trim her nails in the future." She talked on for a bit, and then I finally went in to get Ethan. Oh, boy.

The teacher in the room went behind the partition to go get him, and told me about the incident all the while. She said that she wasn't even in the room at the time; she had been on break, and it was two other teachers in there when he got hurt. As she's talking, I'm getting closer to the baby, and I can see his face a little bit; it looks like three or four long scratches across his forehead, bright red and somewhat raised. She continues, saying that one teacher was at the changing station, the other teacher was feeding kids, and Ethan was propped up in the boppy pillow, when one of the little girls went over to him and scratched him. They went over and picked him up, of course, right away, and washed his face off very well. At this point, she is holding Ethan in front of me, and getting ready to hand him over. I can see several long scratches, some of which are across his eyelids. He has a small gouge on the bridge of his nose, which looks like it was bleeding. She turns his head and shows me the other gouge, on his cheekbone, and then I took him from her. I started to put him in his carseat, and felt the tears start welling up in my eyes. I just started crying and couldn't stop for the next fifteen minutes. How could they let this happen to my baby????!??!?!

I drove immediately to Joel to show him what happened, and he called them and let 'em have it over the phone. He cancelled our enrollment and told them to gather all of our stuff so that we could pick it up Monday. I tried the doctors' office, but it was closed at 4:00, so I just missed them. So I drove home and we put Neosporin on his cuts (basically, all over his face), then started calling for other daycares who (a) accepted infants, (b) had an opening, and (c) could let me come out there right away to get set up. While I pondered which ones to contact, Julie called me with a recommendation from a friend of hers for Childtime Learning Centers, on Floyd & Oakdale. I called them, told them what happened, and went out immediately. The minute I walked in the door, it was like night and day from the KinderCare center. Clean, welcoming, happy, organized... wow. What a difference! I didn't realize how bad the other place was until I walked into this one. I got to see the infant/toddler room, which has separate sections for the infants so that they can still see/be seen, but can't be interfered with by the toddlers. It was just lovely... I was so relieved that I signed him up right away and plopped down the money for registration. Thank God for the tax return; what would we have done without the money to move our son out of that unsafe childcare?

Anyway... we're just going to be extra-kind and loving towards Ethan this weekend. He not only got his immunizations in the morning (more on that later), but then he had to get mauled in daycare in the afternoon! Pobrecito... I hope he feels better soon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saudades for Ethan's infancy

Just wanted to note down some of the little memories of Ethan's first 8 weeks...

-- We called him "Turtle" for awhile, because of the way his stomach would flatten out all the time. His chest, so narrow, would expand out into this wide, flat, hard belly that had a strange concave dip/line going down the middle of it, before narrowing again at his hips. Our little turtle...

--When Ethan would be done with his bottle, he would let us know not by pulling his head away or pushing the bottle, but by slowly pursing his lips until they pushed the bottle-nipple out. Whenever he did that, we would say he was making a "Kissy-Mouth." Okay, *I* called it that, Joel called it Fish Lips. Either way, it was adorable!

-- This is the most calm, easy-going, laid back, sweet baby around. I love spending time with him... he is hardly ever fussy, and just likes to have a good time looking around, soaking in the atmosphere, listening... what a lucky pair of parents we are.

-- I love it when he falls asleep on my chest. I know, I know, it isn't a good habit, but I LOVE it. I love holding his tiny little body as it curls up against me, and knowing that he was just a part of my body only a few weeks ago. I love kissing his head and knowing that in just a little while, he'll be crawling, and walking, and talking, and then poof! Graduating, and falling in love, and all of the other miracles and milestones of a person's life. I miss him already, if that's possible; the little person he is right now, the boy he's going to become, the man he's going to grow into... I truly don't know how other parents can deal with it-- all the love that is bursting inside their hearts. Maybe that's why they complain so much about the petty, minor things; to distract themselves from the overwhelming love for their own children.

It reminds me of one of my favorite stories, "Saudade" by Katherine Vaz. The story is basically about love and longing and that particular feeling you get when you miss something so much that the memory of it is stronger than reality... During one passage, a character looks around the picnic table at friends and family and realizes to herself that, for the first time, she is already missing people who are still with her, who haven't even left yet... During another part, a character lights candles where she first kissed her husband-to-be, because she believed that "we must honor with fire the places where love almost kills us." It reminds me of "Like Water For Chocolate," in which a couple of characters are actually set aflame by their love for each other. I really enjoy books with magical realism, in case you haven't noticed. That's one thing I hope I can pass on to my son-- a love for words, for literature, for poetry and language and expression... if there is one gift I can give him, it will be to see the wonder and joy and power inherent in words.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Anticipation... but not the good kind

Next week I am supposed to start Ethan at daycare... and I can hardly bear it! It has been a really rough week for me. I've been feeling so burdened by the thought of having to take him to daycare and go back to work at the office, and my emotions are on a roller-coaster. I've felt so overwhelmed by all of this... and it's made me start to pull back and distance myself. Now, intellectually, I realize that I am doing that in order to save myself from pain, and preserve a little bit of sanity, by removing myself from the source of stress. Knowing something doesn't necessarily mean you know how to stop doing it, though, or how to fix it. I don't want to feel distant from my son or husband, but I feel like if I am too close to them, I will simply lose it and drown in tears because of this deep sorrow over losing this time with my baby and my family. I feel like I haven't stopped crying all day... and it's just exhausting.

Maybe it's because it's Friday the 13th. Or maybe it's because it's just too soon to go back. Who knows... all I know is, it will take an act of God to get me into the office on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dressing up baby

Wow. Now that he is gaining weight and growing, he is on a roll! (I mean that literally; he finally has little chub rolls everywhere, woo-hoo! I want to chew them up!) It seems like in the span of about a week or two, he went from newborn size, up through the 0-3 months, and is now firmly in the 3-month clothing. Sure, it's a bit long, but the 0-3 month footie sleepers were just a smidge too tight. So now we get to dress him up more! Also, because his neck is a bit stronger, we don't have to worry about accidentally crippling him while putting on over-the-head clothing, so we have a much larger variety of tops we can use. Sweet! I mean, baby girls definitely have much cuter clothing, but his are pretty darn close. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Good" Baby

It's funny... so many people who I meet while I'm out with Ethan ask me the same question: "Is he a good baby?" Well, yes, he is; and he would be whether or not he was crying, quiet, slept a lot or stayed awake, moved around all the time or was still and introspective. Aren't all babies "good" at this stage? How could they be bad? Crying doesn't make a baby "bad"; it is simply a means of communicating a need they have. Or are these people asking me to determine whether or not my son is a bad person when he's only 6 weeks old? Hmm...very strange.

I thought I felt okay about the day care situation, but it's getting tough again the closer it gets. I realize that we can't survive without my full income, so I'm trying to look at it as a sacrifice I'm making for my son and for my family. Oh, but that sacrifice still hurts...

On a more positive note, he has started giving me smiles! They are mainly smiles when he is sleepy and starting to fall asleep, but sometimes he tosses me an adorable dimple out of the blue, when he's wide awake. I love that dimple! And his cleft chin is starting to become more noticeable, too. Got that one from his dad, of course. In fact, he looks so much like Joel, it's ridiculous. Where are the "mommy" traits, huh? Then again, I compared his pictures to the pics of my niece when she was born 10 years ago, and they look remarkably similar-- so I guess the mommy side is in there, somewhere. :)

He's still waking up a few times a night; we have him on a 2.5 to 3 hour schedule, so he goes to bed by 9-ish and then is up at around midnight for his next feeding, then 3-ish, and then wakes up for the day at around 6:00. It's not so bad, except that I'm the only one getting up all night. I don't mean to whine, but that gets really old, really fast. I'm just tiiiirrrreeeeddddd.... in a deep way, like I've been up non-stop for a month. I've gotten sleep-- but it's always in short bursts of 2 hours or less. I feel like I haven't gotten a deep sleep since early November, because I couldn't really sleep for the last month of the pregnancy. If my "partner" doesn't step up soon, I may have to take a vacation to let him handle things on his own for awhile. Maybe that'll give him a better idea of what I'm dealing with.