Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Return to Normalcy

The last few weeks have been hairy, to say the least. I could go on and on (and on) about it all but let's just say we've reached our new "normal." The boys are actually sleeping, the baby is being a baby and John and I are finally in our own grooves.

Let's not go and have a baby hours after John returns from deployment, ever again!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Month

This has been, hands down, the most extraordinary month our family has ever faced. It was joyful, fun, intimidating, stressful and happy. While some aspects seem to just whirl around us we have been able to take the time to enjoy our newest little addition. I thought that after the first child, I'd be able to enjoy the second since I had the mom thing down. Not true, it's the third I've enjoyed the most! You realize SO much about your parenting (in)abilities that nothing can truly phase you. And, it helps that he's super sweet...

Happy One Month, Baby Bacon!

This Middle Brother...


His Baby Brother.

.....Turner is still rather ambivalent about the entire situation...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

And This, Too, Shall Pass

**After snapping this shot, John says "Open your eyes !" They are open; I'm that tired.**

I think it's safe to say every parent has experienced their child going through a slight regression in behavior. New siblings, situations, milestones and even just because can cause your once "normal" toddler to lash out and act odd. Turner and Eli have been through a lot in the last year and a half but I think the icing on the cake for them was getting a baby brother just hours after Daddy returned from deployment.

Boy, have we stumbled backwards and landed hard. We are in the perfect storm of toddlerhood, changes and post deployment.

Now, if you would have asked me the week before this all went down if I thought any of it would affect the kids I would have disagreed. I mean my perfectly well adjusted, sweet, boys rock. Why would they have a problem? It's no big deal!

(insert evil laughs here)

I never added in the extraneous variables: Turner is almost 4, and in a very volitale state as such; Eli is every bit two going on 4; post-pregnancy hormones; and my family members turning in to circus side shows.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary the week after John came home. There was a newborn thrown in to the mix but the kids seemed ok. John was at work and it almost seemed like our new "normal." It was during John's leave period we started to notice Turner's behavior "worsen" (for lack of a better term) and things just tumbled downhill. Bed time became a nightmare; Turner started having night terrors. There have been angry outbursts, lots of screaming, terrible defiance and just really not being himself. For a week and a half John and I went back and forth with "ok, it's normal" and "maybe we should consult a child psychologist about post deployment behaviors." I mean, it's just been a painful adjustment for the poor kid. He's not taking any form of discipline and fuggadaboutit if it's from John. He regressed in his potty abilities, he'll use baby talk, and the worst is the anger. Yesterday he threw a car at my face after I took a fire truck and put it in "time out" (because he threw that in anger). After he sat in time out and would talk, I asked him why he was so mad and he said "I'm angry because Daddy left me." Not having the ability to fully grasp that Daddy is just at work is terribly difficult for him. After two weeks of screaming fits and up ALL NIGHT LONG (literally), he's sleeping on the floor in our room because he doesn't trust that John isn't going to leave him.

Eli didn't really understand what happened but he's showing regressions, too. The one most noticable is his separation anxiety from me. I have to be the one he knows the wearabouts of all the time, I have to kiss everything and he's been very affectionate toward just me.

After speaking briefly with the base social worker and child psychologist John and I decided that it's just what we're going to have to deal with and we're going to have to be firm in our decision to "uninvite" Turner (and Eli) from our room. We are standing fast with our bed time routine and the "stay in bed" technique. Turner goes down ok and it all starts anywhere from 10pm-12am: the screaming, the crying for Daddy. We go in and check at 5, 10 and then 15 minute intervals (staying at 15). It seems like forever for the night to go by but this is what must happen right now.

Eli fights harder at nap time by screaming at me and tearing off diapers. He'll make himself poop, throw up or anything it takes to get someone back in the room. I know, you're saying "just pay attention to his needs in the first place." Let me tell you we have done EVERYTHING with these kids from gentle to Ferber. NOTHING.IS.WORKING. This is week one, we'll let you know how it all goes...

A little compassion goes a long way but, in the end, we all just need some sleep.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Toddlers and Post Deployment

There is enough literature about how to deal with deployment and what to expect from your service member afterward to fill you with false expectations. I tried to research as much as possible about what sort of behavior differences we might see in the boys given their ages and the separation we experienced. I found simple articles about talking to your child, understanding on their level, talking to the service member about how to integrate himself back in to family life.
These are all common sense things that any cognisant parent would anticipate doing.

What I didn't expect, at all, were the extraordinary circumstances surrounding John's home coming. I had not mentally prepared to go in to labor even though I knew the possibility was completely feasible. John and I hadn't even had the chance to have a conversation, let alone reconnect after being separated for seven months. We agreed almost immediately, that we would press "pause" and resume our relationship as soon as possible: our main focus had to shift to a newborn and two toddlers, very similar in social age.

Fast forward through the week and a half before his leave started to our vacation time. The boys have gone from no dad to being able to access him all day every day. We are in the trenches here and our main battlefield is sleep. Deacon is a given, no surprises there. Eli is giving us slight resistance at bed time and crying for daddy to come pat him or sing "bum bum" (John hums the Notre Dame fight song instead of a lullaby).

We have been up every single night for almost two weeks. I mean all night. If Turner isn't screaming at bed time, he's being agitated and very ill spirited and up every hour, if he's even sleeping. He's throwing fits, toys, blankets, pillows, lovies and tempers. If he does stay in his bed he's screaming various things and waking Eli up. Over the course of a week and a half we have taken toys, privileges, screamed, cried, comforted, threatened and almost sold him on the black market. We've switched from John having anything to do with getting up at night to me doing everything (since John's the novel one). I feel like we are out of things to do and I DO NOT feel like a reward chart is appropriate for this behavior. It's SO ridiculous I just want to quit my day job.

The sleep regression has been the single hardest thing about this deployment, hands down. We went from seven months of no frills to not having any sort of hand in what Turner is doing.

We are all sleep deprived and I have no clue what we're going to do when John heads back to work Friday. I do know this is going to take lots of patience and time. It makes me wonder if our kids are going to go through things like this (not just sleep regressions but the major readjustments, emotionally) every single time he deploys. *sigh*