Adventures in Potty Training

Motivational potty chart.  Use the pot, earn a sticker, and eventually getchaself a book.  Also a pretty accurate pictorialization of the contents of the toddler’s thoughts. “Rainbows! Firetrucks! Melting toilets! Chaos! Bleeaarrgh!!!” 

I did not think that Edie would be difficult to potty train.  Who, after all, wants to think, “hey, my kid isn’t going to be all hoity toity about sitting in her own waste.  She’s totally going to be cool about it.”  I, for one, thought she’d want to do it because it was grown up and clean and because it made me wildly happy.  Turns out convenience is king, and seeing me slap myself on the forehead is more entertaining than a hug.

And then came Eli, and Edie’s butt grew three sizes that day.  I was told that my first would look huge when the second came.  No one was specific about her butt, but it definitely made an impression on me.  Plus, a kid who potty trains her stuffed animals, recites the potty trained mantra (“If you only poop and pee in da potty, you wear unda-wear!! Yayy!!” *pees self*]), and who can take her own diaper off at will is more than ready for full on potty independence.  I have been trying to make it happen naturally for months, but it was time for a nudge.

So, my dearest Edie is in underwear. And sometimes she doesn’t soil them for hours at a time.  That’s… something!  She likes the stickers and loves the books.  I’m just crossing my fingers that she gets the hang of this before we need to sell off our worldly possessions to finance this reward system.

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One Month In: Poop is Ruining Lives

And so we pass the minutes into hours upon the changing table; parents, trying not to get peed on, and the babe, performing feats of digestive speed heretofore unknown to us.

Baby Eli passed the one month mark a couple days ago.  Geez, is this kid cute!  This time around, the falling in love part happened the second I saw him.  With Edie, I was confoundingly – though genuinely – surprised to find that an actually baby had materialized.  Between my disbelief and perceived incompetence, it took me awhile to learn how to bask in my baby.  I am not wildly more competent, but I am at least practiced.  And with proof under my belt as to where babies indeed come from, I was actually looking forward to meeting him.

For the first week or two, Eli was the sleepiest creature I’ve ever had the fortune to know.  When he opened his eyes, he would furrow his brow as if what was going on did not merit the effort necessary to stay awake, and would quickly drift back asleep.  The only thing that woke him up was eating and pooping. 

Oh, the pooping.  He is almost 5 weeks old now and still his GI system has not decided to get on board with his circadian rhythm.  He poops all day, and he poops all night.  2 am.  3:30 am.  Again at 5:15 am.  And finally, time to wake up, because it’s 7 am and Eli needs to poop! It is unreal.  I pass Boy Wonder off to his father for one diaper shift a night, but since I am the only one who can feed him, and given the fact that we do depend on his paycheck to pay our mortgage, Will sleeps with wife-sanctioned ear plugs most nights.

Eli also does not favor soiling his diaper.  I mean, he does soil it, but he usually saves several rounds for the changing table itself.  To oblige this really quite reasonable preference, this means that a lot of al fresco time is spent on the changing table.  The pictured loin cloth is not for modesty but to avoid, say, getting your glasses peed on in the waiting process. 
 
And so it goes, life in love with a super pooper.  I am quite tired, since this little habit wakes us both up quite thoroughly and quite often. But I am looking forward to telling him all about this when he is of age to give me some spectacular eye rolls. 

Would that I could sleep when he slept.

Oh hi, sweet baby.  Mind if I lay down with you? Oh. I see.  Well, sorry then… 
Hey! No need to get nasty about it. I’ll show myself out.

Very, very common and very, very well-meaning advice for moms with newborns: sleep when they sleep.  It is, however, time to DEBUNK this mess. Newborns sleep a lot.  But this is a fact insufficient in and of itself to suggest that it is possible to rest up along side them. Why? For starters, tiny babies sleep for completely unpredictable lengths of time.  You can roll the dice and try to lay down after they fall asleep, but it is a gamble at best.  Furthermore, there is no sound louder to an infant than the sound of his mother laying down.  A two year old may scream in his ear, dogs may announce the UPS guy, and thunder may crack, and the babe will sleep.  But the seemingly imperceptible sound of a mom’s head touching her pillow is almost certain to jar the child awake in a most angry state.  And, though it is doable for a few days, eventually your mental state will require you to participate in the land of the living.  Though your offspring may not have a circadian rhythm, you do.  And you’ll want to be able to acknowledge this by putting your feet on the ground and a cup o’ joe to your lips.  Also, do you know where newborns like to sleep?  In your lap while you are eating? Yes!  In your arms during a visit from friends? Absolutely!  In some strange arm position that is binding your trapezius muscle into a monkey fist? Oh boy, yeah. On your nipple for any amount of time but off your nipple for zero minutes? Mmm-hmmm.  On their own? Eh. Occasionally.  So, unless your friends and family are cool with you up and chloroforming yourself in the middle of everyday activities, and, of course, presuming your nipples are completely numb, then – congratulations – you will get some rest.  Lastly, a woman can only take so much disappointment.  When a baby wakes up after fifteen minutes and you’ve been emptying the dishwasher or reading blogs, you sigh, get going, and get baby.  When baby wakes up after fifteen minutes and you had *just* drifted to sleep, you die just a little.  It is a crushing defeat, and one that sometimes particularly on my most exhausted days, I cannot face.

So when you see a mom with a newborn, and you note the circles under her eyes, her skirt tucked into her underwear, and a burp cloth stuffed into her bra (just for example.  I perpetually look fresh as a daisy, of course.), don’t reprimand her as if she’s not getting enough sleep out of stubbornness.  Maybe your babies slept like rocks for two hour naps from the day they were born.  And that’s great.  But also know that no one likes you.  But anyways. Just buy her a latte and say that sounds rough.  And lie about her looking good in spite of it all.   Lie, lie, lie.

Hitting a wall

 This is all so worth it.  Just one nuzzle in that mess of hair reminds me of that.

Well, I’ve gotten to that point that a new mom inevitably gets to where you are just down for the count.  Except that instead of down, you are on your feet, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, slicing watermelon, breastfeeding around the clock, and pleading, pleading, pleading with a two year old.

Eli is three weeks old tomorrow, and time is sort of flying!  In a lot of ways, these have been a long (long) three weeks.  But when it comes to seeing these newborn days tick past, soon into oblivion, nothing could feel faster.

Physically, I feel remarkable.  Child birth messes you up, no doubt.  You end up with skin stretched to frightening degrees, your kidneys are ain’t where they’re supposed to be, and just generally you’re a shaken up and depleted vessel of a person.  I’m not “looking good” in the bounce back sense; at some point, my butt and thighs must have decided to get on board with my growing stomach, and my stretch marks quite literally scare small children (or at least the one in my bedroom this morning who almost got teary-eyed upon seeing her never-again bikini ready mom change her shirt).  But, still, I think that my recovery in as far as feeling strong again one day soon is going quite well.

Exhaustion-wise, I feel rough.  Eli sleeps a lot, but still hasn’t gotten a real strong hold on a circadian rhythm, so we’re up a lot at night.  Nursing and pooping.  The nursing I expected.  But the around the clock pooping is new.  Midnight poops? Oh, poor baby, let’s go change you! 2 am poops?  Geez, pal, you really ate a lot, huh? Let’s go change you.  4:15 am poops?  Wake up, Will.  Wake up and take your son.  This will pass, I know.  And I also know that being woken up frequently at night is not where I shine as a mother.  I do what needs to be done, but it frazzles me.  No matter how tired I am in the morning, I can rally and accept the fact that daytime demands action.  But sleeping in 60 to 90 minute intervals to be awoken to a baby who may or may not fall back asleep in the following 60 to 90 minutes unhinges me.  I’ll get my REM cycle one day.  Probably not today.

Emotionally, I do not have vast resources at the moment.  But I am much more stable than in the days right after the birth.  Want to know how to get a woman with a two-day old to cry?  Ask her if how she’s doing.  It worked like gang busters for everyone who unwittingly tried it on me!   You brought us a casserole! Thank you! How am I? *Sob* No, it’s safe for you to leave now, don’t worry! These helpless children will be just fine, I swear it.

So, that’s where we are.  Honestly, I think it’s all par for the course at this point.  Though of course I have low moments, especially when it comes to how well I am helping Edie cope with her new sibling (i.e., I don’t help well).  Neighborhood friends have been amazing about helping with meals and general encouragement.  I could not be more grateful.  Will’s work schedule has not been very forgiving, but he is, as always, a (usually) patient and kind partner.  With gratitude and a yawn, I’m off to pick up a baby.