Where have I been lately? Nowhere special. I'm at a low energy point, probably due to the continuing dreariness of winter. I hate winter. I'm sick of the cold. I'm bored with my winter wardrobe. I'm boycotting the outdoors until the sun shines and I can see the grass. I haven't felt like exercising and haven't felt like getting out much. Instead I've been reading...A LOT. I discovered Goodreads soon after Christmas and OHMYGOD, it's like I've found my tribe. Hello people who love books more than movies, more than social interaction, more than food! I've read 30+ books over the last couple of months and I go nowhere without my Kindle. Sometimes during the day when I'm home with Kaia, I'll follow her around, Kindle in hand, waiting until she gets distracted playing on her own for 3 minutes and in that time I'll try to read a few more pages. I know, I'm a book junkie. "What's that Kaia? Sorry baby...mommy missed that totally awesome amazing thing you just did because I was reading." Mother of the year award over here for sure.
So how is Kaia, you ask?
She's walking!!! (Take that Breus mole, pPROM, prematurity and hip dysplasia!!!)
She finally started to walk at the beginning of February just before she was 19 months actual (17 months corrected). Just as suspected she would, she did it first at Grandma's house while Brian and I weren't there. Kaia's stubborn. VERY stubborn, especially with us. Any time we would try to encourage (or coax, trick, or bribe) her into walking, she would freeze up, flail around on the floor and cry, so I knew it was going to take someone who she's generally more agreeable with (such as the grandparents) to get her walking. That first day she took about 6 steps total unassisted and since then she's been hanging on to things less and less, and becoming more and more adventurous. She still walks like she's either a zombie, or very drunk, but she can bend down to pick something up without falling and has walked a bit outside while wearing her winter boots. Her orthopedic surgeon who we visited last week was happy with her hip development (looks good on x-ray!) and pleased to see she was walking, so if he's happy, I'm happy. It often amazes me when I'm distracted and see her out of the corner of my eye and think "who is that? Oh wait, that's Kaia WALKING!" It's awesome to see her become a bit more independent.
She's got a few more words, but not as many as I thought she would by now. According to her pediatrician she is suppose to have 15-20 words at 18 months which is about where she's at (unless you count animal noises as words, then she's got double that). However, she still grunts, moans and whines a lot and points to whatever it is she wants. She understands a ton, and can point to pictures in books of things I didn't know she knew, but she doesn't like to use her words as often. I'm finding this kind of baffling. I talk to her ALL THE TIME. I repeat things a million times a day. I pause when I'm speaking in order for her to answer. I'm doing all the things you're suppose to in order to get your kid to talk, and we're still stuck on whining more than I would like. I'm not concerned, per say...just a bit frustrated because I would love to know what she is thinking and you can only tell so much by "uh uh UH!!!". It's also hard not to compare your kid to others. According to my mother, I was talking full sentences by the time I was 18 months, and one of my friend's kids is practically a savant when it came to acquiring language (she was picking out letters correctly by the time she was 17 months), so the fact that Kaia's yet to (understandably) string two words together feels like we're behind.
In order to have a record somewhere (and where else is the best place but posted publicly on the internet?), here are the words she's (somewhat) mastered:
-Up (this is far and away her clearest word, usually uttered standing at my feet with her arms stretched)
-No (always said in a sing-song voice "no-no-no" while shaking her finger)
-Lynx (our cat, but it comes out -ynx)
-Uh-oh (usually said when she purposely drops something off her highchair tray)
-Shoe and Boots (both of these I would only be able to make out if she had her shoe or boots in her hands as they are very vowel sounding "ooe" and "oooots". This goes for "Snow" too...'noooowww').
-Tickle (always repeated "tickle-tickle-tickle" while she tries to tickle our arms or under our chin).
-Various animal noises including howling "oooooo" for a wolf.
I'm always surprised she doesn't have a word for her bottle and/or sippy-cup (there is much pointing and whining and crying if she's thirsty). Nor does she ever ASK for milk or water. Don't kids usually have a word for that ('wawa' anyone?) A friend of mine's daughter is 3 and still uses her baby word for 'milk' which was 'white'. I'm not sure how much clearer I can emphasis the words "WA-TER" and "Mmmm-ILK". We'll keep trying though.
She does have a couple of "Kaia-isms" which aren't exactly words but I thought I'd record them here because damn are they ever cute. The first is 'duba-duba-duba'. This was first uttered while she had her fingers together and we finally realized she wanted us to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider". Then somehow this same 'word' transformed into meaning "open" when she stood at the baby gate that prevents her from falling down the stairs. No idea how she made that leap. It's weird, but we understand what she means now, so I suppose it works. For 'yes' she kind of makes an 'uh-huh' noise but basically uses her whole body to agree. She kind of nods her head and bounces her torso and looks at you expectantly. You really know she means "YES!!! ABSOLUTELY!!!". I also LOVE how she says "I don't know". She throws her arms out to the sides in a palms up gesture and says "I don't know" in the same way Scooby-doo would say it where it basically sounds like a long cascading vowel sound with a "?" at the end. It's the cutest thing ever. Must remember to get this one on tape.
Kaia loves things that jingle (she's got ears like a bat for keys hidden in pockets or purses), things with
buttons (picks up anything that remotely resembles a phone and says
"Hi"). She can throw the craziest tantrums over nothing which include red face, tears and ear piercing screaming, but her mushy fishy lipped kisses totally melt your heart. She loves animals,
and screams with joy while standing at the window
watching the dogs run around in the park behind our house. Kaia eats
fairly well, and can use a fork, but often chooses not to since that
would ruin the tactile experience of eating. She has definite food likes and dislikes and will NOT be talked into eating anything she's not completely sure of (and will pull away and give you the "are you CRAZY?" look like you've just offered her booger or dirt to eat when it's a piece of potato). She also likes to share food and will gladly feed you a piece of whatever she's eating, but will throw anything on the floor she doesn't want (crusts of bread are a current 'will not eat'). She charms all the adults
in her life, including her grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitter. She gets called "good" by them a lot, which is lovely to hear about your
kid, but I'm pretty sure it means she saves all her "not so good"
moments for Brian and I. I suppose this isn't unexpected, and in my better moments I try to take it as a compliment. We all save our inner most selves (good and bad) for the people we trust the most, and this is Kaia's way of saying "I trust you to still love me and look after me, even when I'm not on my best behaviour". Thanks kid, I love you too.
When I really look at it objectively, Kaia pretty much falls into the category of 'average toddler'. She's average weight (24 lbs) , average height (81 cm) with an average sized head (47cm) for her corrected age of 18 months as measured today at the pediatricians. She fits into 18-24 month clothing. She sleeps 12 hours at night with a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. She's hitting her milestones (roughly) on average, and was really only held back physically because of her cast. I have to remind myself at times that it's silly to get hung up over comparing the exact moment when she could sit up, crawl, walk and talk with others because less than two years ago I feared she wouldn't survive. Or if she did, that she would be plagued with handicaps resulting from her gestational and birth circumstances. The fact that she's so completely AVERAGE is a miracle in itself.
You don't often hear parents brag about it but here it is: Whoo hoo! My kid is AVERAGE!!! Hurray!!!!
Two women at work who had babies within weeks of when I had Kaia (but ya know, full term and without all the drama), have recently just had their second. Full term and healthy. The one who had a boy first, had a girl and vice versa for the other. Two kids each. One boy, one girl. Ta da! Perfect family. My sister-in-law is approaching twenty weeks as we speak, and when we found out about the pregnancy last month they were humming and hawing over whether to find out the sex this time at their 20 week scan (they didn't last time). I hope it's a girl for Kaia's sake since then at least if she never gets a (living) sibling she'll have one boy and one girl cousin. On the other hand it will be another family who has what I could have had.
Do other people wonder about this who've had an opposite gendered living child after the dead one? I think about it sometimes. What would it be like to have a boy? Growing up I honestly imagined myself having a girl, and I'm glad that one dream has been fulfilled...but when Aidan was born, I got attached to the idea of a little boy running around my house. I was so happy when Kaia was born alive that it didn't even occur to me to be concerned about what gender she was. But, I confess, in my dreams of having another child it's generally a little boy. I would be happy for a healthy baby and a normal pregnancy either way, but a boy would somehow restore the mom-son relationship that I lost when Aidan died.
I've missed him more lately. Some situations at work have been sad reminders, and one of the books I was reading ('love Anthony' by Lisa Genova) I had to put down for awhile because it's about a woman grieving a dead son. It was just too overwhelming.
Grieving his loss has become such a part of who I am that sometimes it catches me off guard at how sad I can still be, and how much some things still affect me. I wonder if that will subside in time too?
I miss you Aidan. I wish you were here, always.