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Drum - 18 months

My baby boy is a year and a half old (well, he will be in 3 days...I'm ahead of the game for once!), and he's been out twice as long as he was in. You guys, I love him so much. Anybody who ever worries they won't have the capacity to love a second child as much as the first, I can assure you, you will. I never worried about that, but I'm still amazed at how much I love him. And it's interesting how in most ways it's the same love I have for Mo, the love of a mother. But it's also different. I don't think because he's a boy and she's a girl, but because they are different children. I should write more about this sometime...

Drum teddy bear

Anyway, the biggest update is that Drum is talking much more! We had our initial assessment two months ago and at that time he had only just started using one word - mama - and he wasn't really imitating words yet, he wasn't signing anymore, and really only used gibberish and screaming to communicate. Last week we had our first in-home appointment with the child development specialist, and he was a different child. I almost felt guilty for having her come to the house because everything she read in the assessment was no longer true. He now has about 10 words (mama, dada, Mo, baby, yeah, no, mine, doggie, uh oh, hi), he'll try to repeat almost any one-syllable word and will often take a stab at more complex words, and he's started using a few signs again (more and all done, and he finally started using milk after a year of trying to teach him). He still gets easily agitated, but I've seen a big difference in that behavior since he's found his words a bit.

Drum horse

The other big news is that we have decided to change daycares. We have used the same in-home daycare since Mo was born, but it no longer feels like the right place for us. Mo had a good experience there for three years before going to preschool, and Drum has done fine there. I've mentioned that there is a caretaker there, Miss K, who Drum loves and who loves him. We adore her and even wish we could afford for her to be our nanny! But other than her, I've lost track of who even works there because there is so much turnover (it's an in-home daycare but the owner employs staff to provide most of the care on the other side of her duplex), and I'd be hard pressed to name more than 2-3 of the children. Communication has declined and we feel disconnected from what Drum does all day. We've wavered on whether or not to stay for about a year, but it's so much more affordable than any other place we've looked, so we just keep staying.

The tipping point, however, came when the owner questioned our approach to his behaviors. I won't go into detail so as not to badmouth someone who has done well by our kids for years, and I believe her intent was good, but it sat uncomfortably with me. She wasn't even talking about his tantrums, it was about typical 1-year old things like hitting, pulling hair, stealing toys. The child development specialist we met with affirmed that our approach is appropriate, so I don't think it's a matter of me being bull-headed about or blind to my child's imperfections. I don't think this daycare is bad for him, I just think he might do well in a different environment.

I explored several ideas - nanny shares, another in-home daycare, even staying at home or working part-time - but nothing was both financially realistic or logistically feasible. So we found a daycare center we like that isn't outrageously expensive. He'll stay where he is until mid-May, then we're going on a small vacation, and he'll start at the new place after Memorial Day. He'll be in a room with 1 to 2 year olds and a 1:8 teacher/child ratio. I hope being surrounded by his peers rather than children ranging from newborn to 5 years old will help. Plus this place has far more flexible hours, which will be helpful in the logistical nightmare our mornings and evenings sometimes are! 

As a result of the increase in cost for Drum's care, we had to make some other changes. We needed to cut other costs and increase our income a bit. So Mike is selling plasma several times a month and I'm looking for any small jobs I could do at odd hours (any ideas, please let me know!). And the bigger impact is that Mo will be staying home with me two days a week to save money on preschool. I telecommute twice a week, and it's not ideal to keep a child home while I do, but I'm fortunate that at the moment I have the ability to do so, and I think Mo will get into a routine on those days. If you have any suggestions for how to help a 4 year old keep herself busy, I'd love to hear them!

Dad and Drum 2017

OK. Enough about child care! In other Drum news, he is still a super sleeper. He rather hates the part about putting on a fresh diaper and some pajamas, but once that's done, he's happy to be laid down and falls asleep easily. It's such a gift to have two good sleepers! He's still nursing, though it's becoming a bit of a problem. He wants to nurse any time he's bored or angry or basically just near me. I was never an on-demand nurser of Mo after infanthood, but it's a different story with Bro. Maybe because he's likely my last kid and I never want to miss a chance to nurse because I know soon he won't anymore, and maybe it's because he gets pissed if I try to say no and easier to just say yes, but I find myself pulling out the boob all the time for what is usually a quick snack. And then another quick snack, and another. But I think that's something we'll work on later!

Drum mad sad cry

We recently started swim class with both kids. We've had two classes and so far Drum seems to like it. He wasn't feeling great during the second class, but he still played along with the activities until the very end. The classes are only 30 minutes and only for six weeks, but we're glad to be able to do them. Most classes are SO expensive, but these are through our city's parks and rec department and much more affordable. Mo is confident in the water if she's in her puddle jumper, but Drum has had very little exposure so want to get him familiar.

Since the weather is warming up, we've been outside a lot and thank god. We were all going a little stir crazy, and fresh air helps everyone's sanity! Bro, like his sister, loves to play outdoors. He's a little more particular about staying tidy than Mo, but still enjoys the dirt and grass. And he loves the water spigot even if he does soak himself every single time. He still adores his mama. His safe space, as always, is in my arms. Lately he'll run up to me while I'm sitting and wrap his arms around my waist, or when I pick him he'll wrap around my neck. He gives the sweetest kisses, and we like to do a silly thing where we rub our foreheads together. 

It has been a really good couple months. Challenging and emotionally draining, but I feel like we're turning a corner - the language breakthrough, a little less drama with the tantrums, a new daycare on the horizon. And this deep love I have for my baby. I feel so lucky to be his mama.

Drum park

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