It has not been easy to be pregnant and mothering two 3 year olds, especially one who is sort of whiny (the one who can talk) and the other is sort of intolerant (the one who flips his lid for 15 minutes if I wipe snot from his face). There have been many mornings where I’ve cried multiple times within the first hour of the boys being awake.
I just try to remember that things are more difficult right now than they normally would be, and that things will equalize again once this third little boy gets here and we adjust to him too. That’ll happen, right? It’ll be easier, right? Right.
But I have to say, I have been so proud of Paul these last few days. I mean, I’m always proud of him, but I’m just seeing him change before my eyes and it’s so fun to watch.
Meals can be a tricky time for us. Perhaps due in part to his institutionalized background, he is anxious about food and the whole process. He likes things his way, even if they don’t really make sense. So, for example, he will be hungry and want to eat but his mouth will be full, so he needs to slow down. Out of frustration that I am not allowing him to stuff in more food, he would forcefully push away his plate, often sending food and or the entire plate flying off the table. To avoid this, I would often move the plate away from him while he would chew and swallow. Well, I’ve noticed in the past week, he has really stopped getting so frustrated about it. In fact, he prefers to have the plate near him even when he has to slow down, so he will reach and bring it gently in front of him! He is also being more careful putting down his cup, instead of pitching it across the table or onto the floor. If it does land on the floor, I make him go get it, and he complies without fussing. Often, if he’s walking with his cup, he will simply hand it to me when he is done. It is so refreshing!
He’s also showing more interest in taking small bites of larger pieces of food. In the past, if I wanted him to practice self feeding, I would need to break up the food into bite sized pieces. Otherwise, he would try to shove the entire quarter of quesadilla into his mouth. Tonight, I broke up some, which he ate fine, but he actually preferred to hold the large piece and work on biting off smaller pieces. Granted, he’s doing quite a bit of tearing instead of effectively using his teeth to cut through the food, but it’s a step in the right direction. And a quesadilla is a hard food to cut through.
The other day, when we were using his adaptive cup, I didn’t have to help him hold the cup at all. He maintained a grasp, kept his head level, and tilted the cup to get an appropriate amount of liquid that he could manage on his own. The only thing I helped with was a bit of chin/lip support, which I eased up on and actually removed entirely and he still did quite well. All this and he really has only been drinking from that cup a lot for the past 4-6 weeks or so!
And on Sunday, when we were at Mass, Paul was rounding his lips for me, so I decided to do the same and blow in his face…and then he blew air in my face! This is a big deal! I promptly ordered the best bubbles I could find on the internet and a pre-hierarchy horn (for all of you speech therapy nerds out there). I need to find ways to encourage him to keep up with all this “experimenting with air flow” that he’s doing. I also have a little feather that will provide him with an immediate reward when he does it again. He has done it a few times since then but I didn’t have the feather (or bubbles…or horn…I’m working on it).
I think he is just maturing and figuring out that he can do these new things. I know we’re expecting a new baby in July, but I still think this may end up being the “Summer of Paul,” filled with lots of learning and new skills, and of course, plenty of summertime fun!