Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Perfect Storm

We have a lot going on right now. I'm almost done with a huge experiment at school, hopefully the last big one that I'll need to do for my dissertation, and I'm almost ready to start analyzing data and writing up results. I'm half-heartedly looking for a post-graduation job, which I should really be doing whole-heartedly but, um, I'm not. S just had a project canceled at work, followed by a big reorganization, so his work life is in chaos. And in less than six weeks, S's entire extended family (~20 people) are descending on our house from out-of-state for an entire week of Thanksgiving merriment. Thanksgiving is a HUGE deal in S's family, and hosting the festivities is such a big job that they rotate it around from year to year. We've only hosted once before, and it's our turn again. Hosting Thanksgiving involves planning all meals and entertainment (including several prepared games, shows, and craft projects) for every day of the week. And the meals are all elaborate productions involving many traditional American, Hawaiian, and Japanese dishes. Last time we hosted, I started all the planning and prep work in early October, but this year I've done nada, nothing, zip so far. Which has me a little bit panicky.

Normally, finishing a dissertation and looking for a job and planning a week-long holiday celebration for twenty in-laws would be plenty to both fill my time and stress me out. But instead, they're all taking a back seat to LL and this I am Toddler, hear me roar! clingy temperamental sleep-is-for-babies-who-haven't-yet-turned-one "thing" he's going through.

We seem to be facing a perfect storm of circumstances for LL over the past month. There have been a lot of disruptions and new things for him to deal with all at once, starting with the daycare change. You may remember that a month ago, Natasha's mother was in a bad car accident, and Natasha flew home to be with her. Sadly, her mother never awoke from her persistent coma, and has passed away. Natasha has had a devastating several months, after losing her father back in February. She is now back, she reopened her daycare this week, and she seems relieved to be back with her children. LL is definitely thrilled to be back with her and all his daycare friends after more than a month of a rotation of new care providers.

In addition to all of the daycare changes, LL also reacted poorly to his 12-month shots. And his growing brain has clearly made a bunch of new connections all of a sudden, as he has suddenly figured out how to climb, how to better manipulate small objects, and how to participate in conversations. (He only knows a few comprehensible words, but that doesn't stop him from babbling nonstop. I ask him a question, and he responds with entire paragraphs before pausing and looking expectantly at me, waiting for my response before continuing the conversation. He totally gets the give-and-take of verbal interactions. All he's missing is the speak-an-understandable-language part.) He's also gone through an amazing growth spurt -- tables that he could stand underneath just a week ago are now a source of frustration, since he stands up and smacks his head on the underside. He's also mid-transition between two naps and one. (Good lord, nap transitions are a pain in the butt!) And he sprouted at least three more teeth this week (two incisors and a molar on the bottom, possibly more on the top but he won't let me check).

Any one of these factors (daycare changes, brain development, growth, teeth, vaccines, dropping naps) would individually be enough to disrupt him a bit, but all at the same time? He's a clingy, sleepless mess. He seems to want to be independent yet simultaneously attached to me, and we haven't quite figured out how to achieve that. He crawls to me and begs to be picked up, but doesn't actually want to be in my arms. When I return him to the ground, he throws a temper tantrum. If I sit on the floor with him, he does not want to be in my lap, yet he claws at my shirt as if he wants to be held. When he's in this mood, the only thing that works is for me to lie down in the middle of his play area and let him crawl back and forth over me, which he finds endlessly amusing. (He also loves being tickled and he loves being chased and he loves chasing me, but he has to already be happy before engaging in any of those activities.)

He's waking up at least once almost every night. Usually he wants to be held for a little while (and to have a middle-of-the-night chat -- like I said: nonstop babbling) but two nights so far, it's been night terrors, which are horrible to deal with. (For the uninitiated: night terrors are when children start screaming and thrashing around in the middle of the night. They're not awake, but it looks like they are. They don't react to your presence and usually cannot be calmed down no matter what you do. And apparently, children are totally unaware that it's happening.) Some night terrors are just random, but apparently all those disruptions mentioned above can trigger them in toddlers. We're hoping that they'll go away soon, as things start to settle down. And we absolutely need to get him sleeping through the night again, because S and I are walking around like zombies these days. (We were both sick last week, too. Sleep deprivation probably made us easy targets.) S is lobbying for some cry-it-out experimentation, but I'm hesitant to do it while LL is in a separation anxiety phase.

So, um, that's what's going on in our house right now. Both the dissertation stuff and the job stuff probably deserve their own posts. There's also starting to be this lingering second-child question, which seems like a ridiculous thing to even bring up in light of everything else, but it's there nonetheless.


  1. Okay! (Jen claps her hands together and then rubs them.) What do you want me to do towards this Thanksgiving thing? I think I still have my menu plan from two years ago along with my plan of when to do stuff. Or a craft? I'm afraid I cannot put on a show, I have no talent.

    I hope stuff with LL settles down. Maybe the return to daycare normalcy will help soon?

  2. You're pretty busy rigth now...I can see how that big thanksgiving week would throw quite a wrench into things...especially with the stuff going on with your LL right now. Good luck with everything!

  3. That sounds way to familiar. Night terrors are no fun, and the only thing we've been able to do is wake Jillian up entirely which isn't exactly a great solution either. This is not a fun stage.

  4. Wow, that is a LOT for all of you to handle. I hope LL outgrows this phase quickly, it will make all the other stuff (dissertation, job search, Thanksgiving) a lot more manageable.

  5. Wow, Nicky, that is a lot going on....I know you can manage...but I'll be thinking of you Thanksgiving weekend...:) Good luck.


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