Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hysteria in the Bathtub

I was a few minutes late getting home last night, so Amy (her daughter, Eleanor, shares our nanny) had started making dinner. After dinner, I offered to bathe the girls so Amy could grade a few papers. It's barely more work, anyway, to bathe two kids versus one, and a lot more fun for them.

The girls were playing happily, with only reminder to Calliope to only pour water on her own head, when suddenly Calliope threw a square plastic cup in Eleanor's direction. I was in the midst of admonishing her to stop when she did it again, this time squarely pegging Eleanor in the arm.

Eleanor, who is easy to provoke, immediately burst into tears. I looked at Calliope and my jaw dropped in astonishment, trying to figure out the right thing to say. Following the advice of Aha, I no longer ask her to apologize. Apparently it's better to let kids come up with their own ideas on how to repair the relationship. But in that moment of trying to figure out what to say, with my jaw hanging open, Calliope looked at me, then at Eleanor crying, and started to scream.

I started to laugh, thinking she was protesting Eleanor's upset, but quickly realized she wasn't faking. Amy hurried into the room, alarmed by the sound of both girls crying, saying "I've never heard Calliope cry this loud!"

Eleanor started to calm down, distracted by Calliope's response, but Calliope's hysteria continued. Glancing at each of our faces in turn, tears pouring down her face.

Finally I scooped her up and wrapped her in a towel in my lap and hugged her.

Lesson learned.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Are You Sleeping Brother Doug vs Freres Jacques, Just ?A Couple Weeks Later

What Calliope Has Been Working On

Calliope and Eleanor are heavily into puzzles. First the Ravensberger ones, where the pieces pop out of random places in the cardboard frame. Now they've moved on to jigsaw puzzles. First four piece, then six and nine piece. Now working fast and furious on twelve piece puzzles. Twenty-four piece puzzles are just around the corner. Calliope has one twenty-four piece giant floor puzzle of a firetruck and she loves it, but she still needs some help with it. But the smaller ones, they can both do without help. It's just in the last week or so that they are actually looking at the colors and designs on the puzzle pieces versus just the shape of the puzzle piece. For a couple of months, we were talking to them about matching the border of one to the border of another, or looking for two pieces with red in them... without result. And then suddenly, a switch flipped, and they get it.

So focused and intent upon their work. Half the time, they choose to work on the same puzzle together, chirping, "Can I help you?" until the other, maybe, looks up from her absorption long enough to say yes. They are decent about taking turns, too. They don't exactly alternate, but they don't fight too much over turn taking, either.

Helping E with her coat. Whether she needs it or not.

I love watching them together. It's a little bit like twins, I think. Of course, they don't share parents. But they are together forty hours a week (Calliope has an additional ten hours in the morning with the nanny while Eleanor is home with her daddy). They interact with each other in such a different way than with their peers. They talk to each other... but only seem to notice the other's attempts at conversation about half the time. They fight over toys, mostly when the moms are around. They hit and push each other. Yet they are thrilled to see each other each morning, especially Calliope, and are sad to part each evening, mostly Eleanor. (Poor Amy has to fight to get Eleanor into her stroller each evening. A couple of weeks ago, Amy threatened to leave without Eleanor... and Eleanor said "bye." Amy asked me, "What do I do now?" I said, "I think you have to leave." So she left. I got the girls into their PJs and read nighttime stories and still Eleanor showed no sadness. Finally Amy gave up and came back and asked, "Who won that one?" and I laughed and said, "Eleanor, definitely.")

And both act out way more when her own mother comes home.

But together, out in the world? They are united. An unmistakable team.

When she's not working on puzzles, or "packing up" the doll stroller plus tote bag plus doctor kit for the long trek from her bedroom to the living room (which she calls either the "reading room" or the "riving room," I'm not sure which), she wants to use her markers or my pens.

Calliope is very focused on drawing and "writing." She now understands that marks on paper represent words, and likes to practice her own writing. She will work laboriously over a tiny, careful mark on a piece of paper... then look up and exclaim "that says 'Calliope!'"

She just learned to draw spirals. Only she insists they are "spiders," not spirals.

Listening to music on the iPod with Susie has greatly increased her repertoire of music. This is her rendition of Freres Jacques.

I found her reading The Very Busy Spider out loud to herself yesterday. She had nearly every word correct. But is most definitely nowhere near actually reading. Despite her interest in the concept -- she'll point to an "L" and say, "Mommy, that says T for Calliope!"

I know it's very early and that I shouldn't worry that Eleanor already knows several letters. And that some of her friends and peers knew all their letters by this age. My goodness but it's a constant battle not to compare one's child with everyone around her, isn't it?

So I will brag about the fact that my child is very generous. She's an extremely talented share-er. And also a pretty fantastic climber. Can't wait until we are back at the playground on a regular basis. Hopefully spring will arrive one of these days. I wish that money were more available and I could afford gymnastics classes as she's pretty limber and strong for her age but it's not in the cards for a good long time. I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that I'm not looking for a future Olympian, just a happy and well rounded child. Which is quite an achievement in itself.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sobering News From the Lab

I've been quiet on the details of the T42 efforts but... here's a sobering update.

I was the luckiest girl ever with a beautiful child walking around in the world plus nine, yes nine!, blasts on ice.

I decided that I wanted to be more careful this time around, and to send my blasts off for PGS (pre-genetic... sequencing? it's when they count the chromosomes). My RE warned me I might lose some, but then the RE in charge of the lab bragged they had a 98% successful thaw rate. So I signed on dotted line. And expected to hear results in 1-2 weeks.

Yesterday, after three long weeks and many, many phone calls to follow up on supposedly missing paperwork, I got a confusing voice mail from the nurse who coordinates PGS.

"Hi Abigail, just wanted to let you know we successfully biopsied your four embryos and the cells have been sent off to the outside lab for sequencing."

I smiled at her mistake. I mean, anyone would be confused by the fact that I had so many embryos. So when we spoke on the phone yesterday, I was shocked to hear her confirm that only four embryos, of my nine, survived the thaw well enough to be biopsied and refrozen.

Suddenly, everything changed.

I know that I'm lucky to have blasts. But given that I had nine, I went into this T42 effort assuming I had it made.

And now, with 35 year old eggs/embryos (I'm now 39 and a half) averaging 1/2-2/3 abrnormal... statistically speaking, I'm most likely to only get one normal embryo out of this five thousand dollar debacle.

To be fair, I wouldn't have been able to transfer these slushy embryos, either. So it's not PGS that did them in.

But I'm suddenly grappling with the idea of doing IVF again. A line that I had decided I wouldn't cross. Back when I thought nine blasts meant nine separate tries.

IVF at 39.5 is a totally different prospect than at 35. I think my odds of becoming a mother again are now dramatically lower than I imagined. I'm still reeling.

And then, my PCOS is just out of control. Metformin was working for a while, along with intense exercise and a pretty careful diet, but now... I feel like I'm gaining weight by the day. It's terrifying. But I comforted myself with the thought that at least I was very likely to get pregnant.

I'm feeling very much like the rug has been pulled out from under me.

I know that hope is not lost, and I am holding on to that. And my precious girl is giving me extra hugs and comfort. When I came home so sad yesterday, she clung to me and we rocked. Such a solace. Thank god I have her. Thank god I'm a parent. Another child would be an amazing blessing, but without her, life wouldn't be worth living.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


It's a (not very important) issue I've struggled with for a while now.

Bangs or no bangs.

Bangs seem like a lot of work. There's upkeep required. Not my strong suit. And the inevitable growing out is protracted and painful.

But then my always tactful mother asked me last weekend, "Will you please do me a favor? Cut her hair before your brother's wedding. Her face looks too thin without bangs."

Um, thanks Mom. For making me paranoid that my gorgeous, gorgeous girl looks freaky.

But then my friend Emily pointed out that while my child doesn't look freaky to her, her wispy baby hair is difficult to manage in its current state. It's always in her face, requiring daily pigtails or else barrettes that need frequent adjustments. So she recommended bangs, too.

So for the high price of $3 ($5 with tip), I took Calliope to a local Dominican place -- we were the only ones actually there for a haircut, everyone else was getting things washed and set and styled -- she got herself some bangs.

I had major haircutter's (***made up word) remorse afterwards. It looked kind of awkward and awful.

But now I like it a lot better. It's felt very liberating to let her run around all day with her hair just... hanging down! That hasn't happened in many months.

Only bad thing is that I asked her to only cut a few bangs, and so there's still some hair in her face. May need to get a little more cut next weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Our nanny, Susie, reported this morning that Calliope was clinging to her yesterday and then told her, "I miss my mommy and daddy."

I couldn't help it. I started laughing.

I guess i'm the worst SMC ever because it seems like everyone else is SO sensitive to this but I feel like, c'mon, at two and a half, she has NO IDEA what a daddy is in a global sense. She knows and likes Eleanor's daddy, and probably heard Eleanor say something like this.

Susie said she didn't know what to say so just said, "do you want a hug?"

Calliope said yes, got a hug, and then was ready to play again.

So this morning I said to Calliope, "I heard you were missing your Mommy and Daddy yesterday."


"What's your daddy's name?"

"His name is Seth."

Now, Seth is the name of Eleanor's daddy, so maybe she thinks all daddies are named Seth, or maybe she was missing the actual Seth. But I'm quite sure she's not longing for an actual daddy of her own. Not yet. 

It's kind of cool, though, that she is starting to be able to verbalize her emotions. We've been working on that a lot. Mostly "Oh, you're so mad! You don't want to brush your teeth! Mad mad mad!"

But sad is a good thing to be able to verbalize, also. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Video Evidence of My New "Discipline" Techniques

Notice Eleanor hopping up and down with excitement... but staying well out of the way.

Both girls are wearing previously unworn size 12 month dresses I discovered in Calliope's closet that evening -- at two and a half, I'm amazed they could get the dresses over their heads.

In case it's not obvious, the crawling that Calliope is doing is between my legs when she successfully eludes my attempts to catch her... once again!

Even though it's not a very good video, I love how it captures her how she can't stop laughing.

More Playful Parenting

The other day, Calliope kept swatting at Eleanor as they sat on their respective potties together. I was watching both girls so I couldn't take Calliope aside very easily nor give her a time out (which I've been avoiding recently anyway.)

So instead I said, "No hitting. You are having trouble keeping your hands to yourself. Do you need Mommy to chase you?"

And she shrieked "yes!" with delight and took off running. I did lots of slow deliberate menacing monster walking, allowing her to slither between my legs so i could sputter, "how did you get away AGAIN!"

Eleanor squealed, "Don't get me Abby!" so I promised I wouldn't and then she decided to help me pursue Calliope. She ran alongside me and then attempted to tickle Calliope when we caught her. (I don't like to tickle her because it can feel torturous to be tickled so I just sweep her up into my arms for a momentary hug and then release her again.)

Calliope laughed for what seemed like ten minutes straight. 

Her behavior didn't get 100% better, but later on when she wasn't listening and I snapped at her, she jumped about a foot in the air. Whereas normally she would've tuned me out. So that made me feel like we made progress in reconnecting, at least. It also made me feel like a monster, to see her jump like that.

My next goal is to figure out how to incorporate throwing games into the repertoire when her behavior gets out of control. This was a recent suggestion from my Aha Parenting email but I can't quite figure out how it would work in my apartment. The author suggests throwing stuffed animals down the stairs to release tension -- that seems like an obvious win but won't work in my home -- or throwing bean bags into a bucket. The latter seems like less of a tension reliever but I will try it.