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January 22, 2017

Baby B’s angel, Day 20

Filed under: Family, foster parenting, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 7:42 pm

24 September

My new semester began just days after we brought home baby B. I wished we had picked him up a few weeks earlier when I was in the midst of my nice long, five-week break. Then there would have been lots of time for holding him, rocking him, observing his every move, without the crunch of students and instructors likewise needing my attention. But there also would have been no Jennifer.

I currently teach only 1 out of every 6 students that take our course, but it just so happened that Jennifer was in my section. On our introductory discussion board, she mentioned that she was a certified newborn care specialist and ran a consultancy company and that if I ever needed advice on the little guy, I should ask. Although I registered the offer appreciatively, we were still in such a whirlwind of adjustment that I didn’t even know the questions to ask yet.

We had picked baby B up from the children’s center on a Monday night. As we strapped him into the car seat he came with, we tried to keep him calm with a fresh bottle, but he wasn’t having it. He began screaming shrilly, uninterested in even a sip. Addison’s extreme excitement (which just an hour before was so overwhelming that she “could blow up the whole world,” according to her) quickly drained in the face of an inconsolable infant. About 10 minutes into siblinghood she leaned over to me and whispered, “I think I want to go back to being an only child.”

The ear-piercing screams notwithstanding, he actually fell asleep pretty quickly. He slept through the car ride home. He slept through the transfers, from car to house to pack-n-play. He slept for a solid 12 hours, and after being awake for only a short time, he slept again for 3 hours. And then again. And then again. After having a not-so-stellar sleeper in Addison, we were amazed and grateful. It turns out foster parenting is super easy when the baby’s only awake for about 6 hours a day, and even then, just wants to be held! He freaked out and held his breath until he turned blue about diaper or clothing changes, but otherwise he made little noise or movement.

Until the third day, when apparently the trauma wore off enough that he came out of his catatonic state . . . and we realized he had punked us. He would wake at all hours of the night. It didn’t matter if you were patting, rocking, swinging, singing; if he could tell you were trying to get him to sleep, he was mad. He always wanted a bottle, but he could easily down 8 ounces in just a couple of minutes and start screaming for more. We were trying to pull out all our rusty baby skills, but as the sleep deprivation mounted, we weren’t sure what to try. Things that we might have done with Addison didn’t seem right in light of a traumatized, neglected baby that we still knew almost nothing about. And in our 900-square-foot house, we couldn’t really isolate the impact so it wasn’t uncommon for the three of us to be huddled around him, trying to get his diaper changed at 4:00 a.m.

Finally, I remembered Jennifer’s kind offer and emailed, “Could we talk?” We chatted for about 45 minutes on a Saturday night and I took copious notes on her tips for sleepwear, diet, sound, lighting, schedules, etc. Besides his usual skepticism, Neal was even a little miffed because I holed myself up right during the witching hour before bed when baby B was most upset. While none of Jennifer’s ideas were magic, the combination of them and how quickly baby B adjusted felt at least magical, if not miraculous. After just a day and a half of following her suggestions, he started sleeping again. He stopped breath-holding so frequently. He was playful, active, joyful even. He was a different kid.

Having Jennifer in my class this semester was a tender mercy for us to be able to get through those draining early weeks. But for baby B, she was his angel.


October 28, 2012

Luxury items: Neal

Filed under: Chronic illness, Family, Lindsay loves Neal, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 12:52 pm

It’s 3:00 am and I’ve woken up sick. There were some little inklings that I might be headed this direction, like when I laid down and couldn’t get up for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Or when I thought I might vomit just before I got in bed. But otherwise, I have a lot of things planned this week and had no intention of spending half the night awake and green and trying very hard not to lose everything I ate yesterday.

But while I do those things, I’ve been thinking of Neal. How lucky am I to know that tomorrow morning when Addison wakes up ready to grab another day by the horns and beat it into submission — or at least make it clap for her constantly —  I can still stay in bed and nurse this sickly body? I won’t have to explain to Neal what to do with her, what to feed her, how to dress her for church, or what to pack in the diaper bag. I learned what a luxury all that is two summers ago at a book group where more than a few women were bemoaning the fact that they could not leave their husbands alone with the kids without returning to dirty, naked children, piles of food on the floor, and kitchen cupboards left open (Neal sometimes does that one). It’s both a luxury and a choice, but today I’m focused on the luxury.

I cannot imagine a better father than Neal. He’s so mild and calm and sensitive. I’ve had to encourage him to develop a stern-parent voice (cause you’ve gotta have one of those with a kid like Addison on the loose), but I’m grateful that in the now 8 years I’ve known him I’ve heard only two harsh things escape his mouth (neither of which were directed at me or Addison). His ability to stay calm under pressure has been no small feat over the last week as Addison inexplicably forgot how to fall asleep and STAY asleep (because, really, the mere falling asleep is USELESS to us!). I don’t think I could have stayed as good-natured while Addison pitifully explained to me over and over again, “But I don’t know how to sleep” at 1:00 am.

Of course, sometimes Neal and I have our differences in terms of parenting practices. Like last week when I heard Addison banging something against her gate in protest of quiet time. It turned out to be the thermometer. The thermometer we bought just the day before to see how high her temperature had gone. When I took it away, she was inconsolable, sobbing, “But daddy gave it to me. Daddy GAVE IT TO ME,” which I knew could not possibly be true. Except that it was. He dutifully explained to her that he had made a mistake in giving a two-year-old a brand new, expensive (defined as anything over $10 in our house) thermometer to attempt to crush against walls and various other surfaces. But what I loved most was when he came back into our room and said, “Did you see how I didn’t throw you under the bus there? ‘Cause I could have.” I love that we share an underlying vision of how we want to raise our daughter and rule number 1 is don’t throw each other under the bus. Rule number 2 involves bringing Jawas into the conversation as often as possible.

From Raised by my daughter, of course

In short, I adore my Neal. The way I can depend on him, every moment of every day. The way he’s gotten a teeny-tiny bit more flexible about our schedule changing at a moment’s notice, even though he is almost certainly hard-wired against said flexibility. The way he reflects on parenting by drawing stick figures in his spare time. Life is just so much better with him by my side.

May 28, 2012

Sleeping through the night!

Filed under: Family, Lindsay loves Neal, Motherhood — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 1:04 pm

I do believe our little Addison is finally doing it!

(Except for last night when Neal woke up to her screaming at 2:00 am only to find that practically every square inch of her body was covered in poop, even her hair. Her hair?? Yes, her hair. [I can only imagine the comic he’s planning for this incident.])

(Also, I slept blissfully through the whole pooping/screaming/bathing/laundering ordeal . . . this definitely qualifies as a Lindsay loves Neal post.)

It was interesting to read the responses to my query about how people define “sleeping through the night” (although I’m sorry that I freaked you out, Emily!).  I came away feeling that we would know her “sleeping through the night” was legit when our lives didn’t revolve around it anymore.

It used to be that all our bedtime prayers went something like this: “Please, PLEASE help her sleep tonight.” Repeat. And then again. And rather than good mornings, our days started with “How many times did she wake up last night?” “Did you go in to get her?” [Some people suggested that we shouldn’t go in to her, but I’ll tell you, hearing her yell, “I need help! Help please!” is much harder to ignore than crying or whimpering was. Sometimes the help is needed because she lightly brushed her thumb against the rail and needs a kiss, but sometimes she inexplicably has poop in her hair (see above)].  “How long did she cry?” “Was she wet?” It was probably about two weeks ago that I noticed I had stopped asking those questions in the morning. And our evening prayers were less fervent on the topic because perhaps getting a good night’s sleep would no longer require an act of God.

When Addison first stopped napping around 22 months, I thought losing all that day sleep would help her night sleep. When this didn’t bear out, I desperately wished that she would go back to napping. Despite glimmers of hope occasionally (always when she turned out to be sick), it’s clear that Addison is done with naps (though sometimes when you put things in writing, kids try to prove you wrong — so be it!). But if she falls asleep within an hour of going to bed and doesn’t wake us up during the night, I am more than satisfied. Especially because I seldom do the night shift anyway.

April 26, 2012

Sleeping through the night?

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 5:00 pm

Neal has asked me to query the blogosphere many times over the last year or so to find out the answer to a question that we thought would be self-evident:

What does it mean when a child “sleeps through the night”?

When a parent says that a child sleeps through the night, does it mean:

  1. they literally don’t wake up at all
  2. they wake up, but don’t make much noise
  3. they wake up, make noise/cry, but put themselves back to sleep on their own
  4. they wake up and make a fuss, but the parents never go in to them

And if it’s options 2, 3, or 4, but they only do it once a week, would most people consider them as sleeping through the night?  Twice a week?  Three times a week?

Do you think there’s a general consensus on this?  Or if not, what’s your definition of “sleeping through the night”?  And do your kids do it?

February 15, 2012

She’s missing something . . .

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal, Videos — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 3:29 pm

“One.  Two.  Four.  Five.  Six.”

“One. Two.  Four.”

“One. Two.  Four.  Five.  Six.  Seven.  Eight.  Nine.”

Three’s not that important anyway, right?

The funny thing is that for months she has not only skipped three when she is counting on her own, but she has also refused to repeat it back.  It’s like there’s a mental block there.  We can get her to repeat back rhinoceros.  And awesome-sauce.  And today I got an okely-dokely, neighbor.  But three, don’t be ridiculous!


This story is going to creep my brother out, but it must be documented.  Addison is quite accustomed to being in the bathroom with both me and Neal (not at the same time — wait, maybe that didn’t come out right?).  We don’t exactly live in a baby-proofed place, so it’s either she joins us in the bathroom or my Dad’s computer network gets a toddler rearrangement on a daily basis.  (Obviously, the Neal part of the equation is what weirds my brother out, but when the opposite-gender parent takes care of the little tyke for 50% of the day, what are you supposed to do?).

Addison never seemed to take much notice, other than wanting to look in the toilet afterward, so we didn’t worry too much about it.  Until one funny day, I went in to use the bathroom and as I was turning away from the toilet, she got a tad upset.  She said, “NO.  That way!  That way!,” and started turning me toward the toilet.  It could have been a teachable moment (Mommy and Addison go to the potty this way . . . ), if I hadn’t started laughing so hard.

Afterward, it made me think about some recent articles I’d read about parents and schools trying minimize or eliminate gender.  How do they deal with the peeing issue, I wonder . . .


Also sleep.  She’s missing a lot of that.  As in, seemingly overnight, she went from taking two-hour naps to zero-hour naps.  How does that even happen?

We’re not giving up on quiet time.  I usually make her stay in her crib for at least 1.5 hours before she can get up, but after several weeks, we’re starting to be convinced that our little lady does not need as much sleep as Baby Center says she does.

Despite not sleeping, she still greets me with an ecstatic “Wake!  Wake!” when I finally go in to release her from her little prison.  Often she greets me with more than that — like furniture, stuffed animal, and clothing rearrangement:

But at least she’s honest about what she’s been up to.

April 24, 2011

All messed up . . .

Filed under: Incarceration research, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 10:54 am

My sleep, that is.  For the last week, I have gone to bed sometime between 10:30 and 11:30 pm (pretty good, right?) — and not been able to sleep until 4:00 or 5:00 am.  What the?!!  The only decent night I’ve had was last night when, I’m not gonna lie, I doped myself up on sleeping pills.

Even though I’ve battled insomnia since childhood, I somehow thought that parenthood had helped me turn the corner.  I’m not talking about some kind of magic . . . but rather, being so freaking worn out that I couldn’t possibly lie awake for hours.  Guess not (and lest someone make the connection that the last time I wrote about such disordered sleep, it was on account of being pregnant . . . um, no.  Definitely no.).

Surprisingly, though, I’ve been able to make these late night vigils more effective than usual.  I was inspired by a Facebook post from my friend Jen (who moved to Arizona today — boo) about how she had to get her daughter some water at 4:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so she took a take-home final.  At 4:00 am!  Usually the best I can muster is blog surfing, but this week, I wrote another section of my thesis and finished gathering my literature.  If all goes according to plan, I will write my lit review on Monday/Tuesday and send my completed prospectus to my advisor on Wednesday.  Obviously, it’s not all going to go according to my plan (if it did, I would not be a fourth-year Master’s student, would I?), but I’m pretty confident I’ll get the prospectus done sometime this week.  [And in case, you’re wondering where that leaves me in the whole scheme of thesis-writing, I will have three sections done (intro, lit review, and methods) and three to go (quantitative results, qualitative results, and discussion)].  Actually, I’m pretty pleased with where things stand on the thesis-front; I’ve got momentum . . . and I haven’t had momentum since like 2008.

May is going to be a big month for me — I can just feel it.  Besides the thesis, I want to submit a paper to a conference, deadline May 27.  And hopefully, I’ll finally wrap up the draft of the paper that will not die (unexpected delays on account of some missing data that I should have noticed a long time ago — official Doh! moment-of-the-week).  My productive May will be made possible by Neal finally getting his wish and officially becoming a stay-at-home dad (no work or school), at least for a couple of months.  Here we go . . .

July 29, 2010

Speaking of personal . . .

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 6:00 pm

What could be more so than sleeping arrangements? 🙂

But seriously, everyone already knows that Neal and I don’t sleep in the same bed or room.  So it’s not personal anymore.  It is, however, a topic that’s getting greater attention, as new custom homes are increasingly built with dual master bedrooms and studies have found that almost 1 in 4 married couples sleep separately.  If you’re interested, this link includes a video clip from the Today show as well as a NY Times article weighing the pros and cons.

Even with our personal experience, Neal and I were both surprised to read the 1 in 4 statistic.  I fear that next Sunday at church, I’ll be looking around asking myself, do they or don’t they?

February 1, 2010

Cast your vote: Where should baby girl sleep?

Filed under: Family, Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 5:38 am

It’s crunch-time now . . . the due date is in 11 days.  It’s time to get serious — and figure out just where we’re going to put this little bundle when she comes.

A: Closet under the stairs

Neal first suggested this and I thought it was utterly ridiculous — what kind of parent puts their child’s crib in a dark , unfinished closet under the stairs?!  Imagine my surprise when my mom came to visit and also suggested this location!!  (Neal = sweet vindication)

B: Neal’s room

I countered with the obvious choice, Neal’s room.  He has this nice little spot right next to his bed — my two babies sleeping side by side.

[My bedroom is, of course, out of the question, considering what a light sleeper I am.  Seriously, two nights ago at about 12:30am I woke up completely startled and jumped out of bed because I heard a HUGE crash in the bathroom and thought Neal had injured himself.  Turns out he dropped his plastic tooth-flosser on the tile.]

C: Hallway

Neal wasn’t too keen on the idea of his bedroom where he might be awakened by her every movement.  He suggested the hall outside his bedroom as a compromise.

D: Dresser drawer

But after more thought, Neal hit upon the perfect spot — a spacious drawer in our baby’s new dresser.  He swears up and down that he knows healthy, well-adjusted adults whose parents kept them in drawers as babies.  I think he is getting confused with a certain episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer houses Japanese tourists in a giant chest of drawers.

Care to weigh in?

January 19, 2010

Momentous events!!

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , — llcall @ 1:19 am

I made this!!

Well, not this exactly, but a stir-fry.  The noodles and sauce came from a package, but I decided to add chicken and broccoli to make it more nutritious.  Seriously, I cooked a meal AND added additional items without the guidance of a recipe — and it was well-balanced to boot.

Number of nights I’ve slept for at least 8 hours!!

It is ridiculous!!  I’m actually not even sure if I’ve ever done that in my life (I’m a very bad sleeper in general, kind of an insomniac).  God bless Phenergan!!  God bless my midwife for suggesting it!!

In the days before I got the new anti-nausea meds (because of some insurance hassles, it was a week-long process), I jokingly wrote this to a friend:

By tomorrow I think I’ll be like a whole new woman.  What do you think the chances are? 🙂

Well, I totally am!  Who knew???  Not that anyone else could tell the difference because I am still spending about 22 hours a day in bed, but emotionally and physically I can feel a huge difference.  My body is getting stronger and I can weather the ups and downs with more equanimity.

Have I exceeded the number of exclamation points allowed in one blog post, do you think?!

October 6, 2009

I wish I was a cartoonist…

Filed under: Personal, Pregnancy — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 3:40 am

So that I could draw you a pictorial representation of the crazy happenings around our house last night (my friend Lindsay, animator extraordinaire, did this once and it totally rocked).  Maybe google images can do it justice…

11:00 p.m.

CB101745 That’s me.

12:29 a.m.

giant man-eating spiderThat’s the giant man-eating spider I discovered eating my flesh.

12:30 a.m.

jumping out of bed That’s terrified me, jumping out of bed.  I have NEVER moved so fast in my life.

12:31 a.m.

yawning man That’s Neal, being awoken and forced to protect me against the giant man-eating spider.

[About 2 minutes after I woke him up, it started to dawn on me that I was hallucinating and just really, really itchy.]

1:00 a.m.


1:30 a.m.

giant man-eating spider

1:31 a.m.

jumping out of bed

2:00 a.m.


3:00 a.m.

giant man-eating spider

3:01 a.m.

jumping out of bed

3:30 a.m.

sleeping pills I try my best to avoid medication, especially now that baby girl is taking in everything I do, but when you are simply unable to stop hallucinating a giant man-eating spider eating your flesh, you know it’s time to break out the sleeping pills.

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