Archive for the ‘Elliot’ Category

Deciding to Have a Second Baby

I wanted to be a mother because I felt like a child would make me the best possible version of myself.

The decision to have a second seemed much more academic, and we couldn’t get off the fence for a long time. Then, as often is true, emotional events swept all logic off the table. I found myself facing down a devastating family event without the support of a sibling. Damon was an absolute hero, but he could only walk up to the periphery. He couldn’t be fully in it with me. It wasn’t his family.

We couldn’t tolerate the thought of Alden in that position, and so the decision was made.

When Alden was an only child everything about our relationship felt unique, special, amazing. It wasn’t being close to A baby, it was being close to THIS baby. I knew how fast he breathed, how much he blinked. I could count the flecks of yellow in his iris. I didn’t want anyone to come between us.

I don’t know what I’m missing, but I do know what I got. Everything that is writ large about motherhood for me is the same with both boys; but the intricate, tiny details are specific to each kid. I can have eloquent, silent conversations with each of them, and that shows me that exquisite connection can be had with more than one child.

I now see that having a brother can help the boys be the best possible versions of themselves, too. I will never know who I would be as a sister, but they at least have the opportunity to be awesome brothers.

Which is not to say they always take advantage of that opportunity. We just returned from a vacation that left me wondering if anyone would notice two more children added to It’s a Small World. Which brings me to the part of having two that I did not adequately anticipate. Having two is so much harder than having one. It’s going from having one small, charming sidekick to having fifteen rabid monkeys living in your house. Or so it often feels. The competition. The fighting. Think two little kids can’t find a difference between two identical Bone Shaker monster truck toys? Think again. “He’s got it” is enough of a reason to prefer the other one.

I would guess that a one-child household has a lot less headbutting.

Still. When I ask Alden whether he wants Elliot in his preschool class he always insists that his brother stay with him. “He’s my friend.” They may slap fight until I want to go into the Witness Protection Program, but heaven help the person who threatens Elli in front of Alden, and that goes for the nurse who is trying to get a vaccine into Elliot’s fat thigh. Bet she didn’t see that waist-level attack coming. Any time Elliot gets loved on, his first questions is “Alden’s turn?” and he never had two mini marshmallows he wasn’t willing to split.


Goodbye to the Baby

Pre-Alden, when I just could not get pregnant, I wasn’t sure what I’d make of motherhood. I knew I wanted to do it. I knew I would work hard to do it well. I believed that, overall, it would be worth it to me. I wanted a baby. I couldn’t get pregnant. We tried to adopt. That failed. I went back to trying to get pregnant. It hurt, but I don’t think it’s the rosy mists of time causing me to minimize that when I say that I don’t think I suffered as badly as some women do. For me (for me!) adoption was a fine solution and so, some day, some way, I could be a mother.

I had a clear-eyed view that not all mother/child bonds erupt with ferocious love the minute the baby makes the scene. I said we’d just see how it goes. I asked Damon to be mindful for signs of post-partum depression. I was eager, but not ecstatic.

Then John Alden arrived and I was every cliche of maternal joy. I would stare at him, fascinated, not counting the time. I laid in the hospital bed with him that first night, and I could feel the world turning. Struggling to describe it, I could only say that he rearranged my atoms and made me into something new.

I flipping love having a baby. I love having one around. I love actually, physically having one. (I got off so, so easy — very talented pelvis.) I would walk barefoot over glass to experience those first 30 seconds of my babies’ arrival into the world — over and over.

Fortune smiled and we had Elliot. The peerless, beautiful experience I had with Alden… totally matched. He came into the world serenely, joyfully and I was so happy that I might have collapsed on myself like a star burning out.

I am so fortunate.

I could, theoretically, have another baby. I’m 40, though. Still so sad from losing my father (and my stepdad before him), I am acutely sensitive to protecting the time my children have to be mothered. Also, if I can be mundane for a minute: I don’t like being pregnant, I don’t think my body would recover very well, the demands may tip me beyond the ability to do my job (which pays our mortgage) well, I have been nursing now for more than four years and am not eager to sign up for a multi-year extention, I like having at least a tiny bit of money, I don’t want to buy a minivan, what if I don’t have a girl, what if I have a girl?

So. I think I am finished.

I never saw it coming that grieving this would be so much harder for me than facing the idea of never having a baby in the first place.

As Per Usual

Speech Therapy, Twice Weekly

I’ve asked myself, considering, if we really need to be going to speech therapy two times a week. It takes a hunk out of my work week, forcing me to work more at night to catch up. We schedule appointments pretty early to minimize the impact on my schedule, but that means we have to haul Elliot (and sometimes Alden) up and out. It’s kind of a long drive, in the opposite direction of my office.¬†Our in-home teacher comes once a week, sometimes upsetting the nap apple cart and leaving us with a cranky baby for the rest of the evening. Elliot’s on track developmentally, which is what I’ve said I want all along. So why will we keep going?

This is why.

Good now doesn’t mean good always. I don’t feel ready to let go of the help. I hope I’ll know when, but I’m sure it’s not now.

Elliot In Speech Therapy




Imagine that I am whispering. If it wouldn’t be annoying I would type this in a teeny font.

Elliot is talking.

Actually, let me say this… ELLIOT IS TALKING! That’s right, I went all caps lock.

Still, I am afraid of saying too much too soon. If you can think of anyone for whom hubris worked out be sure to let me know.

For so long it was a whole lot of not much. Then suddenly it was “school bus” and “walrus” and “palm tree.” It was as if he got his teeth into a simple sentence or two and was thrilled by the effects of his communication. Now he can identify all the letters in the alphabet and the sounds they make. Now he can say the names of all the Pixar Cars.

His speech therapist told me how worried they were when they met him. She felt he was likely autistic. He scored below the first percentile on expressive language. I didn’t even know that was possible. I spent weeks researching. A guy on a plane told me about a special school in Atlanta, just for boys with language problems. I took notes.

Now, I don’t know what to think. His speech is still hard to understand. His therapist wants to keep him. It’s obviously helping and he loves going. That’s an easy decision.

She says the average 2-year-old has about 200 words. Elliot has more than that now. Can you believe it? Because I cannot. I swear they all came in a rush… 5, 10, 15 new words a day.

All I’ve wanted is for him to catch up to where he should be. I know that some people (who love us and are awesome) will celebrate that he appears to be “normal” now. I think it’s too soon to draw conclusions. And Elliot has always been as normal as he needs to be. I’m not any happier with him now. But happy for him? My heart sings.