Month 15 ~ May 27, 2003
Life is just go, go, go when you are a toddler! Katelyn is throwing herself into her activities with a degree of zest of which I wish I had a mere fraction - she never ceases to amaze me with her energy and enjoyment of what life has to offer. At the beginning of this month, we started to attend a playgroup that has started up at Thomas's school. It is such a great idea: a mobile Save the Children Playgroup van comes to the school grounds each Tuesday morning and sets up a feast of activities for siblings of kids who attend the school. First we have free play, then there is a craft activity, then morning tea (provided by the playgroup leaders), then stories and songs. From the very first time we went (which was the first time it was offered), Katelyn has been having the best time. She often gets absolutely filthy (either from sitting down on the wet grass, or from paint, or from rubbing vegemite over her face!), and smiles the whole time. I learnt my lesson the hard way after the first day and now dress her in some of Thomas's old clothes so it doesn't matter if there are stains I can't manage to get out! She even made me a Mother's Day present (well, with a little help from one of the ladies running the group), on which she had hand prints, and she had also done some pasting and sprinkling glitter. I LOVE things that my children make for me!
Missy Moo has continued to show her personality developing. She is proving to be such a determined, spunky little girl, and I find myself both challenged and delighted by her behaviour. She is such a happy little person most of the time, but also has very strong ideas about what she likes and wants. If she sees something she wants, she will grunt, point, try to grab, and usually shout "ice, ice" (nice) to tell us she wants it. It is getting increasingly difficult to distract her if she has her eyes on something that we don't want her to have! In fact, she will throw quite some tantrum when she discovers she is not getting what she wants, even to the point of walking up to a wall or cupboard and bashing her head against it. Oh my! One day, she threw herself on the kitchen floor and bashed her head twice against the hard, tiled floors. Of course, that really hurt, so she started screaming all the more. Poor little Missy had quite some bruise on her forehead for the next week or so.
One thing that causes many tantrums is that Katelyn wants to imitate all our activities. It's actually very sweet that she wants to do what we are doing, and we do try to accommodate her wishes whenever it is safe to do so. She loves wiping the floor with a paper towel when I am wiping up a mess; she wants to have a bowl and spoon when we are eating breakfast; she brushes her own hair when we do ours; she wants to put some toilet paper in the loo when we do (LOL! And that's not all she puts in the toilet! Yikes!) She LOVES doing whatever Thomas does, and recently we joined him up in "Auskick", which is a training program for Aussie Rules football, especially aimed at young children. Missy Moo often goes and finds Thomas's ball and cap and wanders around the house with them and a grin from ear to ear! Some other things get rather tiresome, such as her insisting that she use a glass rather than an unbreakable cup to drink from, that she has a sharp knife when she sees me cutting up vegetables, that she has a tablet when I take a Panadol. Obviously we have to try our best to distract and divert, but almost always we have a very unhappy little girl to contend with. Often I might feel thirsty or hungry but don't feel like having one of the few things that Katelyn could share so I don't have anything, because I hate the inevitable fuss more than staying without food and drink! I know that she is not trying to be difficult, and that this is probably even more frustrating to her than to us, and I do try my best to be patient and sensitive to her: it still can get pretty draining, when we are already up to our tenth tantrum by breakfast time!
One very enjoyable and amusing aspect of Katelyn's developing expression of opinion is her shaking and nodding her head. She understands practically everything we say to her, so we can ask a question and she will respond with a "yes" or "no" by moving her head appropriately. She can also actually say "yes" but funnily enough has yet to learn to say "no". I'm sure she will work that one out soon enough. LOL! One day I wasn't even speaking directly to Katelyn: Thomas wanted me to do something with him and I said "Okay, I'll just need to change Katelyn's nappy first and then I'll be there." Missy Moo had heard and started shaking her head because she didn't want a nappy change! She will certainly object quite strongly if I try to impose a nappy change on her when she isn't ready. Other times though, she will grab a clean nappy and lie down on the floor all ready or I will go and get one and will ask her to please lie down, and she will do it without fuss.
Well, finally Katelyn has decided to call me Mum-Mum! Yay! She started saying it regularly the day before Mother's Day so it was quite a great present. Sometimes she says it like, "Mama, mama" and other times it is more of a "Mum, Mum, Mum". I LOVE it! She has also started calling Thomas by her attempt at his name, "Oyis". If she could add a "T" sound at the start it would be exactly what he used to call himself as a two-year-old. Another newish "word" has been "awuss", which I think often means the same as "puss", but other than that I just can't work out what she is trying to say other than that she wants us to look at something. Maybe "Look"?? I just don't know!
This month we have been plagued by illness and injury. The very first day, Thomas went to a birthday party at Hungry Jack's (ie. Burger King) and he fell and hit his head on the steel support for the slide. That necessitated the first of several trips to the ER for the month. Thankfully his head is healing well and most of the scar is hidden by his hair! Then we had about a week when we were all well, except we were trialing Thomas on some medication to try and help his concentration at school and it sent him into an almost paranoid, extremely anxious state. Needless to say we have given up on that route of treatment. Next Thomas came down with his FOURTH case of tonsillitis since starting school at the end of January, and we went to see an ENT specialist who said those nasty tonsils should probably come out. I hate the thought of my precious little boy having to go through surgery, but I also hate him suffering with being so ill. It is so hard! We are waiting a while before making a decision.
Just as Thomas was starting to recover, Katelyn and I came down with a throat and sinus infection and both needed antibiotics. That same weekend Thomas started vomiting up a storm and we ended up taking him to the ER in the wee hours because it was so severe. A few days later Missy Moo started the same way and she ended up being admitted because she came close to needing rehydration. The paediatrician said that if she hadn't been breastfed she would have been a lot worse off. I was so worried about her, as I know that the younger the baby, the more quickly things can get serious (with Thomas, I was still worried but he is so much bigger and less likely to die I figured). Meanwhile, I was boarding in with her, and feeling decidedly seedy myself. Just before midnight, I started heaving too, and the nurses sent me around to the ER. I needed an IV, as I was already partly dehydrated simply from caring for such a sick baby all day (I had barely had time to drink and had been feeling too sick to do so anyway). They also gave me some Stemetil, but I had an awful reaction and had to have something to counteract it. While this was happening, I had a sick baby attached to my breast, hanging on for dear life while I was feeling like I wanted to die. What an absolute mess! Sure enough, Andrew started the nausea thing the day after we returned from our short hospital stay but we called a doctor to him and the treatment seemed to work. Katelyn and I now have a nice case of thrush and she is still VERY unsettled with all her colicky pains, the poor little girl. It is so hard to care for her when she cries no matter what I do! One unusual twist these past few days since being in the hospital is that she has wanted to be pushed around the house in the pram. She even fell asleep in it yesterday! One of the nurses had done this with her in the hospital when I was getting my second bag of fluids put through the drip, so maybe she has developed a like for it now.
This month probably moreso than any other time since Katelyn's birth, I have found myself both anxious about my children, and torn between trying to meet both their needs. Especially last week when Thomas was so incredibly ill that he had to be held up and the cup put at his mouth for him to take a sip, I found it almost impossible to do what I needed to do for both children. If I hadn't had an active toddler to care for, I would have spent the day mopping his brow, getting him drinks, holding him on my lap: instead I was trying to do this inbetween chasing Katelyn around the house. Forget about getting something to eat and drink myself! I want to be a good mother but often lately I feel like I am neglecting one or even both children. I have NO idea in the world how mothers do it with more than two, as I am barely managing as it is. Having said that, I wouldn't want to change things for the world! I love my two babies more than words can describe, and with both of them being so ill, I think I have been reminded what really does matter in this world. I had been stressing over mess and dirt marks on the floor, but now feel so silly to have been "sweating" over such minor issues. My family is what matters, and I would give my right arm to keep them safe, healthy and happy.
With my poor little girl being sick, naps have been thrown out of whack a fair bit. The first part of this month, she had got herself into a pretty reliable one-nap-per-day routine. She was waking around 6 or 6:30, napping from say 11:30 until 1pm, and then going to sleep for the night around 8pm. That suited me great, as I could snuggle, watch a video with Thomas and Andrew and get to sleep early. Now things are all over the place but I totally understand and know that things will settle down when she is feeling better.
Nursing is still going great (well, except for the thrush, but that will be under control very soon - it had better be because my left breast feels like it has been run over by a bus!!). Especially when she is ill, I am so glad that we are still nursing, and I love seeing her enjoyment of it, and seeing her continue to grow and thrive. I think she had actually had a bit of a growth spurt lately, but when she was weighed at the hospital the other day it only said a couple of ounces more than she was two months ago. I'm guessing that was because she was dehydrated though, because generally she is looking bigger and she is definitely taller as she can now ride the little car thing that my parents bought her at Christmas. Earlier when she tried to sit on it her feet wouldn't reach the floor. LOL!
Even despite all the illness, there have been many light and enjoyable moments this month. Katelyn is such a delight and she has a real sense of humour too. She will deliberately do things to get a laugh! One such "trick" is what we call "doing sumo". She literally looks like a sumo wrestler ready to begin the fight, with her feet apart, knees bent, hands on her thighs, and rocking from foot to foot. It is hilarious! I have no idea WHY she started doing it, but we can now say "do sumo" and she does! She can also identify parts of her body: nose, mouth, tongue (she loves saying "aahhhh" too - must have seen me checking Thomas's tonsils one too many times. LOL!), hands, feet, tummy.. By far her favourite activity (well, apart from nursing!), is being read to. I am guessing that I probably read at least 30 books to her each day (some repeats of her favourites such as "Moo, Baa, La La La" of course). She will choose a book, bring it to me, then turns to face away and reverses into my lap. We joke that she needs a beeper! She loves it when Thomas reads to her too, and occasionally will even do this for five minutes while I cut up some veggies or fold some washing.
Climbing is settling down a bit thank goodness! In a few months I think I will be able to put the play yard away, and for now I've removed one panel as a transition. We still sit in there for stories and playtime but I'm no longer quite so worried about her being elsewhere in the house with me. She seems to have lost the urge to climb so much and when she does is getting more sensible about getting down. Phew!
This month has been a tough one in many ways. In other ways I am kind of glad for the wake up call that got my priorities back on track. I am still stressed and anxious, but have gone from worrying about unimportant things to things that ARE really important! The health and happiness of my family is what really matters. Perhaps my thoughts have also been shaken up somewhat by the thought that if little Nicholas were here it would have been his second birthday today. I still miss him, will always, always love him and think of him, and no doubt one day I will get to hold him in my arms. In the meantime, I am going to draw on all my personal resources to be the best mother I can be to the children that I do have here with me on earth.