Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nightmares and Hopscotch

I just got Zoë tucked in again after her midnight pee. So far she hasn't screamed—all it takes is faith, trust, a back rub, a lullaby, fresh ice water, 100 reassurances that I'll "be back" (if only in the morning, or, more realistically, when she climbs into my bed in a couple of hours) the soundtrack from Moana, being tucked in a snuggly quilt. Oh, and something I forgot. Dust. Yup, just a little bit of pixie dust.

Truthfully, she usually screams. So there really must be a pixie in there.

Never mind. Thar she blows. Andrew's going in to comfort her. We'll see how that goes.

So, she's two and I think her grand record for "Most Time Spent In Own Bed" is three whole hours. But at this point I'm pretty much used to it.

What gets hard is when Benjamin wakes up in the middle of the night, which he usually doesn't at this point, but I've been making an effort to be a more emotionally-available, less-reactive parent after reading a book my mom sent me, called Childhood Disrupted.

Benjamin is a hard child to parent. When my mom was reading this book she thought of him (and me) because of his time in the NICU, because apparently even stress from those early, early days can effect someone for the rest of their life. It makes sense, I guess. That time was hard for me. I felt like I was being forced to abandon my baby—even though I knew that's where he needed to be to keep him alive. Being away from him was...hard.

I have to remember that it was hard(er) for him, too (and accept that it will always be part of who he is).

There's groundbreaking research being done right now on artificial wombs. So far they've only tried it out on animals—lambs—but they've successfully "developed" a sheep fetus to term in this artificial environment, which is amazing.

A friend of mine—a NICU mom—posted the story on good ol' Facebook and a friend of hers commented about how "disgusting" that was and that there was no way she'd ever consent to it.

I was like, "Frankly, I would."

It sounds weird to plop a preemie into a plastic bag full of water but, uh, that's where they're supposed to be—in a bag full of water, getting all their nutrients through their umbilical cord.

It still would have been hard—for me—to not get to be with my baby and hold my baby and bond with my baby but I think it would have been easier on my baby to have remained in a warm, wet, dark, cozy environment, without the stress of having to learn how to eat or breathe before they were really ready, without the overwhelming cacophony of whistles and bells ever present in the NICU.

Benjamin's biggest fear lately is that we're going to leave him somewhere, a totally unfounded fear...until you stop to think about the first five weeks of his life when we did leave him for long stretches of time (even though I spent every minute I was "allowed" to with him—which was, like, two hours a day, which I think was a harsh rule for both mother and baby).

His biggest fear about this move is that we'll forget him and leave him behind.

He's always worrying about being left behind.

We've never left him anywhere. Except the NICU.

I don't know if that's why he has this fear now, necessarily. But it's plausible.

The past week he's been waking up with a lot of nightmares and instead of hurriedly getting him back into his bed and mumbling something about, "It's fine. You're safe. Go back to sleep," I've been trying to connect with him for a few minutes. Even though I'm tired and want to go back to sleep, myself.

Trying to fall back asleep all alone when you're scared is no fun. But, honestly, this boy tries my patience.

On Sunday morning he woke me up around 4 AM.

"I had a bad dream," he whispered in my face.

"I'm sorry," I said, disentangling myself from Zoë's limbs (because she'd already climbed into our bed). "Why don't you go potty and I'll come tuck you back into bed?"

He wandered off to take care of business and I followed after him.

"Do you want to know what my dream was about this time?" he asked as he climbed back into his bed. "Hurricanes."

He's also afraid of hurricanes.

"Well, there's no hurricane in the forecast for tonight so I think you're okay to go back to bed," I reassured him.

"Why do hurricanes even happen?" he asked.

"Well, just...a combination of factors that make a really big storm..." I hedged.

It was late. Or early. I didn't have the brainpower to come up with a real answer.

"Mom," Benjamin asked as I tucked his quilt around him. "One more question?"

"Okay," I said.

"How do you hopscotch?"

I stared at him and took a few deep breaths, trying to be as non-reactive as possible. Ordinarily I might have snapped, "Will you just go back to sleep already?!" at this point because...hopscotch!? Really?!

"Let's deal with that question another time, okay?" I finally (and calmly) said.

"Okay," he agreed, snuggling down into his pillow.

"Good night. I love you," I whispered as I backed out of his room, closed the door, and stepped onto...the hopscotch mat the kids unrolled in the hallway sometime on Saturday. So that's why he was wondering about how, exactly, one plays hopscotch at 4 o'clock in the morning. He'd been walking on the hopscotch mat!

Perhaps he's not as entirely random as he comes off sometimes.

Seriously, though, that hopscotch mat has been in our hallway all weekend and the kids have been hopscotching down the hall every time they have to go to the bathroom or their bedroom for something and I keep forgetting it's there, so I've spent half the weekend wondering why the kids have been bounding down the hall...

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had read that book back when I became a mom to two little girls who had disrupted childhoods! Would have been good to know some things...I am glad that knowing those things can help you with Benjamin.