All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


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And I Cried

I’ve touched here and there on my blog about  Matthew’s speech, and I’ve meant to do a post on it, but time just gets away from me.  This may be boring to some, interesting to others, but reality for us.

Matthew’s speech has been something that has always been top-of-mind for me because all of our nephews, on both sides of our families, have had delayed, or severe problems with their, speech.  Even before Matthew could babble, I worried that speech would be a challenge.  I remember with my older sister’s son, he never made consonant sounds as a baby.  This didn’t dawn on them until his doctors were asking those questions later on when they realized that there was a problem – and they realized that there were tell-tale signs that his speech was going to be delayed all along.  When I met B, his nephew was 3 years old and could hardly say anything at all.  All he could do was grunt with different inflections to help people understand what he wanted.  I remember him grunting one way to say, “Grandma,” and another way to say, “Grandpa.”  Witnessing this, I became very worried for our future children because it seemed that serious speech problems existed on both sides of our family.

And they did.

My sister’s son had a very severe speech problem which was described as “verbal dyslexia” and he was in intensive speech therapy for years.  He could not say “pig,” but could say “piggy.”  His “one” came out as “NO,” and most of what he said was not understandable.  He had his own language that not even his parents understood.  B’s nephew started speech therapy at 18 months of age and around the age of 4, finally started saying some coherent words.  My sister’s youngest daughter followed along with speech problems and my younger sister’s son ended up on the low-end of normal for speech, where he remains today.

Our kids were doomed.

Or so I thought.

Because of this, poor Matthew has had his speech development under my microscope since the day he was born.  I was so relieved when Matthew hit all of his speech milestones as a baby (muttering his B’s, M’s, G’s, etc.) that I let his speech drift more to the middle of my mind.  But speech became a concern for us again around the age of 18 months when there were few words that he would say.  The words he did say were crystal clear (MoM, DaD, Car, TruCK, duCK), but he didn’t have a lot of words.  Our pediatrician told us that he could easily “get it” by the time he turned 2, and to not worry.  So we didn’t… well… B didn’t worry.  I did.  I didn’t worry a lot, I just kept a list of words and tried not to be obsessed with that list.

At Matthew’s 2 year check-up, his pediatrician asked us about speech and I said I had concerns, and B said he didn’t.  When the doctor asked if strangers would understand 50% of his words, I said, “oh yes!” as B said, “um, NO!”  B’s response got us a referral to a private speech therapist for an evaluation.  Huzzah!

But Matthew tested on the low-end of normal which meant insurance wouldn’t pay for services (of course they wouldn’t).  The speech therapist told me that I’m not crazy, that he is delayed, but that he’s not delayed enough.  GAH!  I was told to bring him back in December of this year (when he’s 30  months old) because she expected that he would fall out of the normal range by then, leading to services provided by our insurance.

Bummer.

We were then in B’s home town at a local toy shop when I started chatting with a gal who worked there.  She was our parents’ age and was a speech pathologist.  Of course I picked her brain and she agreed with me that Matthew had some delays and encouraged me to call the public school system for “early intervention” services.  I called them the following Monday and had an evaluation setup.  I felt like we were getting somewhere.

The school system brought out a team of people to evaluate everything – not just speech.  They evaluated his speech, his fine motor skills, his gross motor skills, his cognitive skills, and his behavior.  They told me that they would do a follow-up meeting with me on their findings, but right then and there said that he would be getting services for speech.  I WAS THRILLED!  Someone was finally going to help us!  I almost cried.

A month later, the team returned to our home (they provide all services in our own home so that the kids are comfortable and as chatty as possible) and went through the details of their findings.  Matthew was well within normal ranges for all things but speech.  They wanted him to score between 90 and 110 for all categories and for everything but speech, he scored 100.  But for speech, he scored a 65.  Many parents would be devastated by this, but I was just so happy to be getting help, that I nodded along and waited for them to tell me the game plan.  I always knew that there was a speech delay, so this was not surprising nor upsetting for me.  I just wanted to move forward!

Two weeks later, the speech therapist came to our home to get Matthew started.  Her name is Kim, and she’s wonderful.  B and I were both there to hear what we can do to help, and to watch her work with him so that we can try many of the same things.  Kim told us that we need to force Matthew to talk by not giving him what he wants until he says a word that correlates with his desires.  This is HARD to do.  When Matthew pulled on B to come play, Kim said to be his voice for him and say, “Matthew says, ‘play, Dad.'”  Until Matthew would say, “play,” we weren’t to go play.  This went on for a long time, and Matthew got rather upset, so Kim told us that if we could get him to mimic an action for us (like tapping his head), that we could then relent and give him what he wants if we know he’s not going to talk.  But when he wants to play the next time, to start over with being his voice and trying to force him to talk.

The tip of, “being the voice of Matthew,” has been so helpful to us.  When he plays basketball, we say, “Matthew says, ‘your turn, Mom,'”  Matthew will then say, “go, Mom!”  We do this for almost everything.  The one thing we worked super diligently on, though, was a word for when Matthew is hungry.  He will come and grab our hand and take us to the fridge, making an “mmmm mmmm” sound.  We would say, “Snack, Mom,” and he would just get mad.  Kim told us that it could take up to two weeks for him to realize that talking will get him what he wants, so we just kept on doing it.

“Snack, Mom.”

“Snack, Mom.”

“Snack, Mom.”

About 4 days after we met with Kim, Matthew said, “Snack!”

I cried!

We have repeated this for many things and it works!  We are the voice of Matthew, and we are “giving him the words.”

Kim told us that we are not to quiz Matthew – that we are to point to things and tell him what they are, and then simply say, “your turn.”  She pointed out that when you ask, “What’s that? What’s this?,” any child will repeat back what they heard. And what did they hear?  “This.”  “That.”  Matthew’s best words are, “this,” and “that.”  Now we know why!  This makes so much sense, yet all this time, we had no idea!  We have shared this little nugget with friends with young kids and they’re seeing changes in their own kids.  Amazing!

Matthew wasn’t having much of talking after Kim’s first visit.  We continued to be his voice, but his own voice was still pretty quiet.  In the time it took Kim to return (2 weeks), Matthew gained 10 new words.  We were beyond thrilled with those 10 words, but he was still being pretty stubborn with us.  He got to the point that he would put his hand to my mouth and say, “NO!” when I’d be his voice for him.  HA!  This behavior completely supports Kim’s assessment that there is nothing “going on in his brain” (those are my words, not hers) causing Matthew to not talk – but rather – that he is just a bit lazy.  He was getting what he wanted without having to talk, so he had no incentive to talk.

Makes sense.

Kim’s second visit was amazing!  She had Matthew talking and interacting with her, doing everything she asked, the entire time she was here.  He gained two new words just working with her in 30 minutes (“pop” and “block”).  Matthew stayed 100% engaged with Kim and only tried to take a break to play basketball (“ba-a-ball”) twice, which is great for him.  Kim did a lot of turn taking with Matthew (holds up a puzzle piece and says what it is, then says, “your turn”) and he really liked that.  Every time he would repeat the word, Kim would say, “good talking,” or “I like your talking,” etc.  I took a lot of mental notes and have been doing what she was doing almost constantly throughout our days.

Matthew has gained 19 new words since last Thursday!  NINETEEN!  We play with puzzles and take turns saying the words.  All we have to do is say, “your turn,” and he tries to say whatever it is we just said.  It’s amazing.  It’s truly amazing!  Everyone told me that Matthew would just “get it one day,” and that seems to be the case, but it’s not really the case.  We had to work for it.  We had to learn how to teach him.  We had to learn how to communicate with our child to encourage his speech development.

There is still plenty of work to do.  Matthew’s words are understandable to us, and about 25% understandable to others.  Only once have we not understood what he was saying, and after much thought on my part, I figured out what he wanted and he was so happy that I understood him (he wanted his red CG book, so asking for “George” wasn’t enough but we weren’t getting the red part of the request).  He wants to be understood.  He wants to communicate with us and with his friends.

Halloween has been a special time, a time that I will NEVER forget.  We went trick or treating last night and on the way out the door, I knelt down and said, “Matthew, we say, ‘trick or treat.’  Your turn.”  And he said it!  He said it to every person we visited, and even said it to the buckets of candy waiting on the stoops of those who were out trick-or-treating with their own kids.  Matthew also learned “thank you” at the first house we visited and said it to everyone we met after that.  I have tried for so long to get him to say, “thank you,” and all I had to do was follow it up with, “your turn.”  HA!  And tonight, Halloween night, Matthew said his name for the first time.  He pointed to B and said, “Dad.” Then to me, “Mom.”  Then to himself and he made an “mmmm” sound (which he’s been doing when he points to pictures of himself).  So on a whim, I said, “Matthew.  Your turn.”

And he said, “Matthew.”

B and I looked at each other, amazed, and cheered for Matthew for saying his own name for the very first time!

And I left the room to add it to his list of new words.

And I cried!


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THIS Moment in Time (#27) – Can’t Sleep

I just left both boys’ rooms. Matthew was up crying in his sleep, pulling at his diaper (this has never happened so I was concerned a bit). I went in to change him and got to snuggle him a little before crossing the hallway to feed Bryson. I tried putting him in the crib after feeding him just to see if he’d tolerate it half-asleep. He did not and woke up completely. So I put him in his rocker and left him there to put himself to sleep. I’m obsessively watching him on the monitor, almost perfectly content, stopping myself from going in to hold him. I love holding him… Even in the middle of the night.

I’m going in!


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Birth, Birth, Birth… Ugh!

The PAIL monthly theme post is focused on birth.  I wasn’t going to take part, because I’m sort of over the whole birth story/birth process obsession.  I don’t like calling it that (an obsession), but I do feel that that’s what it is.  When my older sister was having her kids, people weren’t asking her what her birth plan was, if she was going to try going natural, or telling her that her induction was a bad idea – and that was just 12 years ago.  I don’t know what has changed since then, but something has.  And that’s fine, but it’s just not my thing, you know?

I worked hard to conceive my kids – harder than most people I know.  I’m not saying that to boost myself up or anything, I’m just saying it because it’s true – and it lends itself to my feelings on birth plans and birth stories.  Because we struggled so much, with so many failed interventions, so many drugs, so many emotions, so many personal intrusions – I was just happy to be pregnant.  How our kids got here after so much effort, failure, heartache, and marital agony did not matter to me.  It just didn’t.  Prior to IF, I was all about trying to deliver naturally, with no interventions at all, because my mother had and she said it was just no big deal.  We have high pain thresholds in our family and I figured if I can handle the pain, then why the hell not, you know?  But once IF hit, and we couldn’t get (or stay, if you count my way early loss) pregnant, I just didn’t care anymore how I brought that baby into the world – just as long as I got him here.  That’s not to say that others care less than me about delivering their babies safely – I’m just saying that that’s ALL that mattered to me.  Sure, I was disappointed that Matthew was breech and that I’d need a scheduled C-section, but I got over it quickly and actually embraced the idea.

So I wasn’t going to write this month because people are probably sick and tired of me saying I don’t give a hoot about birth plans (because I don’t).  I do love to hear about birth, and I love an emotional birth story as much as the next gal, but birth plans in general – meh.  To each his own, and I do envy those who have the will and guts to deliver at home (those are my very favorite birth stories), but to read in the comments of birth plan posts that you should try this, do that, change providers, hire a doula, flip that baby, fire your midwife?  No – that’s not for me.

But I also wasn’t going to write this month because I just don’t feel included in the conversation when it comes to birth, because I have scheduled C-sections.  This happens online, with my girlfriends, at the park, at the grocery store, at baby showers, etc.  Anywhere and any time the topic of birth comes up, no one has interest in hearing about my stories – because all I did was wake up one morning, put some makeup on, show up at the hospital, sign some consent forms, and get cut open hip to hip.  No biggie.  There was no drama, no breaking of waters, no questioning of contractions, no rush to the hospital, no epidural, no urge to push – nothing.  And no one wants to hear my war story because it’s hardly a war story.

I didn’t have the courage to write this until I read Keanne’s and Mrs. T’s posts, and let’s face it, how I’ve been made to feel by being ignored by other mothers doesn’t hold a candle to the feelings they describe.  But I did read their posts and thought to myself, “oh I feel the same way, but different, but in so many ways the same.  I get it!”  I started to comment on their posts but then my comments turned into novels, making me want to put this out there for the world to see, and for my boys to read one day.  When you don’t rush to the hospital in a panic, or make decisions for epidurals or emergency C-sections, or have a 3rd degree tear, or spend over 24 hours from start to finish to actually cross the finish line – no one wants to hear it – because they can’t relate.

My sons’ birth stories are valid, and believe it or not, they are interesting.  They may be different from what you experienced, but they’re still birth stories of precious babies who were hard-won (like ALL babies).  I can guarantee you that I was scared to death the first time I delivered via scheduled C-section because I didn’t know what to expect, just like you were scared to push your babies out of your vaginas.  I promise you that I was even more scared the second time because I knew what to expect, and what I was expecting wasn’t fun.  I have war stories to tell, they’re just not stories that most people can relate to because they think I “took” the easy route (as if I had a choice).

Every single birth, adoption, conception, and loss story is valid, whether you relate or not with the story-teller.  Next time you talk about your birth, and someone says, “I had a scheduled C-section,” please include them in the discussion.  Please ask them what their experience was like.  Please don’t dismiss them because they didn’t have the same, or even remotely similar, experience as you.  Please don’t shut them up with your sideways glance when they chime in and try desperately to relate to the rest of you.

Birth – in the end – it doesn’t matter how we got there – just that we did.


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Things You Can (and Should) Do When Solo Parenting

  1. Get the big kid a treat that Daddy would not approve of, like a vanilla shake
  2. Skip your own shower since no one’s there to smell you 
  3. Frame and hang photos (but safely this time)
  4. Feed the kid in shifts – “here’s some guac. Still hungry? How about a cheese stick? Still hungry? Here’s a pouch!”
  5. Let laundry pile up
  6. Drink LOTS of soda
  7. Catch up on blogging
  8. Put the kids to bed as early as possible
  9. Let the over-tired toddler cry himself to sleep (no nap today due to Dr. appt)
  10. Eat oreos for dinner
  11. Work on a crafty project (Halloween treat bags for school)
  12. Waste time on FB 
  13. Start a new TV series on Netf.lix
  14. Stay up unusually late for no reason at all 
  15. Revel in your awesomeness for solo parenting successfully during a no nap, Dr. appointment, vaccination, school day!


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The Monday Snapshot(s) – Awesome Morning!

Bryson had a crappy night last night, which makes sense given he had a super night the night before last. B had to leave town at 4:30 this morning, so when Bryson woke up at 3:30, I just put him in bed with me. It was his second waking since 10:15, which meant there would be more. No thanks! We slept well snuggled up together!

Bryson and I woke up at 7:00 and started getting ready for the day as I marveled in the fact that Matthew just kept on sleeping. I sort of worried about him, being perfectly honest, but didn’t want to wake him. At 8:00, I opened his door so he could hear us moving around and wake up on his own. At 8:08, I heard his sweet little feet running down the hall toward me! He slept for 11 hours last night! He was sad not to see Daddy but gave me a huge hug and kiss!

Matthew ate his breakfast as I got things ready for school. He let me dress him without a fight and we were off for school. We talked about “nice hands” and “good listening ears” before we said goodbye. Matthew loves school!

I am sitting in the Sta.rbucks parking lot as I write this, with a napping, snuggling Bryson in my lap (I nursed him to sleep, oh yes I did!). I’m supposed to be walking at the mall with the other moms, but my perfect moments with Bryson are more important than any walk or social hour. 🙂


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Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!

Skip this if you’re tired of reading about my obsession with my kids’ sleep.

So Matthew is sleeping like a champ – I mean – a CHAMP!  We put him to bed at (gasp!) 9:00 each night and he sleeps until between 7:15 and 7:45 most mornings.  If we put Matthew to bed at all before 8:30, we can guarantee ourselves a 6:00 waking and neither of us wants that!  I can’t remember the last time he woke up in the night, so it’s been well over a couple of months now, and he’s going to bed on his own each.and.every.night without fail.  He whimpers when I leave the room, but that’s the end of it and he’s asleep rather quickly.  He’s sleeping between 10 and 11 hours a night (I hear angels singing in my head when I write that!) and is waking up HAPPY!  Naps are happening every single day and they happen with ease and peace.  Because he’s sleeping more at night, even when I wake him after two hours of napping (he would nap over 3 hours if I would let him), he wakes up pretty happy.  He used to cry and cling to me for well over 30 minutes after waking up from a nap, so this is a wonderful change!  All in all, he’s getting 12-13 hours of sleep in every 24 hour cycle.  PERFECTION!

For future (and B’s) reference, I am documenting our sleep rituals.

Nap Time:

  1. Start the “quiet down” process (steps 2-5) anywhere between 12:30 and 1:15, depending on the morning he’s had
  2. Get his blanket, CG, and Boo Monkey in position in the bed, and make sure he sees me doing it so he knows what’s coming
  3. Turn on any live-action construction video and set volume way low about 15 minutes before I want him sound asleep
  4. Give him a new diaper and get him in just his t-shirt, diaper, socks, and sleep sack once the video is running
  5. Tell him to “go lay down on Daddy’s pillow” and then give him a quick snack (a pouch)
  6. Discard the pouch, put his blanket and the covers on him, and lay with him without making any eye contact
  7. Breathe heavily myself to help work him into a rhythm (this truly works – one of the best tips I’ve ever read!)
  8. Within 2-10 minutes, he’s out
  9. Watch whatever the hell I want – it’s party time (or treadmill time if Bryson is asleep too)!

Bed Time:

  1. Any time after dinner and before drawing bath, set out his nighttime clothes (PJ’s, diaper, and onesie) and books on his bed, close all blinds/drapes, turn on the lamp and sound machine, ensure night-light is on, and turn bedroom light off.  Keep the door open so he hears and sees what’s going on
  2. Draw the bath at 8:15 and make sure he knows it’s happening so that he gets in his head that time is limited!
  3. Put him in the bath at 8:30 (either of us will do this, depending on what steps we’re on with Bryson and who’s doing them)
  4. Out of the bath at 8:40
  5. Put nighttime clothes on
  6. Read books (B does this) at 8:45
  7. B tucks him in at 9:00 and I come in to lay with him, sing, snuggle, etc.
  8. Leave the room any time before 10 minutes are up, but usually within just 3-5 minutes

Bryson’s sleep is getting… better.  Huzzah!

I took the bold step (for me) of moving Bryson out of our room four nights ago on 10/23 and it’s going well.  He’s spent 4 nights in his own room, and he’s only woken up once a night for two of those four nights.  The other two nights, he woke up 3 times before I put him in our bed.  We’re batting 50%, but that’s a hell of a lot better than the 0% we were batting a week ago.  HA!

We made the big mistake of not putting a white noise sound machine in our room when Bryson was sleeping there.  Matthew has used one from the day he came home from the hospital and we take one with us every time we leave town.  Bryson has a sound machine in his room that we use every time he naps or sleeps there, but we didn’t think to bring it into our room when he was bunking with us.  Stupid.  With the white noise sound machine going, his naps and nighttime sleep are both better!

Naps are truly a dream right now for us!  When we’re home in the mornings (not Mon, Wed, or Thurs due to school and gymnastics), Bryson naps in the rock-and-play in his room for 60-120 minutes.  YES – 1-2 hours.  Depending on when he woke up in the morning, I put him down for a nap between 8:30 and 9:30 AM.  This gives him time to nap peacefully but also allows us to grab lunch out because he’s usually awake by 11-11:30.  Bryson will nod off in the car seat on the way home from lunch and sometimes transfers well to the rock-and-play and sometimes does not (today).  Either way, though, I can get him to nap around 1:30/2:00 and keep him asleep until Matthew wakes up between 3-3:30.  That’s another 1-2 hours of naps for Bryson.  He still will take a little snooze around 5:00/6:00 and then we do the bed time process starting at 8:00.

We do not yet see a true rhythm with Bryson’s nighttime sleep schedule, but we have him down by a certain time each night (8:30/8:45) and he wakes up for good around 6:00 AM.  Here is our bedtime routine:

  1. Draw bath at 7:50
  2. Get him naked and ready to bathe at 7:55
  3. Bath at 8:00
  4. Diaper, jammies, and swaddle at 8:15/8:30
  5. Nursing by 8:20/8:30
  6. Books at 8:30/8:45 (B reads the books)
  7. Lights out at 8:35/8:50***

The two nights that Bryson got up only once to eat – he went 4+ hours at a time between feedings.  One night, he woke up at 10:40 (he ate at 7:33 and was conked out – way earlier than I’d have chosen) and then didn’t wake again until 2:32, and then again at 6:22.  The other night (last night), he went 4.5 hours before waking up at 1:25, then again at 5:45.  No matter how many times he wakes up in the night, his first waking is always between 1:00 and 2:30 AM and that’s always after more than 4 hours since his last feeding.  What happens after that first waking is when things get unpredictable.  But again, we’re averaging 50% so far on only having to get up once in the night, so I’m not complaining.

Bryson is sleeping in the rock-and-play for most naps (he naps with me beside Matthew, sometimes, if I’m tired too) and at bed time.  For now, I’ve given up on the crib.  I want to get him consistently only waking once a night before moving him back to the crib.  I was paranoid about this decision but after getting some advice and reading www.troublesometots.com, I realize that I’m just being stupid by obsessing over getting him back into the crib.  As long as he can’t roll out of the rock-and-play, then there is not problem.  As long as he’s swaddled (not during naps, but yes during bed time), he’s not going to roll out of it.  AND – he’s not rolling yet.  My kids sit up before they roll from back to tummy (and he was sitting, 100% unsupported (not even with his hands on his knees), today in a grassy field for family photos!).

We go to Colorado for Christmas on 12/24.  Once we return, I will tackle the issue of moving Bryson back into the crib.  Unless, of course, we get him back in the crib before that just because he wants to be there.

We’ll see.

But I’m not losing sleep over it.

*** As I was writing this, B came to get me to tell me that Bryson was crying (at 10:10).  I was nursing him before books tonight and he fell asleep, so instead of wake him for books, I put him in the rock-and-play.  I think he may have woken up and then wondered, “where’s the boob I fell asleep with?”  I’m actually glad he woke up so that I could re-set him, in a way.  I nursed him until he calmed down, put him in the rocker where he cried for a minute or two, rocked his rocker, and walked out.  Looking on the monitor now, I see that he’s still a little awake after I’ve been gone for over 10 minutes – which is a good thing!