Category Archives: Parenting

Baby

Baby

Kai is desparate for me to have another baby.  “A baby of my OWN.” he clarifies, when I tell him about this-or-that thing this-or-that baby cousin just did.  New baby cousins don’t cut it.  He wants a Hagan Baby, from my belly.

It’s an interesting thing to reflect upon on this day, the day of my first nephews birth.  Having Baby Owen appear and seeing all the photos and stories from across the pond (we did get a lovely bonding time last Christmas, when he fell asleep in my arms and his father offered to take him back from me and I just smiled and said “nope!” and kept walking and rocking and loving) having Owen join the family opened up this new possibility I’d never experienced – getting some Baby time without having to go through the shenanigans of having a darn Baby.

I just got back from a trip to see Baby Charlie, and oh!, what a dear baby he is.  I got to see smiles, and hear his first laugh, and I also rocked him to sleep in my arms and held on for hours (seriously, it’s just bliss.  I have a problem.) and since there are only 4 states in between us and not an ocean, I’m hoping for more Baby Charlie in my near future.

But Kai.  Kai has not met Baby Charlie.  Kai was unimpressed by Baby Owen’s doing nothing but nursing and sleeping.  Kai wants…                                     maxresdefault

I don’t know what Kai really wants.  A sibling other than Isaac?  Someone to be older than?  “A girl,” he insists when I ask, “we need a girl on Team Hagan.”

He’s started asking questions about gender and babies and where they are grown and how they are made, and we’ve gotten to the egg and the sperm and all the specific genital parts, but not quite to how it all wham bam thank you ma’ams.  I’m really pleased he’s totally comfy asking me everything, and pretty pleased with how I’m responding.  Honestly, accurately, only answering what he asks.  Andrew walked in on Kai and I looking over a picture I”d just drawn of men vs. women’s nethers, and he went “oh!” and slowly backed away.  But Kai and I are doing good, I think.

“You’re my baby,” I said last time he asked for me to please, please, please have another baby, and he responded, “but I”m in first grade, Mom.  It’s not the same.”  And he is, of course, right.  That precious bliss of a baby falling asleep in my arms, that’s not where we are any more.  But this place of discovery and questions and teaching and laughter and learning the word “testicle” and commenting that is sounds like a popsicle brand – that’s pretty fun too.

Fly-by – hellloooooooo!

Fly-by – hellloooooooo!

Hi!  We survived August!

And jumped right into a busy, mostly joyful, September.  The boys are thrilled to be back in school, and everything seems to be going swimmingly with that.  The cost of all the back-to-school shenanigans has, once again, taken me by surprise ($22 for the cheapest school photo package! $25 for PTA! $15 for back-to-school picnic!) and I’m a little grumbly, but really, I should just go ahead and adjust that cash envelope already and write Future Erika a note not to adjust it back down in the winter when She thinks “we can’t really need this much for back-to-school shenanigans.  It must’ve just been a strange year.”, as She does every year.

Andrew and I have been finishing up a long-desired outside project – we’ve cleaned up the “junk” corner of the yard (where previous owners have been throwing yard and construction waste, Christmas Trees, and rotting firewood, for YEARS), framed and mulched it, and moved the trampoline over there.  In the new spot vacated by the trampoline, we are putting up a swingset for the kids.  We got it for free off of freecycle, and have been cleaning, staining, replacing some stuff, getting it ready…all summer.  We got half of it up last weekend, and (fingers crossed!) will finish up this weekend.

Stage one - pretty corner, shifted trampoline.

Stage one – pretty corner, shifted trampoline.

Both our jobs got CRAZY this September.  My work house increased, and the growing pains of shifting everything else I do around that haven’t quite settled yet.  Andrew has an AWESOME new not-ready-for-public-sharing project at work, which involves rather more travel than we’re used to. We’re both thrilled at the new creative opportunities at our jobs…but it’s a lot of crazy too.  Waiting for the dust to settle.

Before I got my new work hours, I’d planned to spend those hours working on my new creative project: my Eating Liturgically blog.  It’s all planned and worked out, with the first month or so of blogs and recipes planned…IN MY HEAD.  I have got to start getting some stuff in 1s and 0s, you know?  I’m hoping not to have to go all JK Rowling on this and get up at 4am and work before my kids get up…but maybe?  Ugh.  Creative Muses are so mean sometimes. (Also, I’m really excited for this! I want to do it! Just at, you know, 10am.)

Anyway, that’s my flyby update – mwah!

Baby Advice – what I wish I could tell new parents

Baby Advice – what I wish I could tell new parents

Right, so, first thing’s first – I hate getting unsolicited parenting advice.  I hated it before we knew that Isaac was special, and I hate it even more now that the unsolicited advice is rarely helpful to our situation.  “Have you tried ABA?  I read an article that autistic kids do really well with ABA.” <sigh>  “Yes, oddly enough, I am in the know of the most common and documented autism therapy.  Thanks, though.”

Thus, I cringe when I hear myself *give* unsolicited parenting advice.  As it’s happening, my inner voice goes, “No.  NO!  What are you doing, crazy lady?  They hate this!  You hate this!  Stop stop stop!”

It’s rare.  I’ve gotten pretty good at biting my tongue.

But when a new baby comes on the scene, and especially when that new baby is part of my tribe (new nephew, good friend’s new kiddo, etc) – all this advice comes bubbling up and I hold it in.  My new nephew Charlie made his debut last week, and I have so. many. thoughts.

Then I realized – I have a blog!  I can type all my thoughts!  And it’s not giving unsolictied advice, because I’m just sharing my thoughts to the world!

If any new parents (hi Aidan!) happen to read this…well, so be it.  I’m not saying any of this is super helpful or whatever.  It’s just my list.

<drumroll please>

  1. You can’t make a baby sleep.  You can set up behaviors, rituals, and environments that are conducive to sleep…but none of those things guarantee sleep.  Babies do what they gotta do.  Roll with it.
  2. You can be 100% confident that they will either figure out sleeping through the night eventually, or that they will not sleep but will not bother you so you can sleep.  It will happen, someday.  You can set up behaviors, rituals, and environments that are conducive to that day coming, but you cannot make it happen.
  3. Nurse on demand.  It’s what your body and the baby’s body wants.  Be lazy, do what’s easy, nurse on demand.  I am the most scheduled person alive, and I nursed on demand because trying to make a baby shift to my schedule was horrible.
  4. Get life insurance ASAP.  Once anything is wrong with your kid – from autism to pre-existing health stuff – that insurance gets more expensive and harder to get.  Get it as soon after birth as possible – it’ll be super cheap and they have good options now that you can cash out at age 18 and use for college costs.
  5. Baths are important…but not, like, super-important.  If your kid looks dirty or smells, then bath them.  If they don’t, then don’t.  (I mean, babies are pretty gross so you end up bathing daily.  And a bathtime at night is conducive to helping with sleep.  All good reasons…but as kids get older?  If they look and smell clean, let it go.)
  6. You are going to be the primary influence on your kid – on their morals, their outlook on life, on how they view the world.  If someone else in your kid’s life doesn’t exactly match how you roll…it’s okay.  Your kid can still have time with, have a relationship with that person.  You’ve got this.
  7. The parent makes the weather in the house.  How you react to things – to mistakes, to thwarted plans, to rainy days, to running late, to when your kid messes up, or throws up all over you…how you react sets the tone for the whole day, the whole house, your baby’s whole world.  Breathe first.  Take care.  You make the weather.
  8. It is more important to be a good observer of your baby than to know all the facts and “should’s” and details of child development.  Speaking as someone who parented a baby who matched up with *none* of the milestones or sensory reactions of a typical baby…my knowing him, watching him, grokking him was so much more important than my knowing the “right” thing.  If something goes wrong – physical health, developmental delays – you knowing your baby will help the experts SO MUCH.  Watch.  Learn.  Be with them.  Be the expert in your kid.
  9. Ask for help, early and often.  Call the on-call nurse.  Rally your family and friends when you need them.  Related to 10.
  10. Have a village.  You cannot do this alone.  Even if you can for a short time with everything going fine, there will be a time when you cannot.  Deliberately build a village of people you know and trust who also know and love your baby.  Even if you don’t need a sitter right then, have one and be building that relationship for when you do – even if all you do is go out for coffee for 40 minutes and come back home.  So worth it to have that village when you need it.  And you will.

 

Okay, take it with a grain of salt – my parenting journey has been very specific to autism and being atypical.  But…this is what I want to share with the new parents I love.