Monday, May 19, 2008

Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
--Robert Louis Stevenson

I love this poem. What Stevenson does so well in his Child's Garden of Verses, is to put into words the everyday wonders and experiences of a child's life. My parents were never so callous as to make me go to bed while it was still light out (we stayed up till 9 or 10 ish most nights -- not like some of my cousins who were sent to bed at something like 6:00 and had constant battles with their parents over it), but I do remember wondering about how late the sun stayed out on summer evenings, and how dark it was on winter mornings at the bus stop.

We've been trying to figure out a good schedule for Elizabeth. I'd like her to be awake in the evenings when Daddy is home, but I'd also like her to be cheerful. Sometimes she naps for hours during the day, and sometimes she fights it even though she's obviously exhausted. The same can be said for her feedings. I'm trying to do things to encourage her to eat and sleep at the first sign of hunger and sleepiness, but it's not always easy.

Church, for instance is a big hassle. Since she has become super sensitive to distractions -- wanting to see and hear everything around her rather than eating or sleeping -- going to a big, fairly unfamiliar place, with lots of new people, and lots of noises, is just too much for her to take in. This week, even the mother's lounge was like grand central station. Every time she started to settle down, someone else came in to change a diaper. Then the other baby in the room finished eating, and the two of them just wanted to stare at each other. I'm thinking that I may give in and start taking a bottle again, since she can eat that while watching the other things around her.

She does like going on walks, and there, the constantly changing view and slight breeze seem to relax her. When she gets really wound up at home, we do have something she can do. A bath is also a good way to relax (for her, not me. Bathtime is hard work for the mamma). One thing that I think is interesting is that all the things I've been using to relax in the last year (music, TV, internet, etc) are essentially distractions to keep me from thinking the anxious thoughts. These distractions make Elizabeth anxious, and so I have to do away with them for the most part. On one hand it's good therapy to make me find internal ways of dealing with the stresses of life, but on the other hand, when I'm really tired and cranky and just want to collapse in front of the TV while she nurses off to sleep, it's frustrating that I can't.

On the positive side, some things are getting better. I haven't had a serious plug since I went on antibiotics for mastitis last Monday. I'm not sure whether bacteria could have been contributing to the problem, or if I'm doing a better job at regulating feeding and occasional pumping, or if my body finally got the message that it was producing too much and decided it was time to cut back. Whatever the reason, it's a huge relief, and I hope it continues.

Elizabeth's new tricks include sitting in a chair--a booster seat that we'll use instead of a high chair. The seat and its straps and tray support her well enough that she doesn't fall over all the time, but her neck and back muscles still have to work hard at keeping her head up since she hasn't figured out that sitting up straight let's the spine do the work. When she's in her chair, I put toys on her tray and she practices picking them up and dropping them. This is a pretty new skill since most of her toys so far have been hanging above her.

She has also started trying to be more mobile on her belly. If I place a toy just out of reach, she'll struggle and kick and wiggle and push until she gets to it. Of course, she's not very good at moving on her belly, and she needs her hands on the ground to push her chest up, so once she gets there, she kind of collapses in frustration on top of the toy. Once I can tell it has stopped being fun, I turn her over on her back and give her the toy to hold in her hands and put in her mouth as a reward for all her hard work. She doesn't seem much interested in learning to roll over by herself. She's done it on accident a few times, but it's not something that seems to occur to her when she's tired or frustrated on her belly.

Her talking is improving. She's showing a lot of emotion and is experimenting with different mouth and tongue positions when she talks, so she's getting a much wider variety of sounds. When she was sick last week after her immunizations, she did a lot of "blehhh...gehhh" noises to tell us that she was just plain miserable, but now that she's feeling better, they're getting more cheerful. I even think that I've noticed her saying "mamamama" on purpose when she wants my attention. I don't think that she's made the connection that I am Mama, but I do think that she notices that I say that word a lot while I'm narrating what I'm doing, and that I say it back to her when she says it.

Her last new trick this week is something that's very cute, and warms my heart when I see it, but I don't know if I ought to let it continue. She has started sucking her thumb. She's been sucking her fingers since before she was born, but this week she finally settled on her left thumb as the tastiest and most convenient appendage. She's even figured how to curl the rest of her fingers so she doesn't poke herself in the eye while she's sucking. It's so sweet to see her cuddle up with a blanket in the crook of her arm with a thumb in her mouth (any blanket will do so far--no favorites yet). At the same time, conventional wisdom seems to say that thumb sucking is a bad thing, and may be bad for her teeth as they grow in, and may be a hard habit to break if not nipped in the bud. I just don't know. My head says that it'd probably be best to stop her if I can, but my heart wants to let her have anything that will make her happy until it becomes something that makes her sad. Who knows, maybe she'll quit on her own before it becomes a "problem." Of course it's just as possible that she won't, and we'll have to paint her thumb with Dave's Insanity Sauce to keep it out of her mouth. Tough to know.


  1. Very sweet. It was so fun hearing about all the stuff she does now. I can hardly wait to see her again. Loved the pictures.

    Love, K

  2. Those are some really cute pictures on picasa Karen. I love her little smile in the first one, and the Pooh outfit is ADORABLE