Baby Steps

I met with the child psychiatrist last week. He had some good insights into Jack’s recent behavior slide, as well as Charlie’s overall meltdown response to becoming a big brother. I like the approaches we talked about for addressing Jack’s current stumbling blocks. They aren’t revolutionary, but they are reasonable and not impossible for this weary parent to attempt. Overall, I left feeling validated. The underlying cause of the difficult behaviors is traceable to the baby’s entrance into the world and into our family. It isn’t baby’s fault. He just inadvertently tipped the precariously balanced scales of functional family life. And though he is one of the easiest, calmest, gentlest, and sweetest babies I’ve ever encountered, Truman had a dramatic start to life.

For reasons no one can discern, he was born six weeks before my due date after my fluids ruptured one November morning at 4:00 AM. Minutes after birth, he was in respiratory distress serious enough to require numerous interventions, including an ambulance transport to a larger hospital where a well-equipped NICU awaited. Our baby received excellent care in his twenty-five days at the hospital. The nurses, doctors, OT, and lactation staff embodied supportive, compassionate, well-informed care. Our neighbors, friends, and family members performed countless acts of helpful kindness. Looking back on that very surreal experience, it is easy for me to see that in the midst of a traumatic time, we were carried through it with a great many blessings. It felt like God held me in the palm of His hand and gently set me down the day our baby came home.

But when he came home, the real challenges began for boys #2 and #3. Suffice it to say that while I was thrilled to have my whole family living at the same address, two little boys were struggling to reconcile themselves to a new family member and a new family dynamic. It has been crazy ever since. Now with baby recently turning three months old, I am beginning to feel that we are incrementally climbing out of the mucky trench which we’ve been wading through for weeks, and at moments I sense more calm and less crazy.

Progress happens in baby steps. Like today, for instance, when Jeff and I tag-teamed teaching Sunday school and handling a Code Brown, with introducing Charlie to his Sunbeam class at church for the first time. He attended one hour and in that time, only climbed onto my lap once and generally seemed to enjoy himself. It felt like a victory to me. I like seeing the aura of contrariness dissipate from my sunny three-year-old. It also happened when Jack did his biz in the potty tonight twice(!) and earned himself two ringpops. My BIL Joe asked me if the two potty poops cancel out the disaster this morning. Sort of, I guess. It’s kind of a one-step-backward/two-steps-forward thing. But I’ll take it.

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