Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pregnancy Dreams

I'm officially 27 weeks along in my pregnancy, according to my LMP (last menstrual period) and the ultrasounds I've had that measure the baby. Even though this is my second child, a few things have taken me by surprise - either things I forgot or things that just didn't happen the first time around. I think pregnancy dreams happened the first time, it's just that I don't remember. Well, I've been having a lot of them lately. They are all bizarre in their own way. Contrary to what the baby books tell me, I've not had any sex dreams, sadly. Those would be much more enjoyable than what I've been dreaming about. So far, I've dreamed about Alec Baldwin trying to kill me. If you doubt his ability in this area, just refer to the movie "The Cooler". He was a badass in that. But that's not as disturbing as the dreams I've had this week. They all involve me messing up with caring for my baby. The other night, I dreamed that I had the baby and we brought him home. For the first week, I forgot to feed him. I couldn't figure out why he wasn't gaining weight and why he was fussy all the time. In last night's dream, I was just generally inept as a mother. I could not figure out how to nurse my baby, I couldn't put a diaper on the right way, his bedding and clothing were filthy because I didn't do laundry.

All of these dreams must mean something, except for the one with Alec Baldwin. The thing is, I've been reading so many resources with this baby than I did with K. I never read anything with him and he turned out okay. That's not to say that I wouldn't do some things differently if I could. Maybe I have a certain amount of guilt about that - that I was not as prepared as I should have been when I had K. The books I've been reading I've actually learned things from - things I never knew before. Things I should have known before. So I guess I'll keep having these dreams until I let go of the things I can't go back and change.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why I Do What I Do

Yesterday was one of those days that reminded me why I do the work I do. I was working with my first little kiddo, who's almost 2 years old. A little history on him is that I've been working for the better part of a year on just getting him to initiate intentional communication - ANYTHING intentional. He has been diagnosed with Autism, which is the youngest child I've ever worked with to have been diagnosed with it. During therapy, I have modeled the sign for "more" (requesting is usually a good place to start) and given this little boy hand-over-hand assistance for signing more about a gazillion times. I've taught him other things as well, which he has been learning. In the beginning, he wouldn't even tolerate me touching his hands, then he slowly would let me help him, then, within the past couple of months, he got to the point where he would reach for my hands so that I could help him. At that point, I figured he knew what I expected out of him, but just was being over-reliant on my help. Around that time, another parent of a child I work with gave me an excerpt from the book "Overcoming Autism". The authors are very knowledgeable and work with children on the spectrum. They give very practical advice on how to teach a child to communicate. One of the things they mentioned was that a nonverbal child will go through a routine of behaviors to indicate that they want something. If they get it, fine... no need to verbalize. If they don't get their needs met, they keep going down their list of behaviors to try to get a desired item or activity. So, in order to encourage a child to either vocalize or verbalize, you have the desired item, model the verbalization that you want to teach the child, and let him/her go through the repertoire of behaviors, never giving in until they produce the modeled verbalization. This approach, while it seems mean to some, made sense to me. After all, what child is going to expend more effort than necessary in order to get what they want? For that matter, what logical and reasonable adult will?

I was having such a hard time with this one boy that I thought "what the hell, I'll give it a shot". This was three weeks ago. His repertoire of behavior was to reach for the item he wanted. When I held it just out of his reach and modeled what I wanted him to say, he would sit back. Then he'd reach for it again. When I wouldn't give it to him, he'd begin to whine. He reached for the item again, and his whines turned into full out crying (with real tears and everything). Still, I did not give him what he wanted, but continued to provide models of what I wanted him to say. At times, the crying episodes would last as long as a half hour, at which point it was difficult to calm him. Each week, we went through this routine. Sometimes, I was not prepared and he would simply walk away from me to avoid the pain. Most of the times, I either blockaded him in a corner or put him in his high chair so that he could not escape. I was just beginning to question my decision to keep up with this approach when we had a breakthrough yesterday. I read a book to him and was having him point to pictures in the book. When we got all done with the book, I took it away from him, but held it in front of him to see what he would do, then asked "what do you want?". He reached for the front of the book and tapped it with his fingers, and I still held onto it. I repeated my question - "what do you want?". He looked straight at me, made the sign for "more" and said "mmm" (which is what I had modeled for him). I looked around as if to check if anyone else saw this miracle! Then my heart proceeded to do flip-flops in my chest, and I had to choke back the urge to cry. We've been working on this so long and I've tortured this poor boy for 3 weeks! Finally.... intentional communication AND a vocalization! This was a huge reminder for me of why I do what I do.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Major Milestone

It was my son's first day of high school today. I had to work today, but I thought about him and found myself distracted. Yesterday, he was less than enthusiastic to be returning to school. It about killed me to wait for him to get home today to call him. Our phone conversation a bit ago went something like this:

Me: Well......?
K: Yeah?
Me: How did it go today?
K: Pretty easy (upbeat tone to his voice)
Me: You realize it's not going to stay easy (ever the realist)
K: Yeah (voice slightly less upbeat)
Me: Did you get your locker open? Do you have to share a locker or do you get your own?
K: We get our own, but I didn't open it today. I'll open it tomorrow.
Me: What did you have for lunch?
K: I didn't eat lunch - I didn't feel hungry.
Me: WHAT?!? You need to eat lunch - it's not good for you to skip meals. Promise me that you'll eat lunch tomorrow.
K: Don't worry mom. (notice the lack of a promise...)
Me: How about your teachers?
K: My health teacher must lift weights. I should stay on her good side.
Me: I don't think teachers are allowed to rough students up, so you should be okay. What about your other teachers? How was Spanish? Did you learn any words today?
K: No, but I picked out my fake name - Jesus. I picked Jesus because of Taladega Nights. You know, where he says "or as our neighbors to the south call you "Jesus"". My friend picked Fabio.
Me: (finally remembering the prayer scene in Taladega Nights) I like Jesus better than Fabio - good choice.
K: I'm pretty lucky because I sit by my friends in all my classes.
Me: Did you see any cute girls?
K: No.
Me: You mean you're at high school and there are no cute girls? There should be plenty!
K: Well, yeah....
Me: Anything else on your mind?
K: Nope.
Me: If you need any help with homework, you'll call me, right?
K: Yeah
Me: Love you
K: Yeah, I love you too.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jellybean's Baby Quilt

This is the first baby project I've actually made for our little guy. I found myself quite motivated to get this done in a timely manner, and I realized how cute it would be once I started piecing it all together.

This closeup shot gives you some idea of all the clipping that's involved in making this quilt. At first, I thought the time-consuming part was cutting all the squares, but after I finished sewing it all together, I realized the clipping is the time consuming (and very messy!) part. There are 11 squares in each row, and 11 rows in the blanket. You clip each seam on each square at 1/4" intervals so that they will look "raggy" after going through the washer and dryer.

This is the finished product. I have learned to go to the laundromat to wash the quilt for the first time because there is fuzz everywhere. Also, we have a front-loader at home and it doesn't do the same job that a regular washing machine does with regards to making the fabric edges fray.

Today at the laundromat was especially interesting. I was acutely aware that, out of 20 people in the place, I was the only white girl - the rest were actually Hispanic men. I could understand bits and pieces of what people were saying, but not enough to pay much attention. When I was waiting for the quilt in the dryer, this Asian lady stormed in through the front door, proceeded towards the back door, threw her keys on the ground and began stomping up and down and yelling her head off. Then, she stopped and headed back out the front door. You could have heard a pin drop in that room if not for the laundry machines. Everyone looked at each other, and, as soon as the woman left the building, the men smirked and began talking rapidly in Spanish. I don't have to know the language to figure out what they must have been saying.

Now that my baby quilt adventure is over, I'm quite tired and will go take my nap while I still have the luxury of sleeping.