Saturday, July 21, 2012

Golden Years

"Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life's begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby..."
-- David Bowie, Golden Years

I know I run the risk of sounding like a broken record as I keep repeating the following, but the passage of time completely confounds me some most days.  We've recently passed the babies 17th month "birthday" and the whole concept has me completely arse-over-teakettle.  It can't possibly be almost a year and a half since I beheld their fragility (literally) in the palm of my hand.  But here they are, my twin toddlers.  As time flows ever forward, they continue to make a splash, both in the pool and wherever they go.

My confusion is only compounded by the hours I keep, I am sure.  Although I know I work two 12 hour days followed by two 12 hour nights, for some reason, I think of that block of time as only two days.  I can keep track of the date, of the days of the week that I work, but in my head and as far as my body is concerned it is only two.  Possibly due to the pattern of "2 and 2", who knows?  In any event, what I think of as 'two days' is actually four days that I am out of commission as far as my family is concerned (five, if you count that the last day is dopey-stunned-sleepy day).  It is no wonder that it seems that the kids' heights have shot up overnight or that I am frequently taken aback by some new feat that I am assured by their father that has been occurring for some time now.

It's still surprising somehow that in my slightly out-of-time bubble, each day seems to bring new developments and skills.  Wyatt can now get just about anywhere he wants with a combination of commando crawling, pivoting, rolling and inch worming.  With the help of his worker from ICDSP we are trying to get him to crawl on all fours. He can put himself on his knees as I often find him actually sleeping in a knee-chest position and once put in this position he is quite comfortable to stay that way for some time.  It's just a matter of him doing routinely and finally making the connection that knees make for faster movement.  When that happens, you can bet that he will not stop.  You can almost watch the muscles in his legs developing;  what were skinny chicken legs a scant few months ago are now fleshed out and now match his little dimpled Popeye arms.

You can see how far he's come in the short videos that I shot of them in the pool the other day.  When I first plunked him in the chest high water (that was way deeper than any bath that he has ever had previously) he had difficulty with buoyancy.  First his one leg floated up, then his other and at one point I had to grab him to keep him from tipping over into the water and going under.  Within a few minutes he was holding on to the side for support and a few minutes after that he was confidently sitting in the water by himself, splashing away.  He had to correct himself a few times, but managed to keep himself from a dunking.  Both babies were having so much fun that I had to almost forcibly remove them as they were shivering, despite a Humidex of over 40 degrees Celsius. 

There have been changes in their diet as well.  Both babies seem to be weaning themselves off breastfeeding, although very sl-ooooo-wly.  The last two months have seen it reduced from every meal to morning-noon-night, to morning and night and now to just morning.  I guess I'm still the best part of waking up.  I thought we were completely done two days ago, but by yesterday morning, they were ready to go. It's been a bit of an emotional experience for me, fueled, I'm sure, by my fluctuating hormones.  Don't get me wrong... I don't really enjoy the whole thing.  Although it is a special bonding time with me and the babies (and is important as it is my time), I wouldn't call it pleasurable at this point.  Both have teeth and Wyatt right now is using his (with worrying skills that would be the envy of most puppies) at every oppourtunity.  Zoe learned quite quickly that nibbles meant a flick in the nose but her brother learns differently.  I don't use the same technique on him as the first time I did it, he completely lost it and wouldn't stop crying for what seemed like hours.  I've changed my tactics, but it seems now that he's almost afraid to nurse as I will look sternly at him and whisper (often through gritted teeth) "No biting!"  I guess morning hunger overrides the need to chew, but that bittersweet countdown has started.  It will mean more freedom for me, to be sure.  It also means the very end of my childbearing and "baby years" and I am going to allow myself the luxury of grieving that.  There will still be toilet training and drinking from cups and all sorts of exciting things in the wind but that sweet baby newness is gone.  Babies are both tiny and vast at the same time;  although they are small and vulnerable, they also seem to have a connection to the cycle of life and the universe.  Breastfeeding to me has always represented a link to that, a tether to the Infinite.  This part of motherhood is closing to me now, to the sound of happy dancing feet and toddler laughter.  As I walk into this new chapter with my children in hand, I cannot help but wistfully look back.  There is no turning around as I am getting old, but I can't help one last glance. 

Somewhere in my melancholy I realized that we are also approaching a new round of appointments.  Included in this is one with the cardiologist in August.  Hopefully we can get a definitive answer to what is going on with Wyatt's heart and what we will be doing about it, if anything, in the near future.  I'm hoping one way or another to end our period of "watchful waiting" as my friend Renata calls it over at Just Bring the Chocolate.   Many mothers of children with health and developmental issues will recognize this state, the constant evaluation of this one aspect or this particular miniscule behaviour or symptom or thing... and what the possible ramifications could be.  Watchful waiting... I like that.  Since Wyatt's birth I have, both consciously and subconsciously been waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were. In this case, the shoe is a hob nailed boot that lands squarely in my chest.  Is he tired as he did not nap long or is he tired as he is not getting the oxygen he needs?  Is that cough because he has just gotten a noseful of dust from poking around at the edge of the couch or is he going into CHF?  The other day, to my horror, I discovered that his lips and tongue were blue.  I could feel my panic rising as I laid him on his back and started a head to toe on him, only to discover that a) his lips and tongue were not blue, but dark green and b) he had eaten a small discarded piece of paper from one of his big brothers numerous craft adventures.  Indeed, I found the offending wad still lodged in his palate and his grin faded as I swabbed it out with my index finger.  He looked at me as if to say "whyfore you steal my gum, mom?", while the entire time I am trying not to have a stroke.  Crisis over, we go back to usual patterns of subconscious surveillance and assessment.  Watchful waiting.  Yes, exactly.  I may never be able to completely turn it off, as it burns mental RAM quietly in the background, but I dream of a day where I can turn its settings down several notches.

There have been a few new behaviors from Wyatt that seem sensory related.  Not too long ago I threw some frozen broccoli and cauliflower into the Baby Bullet to hopefully chop them up for lunch.  Normally I process cooked veggies, but my (incorrect) thinking that day was that they would be chopped into pieces if left frozen, instead of rendered to puree.  As I was discovering my error, I looked over at Wyatt who was frantically wailing with a terrified look on his face.  He listens to the blender all the time,  in fact both kids react to the blender the way most pets react to the electric can opener:  Yay!  Lunch!  This time I guess the sound was slightly different and more random-ly clatter-y and he lost his mind over it.  A similar experience happened the other day when he picked up a piece of scrambled egg that was a little too warm.  It wasn't hot, but it too sent him into hysterics.   Wyatt doesn't cry as a rule, unless he is hurt, so this is a brand new thing for him. 

Another new thing is the sleeping habits of both twins.  Zoe's is hilarious:  hand her her tookie (soother), her bunny, her blanket... and she simply flumps over and that is it.  Goodnight.  Unless she loses her tookie and then it's a very sad baby until she finds it and then once more, flump!  Goodnight.  Wyatt has proven a bit more difficult lately as he will not settle for love nor money.  Even if he falls asleep during his bedtime snack, he will wake up and play until at least 10:30 pm. He's back up again at 7:30, so you can see how this cuts into any alone time that Sean and I have any delusions wishful thinking about. 

Mr. Quinn is turning into a young man in front of our eyes.  He is an excellent big brother, always there to save Zoe from her folly (like climbing on the coffee table) or to de-tangle Wyatt from some offending toy/article of clothing/room hazard.  We try to set aside special time for him every day, just to make sure that he does not feel left out.  He and his Dad have Lego Batman 2 to go through together at the moment, so I have to look for my opportunities with him.  Recently, he helped my plant my garden;  my brother had picked up some pepper and tomato plants for me and Quinn helped me organize everything and put the plants in the ground.  Hugging him is like hugging a coat rack these days as his baby fat is a dim memory and he seems to be all angles.  He too surprises me daily, with his intellect and quick wit.  He also expresses insight and empathy in levels that I wish many adults could develop.

We watch, we wait and we marvel at new developments. This is what we do.  It's not always rosy and happy;  we all have our times of trouble.  Work.  Money.  Stuff.  It's just life. We can't stop the march of time, I wish we could.  What we can do is bend it a little, to be able to relish particular points in time.  We don't really have golden years, we have golden moments that shine as brightly as the dawn.  It is these moments that illuminate the darkest of hours and fortify us for future trials.  A little more muscle tone, a little more communication, a little more self correction and independence.  Watching Wyatt stop himself from falling forward in the pool is the culmination of months of work and a perfect example of what I speak.  It is over within a second, you will miss it if you are not looking.  He used his trunk muscles, his legs, his arms, his balance and reacted in an instant to something that could have been dangerous.  To him, it meant multiple systems working in tandem.  To me, it was a ray of light.  That one gleaming moment and others like it, mean more to me than all the actual gold in the world.

I have a good life.  We have a good life.  Not all of it glistens, but enough of it lights the more shadowy paths.

(Whop, whop, whop...)

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  1. Oh how I know those blue lips and tongue. The moment I saw those is, was, and will forever (here's to hoping) be my darkest, most scariest moment ever. Ever. Ever. And I've myself come nigh to dying on a couple of occasions. That doesn't even compare.

    But I also know those rays of light. Those are what make it all worthwhile.

    The Babe actually picked my nose for me the other day in public and all that was going through my mind was that she was trying to stick her finger in a tiny hole (although I make no assumptions about having tiny nostrils) and SUCCEEDED. Yey!

    I'm so glad you're lucky. Enjoy!

    1. I see and experience all sorts of scary/yucky/traumatic things in my work. To this date, nothing (and I mean NOTHING) shakes me to my soul like the idea that one of my kids is sick or hurt. I was so scared/mad at the situation I had to go to another room for a few moments to keep from blowing up at eldest for leaving the paper around. GAH!

      LOL! It's amazing our take on things. Bask in your rays.

  2. I'm lucky to be at the stage where I have turned the watchful waiting setting down a few notches, though it is still there, but I remember so clearly the feeling of panic after one of my son's operations on his ears. I went in and found his face and head covered with blood. It turned out he's has a completely unrelated nose bleed (his first though he's had several since) and slept through it - a good thing as even now the sight of even the smallest amount of blood sends him hysterical. The panic though was like a solid thing, which didn't fade for ages even when I knew he was OK.

    I love the SMILE blog hop theme - thought I'd missed it as I couldn't get on the computer yesterday, and had to dust off an old post, but glad I made it :)

    1. Like I said in an earlier comment, it shakes you to your soul. I can imagine how scary that nosebleed would have been. My eldest's first nosebleed was pretty scary and he did not have surgery first (we were watching TV in bed and I looked over at him and he was COVERED in blood). YIKES!

      I'm glad you like it! To be honest, I was thinking of deep-sixing it... but I think I'll hold onto it for a bit. I'm also thinking of extending it a few days...


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