#MicroblogMondays: G is for glasses

10 days ago, SB got glasses. This wasn’t a complete surprise – she was referred to an ophthalmologist at one year old, because we (parents, pediatrician and well-meaning relatives) suspected she might be squinting. The expert actually disagreed, but in a vision test her eyes came back at +3 and -3. She said to come back in a few months, and if the gap persisted, we’d need to do something. In the spring, her eyes measured +3 and +4*,  so both farsighted. We got another “wait and see” appointment for September, but recently, her caregivers told me that they think she has some trouble seeing at near distances, and that she falls more than usual.

It’s something I find so hard to judge – most of the time I only see this one strawberry. Yes, she tumbles sometimes. More than others? I can’t tell. She can pick out details in books, but I’ve since read that children can compensate for farsightedness, making the problem harder to spot. But, between the observations of loving caregivers who see many toddlers and the ophthalmologist’s assessment, I called the doctor’s office again. They said that there isn’t much one can do with small kids but try.

So we took our prescription to the city’s child optometrist – where SB tried to put on a few frames and quickly decided this game wasn’t as much fun as it first seemed. I already got discouraged, but then she went back to the first frames she had tried – and kept them on. So we had our choice. Pink. Not the color or style her parents would have picked (“Don’t you want to try these Captain-America-colored-ones?”**) but as she’s the one who has to wear them…

Timing was rather bad when we picked them up – she was tired and wanted milk, plus it was pouring rain. She screamed through most of the few minutes of fitting, done by the  kindest and most patient optometrist I’ve ever seen. Once we left the store, she quickly pushed them off and wasn’t having any of it.

It didn’t help that H isn’t particularly supportive of the glasses. He’s been wearing glasses himself since  his teens – turns out he hates them. (I’m suspecting he may have been teased as a teenager, but didn’t press the issue.) He says he doesn’t find SB as cute with glasses on, which breaks my heart for both of them.

On Monday I dropped her off at daycare and put the glasses on her – and I’m told they stayed on for most of the day. For most of the week. Amazing. At some point after pick-up she still pushes them off and then doesn’t want me to put them on again. Overall, I’m glad she gets several hours with glasses at daycare, and I hope that with time she realizes they help her see better / more effortlessly. She’s a rather stubborn kid, and I don’t want to get into a situation where she pushes them off at daycare, too. On the weekend she kept pushing them off again, until sometime yesterday, when they stayed on for an hour or so.

Any experiences with toddlers in glasses? Please share :)


* I still find the change surprising, but I’m not an expert in how accurate these measurements are. The first was without atropine (pupil-widening) drops, the second with. Her glasses prescription is slightly lower than those measurements.
** She recently got a blue star-spangled onesie with red trimmings from grandma, and I call her Captain America when she wears it.

More MicroblogMondays

#MicroblogMondays: M is for Mother’s Day

This year’s was the first Mother’s Day in a long time where my reaction to the prospect wasn’t “ouch”, but rather “oh – we could go for lunch”.

I’ve been trying to articulate this in a facebook-suitable way, but not succeeded. It sounds like I have forgotten my mom and A&C. Most of you here will know that this is is not the case at all. But it does show how much things have changed. H and I were recently talking about how losing the twins seems so far away now. I think moving cities (and countries and continents) has something to do with it – there are very few direct reminders of them in our lives now. From small things like no embryo pictures on the fridge, because it’s not magnetic, to not passing the hospital or running into people we knew while I was pregnant with them – because that’s all an ocean away. But of course that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten – there’s just fewer triggers.

The actual day wasn’t all that great – we’re slowly starting a house hunting process (you really can’t call it hunting at that speed…), and open houses tend to be on Sundays. The first place would have been perfect if we had three little ones running around. But for our current family it was simply too big, and I’m extremely reluctant to buy something in hopes of adding several more kids to the family. It’d be so depressing to have those empty rooms. (Also, it was rather expensive.) Still, the weather was wonderful and the trip there and back wasn’t bad.

And then we decided to go and see another house, on the top of H’s list, but rather far from the city, which is why I wasn’t so keen on it. Neither of us realized quit how far out it was though. After spending more than an hour on trains and buses, we got to the village. And walked and walked, first through streets with houses, then fields. And eventually became suspicious because the dot Google was leading us to was in the middle of nowhere. Another map app helped us find out where the house should be, but it was too late to make it for the open house. Plus, I don’t think even the most amazing building would have convinced me to move out there, especially as it wasn’t cheaper as the big place we had seen in the morning.

And then we still had to get back home… So it wasn’t a great day. But, along the lines of Jane, every day I get to spend with SB is a good day.

And late at night I looked out the window and could see the C constellation, and a little bit of A.

More MicroBlog Mondays

#MicroblogMondays: G is for global

I tried to pedal extra hard but didn’t make it before the light turned red. Somewhat annoyed I turned my head towards the window of the bookstore at the corner. They had a new series in the window, kids books about a monkey called “Peter Pedal”. It looked cute and intrigued me, especially as SB loves books – and we call her little monkey. On the way back I stopped there, and found out that Peter Pedal is none other than Curious George. (Who is not well-known in Germany, so I didn’t recognize the pictures – but at least the name sounds familiar to me now.)
The stories still seemed to be above my language level, so I picked a “word book” for SB. Upon browsing it again at home, I found the page about professions – segregated into traditional gender roles (perhaps not surprising, given that the books have been around for a while), but at least this will be the first of SB’s books in which not everyone is white. Okay, maybe not strictly speaking – she has a book about airports and planes in which there are two non-white passengers. Isn’t that sad? Many of these books were written far more recently than Curious George, and yet they show the “typical” family of mom, dad and 2-3 kids, all white. None of this matches statistics. SB’s daycare group is certainly much more diverse. I’d love for her books to just casually incorporate more diversity, too – with a black female astronaut and a two-daddy family. Does anyone have advice for how to find such books? I’m [currently] not looking for the explicit it’s-okay-to-be-different ones, but rather those where diversity is normal. I’ll ask a bookstore assistant next time I’m in Germany, maybe they have recommendations, but if you have any tips please share!
Of course it’s not just books, it’s often the same with toys. But there is progress – SB recently got a new pack of duplo lego with a lion and a giraffe – and a dark-skinned woman. (No idea what her “job description” is – fortunately kids toys for this age are rather fuzzy about that!) We named her Janine, after my Rwandan friend (who currently happens to be, after a long and difficult journey, expecting a baby via surrogacy).
And lastly, it’s not all about what the toy makers and storytellers want to show. One of the few TV series we were allowed to watch as kids featured a little viking, offspring of the village chief and often abroad the ship with his father and crew. And until adulthood I was convinced that it was a girl. Clearly nobody convinced me hard enough that vikings are boys ;)

V is for video

Way back when SB was tiny, easily a year ago now, we found out that showing her a video makes her sit still for long enough to cut her fingernails – and, as it was about the only thing that would make her sit through this, we stuck with it. I know kids under 2 are not supposed to get any screen time (which honestly seems unrealistic for the vast majority of families – do all parents keep all their screens turned away from their kids?), but I didn’t think a few minutes once or twice a week would harm her.

Except recently we hit this snag where she asks to see another video, and yet another. She’d scream when I had enough. A quick nursing session calmed her down, but I wondered what my husband did. “Well, I just wait until she gets tired of them”. Hm. I have never been able to convince him of the damaging effects of screen time, so this wasn’t too surprising, but certainly not what I want for SB. I also found her to be increasingly cranky, although it is hard to tell how much of that were after effects from being sick, or general toddlerhood.

Besides the crankiness, I was most annoyed – and worried – by her screams for videos as soon as my phone came into sight. If her reaction was this strong, maybe screen time was more problematic than I had assumed? Of course in a sense it was brilliant – while I had been making an effort to not let the phone distract me when she’s around, her behavior clearly showed that I was doing far from perfectly. But occasionally I do need (or at least really want) to text with my husband, check the train schedule, etc. (Let alone blog.) And I grew tired of watching the same 3 songs.

One morning when SB wouldn’t nap but I really had to take a shower, I thought I’d use her fondness of videos to my advantage and placed the laptop in a reasonably safe spot in the bathroom. Unexpectedly, she wasn’t interested, and rearranged the towels instead. So it wasn’t really the videos she wanted, but seeing them on mommy’s or daddy’s lap. (We tried reading books on our laps. Somehow this is much less interesting – SB loves books but starts flipping through the pages after about 10 seconds.)

I decided to put her on a “detox”. No videos for 3 days. And surprisingly enough, she was almost immediately less cranky. (Again, there are confounding factors like illness recovery). I had also noticed somewhere along the way that she usually asked for them in the evening. Perhaps for her, they were a way to calm down? She typically winds herself up and up and up, and it can be hard to spot the signs of tiredness (rubbing eyes, falling or tumbling more often). Maybe she hadn’t been getting enough sleep? Her morning fits would make more sense then… So in addition to the detox, I started putting her to bed earlier. And very soon we had our happy strawberry back. (Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a toddler and will scream if I don’t let her rummage through the trash, but otherwise she’s back to smiling much more again.)

After the fact I read this interesting study – it does sound a little scary. I feel a bit like a bad mom for not realizing that my kid needs more sleep, but overall I’m glad we sorted this out in a few weeks. I’m also still showing her a video to trim her nails – the first time it was no problem at all to take the screen away, yesterday there were more complaints. Maybe I’ll do it in the laptop, which I rarely use when SB is around.

There’s so much to discover away from screens!

#MicroblogMondays: L is for language

SB has clearly gotten to the stage where she understands so much more than what she can say.

Exhibit A:
Thursday morning. She wants to nurse/snuggle* and not let me go. I gently tell her that mommy needs to get up, and that she can either come to the kitchen with me and have breakfast and play with her toys, or stay in bed for a little longer. SB seems to consider the options briefly, lays back down and closes her eyes.
This was a first, and I wondered whether it was just a coincidence. Friday she chose to get up with me, but again without any complaints.

Exhibit B:
SB eats a snack, requests more, but then proceeds to smear her food across the table. I tell her that she’s a little pig. She promptly starts “grunting” (she can’t really, but it’s the sound she makes instead – every time we see a picture of a pig somewhere). This was the first time she made this sound without seeing a picture of a pig, so she clearly understands the word!

Some of the words (or “words”) SB uses are German, some others are Nordic. So far there’s only a handful that we can actually understand – most communication is handled through pointing and shaking her head and saying no to all the wrong items her parents pick up. But recently SB has made a lot of progress and I feel like she’s on the verge of having a much larger vocabulary. MIL keeps trying to speak Nordic language (which she doesn’t know at all, and which has a really difficult pronunciation) to SB. We have repeatedly mentioned that it’s German she needs more exposure to, not Nordic – she gets that in kindergarten 5 days a week. In a way, this behavior illustrates why I often struggle with MIL: she has good intentions, but her actions aren’t particularly thought through.

* she nurses all night long (or at least sometimes I feel that way), so I’m pretty confident she isn’t hungry for milk

More MicroblogMondays

J is for jeans 

Last week I wore my smallest pair of jeans for the first time in almost 3 years. I bought them on a trip to New York, not too long before we did IVF. Post-transfer I was already too bloated to fit into them. Then I was pregnant (yay!) then grieving and not even bothered by the extra pounds of baby weight. Then pregnant again, and thankfully for longer (yay!!). More baby weight. More not particularly caring about it. 

Yet somehow, over the last months, the combination of still breastfeeding and biking to work has more than offset all the pastries and chocolates that I eat. I’m pleasantly surprised. 

C is for cough

Thanks for your stories and sympathy. Turns out much of the screaming was due to recently having recovered from being sick – she had no other symptoms but was decidedly unhappy with the world. I’m told in kindergarten this lasted the entire week. At home she was fortunately okay from Tuesday on (still a toddler, you know, but not just screaming). 

And now poor SB is sick again, with a rustling breath that would make anyone miserable. Her doctor was on the fence about antibiotics, but given how out of it she is, we decided to go for them. We’ve been so spoiled with a super healthy baby for the first year of her life. Since week 2 of kindergarten she’s had a runny nose with very few breaks. But I’ve never seen her as affected by any bug as today. Hoping that this is just a crash course for her immune system and that she’ll feel better soon. 

(Then there’s the whole “how am I supposed to get any work done” angst, but – as you can probably see – I was already tired in the morning and will thus leave the issue for another day.)

S is for screaming 

There are all these other posts I want to write – P for pause and M for marriage and A for another – but it’s Sunday night and SB spent what feels like the better part of the weekend screaming. She’ll be happily puttering around and then we do something terrible (e.g., move or even look in the wrong direction) or something else happens (gravity n stuff) – and she’ll scream like a banshee. A bit of milk usually calms her down, especially if delivered quickly. And the Internet tells me this is (within the range of) normal for toddlers. But it feels like I have a particularly opinionated specimen on my hands – perhaps even more surprising after what I felt was a fairly easy-going baby. Am I going to have my boob at the ready for the next 2 years? Advice anyone?

Super adorable as long as she’s in a good mood

J is for jet lag 

As you see, my blogging hasn’t really increased despite the alphabet. We’re in the middle of the preparations for Christmas and other festivities (such as my brother’s wedding), so perhaps once we’re off I’ll find/take more time again. But I just realized that, for the first time in years, I’ll travel home and stay in the same time zone!