Sunday, September 11, 2011

the noah chronicles. 1

"Remember Your children
Remember Your promise...

Your grace is enough for me."
-Chris Tomlin

As I crouched at Noah's feet this evening, swiping off the goopy mess on his behind and legs I thought, "This isn't fun anymore." And, in the exact same moment, heard myself and grimaced inwardly. When has this been fun?

The kids and I were at a small group at someone's home. Noah had come in from playing outside, and immediately I could smell what he'd done. I asked for some plastic bags from the hostess, corraled him and Aleni into the bathroom and comenced scrubbing. In the process, Noah's shirt also became soiled, so that had to come off, too.

Frustrations rose to a boiling as I processed how my boy should be completely potty trained by now. How he was completely potty trained about a month ago. And how he has been getting progressively more messy as the days go on. Why does he seem to learn something, and then unlearn something?

It's a pattern. I'm used to it. Which it's why it's hard for me to really get excited at one day's good behavior or seeming competancy. Because I've had a lot of "tomorrows" that find those skills completely missing.

Even in the womb, Noah showed his objection to noise and the vibration of a car ride. Car rides would leave me completly nausiated from his spastic moving. Loud church services, shouting preachers (and we were living in Mexico, so believe me--this was happening) would cause Noah to react so much that I felt my skin would be torn open.

The first days after birth, Noah was not a horrible screamer, but it seems like about from one week on--he decided he wasn't too thrilled about the world in general. My sister spent about 2 weeks with us right after Noah was born and offered to watch him so Rey and I could squeak out of the house for an hour or so. She reported that he cried nearly the entire time. He was already forming what would be his demand: mom only.

Noah was born at the end of May. At the time, we were living in the hottest, most humid place I have ever lived. It was scorching (like 105) during the day, and at night mosquitoes swarmed. I didn't have a car, so most of my days were spent jiggling Noah up and down as I walked in un-ending circles in the living room of our tiny 2-bedroom home.

Nearly any time I'd lay Noah down, he scream to the heavens. If I went to visit the neighbors, he'd scream pretty much the entire time. Heaven forbid that they should want to hold him. Rey's family would come over to visit, and Noah would not be thrilled by the attention.

Rey would arrive home from work and I'd thrust Noah into his arms. Why would anyone have more than one baby? I would moan as I rubbed my aching shoulder muscles.

I would try to take Noah on walks in the stroller on milder days. He would scream. From the time we left our front door, to the time we return. Didn't like the vibrating, I guess. The neighbors would freeze where they were--sweeping their porches, sharing the latest goessip--and stare.

Noah hated how the car sounded when it started up, screamed when it would pull away from the curb. From the first car ride, I would have to ride in the back seat with Noah. Talking, humming to him and trying to hold his car seat as steady as possible.

Church was overwhelming. It was the typical Mexican church in that it did not have air conditioning or heat. It did have ceiling fans on during the summer, though. Noah would cough and writhe when the air from the fans hit his face. So, I would try to position the cover of his seat in a way that would block the wind. Put a blanket over it. Of course, everyone would want to hold him. Of course, I wanted everyone to hold him. But, he would have none of it. When the music would start, Noah would go balistic. I spent church services out in the parking lot. Walking in circles and bouncing my baby.

He hated to be rocked. He hated his swing. He only wanted to be bounced up and down. He hated singing. He only quieted when I'd hum a rather singular, bouncing note. Over and over. And over. Until, magically. After an hour of this perhaps. His body would slacken, and he'd slip off to dream land.

Chances are, as I laid him down in his crib--he'd jerk awake. And the cycle would begin again. I'd be such a zombie in the middle of the night that I'd fall asleep nursing him. And then startle awake to find myself asleep in my bed. I'd panic. Had I just let Noah fall to the floor? What happened? I'd look and see Noah asleep in his crib. And have no recollection of putting him there.

He hated being swaddled. He hated shoes. He screamed uncosolably for 30 minutes once after I sneezed.

One rare day, I had a car while Rey was at work. I was so excited at the possibility of getting out of the house. I got Noah all ready to go. I gritted my teeth and endured the shrieks from the backseat as we drove to the biggest grocery store in town. At least he'll love walking around the store and looking at everything, I thought.

Wrong-o. I lifted his carseat into the shopping cart and started to push him around the store, slowly and with the carseat cover pulled back. When he began to scream, I pulled the cover up and pushed slower. In the end, I had to hold him against my shoulder, with a blanket over his face and head, as I pushed the cart out with my stomach. Didn't ever do that again.

He kept his fists so tightly balled in those first months, that blisters formed. Cutting his fingernails was nearly impossible, and his nails would often cut open the blisters, causing them to get infected.

When I'd make silly faces for Noah, he'd generally just raise an eyebrow, "Seriously, woman. And you think that's funny?"

One morning, I decided it was time to get my post-partum self back into exercising. Since taking walks with Noah wasn't happening, I pulled out an exercise video. I sat Noah in his carseat so he could watch me. The video began and I followed along with the warm-up stretches. As I reached my hands up to the ceiling, I turned to Noah with a big smile, "Hey, baby. Does momma look funny?" His face was the picture of utter terror. He opened his mouth and screamed as if the Hulk was after him.

From then on, I only exercised during his naptimes. Or (cough) not at all.

Ah, sleep. I can't even count the nights that Rey and I would sit out in the livingroom waiting for Noah to stop crying so we could go to sleep. It would be after we'd tried everything. The longest he cried was for nearly 2 hours straight.

If I put Noah on a blanket to play with toys, he never would. He'd usually work furiously at something in the blanket, and then proudly lift his objective: a single hair. He would focus so long on a beam of light on the ceiling that the smallest noise would startle him into a screaming frenzy.

One thing he liked: Lukewarm baths. And we normally did 2 a day. My way of staying sane. Another "sanity-saver" for me was deleting "unhappy pictures" of Noah. Pretty much all of my pictures I have are happy or to-die-for cute pictures from those days. On really bad days, I'd flip through those pictures to remind myself it wasn't always this bad.

And, gosh. He was so.stinkin.adorable.

A blessed moment of peace...

Beauty just days old...

We laughed ourselves silly at how surly a 3 month old could look...

Just hangin' out

Not lovin' the wedding scene, but putting up with it

Mommy-baby snuggles

Noah, red-eyed, after becoming hysterical during his baby dedication.

The typical look of extreme terror when a non-parent would hold him

Part 2 here:


  1. I'm commiserating with you, Liz. Potty training seems like it is two steps forward, and three steps back. I marvel at moms who say their child was potty trained at 14 months. I don't get it.

    Mark didn't get out of his pull-ups until he was 4 1/2. Nothing I did, positively or negatively, made any difference in his desire to stay in the comfort and security of the pull-ups. It wasn't until he wanted to go to Awana reallly reallllly bad, but they wouldn't take him until he was fully potty trained, that he decided he was going to wear 'big boy pants'. And you know what? He never had an accident after that.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, I just want to encourage you, because eventually Noah will make a permanent decision, and you'll be able to look back and smile about the time he decided to use the potty instead of his pants. You'll be so proud of him, that it will be like looking back at the adorable pictures.

    If all else fails, you can use the time-tested method of grandmothers everywhere: "I hope you have a child just like you." :D

  2. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Charlene! It has just gotten frustrating b/c over 2 mos ago, it seemed like he'd made that "permanent decision" to be potty trained--and was completely trained for about a month, and it's just gotten worse and worse. Ah, well.
    I had to laugh at your last paragraph... I'll keep it in mind... ;)


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