The nature of being a mother is that I have no time to blog about being a mother. There are about 20 other things I “should” be doing right now, but I’ve decided to get back to blogging for a brief moment.
I have been trying to write this post for over a month now — and the last post I did publish was over six months ago! There is too much to catch up on in one night.
Our son Anthony William was born September 29th. I did have a natural childbirth, and a much shorter labor this time around (short, but intense!) Anthony weighed 8 lbs 14 ounces. Pushing him out felt something akin to trying to poop out a rusty car muffler. But I digress.
Tristan continues to make progress, yet in other ways some of his “odd” tendencies are becoming more apparent. Among the good things that have happened since I last blogged: Tristan has begun asking and answering “why” questions. This is a significant step in autism circles. His responses are still quite rote. I could tell that they’d been teaching him in school to start any reply to a why question with “Because…” because he’s always reply this way in the same drawn-out tone — but then sometimes, he wouldn’t have an answer, and if he did have an answer, it usually had no relation to the question. But, it was a start. More significan to me is his asking “Why?” I know this gets annoying when toddlers and preschoolers ask “Why?” over and over again, but since I’m so used to Tristan saying the same things over and over again, it’s really no different, and it least it sounds more like a “normal” child!
Another thing Tristan’s begun doing over the last coupld of months is nodding and shaking his head during conversations. He has a tendency to overdo it, and sometimes shakes when he should be nodding (nodding is physically more challenging), but at least he’s doing it, and trying to make it part of the conversation. I specifically asked his speech teacher to work on this with him, and I see that she has been. The services he’s been getting in his public Pre-K have been phenomenal. He has acquired so many skills — and enjoys using them — too numerous to mention. He even has a special education teacher who works with him on social skills, usually on the playground or during snack time. They work on things such as climbing on the equipment (as opposed to just sitting and playing with the mulch, which was his usual preference whenever I’d take him to a playground) and asking friends to play with him. He enjoys being around friends — seeks them out — and is even taking the bus to and from school.
With the birth of Anthony, of course there have been some rough times. Tristan adores his baby brother — to a fault, really. He can’t keep his hands off of him sometimes. Then there are the usual jealous actions, such as grabbing toys out of Anthony’s hands, or climbing into my lap and saying, “I want you to hold me like a baby!” I expected these kinds of things, and I understand where they are coming from. Quite recently, Tristan has started wetting the bed more often. He’d been doing great with that, but now over the last two weeks I’ve been changing his pajamas and sheets in the middle of the night several times a week. I just purchased some disposable “Underjams,” basically diapers for big kids who wet the bed, but I haven’t introduced them to Tristan yet. I’m hesitant to, because I’m afraid of going backwards down that path. Tristan hasn’t asked to wear a diaper, and in general doesn’t seem all that concerned about the wetting. In fact, part of the reason behind his wetting might be due to a subconcious need for me to come to him in the middle of the night, stemming from the insecurity that comes with a new sibling and the attention I must give his baby brother, sometimes at Tristan’s expense. But that’s all part of life, and I know this is just something he needs to go through.
But sometimes, the tantrums can be overwhelming. There’s a lot being demanded of Tristan — school, a new baby in the house, becoming more independent. By the end of the afternoon, when he comes home from school, he is often at the breaking point, and I don’t always know what to do in those moments.
Then there are some new bizarre behaviors. What was once an obsession with trucks has turned into… an obsession with clothing. His own clothing. Anthony’s clothing. Even my clothing. I will sometimes find him in his room, sorting his socks, or lining up his pairs of jeans. Or I’ll walk into the baby’s room and see his sleep n’ plays in a pile on the rocking chair. Tristan tries to exert control over what Anthony wears. I let him pick out the baby’s outfit for the day, figuring that might help him adapt to having the baby in the house. But the problem comes when Anthony outgrows something — which, as babies are wont to do, happens quite often. Tristan cannot handle it when Anthony outgrows an outfit and we must put it away. This has happened so frequently now, though, that I think he is starting to deal with it better. And as Anthony gets older, he’ll outgrow clothes less frequently. But still, just yesterday Tristan threw a tantrum when I said an outfit he wanted Anthony to wear was too tight. I never quite know how he is going to react — it changes day to day, depending on how well Tristan is adapting on a paricular day.
To go along with these clothing-related behaviors is a perseverative line of questions:
“Do I have a lot of long-sleeved shirts, or a few?”
“Does Anthony have a lot of sleep n’ plays, or a few?”
All day long, over and over again. It’s enough to drive a person mad. I think I’m supposed to just ignore these questions. That’s what his speech teacher told me to do. It is just so hard to not respond to something someone asks you. Sometimes Tristan will insist: “Tell me!” If I say, “Tristan, I’m not answering that question anymore!” he’ll get quite anxious and upset until I answer it. It’s better to not say anything. I’m still working on that.
And where does Anthony fit in with all of this? I fear that Anthony is going to be the child who kind of gets pushed aside while I deal with all of Tristan’s needs. Anthony, at five months, is very responsive and just loves Tristan. Tristan will sometimes climb into the crib with Anthony, and I’ll hear the baby laughing and squealing. They are playing together. Sometimes I’ll come into the room and Anthony’s clothes are off, and Tristan’s rubbed lotion all over his legs (Anthony has excema, so Tristan sees me frequently lotioning him). Anthony just lies there, happy as a clam. He is just a joy. And I feel guilty for saying that, as if I’m contrasting him to Tristan who, even though I just adored him when he was a baby, I never described as “a joy.” More accurately, I ran myself ragged trying to keep him happy — and felt compelled to do so, as if by some instinctual force within. And he was adorable. But the experience was different. Tristan was more intense, became upset more easily, and didn’t play with toys. Oh, yeah, that’s a biggy: Anthony actually PLAYS with baby toys! Tristan never would pay attention to rattles and stuff like that as a baby. Teething rings didn’t get used — he didn’ t know how to use them. Not having had any other baby before Tristan, I didn’t have anyone to compare him to. I thought maybe the toys were just bogus, a big marketing ploy attracting parents with their bright colors and cute characters and that babies didn’t even really like them. Well, Anthony has proved this theory wrong. He is so easily entertained by a toy with little balls that rattle, or that makes a crinkly sound when you crush it. Wow, I say to myself everytime Anthony starts crying and I hand him some toy — and he stops. He actually gives sustained attention to the toy. I just don’t remember it being this way the first time.
That’s all for now. This post is not carefully edited, but I just needed to bang something out and record some of this for prosperity (or to remind myself six months from now what was going on six months before). The time really does go quickly — and I am grateful for that!