When a Toddler Does the Babysitting

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Depth Perception

Cooper has not yet developed this. His left fist has been engaged for a few weeks now and his right fist is starting to come alive, albeit much more shakily. He will aim at what he wants with such quiet concentration and grace. He has a favorite target on his activity mat. But lately, he has wanted to move on to bigger and better things, like the kitchen light. The chandelier in the dining room. The curtain rod. He has the same determination reaching for your face when you’re coming in for a snuggle as he does for the inanimate object in the next room. I guess you can’t judge him for wanting to explore the whole world, whether or not it is currently within reach.

So close, yet so far away.

A Day In Cooper’s Life

He wakes up for the day between 6:30am and 7:30am, regardless of when his middle of the night feeding was and always with a loaded diaper. Then he either feeds in peace or is harassed with love by big brother Maxon, this time depending on his last feeding AND if big brother has been released from his room. Then we all go downstairs for breakfast where Cooper usually falls asleep in the SnuggyWrap, his favorite place to nap. It’s a commitment donning the wrap for the morning nap as it rules out some personal activities, like showering or changing out of pajamas, but it’s oh-so-convenient for keeping the hands free to get Maxon ready for school, throwing some laundry in the wash, or enjoying some coffee, oh, and maybe work a little.

An example of how NOT to tie the wrap. Always use with adult supervision.

He wakes for the next feeding and then goes for a workout on his activity mat. As he’s gotten older, his attention span has lengthened. The toys receive laser-focused attention, usually accompanied by some serious head-scratching, so much so that I’ve decided to put a hat on Cooper every time his hands are free to save him from scalping himself. Once those toys get boring, he’s ready to see a familiar face. Once Mommy or Daddy comes into view, the smiling, cooing and chatting starts up, and shame on the parent that tries to break eye contact first. I’ve had to force myself to walk away when my cheeks start to get sore from all the smiling. Usually about now, it’s time for yet another nap. None of these naps are any consistent length, try as we might to find the perfect environment to nap (crib? swing? white noise? dark room?)

Contemplating the hanging toy

The late afternoon is pretty unpredictable. As you can see, I haven’t been able to assign a time of day to any of his activities past the morning wake-up. Feeding can be every 2-3 hours, and really only recently has it been on the higher end of that time frame. Napping can be anywhere from 20-90 minutes. If I have any errands to run, this is usually when it happens so the transitions from moving to parked car, stroller in motion while shopping or at rest when at the cashier, going from inside to outside, can really interrupt a nap… and ruin the image of calm and collected mom with sleeping baby to one perspiring with embarrassment with a shrieking infant. Getting dinner ready and actually eating it with everyone at the table can be quite challenging as well during this time. The wrap, the activity mat, the bouncy chair, and big brother Maxon in Cooper’s face are all rotated through until the end of the evening.

This facial expression means he is all done.

Ah, the evening routine. Since Maxon has one, we decided to get Cooper in on the action so this one actually has a set timeframe of between 7:30pm and 8:00pm. So while Maxon is getting a bath in the bathtub from one parent, Cooper is usually getting one from the other too, but his is in the infant tub in the walk-in shower where we can keep the space enclosed and warm. And no matter how cranky or tired Cooper is, he absolutely adores getting a bath. In fact, his mood changes as soon as his little onesie is taken off, as if he knows what is coming next. He really comes alive in the bath with kicking legs, waving arms, and big round eyes locked on you. And he doesn’t mind when water is poured on his head or if it drips down his face. The real challenge is that short period of time between when it’s time to get out of the bath and then getting dried off, lotioned up, and dressed. It’s critical optimal temperatures are maintained lest he shivers one time too many and the happy mood in the bath dissipates into a howling fury. Actually, the howling fury occurs anyways once he’s dressed, which signals he is urgently ready for his night-night feeding and bedtime. Ironically, even when he is just DESPERATE to start this part of the night, it can still take an hour from when he starts nursing to when he finally gives in to being put down in his crib. Not at all frustrating.

But how can you stay mad at this face?

Which brings us to the most unpredictable part of the cycle: the middle of the night. He has been great this week with getting one 4-5 hour stretch, but this is usually at the beginning of his sleep cycle so Mommy is not really benefiting from it. After that, it could be 2-3 hours until the next wake up. Mind you, this is 2-3 hours after he last started feeding, not necessarily when I am able to lay him down peacefully in his bed. Of course, last night he woke up after only 3 hours when one arm managed to come free from the top of his SwaddleMe blanket and he worked himself up chewing on his fist and scratching at his face but at least we got a 4-hour stretch after that. The last sleep stretch in the early dawn hours don’t usually work in our favor either as big brother starts to rouse… and Cooper’s digestive system, for that matter. And that is how we meet the next day.

…They may take my fists, but they’ll never take… MY FREEDOM!

Like clockwork.

Busted Lip

The call from school was alarming. The anticipation on the way to pick him up was full of dread. Blood was minimal and recovery was quick but being checked out by an actual doctor proved to be the most traumatic part of Maxon’s day.

We got the call about an hour after dropping Maxon off at school. Apparently he fell off one of the truck toys and landed on his face, splitting his lip on the inside. They called us right away but he had already calmed down. By the time Mike got there, Maxon was quietly sitting with an frozen teething ring and was okay enough to eat some Cheerios on the way to the ER. He seemed fine but Mike wanted to be sure we weren’t overlooking a bigger problem. The doctor gave the option of stitching up the gash but since Maxon was writhing in hysterics, stitches would also involve putting him under. The doctor was also okay with just sending Maxon home and to watch out for any new developments, which Mike opted to do. Back at home, a dose of ibuprofen and a popsicle later, Maxon was good to go the rest of the day, if not with a slightly poutier lip.

On the way to the ER

Waiting for the doctor

And, just for fun, here’s a blast from the past from Maxon’s last ER visit from January 2011.