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Archive for April, 2011

May and her parents spent the day of the Royal Wedding at IKEA. I did mean to send an update, an American-behind-the-scenes/lone reporter-on-the-prowl kind of thing, but I there wasn’t any internet access at IKEA. Instead, I tested out new sofas for my new flat using my new butt (it’s not only your tummy that expands in pregnancy…)

The day started normally enough. My husband and I were up early taking care of our own little princess. BUT, not as early as usual since, because I live in Britain, I had the day off work! Woohoo!

While our resident monarch, May, screamed for her bottle, and Britain’s elite took to the silver screen in all their finery, my husband and I slummed around in our PJs. We spent the morning listening to the reports that were on every station. And by every station, I mean every station. I had no idea how major an event this was for Britain.

Not that I heard much of it over my husband’s repeated requests that “the f@?king royals f@?k right off.”

We aren’t exactly Royalists in our household, being “earn-your-keep” kind of people. We believe a heartfelt cause is not a job. We also believe, no matter who you are, you don’t need several estates scattered across the country that you’ve never paid for. Especially, when the sale of one could pay to re-establish disability funding for every child in the country.

After amusing myself for a couple of hours egging my husband on, I happened to glance outside the window. “Do you know there is no one outside?” I asked him.

“They are all in watching this on the telly,” he grunted back.

“There are no people. No cars. No one is walking their dog.” Then, like I’d been struck with the blunt end of a royal sceptre, it hit me: “We should go to IKEA! No one will be at IKEA!” And, we were off!

It was amazing. There was no one there even though the entire country had the day off. And, this morning, the BBC reported on my great idea! (Though they didn’t interview May or I personally – don’t get excited, Mom.)

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Because of our move, you’ve heard much less from us over the last week or so. Internet connection resumes on Wednesday (fingers x).

You can now follow Mama Lewis on BabyCenter, where I will be writing about my pregnancy, or Twitter!

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May celebrated her birthday this year by moving into a brand new flat! Actually, that is a bit of a lie. May celebrated her birthday with her mama, while her daddy moved everything into the new flat.

Photos of the new abode to come (and incidentally, I’m posting this the day before, as on the day my connection to the internet ends! GASP! How did people communicate pre-internet?)

And now (drum roll please!)  in keeping with previous birthday posts: Let’s celebrate!

May when you were born, here is what the doctors definitely knew you would be able to do:

- pee

- breathe

At two years old you can:

- drink from a cup

- eat some chunky food

- delight when Mama and Daddy repeat your sounds

- jump (bouncing taken to a whole other level)

- stand up nice and tall with little support (see photo above)

- wear shoes

- tell us you want tickles

- belly laugh until you lose your breath

- stretch your arms over your head

- request a drink (I make that sound so polite. Miss May makes her request by screaming until her demands are met.)

- sit comfortably in a Bumbo chair without falling forward

- rename your blog…

What’s that May? You want to rename your blog? Oh, I see… you aren’t a baby anymore. Well, I don’t think Mama Lewis and the Amazing Adventures of the Half-Brained Toddler has the same lovely sounding alliteration, so you may have to put up with it for a bit longer.

Happy Birthday May! We love you!

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You can now follow Mama Lewis on BabyCenter, where I will be writing about my pregnancy, or Twitter!

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I would like to officially call my daughter a loser.

After two weeks of trial by fire, and a lot of help from Nana, May is now sleeping through the night! We are victors in The Sleep Experiment!

The system is not perfect. She wakes from time to time – she gets stuck and needs readjusting, or has a seizure – but, the important thing is she doesn’t stay awake. Moreover, she doesn’t stay awake screaming for hours on end.

Because, if you recall, that was the state of affairs just over two weeks ago. May had been ill for almost a month, cuddling in bed with Mama and Daddy and she did not want to go back to her crib. She is a pretty determined young lady when she wants to be.

It is easy for me to get caught up in the idea that because May is brain-damaged she can not do normal things, like sleep through the night. But, a combination of desperation and sleep deprivation will make a mama try anything.

Here’s what I did:

- Established May wasn’t in pain when she woke screaming like someone was amputating her arm

- Gave her a bottle to calm her initially, but not later when it was clear she wasn’t hungry

- Once she calmed down, I put her back awake

- Or, if she wouldn’t calm down, I put her back screaming

- Then, I’d leave her for five minutes before checking on her

- If she was still screaming, I’d pick her up and give her a cuddle, but then back she would go

- If she had a seizure, or anything else that wasn’t just a temper tantrum, I’d give her all the time she needed

Does that sound easy? Try doing it for days and nights on end without hallucinating.

But, if you succeed, let me tell you… Sleep is a wonderful thing. It feels GOOD.

May is benefiting too. She is eating better. She is happier. She is startling less. She laughs all the time. Belly laughs of the kind that make a little pee come out (it’s okay, she’s in diapers).

Yes, all is well here. And long may it continue!

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Today, my husband pointed out that we are four years into the recession in Britain. “There will probably be four more,” he said, grimly.

“And, with the budget cuts the government has made, probably even longer than that,” I said, equally as grim.

It is just such conversations, casually breached in the comfort of my mother-in-law’s front room, that set me a bit on edge today. As a result, I’ve decided to riddle this post with GOOD NEWS. Here goes:

1. A couple of months ago, my students and I asked for contributions towards Small Steps School for Parents. May attends this lovely, little school where she plays games, listens to songs and rubs her hands and face in chocolate pudding – all in the name of stimulation and improvement.

To raise money, my students learned a Bollywood dance that they performed to an audience of fellow students. They gave assembies to their Year Groups about Small Steps and also raised money through a cake sale.

In total, the girls raised £324.74! (about $500)

2. My husband, also a writer, has a blog on WWI poetry called Move Him Into The Sun that has seen a massive gain in readership in the six short months it has been up. Of course, I am biased, but he is an incredible writer and if you are at all interested in the subject, you will find it as stimulating as May finds Small Steps.

Congratulations Gareth!

3. My mother is a genius. Check out the new bib that she bought for my daughter.

I refused to believe that May would tolerate such a presence on her arms, but again, I was proved wrong. A lesson that I really should listen to my mother. (She will be so pleased. It only took me 38 years to learn that.)

Congratulations Grandma Bar!

How about you? Got any good news?

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You can now follow Mama Lewis on BabyCenter, where I will be writing about my pregnancy, or Twitter!

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Apologies. I am officially obsessed with sleep. Last night, at least I had some, but only at the expense of my husband’s. For May, 3 a.m and 5 a.m. is officially Party Time. And, only an hour later, at 6 a.m.,  she was up – this time with yours truly – and up for good.

The calm before the party

Here’s a question: Does May actually require sleep? Because she barely naps either. Even with three nights in a row of partying, May still only took one or two naps each day, and they only lasted 30 minutes.

In contrast, her parents came home from their jobs today and, while May was still at nursery, we slept for two hours. We broke. She didn’t.

Score: May 7 – Parents 1

May gets 7 points because I think that is how many nights this contest has lasted. But, to be honest, I’ve lost track of how many days it has been.

I gave us one point, because we deserve something for convincing May not to scream the entire night through. She may be awake, but at least she is tolerable. Surely, that is an improvement?

Here are some more questions (feel free to pipe up with some answers):

- Is this a cognitive issue whereby May is unable to learn that the rules have changed and she will not be cuddled to sleep?

- As such, will it just take longer than a “normal” baby?

- Is May’s medicine keeping her up? (one of her seizure meds causes sleep deprivation in adults)

- Is May hungry? (She is still putting on the weight she lost when she was sick and seems to crave bottles at night – something she hasn’t done for about a year.)

*UPDATED*

May slept through the night last night! May 7 – Parents 2!!!

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You can now follow Mama Lewis on BabyCenter, where I will be writing about my pregnancy, or Twitter!

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What night is it? I can’t remember, I’m too tired.

I can’t tell you whether the Sleep Experiment is working. I have no idea. May isn’t sleeping through the night, that’s for sure. The fact that I’m writing this at 4 a.m. is proof enough of that.

May still wakes up three or four times a night. Reasons? Seizures. Thirst. Dirty diaper. Mainly, after wriggling around in her sleep, she wedges herself between the sides of the bed. We readjust her and she falls back asleep.

Waking up three or four times a night is not good. Earlier this week, I was so exhausted that every time I rose from bed, I pitched to the side like I was on a ship. This continued throughout the entire day until I came home from work and slept for three hours. Pregnancy and exhaustion are not easy bedfellows.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel we are making some progress. May is less distraught when she wakes up and faster back to bed. Tonight is the longest I’ve been up with her since the first night, at over an hour. The difference being, the last time she screamed straight for that hour, whereas this time, she seems more settled, even if she isn’t asleep.

But, the thing is… she isn’t asleep.

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Ugh. I want to be kind here. I know people mean well.

But, I’m sick of being patronized. I’m sick of people coming into my home and instructing me on how to do things that have nothing to do with May or, are simply, none of their business.

Yesterday, two social workers came to my flat to check May’s special chair. They made all kinds of adjustments to it that were very helpful. But, along the way, they made a multitude of other, unsolicited, suggestions.

This was their first visit. They knew nothing about May. They even tried to get her attention visually and when May didn’t respond, one said those famous last words that made me immediately lose all respect for her, “Ah, bless.”

“Ah, bless,” is just another way of saying, “Oh, you poor little girl who can’t…” What they should have been saying is, “Oh, wait! That’s right! May can’t see. Maybe waving my hands from across the room won’t get the attention of an almost blind child.” Except, they would have had to read her file to learn that bit of information.

Then, while adjusting May’s chair, one of them had the audacity to suggest, “You need to make sure you clean this chair more frequently.” I looked at the chair. I could not see a spec of food on it. Afterwards, I noticed a drip of blueberry yogurt from the day before had dribbled down one of the bars in the back.

Now, I ask you, parents of children under-3, disabled or not, how clean are your high chairs? If there is not a dribble or splatter of some kind, lodged somewhere on your chair, you are a better parent, or at least a cleaner parent, than I.

The difference being, complete strangers don’t come into your home and tell you to clean it more.

Later, I pointed out to them that I was moving* because I thought they may need our new address. “To a ground floor flat?” she assumed (that’s first floor to any Americans, and first is second floor).

When I said, “No, a first floor flat,” the two social workers exchanged knowing glances and I found myself sputtering excuses to them about how difficult it was to find a flat and how restricted our search was and how long we’d been searching…

Why am I making excuses to two total strangers about where I choose to live?

Finally, and this is a request to anyone working with my family, my husband is a good father. A very good father who is as capable of looking after my daughter as I am. When he comes home from work and finds you in his flat, holding his daughter and you are a complete stranger to him, you might try to introduce yourself to him.

What these two social workers did, which is what almost every other therapist and doctor and care worker does, is ignore him. They actually carried on a conversation with each other, barely glanced at him and when he spoke they ignored him completely. He is sick of it  and so am I.

I am only grateful that May is older now. When she first came home from the hospital, I had three or more of these visits a week, as opposed to three a month. Good riddance.

*Yes, you read correctly. After three months of searching, we found a new flat. I’ll post on that later.

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You can now follow Mama Lewis on BabyCenter, where I will be writing about my pregnancy, or Twitter!

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