You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mothering My Boys...

Dear Family and Friends,

We are slowly settling in as a family of four.  Having two “littles” is definitely a learning curve...especially the newborn part, which is all new to us.  The first seven weeks were pretty challenging, if only because we really felt as if we didn’t know what we were doing!  With Everett, we had so many luxuries that we took for granted, so much that was already decided and taken care of before we took him home.  Contrast that to leaving the hospital with Reece, when both Zac and I were astonished that they just let you walk out with your tests, no training, no nothing but a “good bye, good luck, and enjoy those sleepless nights.”  Oh ya, those sleepless nights are new too.  

Thankfully, Reece, by all accounts, is an easy baby.  He doesn’t cry often.  When he does, it’s for a reason.  He’s rarely hysterical, most often his cry is a small, short wail that we interpret as if he’s trying to remind us that he’s there.  He’s mellow, like his daddy.  And he looks like his daddy too!  His eyes are blue, his hair is falling out, his complexion is olive, and he has an almost perfectly round face.  He’s advanced for his age.  I’m not saying that to brag but more as a “this is how normal development goes” kinda statement.  Our frame of reference on milestones is so skewed that when I saw him bat at a toy at five weeks old I was convinced that he was some type of baby genius :-)  But really, it’s been refreshing to watch him develop typically.  He is smiling, cooing, tracking, grasping, holding his head up, and is almost laughing.  He’s a great eater.  I call him “barracuda” because when he wants to eat, he gets all wide-mouthed and starts throwing his head from side to side.  His arms join in as his hands start to kneed, and the more frantic he gets the more snorting he does.  Just last week he started sleeping a good six to seven hours stretch each night (from 8:30pm-3:00am), followed by an additional three to four hours of sleep...thank goodness!

Reece’s only issues are reflux (aka GERD) and some food sensitivities.  Those two culprits are what made the first six weeks so hard.  We diagnosed him with reflux pretty much the day he was born (we recognized the symptoms from our experience with Everett) but the food sensitivities went unrecognized until about seven weeks old. After a really bad reflux flare, during which he turned blue a few times from holding his breath too long, we convinced our pediatrician to start him on a reflux medication.  At the same time, I was advised to stop eating dairy, soy and corn.  The medication and the diet changes helped tremendously!  He’s really been a different baby these past two weeks.  He was always very noisy; congested in his nose, constantly grunting, and the reflux had him frequently gasping for air.  Now he no longer grunts, he’s rarely congested, and while he still refluxes several times a day, he hasn’t turned blue in weeks.  We also have him sleeping in a reflux sling, designed and used by NICU doctors.  It allows us to safely elevate the head of his crib 30 degrees to assist with the reflux.  It’s been a life saver!  He is so much more comfortable.  The reflux and the food sensitivity are both issues that he should outgrow as early as 12 weeks old.  But for now we are making it work, although I really, really miss cheese :-)  

Everett has been adjusting well overall.  He’s incredibly affectionate toward Reece, always giving him kisses, telling him goodnight, and introducing him to people as “brother Reece.”  The first two weeks he was rather mad at me...wouldn’t hug or kiss me, would not tell me he loved me.  It nearly broke my heart, but we knew to expect it.  He eventually got over it.  But also around the same time as Reece was born, Everett began stuttering/stammering.  We couldn’t exactly determine if one came after the other but it all seemed very coincidental.  At first, he just stammered with Zac and I.  His sentences would go something like “I-I-I-I need-need-need-to-to-to-to-to go potty.”  But it quickly progressed to stammering with all adults but not with kids or animals (weird, I know).  Then, three weeks ago it peaked with him being unable to get anything out, so he just stopped talking altogether.  We had been trying to handle it ourselves, encouraging him to breathe, think, relax, and we even just tried to ignore it for a while.  When he stopped talking, I knew we needed a professional evaluation.  Of course, by the time we got to his appointment, he wasn’t doing it anymore.  As fiercely as it came on, is as quietly as it went.  He woke up from a nap and the stammer was gone.  The speech therapist gave us a book on stuttering and a list of dos and don’ts (we had been doing all the don’ts) and she told us that this is his reaction to stress.  Because language is his weakest area that’s where his stress manifests.  We can expect it to return when he starts Transitional Kindergarten in the fall.  But because it’s a stammer, not a stutter, and because it resolved in eight weeks, and because he doesn’t have blocking, which is the facial twitching that goes along with stutters, she thinks it won’t be a permanent condition.  Watching him struggle to speak just about broke Zac and I.  Knowing that it was caused by something we did to him (having Reece) tore at my heartstrings.  Add to that post-partum hormones and mommy guilt, well, it was enough to make me feel like an awful mother.  Especially when everything else was spinning so out of control, to have Everett not be that touchstone of normalcy and predictability was hard.  Anyway, I’m glad those weeks are behind us.  We’ve been falling in love with Reece more every day and can hardly remember life before he came.  

I return to work the second week of June; still part-time, still night shift.  By then I will have been off a total of 10 months.  And while I didn’t enjoy being home at first, I find myself very thankful to have had this time to focus so exclusively on my boys.  It will be hard to go back, but me not working just isn’t an option for us.  

Our boys continue to be as opposite an experience as their births were.  I find myself contrasting (not comparing) them a lot.  For every experience we mourned with Everett, we’ve been able to rejoice experiencing it with Reece.  And even more, now I look at Everett and realize just how far behind he was and how hard he had to work to overcome his prematurity...well, I just beam with pride for both my sons.  We have been so blessed with them.  And I wonder when I will get used to saying my “sons” because I’m still not used to hearing it :-)

Happy Easter!

The Bollinger Family

One Month Old

Two Months Old

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