Monthly Archives: October 2012

Caretaker vs Parent

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A couple weeks ago, I had a caretaker moment. I was sitting on the floor, playing with Teddy (or rather, watching Teddy jump from one activity to the next) and suddenly felt like his caretaker or a nanny, not his parent. I have no idea why it came upon me right then, and it’s not the first time it’s happened. Despite having my “mom” moment soon after we brought Teddy home, I still have “caretaker” moments occasionally. I mentioned it to Mike and he said he felt it too. Right then. Which, on the one hand, validated my experience, but on the other hand, I found a bit discouraging. Only one of us is allowed to feel like a caretaker at a time!

These moments are not the same as those we had in the beginning, that were based on a niggling fear that, until the adoption was finalized, it could all end at any moment. The adoption is not going to end. We have Teddy forever (thank God!). I just have moments when I feel disconnected from my son.

Is it because he doesn’t look anything like me (despite some very lovely friends’ insistence to the contrary)? Maybe. I’m really not sure. Perhaps it’s because as Teddy gets older and starts to become his own person, we see more and more idiosyncrasies that are unfamiliar. He has a super cute way he scrunches up his face, smiles showing all his teeth, and sniffs. Adorable, but it’s not like our parents can exclaim, “Oh my word, you made a face just like that when you were a kid!” Or when he looks at one of us, and drops his head down, keeping his eyes on our face. Funniest thing. But totally foreign. Every time he does it, we just laugh and say to each other, “What is he doing?!”

I know we’ll encounter more of this kind of thing as Teddy grows older. Much more. Which means there are probably more caretaker moments in our future. Fortunately, the parent moments far outnumber the caretaker ones.

Like when the three of us are out walking and Mike and I each hold one of Teddy’s hands and, freed from the responsibility of maintaining balance, he leans forward in a runner’s stance, and barges forward. Or when Mike swings Teddy up to his shoulders and Teddy starts pointing at everything now at eye level, asking what it is (in Teddy-speak of course), “Da?” Or when we leave Teddy with babysitters and we hear him crying behind the closed door. I hate hearing him cry, of course, but I like that he is sad to see us go. (I also know he won’t cry for long; we have awesome babysitters and he’s easily distracted.) Or when I watch Mike chase him around the coffee table on hands and knees and he looks back to ensure Mike really is still crawling after him before shrieking and taking off again.

It also helps that he’s starting to say words, and his first words obviously reflect what he hears most often. His latest is” Yeah,” and we know we’re to blame for that one. We say that word all the time.

So I learn to appreciate the parent moments all the more and simply endure the caretaker moments, know they are few and fleeting.

Our birthday boy!

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It was a beautiful (albeit breezy) day to celebrate turning 1 year old. Many of Teddy’s and our best friends gathered in the little park behind our condo building to play and watch Teddy try cake and ice cream for the first time. Cake he wasn’t so keen on; but ice cream? Bring it on! Course, we already knew our boy loves all things dairy (baby bells are a favorite snack and yogurt is our go-to breakfast). Teddy may be a picky eater, but even he couldn’t turn down sweetened cream. So Teddy spent the afternoon getting his face messy, playing with friends, and trying out new toys. Below, a few highlights:

Waiting patiently for cake

(mini ballpark-themed cupcakes from Georgetown cupcake—a happy mix of Mike and my favorite things)

He wasn’t too keen on the cake…

…but he loved the icing!

Opening a present

Trying out his new toy

First steps, first birthday…and first ER visit

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Teddy spent his birthday stoned on Benadryl.

A few weeks ago, one week before his first birthday, Teddy took his first steps. The next afternoon, he acquired an intestinal bug. We were so excited to see him spontaneously take about five paces with confidence, without any provocation from us. But over the next few days, we got more and more worried as the bug took everything out of him and he showed zero interest in further practice of his new skill. On the fifth day of his illness, when he wanted nothing more than to cuddle me (which generally I love but not when it means he’s sick) and kept staring listlessly (the red flag for dehydration we’d been told to look out for), I called the triage nurse and was advised to take him to the ER.

So not what I wanted to hear. But the nurse assured me we could get a quick IV and be back home in time for dinner. In hindsight, I wonder, has she never been to the ER?

We were indeed triaged quickly, but we were in the hospital two hours before an IV was even started. Judging by Teddy’s appearance (despite being low-energy, he was still responding to the nurses), the attending staff were confident a two-hour drip would be enough to rehydrate him and have him walking all over his hospital room. But blood work showed that Teddy was worse off than he had led his doctors to believe. His case still wasn’t serious, but it warranted an overnight stay on an IV drip.

We were admitted to the hospital and moved to a new room, one with a reclining chair so I could get some sleep. Several friends helped make the short stay more bearable, bringing me dinner, chauffeuring Mike and I between hospital and home, and delivering a Starbucks order to me the next morning.

Despite a night of interrupted sleep, the next morning looked much brighter. Teddy was smiling and chuckling again and wanting to get out of his crib, and the attending physician declared him ready to be taken off the drip. But his birthday party scheduled for two days hence? I was advised to postpone that until the following weekend.

I have to admit, I was more bummed about that than I probably should’ve been. Obviously Teddy wouldn’t know any different. And given the fact that I was starting to feel sick, I knew it was best to wait until the entire family was 100% before hosting a party.

So why was Teddy stoned the day he turned 1? The day before his birthday, Teddy was fully hydrated and back to eating normally (well, normally for Teddy). And then welts appeared on his eyes. And on his legs. And on his chest. I freaked, certain he’d somehow come down with the chicken pox. (You go to the hospital with one illness and come home with another, right?) We called the triage nurse again. Turns out, Teddy was having an allergic reaction to the illness. The nurse said the welts would come and go every few hours during the next few days.

We didn’t give him Benadryl right then because the triage nurse didn’t mention it. You see, we were calling on Sat, when Teddy was still under 1 year of age. Evidently Benadryl isn’t on the list of recommendations for triage nurses handling calls concerning children under 1 year. The next morning, Mike went into the nursery and found Teddy’s eyes swollen shut (yes, we have pictures; no we’re not sharing them—think Will Smith in Hitch), so he called the doctor on call. Teddy was now 1, and the doctor recommended Benadryl.

And that’s how Teddy ended up stoned on his birthday.