December 1, 2008
We continue to struggle with temper tantrums. Last night was a classic example. It was time for Miss A. to get into her jammies, because she was obviously tired and needed an early turn in. She wanted to remove her own clothes and put on her PJs herself. But the problem is, she gets frustrated instantly when she tries to dress herself. She started screaming and throwing herself around. And when we offered to help, it was: "No! I need to do it myself!" We let her struggle for a bit, then offered, "If you'd like a little help, just ask." "Yes, I need help!" she said, then instantly reversed herself, "No! I need to do it myself!"
In this case, she really needed to get into her PJs, so my husband dressed her while Miss A. kicked and screamed. In the meantime, I'd made her dinner and put it on the table. She eventually got into her chair (lots of screaming still), but threw her plate down, scattering food everywhere.
I picked her up and put her into bed, telling her, "When you calm down, I'll come back in and tuck you in." (There's no point in trying to tuck her in when she's like this...She just becomes more hysterical.)
Hubby and I ate dinner with sounds of screaming and pounding in the background. After a while, the noise stopped, and my hubby checked on Miss A. She'd turned on her space heater*, turned off her light, tucked herself into bed, and was sound asleep.
Throughout the night, she woke up periodically, usually crying and needing some comfort. Often, she was talking about the evening. (For example, "I threw my chicken all over, so I just have to go to bed.")
I cannot tell you how stressful this is for everyone. Zane becomes fretful and won't eat much, and hubby and I are beside ourselves. I think all we can do is ignore the temper tantrums so that she learns they accomplish nothing. But she's so strong willed that she tries them over and over and over again.
We have considered that her prematurity could be playing a role. For example, Miss A.'s friend Mr. E. (who is only a week older than her) can dress himself. So it may be that while Anastasia thinks she ought to be able to dress herself, her motor skill delay prevents this, causing extra frustration. In the most stressful moments, we wonder if the problem is more serious. She truly becomes hysterical, making us wonder if there is some underlying physical or mental problem.
We are careful to offer Anastasia as many options as possible, so she feels she has some control over her life. (For example, "Do you want chicken tonight? Or fish?") We also let her suffer the consequences of her own poor behavior, when possible. For instance, right now Miss A. is wandering around the house without a shirt. She couldn't put it on (mostly because she becomes instantly frustrated if she encounters any difficulty) and didn't want me to help her. This happens fairly frequently. She'll wander around shirtless until she becomes cold enough to ask for help putting her shirt on. (Not all her temper tantrums are about clothes, however.)
We also insist upon nap time, since her temper tantrums clearly happen when she's exhausted. Even though I've tried putting her down at different times of the day, she never sleeps. If we're lucky, she'll play quietly in her bed for an hour, which does help. But lately, all she does is throw a temper tantrum when I try to put her to bed.
I keep recalling the head of the NICU, who one day told me, "Some people think babies don't have personalities, but they definitely do. Your daughter is spunky with an attitude. I won't say how that will work out in the future, but right now, it's serving her well." (He was also a father to six, so I think he knew what he was talking about!)
There's nothing wrong with being strong willed. In fact, it can be a great thing. But it has to be focused...
* Her room wasn't cold yet, or we would have already turned the heater on for her.
December 2, 2008
Last night, Anastasia woke up crying four times, each time complaining of something: She wanted water, her sheets were in the wrong place, she wanted to get up and play. Then she woke up crying this morning. It was a good indicator of how this day would go.
She fought getting dressed, as usual, so I told her she could run around in her diaper, if she wanted to. She didn't like this idea, but she liked the idea of getting dressed even less. Still, it's cool out, so she got cold and eventually got dressed (with help). Once dressed, however, she got mad and hit me...grounds for an automatic time out. But she wouldn't stay in her chair, so I kept having to put her back into it, each time re-starting the time out with her kicking and screaming. After an hour and twenty minutes of this, she finally sat through a 3 minute time out.
She was about to earn another time out...I could see the temper tantrum coming...when I pulled poor Zane (who'd been waiting patiently for some attention) out of his playpen and said, "Let's play with baby brother on the floor!" She loved this idea, and even did "tummy time" with him.
Now Miss A. is having a "nap" (resting quietly in her bed while playing with a stuffed animal), and I'm hopeful the rest of the day will go well. (Especially since I have my 6 week OB appointment today.)
In other news, Zane is pretty regularly going a 5 or 6 hour stretch at night, which gives me a bit of a break, but recently, during the day, he sometimes eats as often as every hour! He's been sleepy, too, so he must be going through a growth spurt.
I stopped pumping last week, and instantly what little milk I had dried up. :( I'll admit it's freeing not to have to pump, but I still wish my milk had held out for at least a few more months.
Miss A. continues to adore her brother. Just this morning, as I fed him a bottle, she said wistfully: "I love him!" She also loves Christmas. Every time we go shopping and she hears Christmas music (especially "Frosty the Snowman") she starts singing...which gives the other shoppers a good chuckle.
December 3, 2008
My 6 week checkup went just fine. (My doctor complimented me on my calmness. "Considering what you went through with your first baby, I've been really amazed your ability not to fret and worry," she said..."Faith," I told her. "It's all about faith.")
Zane enjoyed the trip immensely. There were lots of moms and babies in the OB's office, but all the other little ones were bundled up in blankets and infant carriers. Zane, on the other hand, was hatless and blanketless and sitting in my lap, looking around with great interest. He's gotten to where he often complains if I hold him with his head against me; he much prefers to look away from me and see the wide, wide world! All that excitement made him hungry, too. He's been eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours since that visit.
It is difficult to call Zane "little" any more. He weighs 12 lbs. 4 oz. as of today and has outgrown his newborn clothes. He's very close to outgrowing his 0 - 3 month clothes, too!
Miss A. has been doing a bit better, I think. She had another temper tantrum last night, though. After dinner, she said she wanted to undress herself, so we said (with enthusiasm): "Great! Why don't you take off your clothes and get into your jammies while we finish up our dinner?"
Shock was written all over her face, and a moment later she was whining, "I want you to dress me!" Of course, as soon as we offered to do so, she reversed herself, saying she wanted to get herself undressed...but never even attempting to do so. (It's a delay tactic; she doesn't want to go to bed.) In the end, we dressed her while she kicked and screamed, but the good news is she calmed down more quickly than she has in the past.
Although everyone keeps telling me her behavior is normal for her age, she becomes so hysterical and "out of her head," it's tough for hubby and me not to imagine something beyond the normal might be occurring. I've started keeping a food diary for Miss A., to see if any patterns emerge. Hopefully, we're just being paranoid, and Miss A. will learn--soon!--that temper tantrums don't work.
December 5, 2008
Well maybe--just maybe--we've had a breakthrough.
Several days ago, when Anastasia was throwing a temper tantrum at bed time, I pulled out my digital camera and took a short video of her. This made her even more angry: "No! Don't take pictures, Mommy!" she said.
The following night, when I told her it was time to get into her jammies, she protested, and I could see a temper tantrum coming on. So I said, "Anastasia, come here and watch this movie." With excitement, she rushed over, and at first was all smiles: "There I am!" she said.
Then, as she realized what the video was, she grew sober. Her lower lip stuck out. It began to tremble.
I turned off the video and pulled her into my lap and told her how much I loved her. I said, "You look pretty silly when you do that, don't you? Why do you make yourself so miserable?" The usual answer, "Oh I just didn't want to put on my jammies; I wanted to play," was her reply.
"Now it's time to get into your jammies," I said. "You have two choices. You can get into them, and it will only take a minute and then you can play. Or you can make yourself miserable again."
She walked away, quietly protesting. I repeated her choices two more times, then she willingly walked into her room, picked out some PJs, and got into them herself with a lot of verbal help (and a wee bit of physical help) from me. She was so proud of herself!
When bedtime came, she only protested slightly, and went to bed without a fuss.
The next day (yesterday), she also had no temper tantrums.
Even though "they" say you can't reason with three year olds, apparently,reasoning works pretty well with Miss A. Hopefully, this trend will continue!
Nap times have been better, too. I moved up her nap time to just after her daddy leaves the house after lunch. This way, he can remind her to be good about her nap, and she's less tired. She's still not actually sleeping, but she stays in bed and plays quietly.
December 5 (part II)
I was so busy telling you about relief from temper tantrums this morning, I forgot to tell you about some cute Christmas stuff. And since both kids are still asleep at 8:30 am (Unheard of! I would take advantage of this to get some extra sleep, too, but I know they'll wake up any minute...), I'll take the opportunity to tell you now.
A few days ago, Anastasia helped me take down all the autumn and Thanksgiving decorations, and we put up most of the Christmas ones. I held her up so she could place wreaths on the doors, and let her hang a variety of jingle bells and such. Then I placed the porcelain nativity set up where Miss A. couldn't reach it. "Can I put the baby Jesus in it?" Anastasia asked. How could I refuse?
Next, she asked, "Is it Christmas now?" Followed by, "Where's my Christmas tree?" Then, "I need a baby Jesus ornament and hang it on my Christmas tree." I hear the last item every hour or so.
Last year I began a tradition where I choose one Christmas ornament for Anastasia each year; I pick something meaningful for that season. For example, last year, I bought a snowman ornament because Anastasia was obsessed with Frosty the Snowman. When it went into storage, I put it in a Ziplock bag, along with a little note explaining why I chose the ornament. I'll be doing the same for Zane this year. Then, when the kids grow up and move out, they'll have a set of Christmas ornaments to get them started.
So this year, it seems, I need to find a baby Jesus ornament. They are surprisingly difficult to find! (Nativity ornaments abound, but finding an attractive, non-breakable ornament of baby Jesus is challenging. I'm sure I'll find something, though :) )
Since last year, I've also been hemming and hawing about buying the Little People nativity set. This year, I decided to splurge. Miss A. is really into Little People now, and I love the idea of her playing and thinking about the real meaning of Christmas. Besides, delicate "adult" nativity sets look like toys, and I don't want to constantly be telling Anastasia: "Don't touch the baby Jesus!"
P.S. Yesterday, I caught Anastasia singing her own
little song: "Jesus is Lord! Kitty is soft!..."
December 10, 2008
We've been temper tantrum free since early last week! Yea! Several times, when Anastasia was on the verge of another temper tantrum, I've had to remind her of her temper tantrum video...but that's all it took to calm her right back down. Once, I had to show her the video again. She relived it, crying and saying, "I just wanted to put my clothes on myself!" So I hugged her and told her "But that's not a good reason to have a temper tantrum. There's no good reason for having a temper tantrum, is there?" And she calmed right down. It's so wonderful to have my sweet natured girl back again :)
December 13, 2008
God must have heard Anastasia's prayers, because today it snowed. She couldn't wait to get outside and "make a baby Frosty."
A few days back, I was working at my computer when suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my back. Miss A. bit me, actually breaking the skin! I started to scold her. Her lower lip stuck out, trembling, and she said, "I was just trying to eat you up."
Oh dear. I know where that came from. In Where the Wild Things Are (a book Anastasia and I both love), the little boy, Max, says he's going to eat his mother up. We've talked about how he really loves his Mommy, but he's being naughty. So I asked, "Were you trying to love on me?" "Yeah," she replied. So I gave her lots of hugs and explained that biting is never a good thing, and that when Max says that, he doesn't really mean he's going to eat her.
It's easy to forget how literal young children are :) The other day, however, I thought she was pretty perceptive when I said, "I have wonderful children." And she replied: "Yep! Me and Zane and Daddy!" (Hehe!)
December 16, 2008
The day we decorated our Christmas tree (or, according to Anastasia, "her" Christmas tree), Miss A. reverted a bit. The first thing out of her mouth that morning was "I get to decorate my Christmas tree today!" First, I had her pick up some books she'd placed under the tree the night before. You should have seen her pick the pine needles off them, one by one, and put them back on the tree. Then we put the decorations on together, and asked to put "the star of Bethlehem" in place on top. But she's such a perfectionist. For example, she found two reindeer decorations and had to place them so they were exactly touching noses. And she was busy lining up jingle bell ornaments in a neat row. And when these plans didn't go well, she began to get frustrated.
When she found an ornament of a teddy bear in his jammies and said, "I can't believe my eyes! It's a sleepy bear! He's even more sleepy than me." I should have taken a hint and put her down for her nap. But she seemed fine.
The suddenly, she snapped and fell into a temper tantrum. The good news is, it didn't last as long and she wasn't as out of control as she has been in the past.
And since then, she's been fine. In fact, the day after, she was an angel, and as she does two or three times a week, got all the stickers on her responsibility and behavior chart. (This makes her so proud. She jumps up and down a bit, then runs to her daddy to tell him all about it.)
It snowed the day we decorated our tree, which only added to Miss A.'s excitement and fatigue. Yesterday we had snow, too, and she spent a lot of time making snow angels. At lunch, after I'd changed her clothes and given her some tea to drink, her eyes were drooping and she was rubbing her eyes - but she was saying, "Can I go play in the snow again?"
Miss A. has also been recounting her visit with Santa, sometimes saying sadly, "But Zane didn't get to see Santa." When I said, "Honey, he's too little to really understand what Santa is all about. But maybe next year, if you like, you and Zane can both sit on Santa's lap and get your picture taken," her face lit up.
We often hear Anastasia wandering around the house singing "Joy to the World" and "Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, your leaves am ever faithful!" She'll frequently stop what she's doing to say, "Oh, my Christmas tree is beautiful!"
And, among the random things that come out of her mouth is this, from yesterday: "See, when dogs get blind, I have to write them notes."
Now that he's two months old, Zane is really beginning to show off his personality. He's what most people call an "easy baby," but there are two reasons he gets fussy:
1. If I don't respond to his little grunting sounds and get him a bottle within a few minutes and
2. If I (or someone else) dares to hold him with his face against their chest or shoulder. This boy wants to see what's going on!
Anastasia has been helping me wrap Christmas gifts. (Putting on self-stick bows, holding ribbon with one finger so I can tie a knot, sticking tags on packages, and putting the Scotch tape into place.) One day, I put Zane in his crib, on his tummy with a toy, while we wrapped. He fussed and fussed. Thinking he just didn't want to do tummy time, I turned him over onto his back and turned on his mobile, which he loves. He still fussed. It wasn't until I put him on the floor next to us - where he could see what we were doing - that he was happy.
December 13 (part II)
We took Anastasia Christmas shopping today; first, we bought our tree, then I went into a store with her so she could pick out a little something for her daddy and brother. (She was so pleased to be "big enough" to buy them gifts!) Unexpectedly, we bumped into Santa. I thought Miss A. might be afraid of him, but she said she wanted to talk to him. Santa asked if Miss A. wanted to stand next to him for a picture...or sit on his lap. She crawled right up into his lap, and couldn't wait to see the resulting photo.
Then he asked what she wanted for Christmas. "Ummmmm..." she pondered. "A Christmas tree!"
Then her daddy took her into the same store so she could buy a little something for me. I understand that she instantly divulged what she got him...even though we talked a lot about not doing so.
When we got home, Anastasia said, "Mommy! I got you a Christmas present!" I replied, "Oh wonderful! I can't wait to see it! But don't tell me what it is. It's a surprise for Christmas day." "Is it Christmas day yet???" she asked.
Then she said with a furrowed brow, "Is Santa for real?" We'd already talked about how Santa is pretend and just for fun. I reminded her of this, and said, "The Santa we saw is just a nice man pretending to be Santa." "Oh!" she said, her smile coming back.
Can you tell someone said, "Smile, Anastasia!"?
December 17, 2008
This morning I tried to take the kids' Christmas pictures. Next year, I think we'll hire a pro...
While I shamelessly said such things as "Anastasia, Grandma will be very sad if we don't get a nice picture of you in your Christmas dress," I tried to get a photo that was reasonably decent. If someone had been listening from another room, they would have heard:
"Anastasia, don't squeeze your brother's head!"
"Why are you looking at the ceiling? Look at me!"
"Honey, I don't want a photo of your underwear."
"Careful! You're sitting on Brother!"
We were all exhausted when I finally gave up.
But as I helped Anastasia change back into her "everyday" clothes, we heard the song "Santa Baby" playing on the radio. "Is that song about Zane?" Miss A. asked.
(If you're like me, it takes a minute to make sense...but then it's a very understandable question!)
December, 19 2008
Yesterday, Miss A. and I decorated gingerbread cookies. Anastasia had been waiting for this for at least a month and she kept saying, "I'm very interested in these shapes" as I let her press down the cookie cutters. Naturally, decorating them was the best part, and I let her go to it without worrying about the end result. My favorite of her cookies was a gingerbread man with what Miss A. called "owies" (red candies) all over his arms and legs.
But the whole preemie thing pops into my mind at the least expected times...including while decorating Christmas cookies. Shouldn't a three year old be able to stir batter? I ask myself. (When Miss A. attempts it, she awkwardly goes back and forth horizontally in the batter, rather than stirring in a circle.) Shouldn't she be able to shake the glittery cookie decorations from their bottle easily? (Miss A. had a great deal of trouble with this movement.)
I know Anastasia is cognitively doing well, but I do worry a bit about her motor skills. She still hasn't learned to jump, for example, even though her PT spent many months with her on this, even though I try to teach her, and even though I've had other kids her age try to teach her.
On the other hand, I know she's doing superbly well compared to other preemies who were born as early as she was. An online friend, for example, was recently blogging about how her extreme preemie will be taking the short bus to school...
December 22, 2008
Apparently, I offended some people with the "short bus" comment in my last post. Saying someone rides the "short bus" is, apparently, considered derogatory by some. This is news to me! (Maybe it's a regional thing?) So I apologize to those I offended.
Many of you thought I was specifically writing about your child, but the person I was talking about actually used the phrase "short bus" (not in a derogatory way) on their own blog when speaking about their own child.
I was just being matter-of-fact. Please be assured I hold no contempt for those of you with preemies who are struggling with issues related to prematurity. Quite the opposite, in fact! I feel like a dork.
December 23, 2008
December 26, 2008
I'm much too exhausted to type up details, but I did want to share a few photos.
Miss A. and me wearing matching aprons after completing Jesus' gingerbread birthday cake.
Left: My mom found Anastasia a pink "motorcycle" (actually a battery operated three wheeler) and bought her a pink jacket, hat, and sunglasses to go with it. Miss A. thought she looked gorgeous! Right: Zane on Christmas Eve, wearing what I call his "Babe Ruth outfit" (because he and Babe seem to share the same body type).
Christmas Eve. All the celebrating really wore the little guy out.
Zane on Christmas day.
Today, wearing this very manly ensemble, which was a Christmas gift.
And one bit of news I have to share now: On Christmas Eve, I weighed both kids. Zane is 14 lbs. 6 1/2 oz. and Anastasia is 30 lbs. 3 1/2 oz. That's right! Zane is half Anastasia's weight!
December 26 (part II)
I killed baby Jesus. Yes, that's right. He's gone for good...But I'll get to that story in just a moment...
Christmas Eve was a busy day. Miss A. and I made a gingerbread cake for baby Jesus. She was sooooo into it, and so proud to say she'd helped made it. On Christmas, she wanted to choose the candle to go on top, and she made sure we sang "Happy Birthday." Then she (with the help of her four year old cousin) blew out the candle.
In other exciting Christmas Eve news, Anastasia had a BM on her potty chair. Interestingly, when she announced she was going and I suggested sitting on her potty chair, she resisted, saying "I can't go on the chair." So it was nice to prove to her that she could. That was the first time she's ever gone completely on the chair. (In the past, she's started in her diaper.)
My mother also came over Christmas Eve and we opened some gifts. We were in a bit of a time crunch because I wanted to get Anastasia to bed at a reasonable hour, yet we didn't want to push Miss A. to open her presents too quickly. In the end, we left a few sitting under the tree.
I'd made a point of not specifically saying the following day was Christmas because I hoped Anastasia would get a better night's sleep that way. But others weren't so careful. Miss A. woke up the first time at midnight, then every hour thereafter, asking, "Can I get up now??"
She was definitely tired on Christmas Day - but not as exhausted as she was on Thanksgiving. Even so, she hardly ate on the way over or when we finally got to my in-laws house. But she was really well behaved, anyway. No temper tantrums, no crying, and she got all her stickers on her behavior chart. "Are you surprised I didn't whine and cry?" she asked at the end of the day. "Not at all, honey," I replied. "I expect you to not whine and cry. I'm surprised when you do whine and cry."
I am so very thankful she was able to behave well!
Zane was, as always, an easy keeper, although when we got home from my in-laws on Christmas day, he ate every two hours (normally he eats every 2 1/2 hours), then promptly fell into a deep sleep. He definitely was affected by all the excitement.
Today, Anastasia and Zane did well, but we are all exhausted. To tell you about the day, I'd have to recite a long list of calamities, but I'll just tell you three that happened all in a row.
First, Anastasia walked into the living room as I was feeding Zane, saying, "Mommy, can you put more snow in it?" "It" was a small glass snow globe. She'd broken off a large piece. I took it from her and sat it next to me and asked my hubby to clean up the mess so she wouldn't cut herself. As he prepared to do so, the phone rang, and while I talked (while still feeding Zane) Miss A. apparently stole the globe back because the next thing I heard was the sound of glass shattering everywhere. She'd thrown the globe on the kitchen floor.
Hubby scolded her and swept and vacuumed, leaving me to clean up her room (where she'd initially broken the thing) later.
Once Zane was fed, I decided to clean up some of the Christmas Eve mess. I gathered together all the tissue paper and threw it in our wood stove. "Mommy, what did you do to the baby Jesus!" Anastasia cried. It seems she'd "swaddled" the Jesus from her new nativity set in some tissue paper, and I hadn't seen him while I was cleaning up. So yes; I am a baby Jesus murderer.
While I hoped online to see if I could just replace the baby Jesus alone (Thank you, Fisher-Price! I can!), I suddenly heard a loud bang, then Anastasia crying. I dashed into the kitchen to find Anastasia hanging upside down on my stepping stool, feet hooked into the upper bar and her head an inch from the floor. I grabbed her and made sure she was all right. Then I asked what on earth she'd been doing. Getting into my basket of onions and potatoes, she said, as her brother wailed in the background (as he always does when she cries).
I've told her a million times not to climb the stepping stool and get into that basket, but before I could reprimand her, she said, "I was just trying to feed the poor people and make Jesus happy!"
Sure enough, she'd set the kitchen table and had onions and little containers of pudding and applesauce at each place setting.
How could I possibly discipline her for that?
December 30, 2008
Having a full term baby is so different. Zane is such an eager eater; when we eat dinner, he sits in his bouncy seat, watching us, smacking his lips. And a few days ago, he waved! I was waving at him, and he very purposefully lifted his arm and gave me two big, awkward waves. Every time he meets milestones like this, our jaws drop.
He's also so laid back. He almost never complains. Yesterday, he was just a tad fussy; I tried holding him, bouncing him in his bouncy seat, giving him a pacifer...Nothing worked. So I thought perhaps his diaper needed changing. As soon as I laid him on his changing table, he smiled. ("At last!" he seemed to be saying. "She figured it out!") But it wasn't that his diaper was full. He had diaper rash so bad, his bottom was bleeding.
I felt horrible! (He'd shown no signs of diaper rash the last time I'd changed him.) But he didn't complain at all while I wiped him clean and applied medicine. (And this morning, his bottom looks fine.)
A few Anastasia tid-bits:
Miss A. to her grandma, when she pretended to cry: "You'll live, Grandma."
Miss A.: "My elephant is dying."
Me: "Oh? What's wrong with it?"
Miss A., upon my catching her with red lipstick all over her face and hands: "But I was just trying to be like a lady!"
Miss A., singing this morning: "Hark! The herald angels sing! Peace on earth and mercy wild!"