My third daughter and last child, E, was born.
We were planning on stopping at two children, but as fate would have it, we conceived our youngest on the day my husband was supposed to get a vasectomy, which was canceled because the doc was on vacation but nobody seemed to inform us of this mix-up. The plan was, after I quit my job when K was 9 months old and M was 2.5, I was going to work on a master’s degree in the fall. Instead, I conceived E three months after I quit my job. It was a happy accident, no doubt and I am eternally glad she is here. She is the silliest and most outgoing of the three of them…but she wasn’t always easy to handle.
I was looking through my old computer files looking for something to write about her because I think back over the past 5 years with idyllic, sentimental memories. It’s hard to believe that my little blond-haired, brown eyed girl has been anything but charming, social, compliant and happy.
Here’s a snippet from when she was 6 weeks old. It was from a mother’s message board where I was asking for help about nursing. No one on both sides of the family nursed their babies, so I was completely on my own.
E is 6 wks old today. I have been doing what I can to increase milk supply – eating oatmeal, taking fenugreek, nursing practically non-stop (only stop to take care of the older 2 girls immediate needs, go potty, grab a bite to eat), pumping (only about 2 oz a session) with a hospital grade pump when I’m not nursing. I’ve had to supplement since she was 2 weeks and was 2 oz less than her discharge weight. I was using bottles to supplement (with both formula and expressed mama milk) initially because I was having a lot trouble using the SNS and of course she was having more trouble latching with the tubing not going in right. I’m doing everything possible according to Kellymom.com and other places I’ve searched. My OB wouldn’t prescribe Reglan for me – a prescription drug for gastrointestinal problems with the side effect of increasing milk supply. While he is supportive of nursing, he’s not that progressive and hadn’t heard of that and didn’t want to prescribe it for me. I almost cried because I had hoped he would. All he suggested was that I nurse more, drink more water, take my multivitamins, and eat well (gee, why didn’t I think of that, doc?).
I’m sure her latch is imperfect (better than it was before), and she clamps down hard when nursing, but the pain isn’t as bad as it used to be – nor are they cracked like they were in the first few weeks. I frequently have pain – even when not nursing – little needle-like stings. I use lasinoh when pumping, and was using Grapefruit Seed Extract in case it was potentially yeast – but my ob said he doesn’t think so. I asked him if he had seen a nursing mom who had it and he said no. I know that sometimes the only symptom can be pain without visible signs of yeast, or redness. I don’t know what to do, HELP!
I spent the next 8 months continuing to research breastfeeding, pumping, eventually going as far as getting domperidone on my own, another medication with a side effect of increasing milk production and worrying about weight gain. Her 9 month appointment was devastating when I realized she didn’t gain much weight in three months. She co-slept with me from birth, and she was frequently nursing at night and I started her on avocado chunks and whole fat yogurt, to help with weight gain. Each month, I re-evaluated where we were, I was trying to decide if I had enough of the struggle. But I was too stubborn to give it up.
I wrote on this same message board when E turned 1:
Today is E’s first birthday. And I officially no longer have a baby. I have a toddler. She’s been walking unassisted for a few days now. She’s also finally (but barely) sprouted a tooth (made nursing SOOO nice without teeth this long). And I guess I’m officially nursing a toddler now. And officially engaged in extended nursing now that she’s 1, right?
I was so proud of us back then. Little did I know that the booger wouldn’t STOP nursing until she was 3 years and 1 month old!!!! She became very attached to the nursing. She would ask me to “nurt”. And yes, it is a bit weird AND wonderful to have a walking, talking child ask you to breastfeed whenever and whereever they want. To me, it felt like such an honor that she was so attached to it. My other two children had to be weaned early (6 and 7 months) because I worked and could not nurse on demand, so I really never had a chance to work out the problems we had. It was annoying when people in my family would constantly ask me “Are you ever going to wean her”, or worse “Don’t you think that she’s had enough of that already?” Obviously, she had not.
By the time her second birthday rolled around, I realized she had some speech delays too. I wrote this down to keep track of her speech problem because I was growing a little more concerned as time rolled on.
Dd3 will turn 2 in a week. She is slowly learning new words. But still can’t tell me regularly when she’s hungry or thirsty or wants something. She rarely strings two words together. She doesn’t finish the ends of words (ba for ball, etc). Has trouble with pronouncing some of the words I say.
She’ll sometimes say “wa-er” for water. If she wants to nurse, she’ll pull up my shirt, but she doesn’t refer to nursing as anything. She’ll say hi and by, mama, dada, animal noises and can identify the animal by the sounds they make, the word “burp” when she burps or hiccups, ball, baby, and about 30 other words (maybe).
We just had this exchange:
DD3 (screaming at my knees):”MaaaaaaMaaaa!!!!!!”
me: “what, honey?”
DD3 points to something on the computer table.”MaaaaaaMaaaa!!!!!!”
me: “what do you want, honey, do you want a drink?”
DD3 (screams, points with finger): “noooooo!!!!!”
me: “what do you want, lotion?”
DD3 (screams, points with finger): “nooooooo!!!!”
me: “do you want to eat?”
DD3 (screams): “noooo eeeeaaaattttt!!!” (raises up hands).
me: (picking her up, then set her back down again): “say up”
DD3 (screams) “UUUUPPPP!!!”
me: I picked her up.
DD3 She reaches across computer keyboard for a scrunched up paper towel.
me: “here, let me wipe your hands” (as I feel stickiness on them).
Every conversation these days is like that. Scream something short and incomprehensible. Me guessing what she wants. Frustrating both of us.
She had me so worried that I had her evaluated by early intervention services. Having two other daughters that spoke in clear sentences by the time they were 18 months old, her pointing, grunting, screaming, frustrated crying because she could not communicate really bothered both of us. I posted my concerns to the mothers on the message board:
I posted last about my concerns on April 4, I don’t really see much of an improvement (though I know it’s only been 3 weeks). The screaming hasn’t lessened any.
I did get her evaluated by early intervention. They came to our house and tested her there.
They did say she was a classic “late talker”. She was just over the cutoff point for speech services. And they did say if I got privately evaluated, they probably would have suggested speech therapy.
But as it is now, she’s just a late bloomer, I guess. And they gave me a handout of some ideas to try.
Oh, and I asked about the screaming. I asked if it was because she was frustrated because she couldn’t tell me what she wanted. She said, “No. From observing her, she said she had a strong personality and that was the reason for her screaming”. About 15 minutes into the screening, dd got up and went to the gate to go outside, but when I said to come back and sit down, she got more insistent about going out. But then she finally gave up and finished.
I dare say it was just one more thing that helped send me over the deep end – her tantrums, coupled with K’s meltdowns, and M’s trichotillomania and oral aversions to eating meat.
As she matured, her verbal skills did, in fact improve, albeit slowly. By the time she was 4, I had her evaluated again because she was still mispronouncing a lot of words. Too many, I thought. But what did I know. The preschool intervention program said, “no, she’s fine…it’s only a problem when it persists until she’s 8”. Oy, vey. Okay. I just wanted to make sure because things just didn’t seem right, especially when adults I knew would frequently say, “well, maybe you should get it checked out.” After a while, you think you are not doing the right thing by taking a “wait and see” attitude.
She also had difficulty learning her letters for the longest time, and didn’t want really to have much to do with the refrigerator letter magnets that her sisters were so fond of. But she loved numbers, the bigger the better. She liked saying “I love you times one hundred fifty-five thousand, five hundred and fifty two”. She was also my Montessori at Home baby. With her, I spent some time occupying her with Montessori activities and math activities, since she was bored when her sisters went off to school and didn’t care to draw or learn letters.
Now, she’s such a big kid. All those worries I had about her not growing, not speaking well, or not knowing her alphabet are resolved. She’d recently taken her kindergarten readiness test and identified all her upper case letters and lower case letters. I was really very happy that she did so well and I can relax about her. She doesn’t read, but she does know a few sight words, and she has memorized a few of her favorite books – No, David and The Big Wide Mouthed Frog are her two favorites. She frequently wants to read words after I do.
And now…well, in a few weeks time, I hope we find out she gets all day kindergarten, because of all three of my daughters, she is the most outgoing and social one. She loves school and is well liked by her friends and teacher, who thinks she is very helpful and cooperative. A part of me will miss having her hang around with me, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am looking forward to having 6.5 hours to take a class, or to substitute teach, or pursue other goals.
So, while I look back upon these 5 years, and I think about how close to the slipping off the deep end I’ve been, I realize that many times it was because I’m so attuned to my kids that everything worried me about them. I felt that I alone was supposed to protect them and guide them and help them through their every last one of their difficulties. But they had so MANY of them in such a short time period. It’s hardly surprising to me now, after I tally up the things that challenged us, how difficult it has been to keep a healthy attitude and perspective, most particularly in the absence of in real life support. I had tried to confide in my family members, but no one seemed to know how to help. My friends didn’t know either. My husband tried…God love him, he did. But he was just as confused and challenged as I was.
But today…things are so much different now. There’s few tantrums and meltdowns, E is speaking just fine, K is no longer selectively mute, M eats meat and doesn’t pull her hair out one strand at a time anymore.
There’s a great relief, knowing that they are, for the moment, okay.
Today we celebrate my baby turning 5, but I’m privately celebrating my personal victory over MY challenges. I am not putting the guard entirely down just yet…but for the most part, I think I have done a pretty good job considering all the things we’d been through.
Happy Birthday E!
I had to update. All afternoon long she was practicing how to ride a bike without training wheels. She did it! All by herself!!!!!