Wednesday, September 29, 2010

...And then there's Delaney.

When little Delaney was taken to the NICU with noticeable urgency, I made her a little deal in my head: you survive this, you can have anything you want. Always. A pony at 3? Okay. A new car at 12? Done.

Well, I guess she was listening. And my behavior in the subsequent months did a great deal to reinforce her status as a princess.

Let me be clear, I don't mean to imply that I felt favortism toward her, just an unreasonable protectiveness. I rarely let anyone else hold her, I fed her nearly all her bottles, she slept in her car seat next to me in the bed, etc., etc., etc. I was terrified that her fragile beginnings would make her more susceptible to illness, injury, or another malady.

Infants are brilliant. While some of their systems are just jumbles of disconnected information searching for order, their base intuitions are very sharp. For example, when they handed me Drew in the operating room, she immediately calmed and fell asleep. For two days, she was inconsolable unless Cassie or I were holding her. She knew her mothers, and I believe this was only partially from memories in the womb. Humans have thrived for thousands of years because of such instincts.

Well, Delaney picked up on this little chink in my armor... and exploited the hell out of it.

We started the kids on "supervised tummy time" at about one month. Devynn wasn't a fan, but usually just dozed off. Drew would enjoy it for a while, then whine until we moved her to another position. We would place Delaney onto her tummy and she would unload in a heart-wrenching, soul-splitting howl. Giant tears flooded her eyes as she looked at us af if we had betrayed her at the deepest level. That effectively ended that day's tummy time.

She worked this little routine for months. And months and months. When she was six months old, she still freaked out within minutes of being placed on her tummy. She hated it, and only the most cold-hearted could allow such suffering to continue. Drew was rolling from front to back. Devynn was rolling from back to front. They were beginning to scoot around on their butts and tummies. And then there was Delaney. Perfectly content to sit quietly on Cathy's lap or in her bouncy seat, or in an Exersaucer, Bumbo, or any other contraption which kept her out of harm's way.

When we visited the Mary Bridge Neo-natal follow-up program initially, they expressed only mild concern about Delaney's gross motor skills. She seemed a bit behind, but nothing terribly unusual for a preemie. However, at her second visit, they were alarmed at her delay. They scheduled a follow up to track her progress and see if more frequent physical therapy was required.

When we brought her in again, the physical therapist worked with her for a few minutes, and next thing I know, she's got Delaney wrapped around her waist, koala style, with Laney in full cuddle mode. I smirked a bit. I thought, "Huh. Guess we're not the only ones who can't resist her charms." But she wouldn't let go. The therapist tried unsuccessfully no less than 5 times to set her on the floor, but Delaney held on like hot duct tape. Then it was the therapist's turn to smirk. She said, "I believe I see the problem."

Turns out we (okay, okay... I...) had literally SPOILED Delaney into a gross motor skill delay. She had all the skill sets and musculature to perform the tasks in quesiton, but absolutely no desire to do so. The physical therapist told us enough was enough. We were to stiffen our upper lips and let this kid do some growing up.

Well, she's a stubborn one. While she did begin scooting just a few days after this appointment, she still refuses to crawl in the traditional hand-knee formation. She uses one foot, one knee, her butt and one hand. It's cute, but quite inefficient.

Devynn began walking at 10 months, 8 days old. Since preemies are often considered by their "Corrected Age", this would make her 9 months old on the nose when she started walking. Dang impressive! Drew began walking at 10 months, 23 days. Also remarkable!

Then there's Delaney. She'll stand from time to time, but then gets stuck in standing position and can't figure out how to get down. She just stands there and cries until one of us comes to her rescue. Now, this is not terribly unusual, and her development is catching up exponentially. But she lets us know that she is working on HER time schedule, and we need not hurry her along.

I think Delaney will always do things in her little way. There are times when she gives me a little sideways glance, I suspect she remembers our little negotiation, and she'll always know how to work me...

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's the Little Things

When taking care of three infants full time, adulthood can go flying out the window. Our living room and dining room have become playrooms, our bedroom a nursery, and our bathroom ... well ... it's just become filthy. I always promised myself that having kids would not steal away my identity as an adult, but that was easier promised than delivered. All my clothes are stained with baby carrots and vomit, I had to cut off my hair because the kids were pulling it out, I can no longer wear jewelry or my glasses, and I often catch myself, while standing alone, rocking back and forth. I'm hoping that's because I'm so used to rocking babies, and not a sign that soon I'll be in a tin-foil hat, rocking softly, speaking to the squirrels and eating dandelions. But I'm not certain.

Anyway, one thing that is keeping that string tied between myself and sanity is a focus on things that are fun diversions. These are things both little and big, funny and serious, personal and public. Everyday, I can have something that is an indulgence, that spoils me a bit, and allows me a chance to re-boot, if only for a minute. I hope that in this way, I can be a more patient, attentive parent. Here are a few of these little things:

National Geographic Channel's "Air Emergency"

I seriously love this show. I shouldn't admit that I am fascinated by plane crashes; this might just be tempting fate a bit too much. But, I do watch this with sick enthrallment. It's on Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m., a busy time, so the kids rarely let me actually watch much of an episode. However, even a few minutes gets me my fix.

Taco Bell's Cantina Tacos

So these little nuggets of greasy goodness will surely be just a temporary addition to the Taco Bell menu, and, admittedly, they aren't exactly gourmet fare. However, everything else at Taco Bell tastes EXACTLY the same. The tacos taste like the burritos taste like the Mexican pizzas taste like the nachos. With cantina tacos, I am paying $4 for what I get for $11.95 across the street at the Mexican food place. The key is lots of fresh cilantro and CORN tortillas. Yum.

Pampers Good To Grow Points

This wonderful scheme to enforce consumer brand loyalty has me smitten. Inside every pack of Pampers are hard-to-remove stickers with, like, 48 letter/numbers printed on them. One goes to, and, after wading through some of the slowest loading pages on all the web, enters these painfully long, nonsensical letter/number combinations into one's account. Then they are awarded "points" that can be redeemed for stuff. The point value you receive is about 1 point per dollar spent. The value for redemption is about 1 point = 1 cent. Not much of an ROI, but then again, after spending 27 cents on a diaper only to have it filled with poop, I have learned to take these little victories anyway I can.

Besides, points can be spent on Starbucks gift cards. And that leads me to:


This corporate behemoth owns me. It has for years. I find a great deal of solace in an afternoon latte from Starbucks. And, yes, I know how much this is costing me. But, forgive my Northwest snootiness, Starbucks is our very own trailblazer which led the way for all the other coffee companies which now claim to be better than 'bucks. What I find amazing about Starbucks is a double tall, non-fat, no foam latte ordered at the flagship store in Pike Place Market will be the same as that drink ordered in Tucson, Fargo, or Boston. I'm not an everyday visitor to the holy temple of coffee. But 2-3 times a week, this gratifying, overpriced little treat resets me like nothing else.

I certainly don't need anything to feel great about the way things are. I have an amazing life with a wonderful family. But just like Drew has her blankey and Delaney has her binky, these little security objects link me to my selfish inner child. They are just some indulgences that I find amusing and, oddly, satisfying.