Friday, November 8, 2013

Things I will purposefully forget about the toddler years:

When I fantasize about the future- it always involves 3 beautifully raised children. Yes, I will still have challenges and new hurdles to overcome, but these toddler years that are so messy, overwhelming, and at points- suffocating- will just be a distant memory as I sit in my much-cleaner house (it won't be perfectly clean because let's face's me) sipping coffee that 1. hasn't been spilled on important papers and/or the white couch 2. hasn't been reheated 5 times before I finally get a chance to drink it 3. hasn't been confiscated from a 3 year old after she took the liberty of snotting all over the rim of the cup before taking a few stolen sips.

As I recall the toddler years- it will be fondly. It will be of memories like tonight's family dinner and then toddler bath time where there was good eating, laughter, chubby little hands handling their own silverware and then scrubbing themselves down with bubbles in the bath while laughing hysterically. It will be of the cuddles, the adorable faces, the small limbs that just beg for a tickle, the wide eyes full of emotions- swinging from happy to sad within seconds if the whim so hits them. The first words, the happiness when new concepts fall into place, the obsessions with certain toys/clothing objects, the way their voices sound when they call me "mommy" with such sweet innocence...

My memory will conveniently erase the messy, overwhelming, and suffocating things about these toddler years. I will only keep the good and wince at the occasional picture that documented the bad as I say to myself "it wasn't that bad" and sip deliciously steamy coffee and dream about grandchildren that I can send back home at the end of the day.

It is for this reason that I write this post. So that when I am in that fantasy stage and I pass the young mom in the grocery store with children screaming in the cart because their stolen candy bars were taken away- I will think very carefully how I phrase my "Enjoy every second. It goes so fast!!!!"

We are transiting Carter to the toddler bed. Not by choice.

1. Can climb ninja style out of his crib from all angles (Exhibit A:)
2. Will be sharing a room with the new baby (in a few months) so this adjustment seemed less painless now than when there is an infant involved

This transition would be easier if
1. he was slightly more mature
2. he couldn't climb ninja style over the tallest baby gate in the world
3.  he didn't feel the need to get up multiple times each night to roam the house just to test to make sure that we're listening for him (Yes...I am. Motherhood has made me a very light sleeper)
4. I wasn't 9 months pregnant. Tired. And cranky.

We'll have good nights. And then bad nights. Wonderful nights. And then "WHY DID WE HAVE CHILDREN!!!!" nights. It's been a few weeks. I am even more tired and cranky now than when we started. When you can't contain your child- and your child ONLY falls asleep when left completely alone in their contained space...there is a problem. A big one. He is not a cuddler. NOT. In fact, if we try to cuddle or rock him to sleep, it is a big like trying to hold a beater whirring on high. Fingers might be lost. Concussions given. Screaming like the poor lad is being strangled will emerge from him. NOT a cuddler.

Because he hasn't been sleeping well, he is tired all day. Exhausted. He will scream and scream over such injustices as "SHE IS MAKING ME WEAR A SHIRT!" and "NO I WILL NOT TAKE THIS COAT OFF AND I RESENT YOU FOR TRYING!" and "HOW DARE YOU FEED ME ANYTHING OTHER THAN ICE CREAM!"
Last night we reached a new low. Like in all of parenting. Ever. In the world.

I had been racking my brain as to how I could help him. And the last several nights when he would wake up at night he was coughing. Like a lot. His cough has been rather steady these past several weeks- getting progressively worse. A light bulb went off. He is sick! If we can get him over the sickness- maybe he will sleep better, behave better, and stop giving me reasons to seek out other families housing arrangements for him.

So, dutiful mother that I am- I took him straightway to the pediatrician. The doctor suggested that he had a lingering sinus infection and possibly some signs of asthma. Since Aaron had pretty aggressive childhood asthma this didn't seem too far fetched. The Pediatrician suggested that we try a couple of treatments from Addison's inhaler to see if it helped ease up his breathing a bit. Genius! We would all sleep tonight!!! We have found a solution to the problem!!!

We picked up his antibiotic and headed home. Bedtime came. We fed him a good dinner, gave him his meds, and then he sat very still as we gave him two puffs from the inhaler. He seemed to be feeling better almost immediately, and my tired little (ok not so little) self silently sang the Hallelujah chorus. SLEEP!

And this plan would have worked brilliantly if not for one tiny little thing.

While Addison does not have any noticeable reaction to the inhaler (other than having her breathing clear up), Carter did. He became hyper. Super, super, super, super hyper. (Aaron confessed later that he remembered this being a possible side effect to the inhaler. ahem.)

I sat in his room with him (since every time I left his room he did too), expecting him to give up and go to sleep any minute- for over two hours. The kid was literally bouncing off the walls. His body became a blur he was moving so fast. A normally high energy kid, I have never seen him that wound up. After an especially wonderful wind down evening routine that we did with both kids that night- I was shocked that he was taking so long to fall asleep.

I was exhausted because it had been a long day, and I wasn't sure what to do. All my little cute parenting tricks that I neatly tie up in a bow (to remember in those later years of course) were failing me. Aaron finally arrived home and took a shift. The authority of Daddy seemed to be helping because I heard Carter indignantly cry, a "HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME STAY IN MY BED" cry...aaaaand then vomit all over his room (a room that I spent most of that afternoon cleaning) to show his displeasure.

Great. The antibiotic was no longer in his system.

Saint Daddy cleaned up the vomit while I fixed some peanut butter toast in the kitchen. I was getting lightheaded and didn't feel well at all. It was going on 3 hours of banging my head against the proverbial toddler bed wall.

Just then I heard a noise come back from Carter's room. A weird noise.

I ran back, not sure what was wrong- Aaron was close on my heels. It soon became obvious that Carter was lying in his bed (first time all night) choking. Choking badly. Like not breathing choking.

I flipped him over and did my usual aggressive back pats (have had to do this with Addison a few times before), and it took far too long for him to start coughing through it. That moment was so, so, so scary and seemed to last forever as we waited for him to cough up whatever was lodged in his throat and start breathing normally again.

Apparently he had stored a granola bar in his room while he was "helping" me clean earlier that day. When he was done vomiting up his lovely dinner and medicine- he was hungry, so he sought out his bar and attempted to eat it while lying on his back in his bed. Thus- he choked.

Then- his breathing was still kind of ragged. Was it because he still had something lodged in his throat? Or was this the asthma or maybe the sinus infection cough? Was he OK? Should we take him to the ER? When he lay down and immediately closed his eyes to sleep, we didn't feel comfortable leaving him. So Daddy scooped up Carter and they went out to the living room to watch some tractor videos.

After a bit, he perked right back up and was excitedly talking about the tractors and life in general- breathing fine. He ate a snack- everything seemed to go down OK.

He was going to be fine. Deep breaths.

At this point-it was getting super late. I was exhausted. Carter was clearly exhausted. Simple solution- let's all go to sleep!

Except as soon as we put Carter back in bed, he immediately became super hyper again- bouncing off the walls and refusing to close those stubborn, stubborn eyes.


Daddy took over and told me to go to bed. Did I mention Saint Daddy?

But even after Daddy finally convinced our stubborn 2 year old that sleep was the new Thomas the Train, Carter then proceeded to get up many, many, many times last night- alternately crying and/or roaming the house. It's like I had an infant. Who could outrun me. Who was so tired he could no longer sleep (this makes no sense to me).

And then when he wanted to sleep in this morning, I had to wake him up to get Addison to school on time. Pretty much an awesome start to the day after an awesome night of going to be late, getting back up at 12:09, 1:30, 2:45, 4:00, and 5:50 to convince Mr. NoBed that he should go back to sleep. If you seem me out in public and I look a little strange, it's because I am holding on to my sanity with the tiniest of just the nails. And it's a slippery hold about to give any moment. #needohsomuchmoresleepwheniamgrowinganotherhumanbeing

This. This is the kind of story that my memory will erase from the toddler years.
(If we all survive them.)
"Sleep? Oh, we were a little tired, but just occasionally. My kids slept through the night starting at 6 weeks and never varied from their 12 hour a night snooze! Did my children ever choke? NO NEVER! I'm surprised you would even ask me that!!!! Transition before 3rd baby? It was awesome! We all sat around most of the time and talked about our new blessing. The kids were so excited to meet their new brother they were on their very best behavior!" That's the story that I will tell and remember.
Mostly because when I try to remind myself of how it actually was- I won't believe it because I'll only be looking at pictures like these:
My facebook status the other day was this:

Toddlers have a way of making you look forward to an upcoming stay of luxury and vacation on the labor and delivery floor...hopefully returning home with a 7-8 pound souvenir. First baby? Labor scary. Third baby? Restful time away from the toddler bed monsters. Sign me up.

I think some people thought I was joking...

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