#1: We finally managed to find not one but TWO reliable and reasonably-priced teenage girls who are willing to come watch Gwen on Monday evenings. And by "watch Gwen" I mean "watch our house to make sure it doesn't catch on fire" because actually, we put Gwen to bed before they get there and in fact we are paying them to watch movies on our big-screen TV. (I have NO PROBLEM with this, in fact I am quite pleased with them both.)
#2 A couple of weeks ago one of them was "watching Gwen" while Chris was at class and I was at a meeting, and I came home to the sounds of Gwen crying. She'd been in bed for over an hour, so that was worrisome. I wasn't really able to get a clear answer from the babysitter on how long Gwen had been crying. I went upstairs to give her a dose of Motrin and then all hell broke loose. See, it was Monday, which is the day that I work all day and then go to yoga and then go to a meeting, and if I am lucky I see Gwen for about 15 minutes over dinner in between these commitments. And now she was screaming and clinging to me for dear life and begging with her body if not her voice, "Please don't leave me, Mama!" and I COULD NOT stand to have our only interaction that day be me walking away from her and leaving her to cry. I tried absolutely everything I could think of to get her to sleep, with no success, and finally decided she may as well come downstairs and be awake.
#3 She was up until 10:30pm. I may have stress-eaten half a chocolate cake that was in the freezer that night. Those things might be related.
#4 It wasn't the babysitter's fault. We had given her absolutely no guidance or instruction on what to do if Gwen cried. Despite this, at the moment she told me she didn't know how long Gwen had been crying, I wanted to scratch her eyes out. Motherhood is a powerful thing.
#5 Giving up dairy for a month seemed to improve Gwen's rash. Three weeks in, I decided to put her back in cloth diapers for a couple of days (she's been exclusively in disposables since the rash started, which is going on SIX MONTHS). The rash came back, the very next day. Back to disposables. Goodbye, hundreds of dollars spent on cloth diapers and all the good intentions I had about trying to preserve the planet for my daughter. Last night, I stripped all Gwen's diapers and am going to give them one last try. If the rash appears again, well, at least the diapers will be pre-stripped for sale to some other parent.
#6 To confirm that dairy was the culprit, we decided to give her some dairy last weekend, because in our bizarre mouthbreathing interpretation of the scientific method this makes perfect sense. Her rash has not recurred. Now I'm TOTALLY confused.
#7 Though her rash is (knockonwood) absent, there are other bothersome issues for Gwen currently. She has a vicious cough that makes her very restless at night. She is often irritable, especially in the afternoons, and we're not sure if this is due to teething pain or what. And bedtimes are sometimes a screamfest, due to what we think is just plain old separation anxiety. Poor kid.
#8 There are bright spots, too. Last Sunday my parents came for a brief visit and we went out to Boston Pizza for dinner. The waitress was so taken with Gwen that she came and tied a balloon to her chair. I don't think Gwen had ever seen a helium balloon before, and believe me, that balloon was The Best Thing Ever. She absolutely adored it. Later, at home, she was playing with her balloon when I said to Chris, "Why don't we let her play for a few minutes, then I'll take her upstairs and put her to bed." She marched purposefully over to the gate at the bottom of the stairs, demonstrating her willingness to go to bed and her sheer brilliance in interpreting our speech. And she held the balloon firmly in her hand, with all her heart believing that it was going to accompany her to bed. Disabusing her of that notion was a little difficult.
#9 Another bright spot is her swimming lessons. They are two evenings a week, 5:30-6pm, and all three of us have been going together. It's a bit of a logistical challenge, not only in the sense of "how to shower, dry, and dress three people, one of whom is a slippery unco-operative octopus, in a room the size of a closet," but also the sense that we usually eat dinner at 6pm, and now we are leaving the swimming pool at that time, then embarking on the shower-dry-dress* challenge, and then driving home and getting dinner together, which doesn't exactly keep us on target for the 7pm bedtime. We've taken to prepping dinner beforehand, or planning some microwavable leftovers for those nights, because we want Gwen to be eating approximately two minutes after she walks in the door. We also change her into jammies after the swim to cut one more step out of the process between pool and bed. All these logistical tricks are TOTALLY WORTH IT, because the swimming lessons are SO MUCH FUN. Gwen adores the water, loves kicking and splashing and clapping and singing and jumping in (she can't really jump yet, she just kind of leans over until she falls in) and trying to blow bubbles and everything else. The only thing she doesn't like is the back float, and you know, *I* don't really like it either, so I can forgive that.
*Seriously, think it through. Naturally you deal with the cold and shivery toddler first, so you rinse her off in the shower, then dry her with the towel and get her all dressed in warm and cozy clothes, usually on a handy surface like a high change table area. Then ... what? You can't pick her up to put her on the floor (or in her stroller), because you are standing there in your bathing suit, dripping wet, and she is all warm and dry. HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?
#10 Tomorrow (Friday) is the very last day that I can say my daughter is closer to one year old than two years old. On Saturday, she will be EIGHTEEN MONTHS OLD. I have been giddily anticipating this milestone since, oh, her birthday, I guess? It's pretty exciting. Just think: she's been eating solid food for AN ENTIRE YEAR. Stay tuned for more random pontificating on the subject when I publish her eighteen-month newsletter.