WFMW: Getting Kids to Sleep Instead of Play

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This is my first time participating in Works for Me Wednesday, and it’s a good thing that I picked a backwards edition because I need HELP. My son goes to bed by 8p every night after a half hour bedtime routine. Generally speaking, though he doesn’t go to sleep until more like 10p or 11p. Once we’ve left the room, he’s up and playing. He comes out several times to “tell us important things,” and to visit the potty several times. This has been going on for over a year now and I just don’t know what to do. The problem is that I work at night, so I really REALLY need him to go to sleep/stay in his room/stop playing, but I don’t know how. He’s completely afraid of the dark, so we have a low level light on, which facilitates play, but I know he won’t ever sleep without it (and neither will anyone else).

So, what works for you to get kids to sleep at bedtime?


Katie Update

Quickie update. Talked briefly with her pediatrician who is convinced that this is nothing to worry about. Perfectly normal. Logical spot for screws to have been placed. If the areas seem to be getting more pronounced, I should call her surgeon on Monday. But even from last night to today, I can see that they’re a little less pronounced, so I’m not going to worry and let it ride for the moment.

However, I will be calling the neurosurgeon on Monday, anyway, because it dawned on me that I called a MONTH ago to schedule her follow up and they still haven’t called me back. GRRR.

Once we have that one scheduled, I have to schedule her pediatrician appointment and then her follow up eye appointment to check and see what’s going on with the strabismus that was identified last July. For a child who hates doctors with a fiery passion, she sure is going to see a lot of them.

Brief Katie Post

Just so people know, in the I know that some of y’all are following Katie on her journey thing. Apparently the swelling has gone down sufficiently so that we can now see some of the screws in her head. That or she has a problem. I don’t know which.

Since tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, I’m kind of betting I can’t raise a neurosurgeon or her reconstructive surgeon, but I’m going to give it a shot. We’ll see what happens.

I’ll report when I know something more.

Anyway, you know how on the Munsters the dad had those bolts coming out of his neck? Imagine that, somewhat less pronounced, at her temples.

I’m a bit freaked out.

I am not panicking. Bull shit. I am panicking. I mean, I know it’s not an emergency. Whatever it is clearly isn’t causing her pain or difficulties beyond the ones she’s already experiencing, so I need to be calm and rational and not rip anyone’s head off.

I can do this. I’m the grown up. I’ll just keep reminding myself of that.

Top Ten Gifts of Christmas

Even though three quarters of the human members of the household were sick for Christmas we had a really good day. There are a number of reasons for this, but I’m betting that getting to stay in pajamas and take naps whenever we wanted was a big part of it. Judicious use of Motrin probably didn’t hurt either. So, what were the ten best gifts this Christmas?


1) Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM DT Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Cameras

; This lens is probably my favorite gift. I need to work with it more when I’m not sick, but I love that it gives me far better portraits of my kids than I was getting with the regular shooting lens that I use. I’m hoping that it will work for the girls, too :).

2) LeapFrog Chat and Count Phone
Katie received this phone and has gotten hours of fun out of it so far. She seems to think it’s the greatest thing in the whole, wide world. She loves to push the buttons and listening to it make the noises.

3) Fisher Price Little People – Busy Day Home
She also received this house and, again, loves spending all of her time playing with it. I think these two presents, alone, would have made her Christmas and this is what we need to keep in mind in the future. Multiple presents and lots of presents aren’t necessary. I think we need to really work to limit the presents to three.

4) ThinkFun Tipover

Ben loves ALL ThinkFun games. He thinks they’re really cool and he really likes solving the puzzles. This one is a little different from his other games because it’s three dimensional and requires him to think in ways that I don’t think he’s tried before. But, we set it up for him once, he watched how the pieces could move and then he was off and running. He’s done the majority of the beginner cards already. I’m just praying they come up with more cards for this game before he burns through all of them.

5) ThinkFun Rush Hour
One of the best gifts we gave was ThinkFun’s Rush Hour to one of Ben and Katie’s friends. The kids love this game and with all the extension cards, it will keep them busy for a long, long time. My son is just starting to use this one — he had the Jr version, but he’s pretty much solved all the cards with that, so he’s moving up.

6) North American Bear Company Rosy Cheeks Baby Blonde Boy

One thing that Ben specifically asked for was a baby doll that was a boy, like him. Finding a boy baby doll turned out to be far more challenging than I would have thought. In large part because he wanted one that looked like Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Doll like his sister received. This doll is an excellent option for a little boy who wants to practice parenting on a stuffed baby. Frank has already become an important member of our household and been is very proud to show him off to people.

7) Getting sick. I know it sounds insane, but not having to run around on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day — or prep for guests who were coming here was strangely liberating. I don’t know that we would advocate getting sick as a good idea for next year, but it’s a good idea to remember that there’s more to the season than running all over the place.

8) Sam. My old dog is 11 3/4s. She’ll be twelve in March. At that point she will have passed her expected life span by two years. Could this have been her last Christmas? I don’t know. If it was, the fact that we were all together, she didn’t have to stress out at all, and she got to help unwrap a couple of presents? That pretty much defines her perfect holiday. It really does.

9) Wii Music
I’m telling you after hearing tales of all the people who received “gifts” of drums or other instruments, I cannot tell you how thankful I am that one very thoughtful friend got this for Ben instead. He has jammed with trumpets, saxaphones, and an electric guitar. He’s thrilled that he gets to try so many different instruments, and I’m thrilled that there’s an off switch. Talk about a perfect musical present. Yeah, I know, it’s not Rock Band and I do think that would be cool at some point, but for now, this is pitched at his level. The songs aren’t super annoying and he’s having a blast.

10) Katie. Though listed last, she is, without doubt, our best gift this holiday. She is healthy. Her head is healing well. Her scar is slowly disappearing as her hair grows in. She looks more like a baby and less like a patient. It’s wonderful. She’s a happy, healthy little girl. She’s a little behind, developmentally, at the moment, but it’s impossible to be worried because she has time to make up and skill deficits that she “gained” through the surgical process.

I know it’s a weird top ten, but it’s our top ten and our life :).

It’s Been One Year . . .

since my beautiful baby, Katie, was born. She’s still beautiful. Even sporting a haircut that would make a Marine (or a career Army guy) proud. She had a fun day today, I think. Ben sang her every version of the happy birthday song he knows (think, regular, Blue’s Clues version, Trout Fishing in America version, Imagination Movers version . . .at this point I’m thankful there aren’t more versions, or at least that he doesn’t know them). While she was napping Ben and I wrapped her presents. Well, I wrapped them once I wrested them away from Ben, though all three presents received his seal of approval. Then he and I made cupcakes. Our friend over at Overflowing Brain suggested a pile of icing on a small piece of cake to see if Katie would accept that. Miss Katie played with the frosting and that was about it, but we have cute pictures of her fussing about frosting on her hands, so that’s cool.

She loves her Baby Einstein Count and Compose Piano. She was thrilled when she figured out that pressing the buttons makes music. She’s big into the head bobbing, baby dancing thing at the moment. The doll was not as big of a hit, but she’s a bit young, maybe. Ben, however, adores it. He was busy all afternoon until bed time, feeding her doll, changing her doll’s diapers, and so forth. I wonder why it never occurred to me that he might like a doll of his own. Sigh. Well, there’s the option of Sam’s practice baby if he really wants one. Sam certainly doesn’t need it anymore (think babyproofing a dog — eh, I’ll add it to the list of things I want to blog about).

I think, for a one year old, it was about the best birthday one could hope to have. She will be having a party later with godparents, grandparents, and assorted friends, but that’s more of a thank you for supporting us this year than a true Katie is one party, though there will definitely be some of that, too.

And yet . . . all day I had a combination of happiness and sadness. I can’t believe it’s been a year. I can’t believe how much ground I still need to regain and it’s been a year already. I still can’t drive much past the interstate near our house. I haven’t been able to drive myself to my parents’ house in over a year. I fight bouts of dizziness that have nothing to do with my hair color (blonde, for those who haven’t ever met me); I get worn out easily. I feel like I’ve been flattened a million times over. I have less strength in my left arm than I should have and it is super pain sensitive (that would be the one where the IV infiltrated and left me with a pint of blood where tissue and stuff should be). My concentration is still weak. I have serious bouts of depression and anxiety. So intense that I can barely breathe. It’s just unreal to me that a year could go by and though I am miles ahead of where I was at this time last year, I still have miles to go before I get back to where I was on even November 16, 2008, and trust me when I say that wasn’t exactly the best place my body and health have ever been.

And even as I write this and think about what I have to do and where I have to go, I can’t help but think of Anissa Mayhew tonight and think about the journey she’s embarking on. Her road will be different from mine, but no less fraught with irritations, disappointments, and struggles. She has a fabulous support system and I hope, I hope that she gets the chance to be as grateful to hers as I am to mine.

So, to those of you who came and stayed with Ben, or who brought us things when we needed them, or who flew in to help my mom, or knitted hats for Katie to give to the hospital that took such outstanding care of her while her mommy couldn’t, we say thank you. And if you’re reading this and you want to help another young mother who is in a truly devastating situation, please go here: Help for Anissa and do what you can.

The Aftermath

I will write in more detail about Katie’s surgery in an upcoming post, but today, I just want to check in so folks know I’m alive and that we’re maintaining. I wouldn’t say we’re thriving, but we’re not going under, so I count it as a win.

We owe a massive debt of gratitude to the folks behind Baby Toolkit for their absolutely lifesaving gift of Dinner Done!. Not having to worry about food shopping, prepping, or really cleaning up after has been such a blessing and a gift. I strongly recommend searching out similar services in your area and putting their phone number on speed dial. When someone is in a really bad place, this is a gift that can make a HUGE difference in their quality of life as they go through whatever their struggle is.

Katie is doing well, but having a lot of difficulty sleeping. I think part of it is fear, since the last time she went to sleep she woke up to a great deal of pain, but part of it may be residual effects of the anesthesia and the intubation. I know it took me a few weeks to work through the additional air in my system after she was born last year. The only way she will sleep is in her swing and only after she has been held and swayed for a while. P thinks we’re spoiling her; I think she’s been through something hugely traumatic and needs some extra nurturing while she recovers.

Her hair would do a Marine proud. It’s roughly an eighth of an inch all over (except at the actual incision site, which is covered in steri-strips). The first day home she couldn’t roll over or crawl, but by day three she was doing both. Yesterday and today, she was cruising from one piece of furniture to another. Took a couple of tumbles. She cried, but cheered right up. My heart stopped, but all is fine.

She’s eating like a champ and has gained back almost everything she lost post-surgery (she went in at 18 lbs; came out about 16.5 lbs and is now almost back to 18 lbs). This is why they were so adamant that she be strong and healthy, and gain weight prior to surgery. Makes sense now.

Ben has dealt with all of this reasonably well. He was very frightened when he came in the first day. He came running over, very excited, but saw Katie’s head and stopped cold. By yesterday, when my mother came to visit, he explained to his Nana that she “cannot touch Katie’s head” and was reasonably protective of her. He’s saying some things we’ve not heard him say before, but nothing that’s really out of order for a four year old. Although, yesterday, calling Katie “stupid Katie” got him sent to his room to cool off.

I’m ended up turning over the classes I was teaching after a very long weekend of very little sleep. So, I am not working until next week. Well, some course prep, but not much else (except some holdover course design issues, that are in the process of being resolved). So, we’ll spend the next few days off doing things that need doing. Planning for November and December homeschooling. Making new charts for Ben. He likes his routines on charts where he can see them, so I oblige. I have some holiday planning/birthday planning to do.

Katie has her follow up appointment on Monday, where hopefully we can get clarity on when she can start being around people a bit more. We have been in virtual seclusion for over a month now, and we’ll have to decide how much exposure is acceptable and whether we need vaccines for flu and H1N1 or not. I likely can’t have them, but can the rest of them? We don’t know. So you know, I believe strongly in vaccination as it’s a means of protecting people like me who cannot take them — so it’s a wee bit self-serving.

In any event, we’re here. We’re hanging in there. I’ll talk more about the surgery and the immediate following time soon. I still need to process my feelings and thoughts on it a bit more.

And on with the show . . .

After much wrangling and discussion we now have a new set of surgeons and, more importantly, a surgery date. Along with this surgery date, we have a number of other things that we have to do prior to Katie’s surgery.

First, she will have a blood draw for blood typing as soon as I can arrange it. This is to determine initially whether P is compatible so he can do a directed donation if he is. This is the preference for the cranio-facial surgeon. The neurosurgeon indicated that he didn’t care one way or the other.

About a week before the surgery, she will have a pre-op appointment with the cranio-facial surgeon. We will go back over the surgery procedure and what it will entail. This shouldn’t be surprising in any way since we’ve been over all of this so many times.

Next up, Katie has a pre-op physical with Dr. D. I’m quite certain neither of them are looking forward to it. There is a one page form that he will fill out that we will hand carry to the hospital on the day of the surgery. We’re also going to squeeze in Ben’s 4 year old well kid exam. Because we’re homeschooling him, he can delay his shot for a year, which I think is a good thing.

After that, things will ramp up considerably. The day before the surgery we will be dropping the girls off at their vet’s office. Because we will be erratically available, it makes the most sense to get them somewhere that they can be fed and cared for consistently. With Sam’s issues, it’s unfair to ask someone to care for her who isn’t experienced with her sorts of problems. They have a large space for her and that will work. I need to iron a few details out with the office manager regarding how we want to do a couple of things, but that can be done sooner or later.

We are still working on Ben’s care during this. We’re hopeful that will be sorted out in the next day or so. Whatever plan we come up with for him will likely involve getting him settled, at least for a couple of days, with someone who can take care of him during the most difficult parts of Katie’s surgery experience.

After all of the others are settled, we will be taking Katie to the hospital for pre-op lab work. They’ll test her six ways from Sunday and make sure they have blood that is compatible with her (assuming that P’s is not compatible, we will be using the blood bank). We’ll then move into wait mode until the following morning.

Katie is allowed to drink formula until midnight. After midnight, she can have Pedialyte (clear) until 4:30a. After 4:30a, she is not allowed to have anything.

We are to report to the hospital at 5:30a. Presumably, there will be some time with Katie while they’re getting her prepped for surgery. At some point, her head will be shaved, but I don’t know if they plan to do that while we’re with her or not. I know she will have IVs, etc., inserted during this time as well.

She is scheduled for surgery at 7:30a. This could be delayed if there are more pressing situations, but she should go that day if not at that time. Of course, it will be much, much harder to explain to an 11 month old that she can’t eat than it was to explain it to me. I’m not clear about the length of time this surgery will take, but hopefully she’ll be through surgery by sometime in the early afternoon. She will spend at least one night in the PICU because of the nature of the surgery. We have had estimates of everything from three days to seven days as the amount of time that she will likely spend in the hospital. It really depends on her. We’re praying that she recovers quickly and feels well enough to go home quickly.

We know that post-op she is going swell a great deal and that her eyes will be swollen shut for at least a couple of days. I think I’m prepared for this, but I’m not sure. I understand that she’s going to be very frightened and disoriented. I suspect she will also be very clingy and want to be held as much as possible to be reassured that she’s okay and that she doesn’t have to be scared.

We’re currently planning to be in the hospital in shifts, switching off which one of us is with her. The major issue here is that I have work. Unfortunately, school doesn’t stop, so I will be teaching throughout this. Should be interesting at any rate. Fortunately, we’ve found a place to stay that has wireless/ethernet and the hospital also has wireless. This should be workable.

Once Katie is home, she will be kept fairly isolated from others to avoid infection until she gets an all clear from her doctors. This likely means that her birthday party will be postponed, but not canceled. It will likely have implications for Ben’s Halloween, but we’re working on that to see if we can keep from losing the experience for him even if his sister can’t go, too.

Katie will have her first post-op appointment approximately two weeks after the initial surgery. We’ll find out then what they think and what else she may need to do with respect to this. There is a possibility that she will need a second surgery when she is either five or six, but that can’t be determined at this point. We have to see what happens with the bone as she ages.

There are other things: no immunizations for awhile before or after the surgery. Nothing but Tylenol for two weeks prior to the surgery (so we do have a solution if she starts teething again), and she has to avoid illness. This means we’re pretty much living under quarantine for the forseeable future. She needs this surgery and she needs it to go off without a hitch, so this is where we are.

We’re nervous; we’re worried; we’re scared. We have faith and we are praying that she will be okay and that this is a one time deal for her. If you’re looking for something to do for us, please, please pray for a successful outcome for her.