Rowan is two and a half. That’s halfway to five. More than halfway to kindergarten.
I wonder, sometimes, if I expect less of him than I did when Lorelei was his age. Am I letting his former preemie status stand in his way? Or is he just a different kid, with different strengths?
The intensity of the grief of Rowan’s first months of life still catch me off guard at times. A picture on Facebook, coming across a preemie onesie, reading or hearing other people’s stories. Or sometimes, just looking at Rowan.
I imagine him weighing 3 pounds. I see him at 15.9 inches. The billy lights. The IVs. The feeding tube. The alarms. So many alarms.
I think of those first days. I was in such a fog. In someways that is endlessly frustrating, because it makes his first weeks of life seem less tangible, more like a bad dream. But on the other hand, the worry was dampened by the haze. I think of a picc line threading its way through Rowan’s body, trying to reach his tiny heart. I think of the morphine. The TPN when he wasn’t tolerating even donor milk. IVs in his scalp because they’d blown all the veins in his miniscule hands and feet. I was too removed from my thoughts and feelings to even fully comprehend what was going on. I signed the consent forms containing the word “death” and just had to surrender control and let others take charge.
I think of it all, and I both want to cry and disbelieve that it ever happened. I’ve found that the reverberations seem to stretch into infinity. No matter how long the half-life of grief may be, I think the feeling never fades into nothingness.
It’s a weird ache. Almost more of an itch. I want to go back and hold his tiny body again. I want to be able to appreciate the moment in the moment. The sheer luck and lack thereof that landed us in that place. But, like all the “enjoy every moment” bullshit, at the time the moments sucked, and I won’t invalidate that. I just wish I could see backwards through that fog.
During those first months our expectations were low, compared to that of a full term baby. We were satisfied with late milestones, because we were happy they showed up at all.
But, I wonder at what point it is a disservice? Is this just Rowan?
He’s still nursing (though not much). Lorelei weaned at 2.5 years, basically to the day.
I came across a video of Lorelei singing when she was 2.5 and she was so much more articulate.
But we shouldn’t compare babies, right? That’s what they say. Though I know we all do it. But with Rowan there is always that lingering spectre of prematurity.
Is his asthma genetic, or preemie? Or both? Is his tendency to swing from constipation to diarrhea the result of his prematurity, or his diet?
I don’t like questions without answers
We moved Lorelei to a toddler bed right around the time she turned two. There was no real reason for it, it just seemed like the right time one day, and every so often I let instinct guide me.
Rowan sleeps well in his crib (for at least half the night), so I haven’t felt any real urgency to move him. Besides, there was no place in my house baby proofed to the point that I want him to have free reign for more than the time it takes me to shower, and that’s only if Little Baby Bum is on (if you haven’t had a kid in the last three years, and don’t know what LBB is, consider yourself lucky. If you have had a kid in the last three years and don’t know what LBB is, for the love of all that is holy, don’t go find out).
This weekend, I finally finished most of what I wanted to do to get Lorelei’s room ready to become Lorelei and Rowan’s room.
A month or so ago, Zach and I spent a long weekend (I mean, it probably just felt long) putting together a million pieces of IKEA furniture for the room. And somehow, we are still both married and speaking to each other. Even if he did keep telling me how to use a screwdriver.
The rest of the progress has been slow going, but Friday I was stuck home with Rowan, who was in a diarrhea phase, and therefore couldn’t go back to daycare.
I used this semi-spare time to finish up the bedroom. Rowan and I were sitting on the bottom bunk, and I said, “This is going to be your bed soon!”
He got a big grin on his face. “My bed?!”
He flopped down on his stomach and said, “goodnight!”
I kept working on the room until he said, “Mommy, close the door. GOOD. NIGHT.”
It didn’t last, of course. But what he lacked in follow-through, he more than made up in enthusiasm.
Here are some pictures of the room that they are starting to share.
That bookshelf was mine as a kid, and I still love it. The two star lights are from Ikea, though I rescued them from the thrift store.
Three sets of Trofast shelves from Ikea. I will probably put some sort of cushion on the shorter one to make it a little window seat sort of deal. The tall set on the left is mostly Rowan’s stuff, and the set on the right is mostly Lorelei’s. That coat rack on the pegboard will get hung on the door, now that I have some hollow door anchors. The paintings on the wall are from Goodwill, except the Cartwheeling Chinchilla — that one is a Lorelei Giles original.
Lorelei’s desk involved a pretty epic tantrum. She wanted the book shelf part to be centered. I told her that made no sense for several reasons. I won, because I bought the damn thing and because Zach attached it when she wasn’t there. She hasn’t noticed — proof that seven year olds are still highly irrational and sometimes want what they want for no reason whatsover. Actually, sometimes 36 year olds are like that, too. The green bins are from Ikea as well, but two were given to me by my sister, and one I found at the thrift store. They make a great little bedside table for the bottom bunk. I need to get curtains.
We’ve had the bunk beds for several years. They were purchased wih the knowledge that someday we’d have another kid and they would need to share a room. Because Rowan has no self preservation instinct and would likely toss himself off the top bunk, we made that door that latches to keep him off the steps. Soon he’ll realize he can move a chair over and unlatch, and we will have to reevaluate. The rainbow banner at the ceiling is actually a decoration from Lorelei’s first birthday party. The pink bed tent is from Ikea. The two small teal bins that Lorelei is using to hold her stuff are thrift store finds, attached with zip ties.
I love the star lamps – they give Rowan perfect light to color by. His desk and chair are both from Ikea. The chalkboard is a thin piece of MDF, painted with chalkboard paint. The little orange shelf on the chalkboard is an Ikea spicerack. I have those hanging all over my house because they are so cheap and useful. The magnet board on the pegboard is another thrift store find.
He has slept in his bottom bunk big boy bed (alliteration!) three of the last four nights. So far he’s only fallen out one time. Once he’s asleep, he sleeps soundly, but getting him to sleep is a challenge. He’s having trouble settling and keeps popping out of bed to get new books to read. Two nights ago, after much tossing and turning, he went back to his room and asked me to put him in his crib.
His personality is really starting to become more clear. He is very specific about clothes, and in fact he will sometimes wake up in the middle of the night crying to wear his shoes. Not those shoes, Mommy! He loves to wear sunglasses and headbands when they are his idea, but he’s going to refuse to wear his costume tonight. Lorelei would wear whatever I put on her at this age, which made Halloween more fun. He’s more violent than Lorelei was — and I wonder if that is in part down to having a more difficult time saying what he wants. He hits out of anger, which is something Lorelei rarely did. And he thinks it’s funny when we get mad.
He is learning words at a rapid pace, and loves to repeat what you say (this could bite me in the ass… err… I mean, bottom). I can see his gears turning as he takes in the word and spits it back out with a look of accomplishment. He’s firmly in the, “Whas dat?” and “What you doin?” phase. He likes to have a book read to him one time and then he “reads” it to himself. He asks for music so that we can dance.
He loves to play peekaboo or to hide and then pop out and say, “I see you!” At least to fit in the ottoman he has to pull all the cars out, which makes it fairly obvious even when his shoe isn’t visible. He’s also had an explosion in imaginary play — making me soups and ice creams and pizzas in the play kitchen.
I taught him the wonders of sitting next to the heat vent with a blanket. You can see him suddenly realize that it’s nice and cozy.
So yeah. When I step back from prematurity and sibling comparisons, I see how much Rowan is just… Rowan. Quick tempered and hilarious. Feisty and loving. When I leave the house he says, “Hug? Hug?” and then “I want kiss!”
Here’s a video of him last week when he was home “sick.” It’s too bad he was so very lethargic…
I will post about Halloween later this week. Here’s a preview.
Now accepting bets on Rowan’s participation or lack thereof.