Category Archives: Life

Places to go!

Dang, you guys, it is hard to find time to blog! So much has changed with my now-8-month-old sweetheart since I last wrote about her.

All of a sudden she is shockingly mobile. She has been commando crawling for months, and about topped out her speed for that type of locomotion, but she was still pretty slow and still stuck on the ground.

On Christmas Eve she sat herself up.

The day after Christmas she straight-up crawled.

January fourth she pulled to a stand (something she probably would have done sooner, but all the furniture available to her was too tall to reach or too short to count as standing if she held it. This day I brought out something the right height and she crawled right over and stood).

About a week later she cruised along our very soft, slippery sofa. Slowly and awkwardly, but still.

So in the space of about three weeks she went from stuck on the floor to cruising. Yeah. Our baby proofing wasn’t quite ready.

Oh, and did I mention she was 7.5 months for the cruising? I’m screwed, aren’t I?

I have no idea where she got her athletic genes. From looking at her daddy and me I’d have guessed she’d be a talkative, immobile lump. I’d think there’d been a mix up at the hospital, but, you know, no hospital.

It’s been over a month since she started crawling and, much like with pregnancy, despite all the dire warnings that I’d hate it once she started, I’ve got to say, I still LOVE watching her move. Sure I have to be more on my toes, and sure she can get into LOTS more trouble. But she can also explore her world in the way she wants and delights in her own mobility. And that, my friends, is a joy to watch.

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Scared

In six days I leave my daughter to begin student teaching. Student teaching is a full-time gig. I will go from being with Baby Love 24/7 to missing most of her days.

And I.don’t.want.to.

Before I had her I figured I’d be ready. Seven months? She’ll be fine, and I’ll be ready to pull my hair out!

But what I’ve found is I love being home with her. I love seeing her grow and change every day. I love watching each new discovery. I love being present for all the minutiae. It isn’t boring. It is wonderful. And I am so happy doing it that I feel guilty, figuring in my silly brain that if I’m this happy I must not be working hard enough.

By the time I realized I didn’t want to finish my program this semester, though, it was too late for me to back out. Arrangements have been made. So Monday it is.

I am scared of many things.

I don’t want to miss the moments of my daughter’s life. She is the most fun she has ever been, and I am leaving now. I see how much my husband sees of her, and he is a fantastic daddy and she adores him, but he doesn’t see all I do just because he’s not around as much. I don’t want to miss things, even silly little things, like I see him do sometimes just by circumstance. I am drinking up every day, living it fully, and I’m afraid if I stop being around her so much I’ll begin missing the past instead of enjoying the present. I don’t have any, “Aaaw, I miss that stage!” feelings like so many moms I know do, and I think it’s largely because I DON’T feel like I missed it! I experienced it, and it was wonderful, and now I’m experiencing the next wonderful stage. But if I’m gone full time will I still have the satisfaction of experiencing it? Will I have no regrets, feeling like nothing was missed?

We have a wonderful nanny coming to care for Baby Love, and I am so grateful to have found her, but here’s my deep, dark secret: I’m afraid she’ll be a better mommy to my girl than me. I love my Baby Love with every fiber of my being, and all the tangible ways of caring for her and providing for her and standing up for her needs I do well. But getting down on the floor and playing? Not my strong suit. I’ve been doing it more in the last week, and she loves it (and I’m having fun, too!), but it’s just not something I’m natural at and not something I do much. Plus right now my baby loves me above all others, and I think that’s largely because I’m her constant companion. What if spending more of her day with the nanny, who gets down on the floor and plays with her whole attention, she comes to like the nanny more than me? I know it sounds silly, but it scares me. I love my bond with my little girl. I don’t want to lose it.

I know she has to grow up and learn independence sometime. But it doesn’t seem necessary at seven months.

I know lots of moms go back to work and their relationship with their children is fine. But that doesn’t mean ours will be.

I’m scared. And not of student teaching. I’m going to rock the socks off that. But of leaving my baby for the majority of her waking hours for what will be the last third of her life, by the end. I’m sure she will be fine. I just hope I will be.

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I love this little baby

I love this little baby so, so much.

I love being the only one who can make some things feel better for her.

I love how she snuggles into me when she is sad or tired or shy.

I love watching her break into her giant, toothy grin.

I love how happy she gets from our praise.

I love her determination to reach her goals.

I love hearing rare baby giggles erupt when my husband or I play with her just right.

I love seeing her look like she is about to burst from joy.

I love watching her crawl towards me with a giant smile on her face.

I love how she charms everyone around her.

I love how much she wants Toby to play with her.

I love how curious she is about the world around her.

I love how happy she is any time she’s awake.

I love every beautiful cell of her body. Even when I’m horribly sleep deprived, I love this little baby more than I thought it was possible to love.

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Top Posts of 2012

As determined by number of page views as tracked by WordPress, here are my most popular posts of 2012:

5. Why my birth wasn’t empowering (And that’s OK)

In this post I discussed how my all-natural birth that turned out ideal in every way still wasn’t the empowering experience I feel it is overtly and subtly billed as being by the natural birth community, and then I explained why that wasn’t a failing on my part and why I was glad I still did it the way I did.

4. Baby girl is here! (Almost 4 weeks ago…)

Evidently parentheticals are good for my page views! In this post I finally introduced Baby Love to you guys, and I talked about the reasons I was glad I was out of hospital for my birth despite it absolutely sucking in many ways. At this point I was still trying to focus on reasons to be grateful instead of being in a place of acceptance. I went into a lot of the ways a hospital birth could easily have been differently than the birth experience I had out of hospital, and got a little pushback from a fan of hospital births.

3. Dumb name, amazing results

Here I introduced EC, or infant potty training, that we do with Annika and how it was working for us. We’re still doing it and still loving it!

2. First food: Banana!

This post is basically a photo stream of Baby Love’s first experience eating (and loving!) banana using Baby Led Weaning.

1. Baby Girl’s Birth Story

3 guesses what this one is about. That’s right, Baby Love’s birth story! I go into a fair amount of detail of what happened when and how things went down in my all-natural, out-of-hospital birth.

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Embracing it while it’s here

My daughter will. not. sleep.

Don’t get me wrong. Things have improved DRASTICALLY since we have started the No Cry Sleep Solution (which I barely even do anymore because holy hell am I tired, but still).

Baby love has now a few times fallen back asleep after I lay her down awake.

She naps. Regularly. For at least an hour. Multiple times a day.

She can be startled half-awake and go back to sleep.

She can go down for a nap with no special anything, even just sitting in her carseat while we’re out if I time things right.

She goes back to sleep very easily.

She will lay in her crib and entertain herself and get sleepy before I come in to finish putting her down at bedtime.

All of those things I would have KILLED for two months ago. And I do love them.

But do you notice what is missing?

Her sleep DURATIONS will. not. increase.

She is still getting me up usually every 1.5 hours at night. Often every 40 minutes. Sometimes I get 2. If I’m very lucky I may get 3. Those are the stretches I praise heaven for.

Did you know that we really need two complete back-to-back sleep cycles to feel fully rested? And that that takes 3 hours? And that if you don’t get that regularly you go slowly insane?

I have some living proof of that for you RIGHT HERE.

I am so frustrated. I’m in a moms support group. We were there today. My baby is the oldest in the group by 4 weeks. Most are at least 6 weeks younger than her. And yet every. single. one. of them sleeps better than mine. The worst gets up 3-4 times a night. Even the ones who were bad sleepers have outgrown it.

And it’s not fair. I did everything right. I had her fall asleep different ways from the start (in my arms nursing, in the car, in her swing, etc.). I always laid her for bed on a flat surface, even if it took a dozen tries. I most definitely never responded to her every whimper, but made sure she was really, truly awake before intervening. Etc. Most of them didn’t think about it, or didn’t think about it as much, yet their babies sleep. There isn’t much I could have done differently with my baby love except to fight the fall-asleep-not-on-the-boob-but-in-my-arms thing more fiercly when she was tiny (but plenty of people say it’s fairly impossible to fight then, and I did try).

I’m a horrible sleeper. I have a very difficult time sleeping. I have a very difficult time falling asleep. And staying asleep. And napping. Etc. See: “insomnia”. My daughter seems to have inherited this from me. So no matter how much I set her up to succeed…she doesn’t seem programmed to sleep well.

I am so frustrated. Today, after wearing her for 50 minutes of napping (we were at my mom’s group and she needed to nap) my back was giving out because I couldn’t sit down and I tried to transfer her to laying down in a friend’s pack and play. And she woke up. And I lost it.

Not mad at her. But just EXHAUSTED. There was so much going on, not the least of it being stress over student teaching and my SAnD building up to get me to near-breakdown point. But her waking up from that nap, which she needed, was just the final straw.

So I hid in a back room and I cried.

Then tonight I laid her down for bed and she went easily. And I was slightly mollified.

Until she woke up.

Forty.

Minutes.

Later.

And I wanted to cry again.

As I left her room, 30 minutes later, I was feeling defeated.

How can I keep going when my daughter needs me so many times in the night? What else can I try that we haven’t already been doing or attempting? I don’t need or want her sleeping 12 hours continuously…but 3 would sure be nice and seems reasonable.

I was exhausted. And beaten down. And overwhelmed. And just wanted her to learn to sleep on her own.

And then I stopped. And I reframed it for myself.

In not-that-many-years my sweet baby love won’t need me in the night anymore.

She’ll roll her eyes if I stick my head in to check on her.

She’ll push me away if I suggest a nighttime snuggle.

She won’t cry for me in the night, for something that only I can make better.

No matter how long it feels like it has been now, this is very, very temporary.

And no matter how tired I get, this will end.

And I will miss it.

I do love my nighttime snuggles. I love our nighttime nursing. I love feeling her warm body melting into mine.

So while I may want it less frequently, I will try to embrace it while I have it.

And when I am exhausted beyond reason and just DONE with the whole thing, I will remember: This too shall pass.

And when it does, I will miss it.

Or at least a part of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s been 40 minutes again, so I must go put my screaming child back to bed.

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The moments we’re given

This afternoon my sweet baby love needed a nap, and I decided to go with what we’ve dubbed a “cuddle nap”. We both strip down to our bare necessities, snuggle up under the covers skin to skin, and fall asleep together side lying nursing. From the time my baby love was a newborn this was the only reliable way to get her a nap, and it had the added benefit of getting me a nap, too. It never failed that when we snuggled up she’d be out before long. As my baby has gotten older it’s begun to get more difficult to get her to sleep in a cuddle nap, but with some work I’m almost always able to. I felt a little guilty for the “crutch”, but mostly I just loved my sweet, warm baby snuggles. There is something amazingly close about sleeping together. This is, quite possibly, my most beloved way to spend time with my daughter and my most cherished memory of her thus far in her short life.

So today when she needed a nap and I was exhausted, I stripped her down and climbed into bed with her. She nursed and kicked her legs, pushing herself upwards while I held her in place. I’ve learned that if I try to relax and keep my eyes closed it helps her fall asleep now that she’s more resistant.

I lay there, eyes closed, willing my little love’s movements to slow so we could drift off together. And, as she nursed, they did.

Until they didn’t.

Her belly hit full before she was drifting off, and suddenly she was awake.

Very awake.

The kicking and squirming ramped up tenfold.

I lay there trying to keep my eyes closed and my limbs relaxed while holding her more or less in place and checking where she’d squirmed. I was unhappy. I had been looking forward to this nap, both because I was exhausted and because I cherished these times.

She was in a purely happy state only babies can be in when all their needs have been met and they are safe and loved.

As I opened my eyes to peek at her, she looked up at me and our eyes met.

And she broke out in the biggest toothless grin.

The smile lit up her whole face. Pure joy suffused her expression.

I was ready to be irritated she wouldn’t sleep. I wanted the moment I had envisioned, us cuddle napping together. But staring at the joy in her face I released the moment I wanted.

And instead I embraced the moment I had.

Snuggled up with my joyful baby, skin to skin, as she loved life to the fullest.

It was just as beautiful, just as meaningful, as the moment I’d been seeking. And I almost missed it, irritated it wasn’t the moment I had planned.

May I always embrace the moment I have, even if it isn’t the moment I was looking for.

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Solving Sleep Troubles: Part 3 — The No Cry Sleep Solution

After our one disastrous night of cry-it-out I woke up the next day and immediately finished reading The No Cry Sleep Solution, which I had half-heartedly begun days ago, months after my mom had sent it to me. I was determined to not repeat cry-it-out, but I also knew the status quo was not going to fly much longer. I was hoping The No Cry Sleep Solution had some answers.

And it did.

I LOVE this book. It doesn’t purport to be a guaranteed solution which, by the way, was the only thing that would ever work, as most other methods did. It talked about why infants sleep the way they do, and some things you can do to help them sleep better. It laid out many ideas, which the author, a mother, had come up with and tested and refined with a group of test-mommies. There were ideas for co-sleeping, ideas for moving a baby to a crib, and more. The author suggested picking out the things that sounded like they would work for you, and implementing them. She provided nap logs and sleep logs, and suggested you do them every 10 days to track improvement.

I picked out some things which made sense to me. The hardest thing for me was that my baby love would only fall asleep while nursing (with exceptions if the timing was right in the car, while being worn, or in the swing, but none of these were methods for getting her to bed as I then couldn’t transfer her). I LOVED nursing her to sleep, but it meant that when she would then have a brief awakening between REM cycles she couldn’t fall right back asleep since she was on her own. It also meant that being transferred out of my arms, like for a nap, would completely wake her, since she couldn’t put herself back to sleep from slight disturbances.

My sleep plan looked like this:

  1. I will quietly play with baby in her crib at least once per day.
  2. I will start our bedtime routine between 6:30 and 7:30 every night.
  3. I will follow this bedtime routine: a) Strip baby. b) Last potty. c) Put on PJs/blanket in crib. d) Read 3 books. e) Lights off, white noise on. f) Nurse.
  4. I will use the phrase, “‘Night ‘night, I love you,” as a sleep cue.
  5. I will use Pantley’s Gentle Removal Plan to end nighttime nursing-to-sleep.
  6. I will work on the stage I am on:
  • Nurse until almost asleep, let fall asleep in arms, transfer while asleep.
  • Nurse/soothe until almost asleep, transition to crib while almost asleep, use key words, continue to have arms around/on baby until asleep.
  • Nurse/soothe until settled and sleepy but not falling asleep, transition to crib, use key words, keep hands on baby until asleep.
  • Leave baby in crib, use key words, keep hands on baby until asleep.
  • Stand by crib, say key words, pat/touch sparingly until asleep.
  • Stay in doorway, say key words until asleep.
  • Stay outside room, say key words until asleep.

I started that night.

We nursed until almost asleep, and I took her off my boob.

She woke up, groggy and searching.

I tried a few other things, but she kept searching, so I put her back on.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

After around 8 tries she fell asleep without being on the boob.

I WAS A GODDESS!

I tracked sleep that night. It ended up being a PHENOMENAL night, probably partially because she was still exhausted from the night before. Here’s a summary:

Nights using plan: 0
Asleep time: 8:35
Awake time: 8:55
Total number of awakenings: 4
Longest sleep span: 3:40
Total hours of sleep: 11:05

As I said, this was a phenomenal night. I didn’t want to measure against that and feel like I was making no progress, so a few days later I tracked again. On what ended up being a pretty horrible night. But pretty horrible nights were not uncommon. That night looked like this:

Nights using plan: 3
Asleep time: 8:05
Awake time: 8:00
Total number of awakenings: 7
Longest sleep span: 2:15
Total hours of sleep: 9:50

Just go ahead and think for a minute what a night is like broken up to 8 pieces with the longest of them being 2 hours and 15 minutes. Four of them were under 40 minutes. Yeah. Fun times. Not cool.

I kept using the plan. And I noticed changes. Baby girl could fall asleep more easily off the breast. She was napping more, because I was doing everything I could to help her nap. Then she was sleeping better. Then she was napping better. And so on, because sleep begets sleep.

Ten days in I charted again. And it was a pretty average night for the time.

Nights using plan: 10
Asleep time: 7:45
Awake time: 8:00
Total number of awakenings: 3
Longest sleep span: 3:25
Total hours of sleep: 10:40

As you can see, not much of an improvement on paper from the first day. But her total number of awakenings did go down. So while her longest sleep span wasn’t longer, her average sleep span was. And all of the changes above were occurring.

We kept going. Baby girl started to realize I was taking her off the breast and get more upset when I did. But she also started to let me transfer her to her crib less carefully and wake up a little and allow me to settle her without picking her back up. She napped better and better, able to fall asleep out of my arms more often. She would more often wake, fuss, and put herself back down in a few short minutes (only every few nights, but considering previously it had been every few weeks it was an improvement!). And then the panicked clinging to the breast began to taper off. Shortly into the next 10 days she only woke once in the night for four nights in a row. And then we began to back slide. By the time last night rolled around, 20 nights into our sleep plan, we were at a horrible place in our sleep. I was demoralized to be tracking her sleep on what was going to be a horrible night. The first one was fantastic. Ten days in was average. And now 20 days in was going to be horrible. It was going to look like I made no progress. I needed to see progress. But it was time, and I’m anal-retentive,so i did it. Here’s my night:

Nights using plan: 20
Asleep time: 7:35
Awake time: 8:35
Total number of awakenings: 5
Longest sleep span: 3:50
Total hours of sleep: 11:35

And there you have it. This was an absolutely awful night for us at this point. I was sure the paper would show no progress.

And yet, and yet…go back and compare it to that first FANTASTIC night. Sure, we woke up one more time. But our longest sleep span was longer. Our total hours of sleep was longer. And this was a bad night instead of a good night!

PROGRESS!

And if you want to see some major progress, go back and compare it to what was a bad night 3 nights in. Compared to that a bad night 20 nights in was nothing!

Today I took baby girl out with me to a meet up with other moms. She has refused to fall sleep while out since she was a few weeks old. The whole overtired thing. But today? I noticed she was tired. I closed the cover on her stroller and carseat so she was coccooned in darkness. And instead of fussing? She fell asleep. I cannot even describe how groundbreaking this is.

Things are getting better.

Sure, it’s happening slowly. But I can handle slow progress as long as there is progress. And quite frankly, if I was willing to try harder I am certain the progress could be faster. There are more things I could do. Work harder at the gentle removal plan to get her off the boob faster. Be on a stricter schedule and make more sure she is getting naps when she needs them. Have a longer bedtime routine so she is more prepared for night time. But, quite frankly, it’s not worth it to me. I’m OK with this pace. We’re slowly but surely improving. And I don’t feel like it’s requiring me to do anything even mildly unpleasant.

Our worst night now is better than our best night 3 weeks ago.

That’s good enough for me.

Sorry for the delay in part 3. Raising a child takes a surprising amount of time, especially when you are also going to school full time and running your first ever 5ks while your mom is in town for a weekend. When your computer dies a sudden, tragic death and you are sharing with your husband that doesn’t help either. Thanks for the patience!

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