Thursday, August 31, 2006

A word of caution

If the check out woman at the grocery store decides to give your toddler a sticker on your way out, and you debate as you walk to the car whether or not to allow said toddler to hold the sticker for the drive home, do not. Even if said toddler has not put anything in his mouth other than food for months, do not. Even if said toddler is only presently interested in sticking his fingers on and off of the sticker and the thought of trying to eat it has not entered his mind, do not. Even if you have only a five minute drive home and you are certain (almost certain) that the thought will not cross his mind before you get there, do not. Even if you know that taking said sticker away from said toddler will result in a huge scream fest in the parking lot and all the way home, do not; do not let said toddler hold the sticker for the ride home.

If you do, you may find out any combination of the following:

Letting said toddler hold the sticker on the way home will result in gagging sounds coming from the back seat 1 minute from home, causing you to do a lightning speed pullover off the side of the road as you envision yourself trying to get the buckle of the safety seat undone while your child chokes to death.

Scrambled eggs and raisin toast for breakfast make for particularly putrid smelling vomit.

There is no easy way to clean puke out of a car seat strap and the INSIDE of the buckle.

That the people you walk by on your way into the house will not give you a sympathetic look for holding a shirtless child in 65 degree weather, despite the smell emanating from you both.

Even after you have cleaned everything and started your additional load of laundry the smell will remain...somewhere.

You have no idea how to remove your carseat cover for cleaning because, as it turns out, you have not cleaned it since you bought it like 10 months ago, and frankly, you don't have time to figure it out right now. There will probably be an edit later adding an additional lesson about what happens when you leave a pukey car seat cover in a closed car all day.

That Mommy Fear can rear its ugly head at any time. This time it was a sticker, and that time it was a zipper.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Animal House

Sam and I thought we could use some more company around the house. It's been raining all week, we are freakin' bored, and with his work schedule Hubby has only been getting to see Sam awake for about 20 minutes before his bedtime each day. Not sure what we're going to do about this yet...

But until then, let me introduce...


I really felt like I needed more to take care of. You know, a toddler and 2 cats - it just wasn't enough. But Sam likes to wave at them and look at them during his meals and since I now do all meals by myself I'm willing to do quite a bit to make them a little easier.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

End of Summer Days, Daddy Days

The end of summer has been looming around to say the least. Just as a child dreads the start of school, I have been in denial about these last weeks of August as they quickly approached. I’ve been spoiled, you see. For the past 4 weeks, ever since Hubby took the Bar Exam, I have had him all to myself, and with Sam, of course. There’s been no studying, no books, no mock trials, no drilling him with law details, no going off to work/school, no nothing. It’s been wonderful. We’ve split the work load around the house, attended to Sam together (except, of course, for all things sleep related because clearly only Mommy can do that job), and we’ve spent afternoons at the park, the zoo, or running errands together. It all stops here.

Tomorrow Hubby starts his new job, the one we moved here for, and Sam and I are just the two of us again. We’ve done it before, we can do it again. The bad news is that Hubby’s work day is a lot longer than we realized…a LOT longer than I realized. What I thought was going to be him gone for 9-10 hours including travel is realistically going to be 12-13 hours and that’s if we cut out some of the time away by driving him to the train (we have one car). So now we have problems with dinner together, the problem being that we can’t really do it, not to mention the fact that Hubby will potentially be coming home during Sam’s bedtime. It’s all very stressful and complicated…most of you probably know all about it.

In preparation for what is about to happen, Hubby has been trying to give me a little time to myself, probably because he realized when he informed me of his actual work day that I was on the verge of a tantrum. So I sit here now while he is out with Sam on an errand, and yesterday I got to have a Mommy morning. At first I had no idea what to do with myself. Has that ever happened to you? Your husband says, “Why don’t you go out and have some alone time.” Uh…ok…where do I go? What do I do? What exactly is it that I complain about not having time for? I need advance notice of all potential breaks so that I can make sure I have something legitimate to do. So yesterday I decided to go to this bead place and make myself a necklace. I know, it sounds so lame. And it sort of was. I didn’t really like being by myself all that much and frankly beading is really overwhelming. But I wanted to make something that could withstand Sam’s grip so that I can wear jewelry again, part of the whole “feel better about my appearance stop grubbing it up plan.” Afterwards I went to a coffee shop and had my little chocolate croissant and latte, part of the whole “wonder why I feel fat but continuously sabotage myself by pigging out at every possible moment plan.” Actually the woman was trying to charge me $8.00 for this initially, which confused me until we both realized she thought I’d ordered 2 chocolate croissants…….why would she think I was going to eat 2 chocolate croissants myself? I’ll not go there.

In total I spent about 3 hours away from Sam. That’s pretty much the longest I have ever been away from him since he was born. Well, there’s one exception when I was away for about 5 hours. It made me feel like a lunatic. It felt so wrong and weird. I sort of wanted to just keep on going and not go home for like 10 more hours or something, as though if I went home I’d never get out for that long ever again. That was 8 months ago. It hasn’t happened since. But yesterday, as it is with almost every time I get out on my own, I start to feel odd after about 2 hours. I start to look around and notice that all the other mommies have their kids with them and of course they all look so happy about it. I never see the totally frazzled looking woman with the screaming toddler when I am out on a break. No, they are all smiling and talking to each other, going on a walk in their stroller on a gorgeous day. This is all I saw on my walk to the coffee shop and then back to the car. There just comes a point in that time away where I feel an overwhelming sense of longing. I saw women with their kids and was just flooded with a need to look at Sam. And I knew I just needed to see him for a moment and then I would be able to go out for another 3 hours if that was an option (which it so was not), or I just needed to pick him up and get a “big hug” and then I could go on. That longing for my baby, it takes me full force. I just have to get him and squeeze him and…look at him. Can’t go more than a few hours without getting in at least a look.

So that’s what I need to try and remember as our lives are on the brink of change. That’s what I need to remember when I am that frazzled woman and he is all I’ve looked at for the past 10 hours. I just need to remember this:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sincerely, The Blog Management

So last week I discovered some little added bonuses to enhance my blogging. Yeah, I know, like I need to spend more time on it. But one has got me thinking and I want to ask for your opinions, and the other is just so amazingly helpful that I have to tell you about it. Both are probably things you have already heard about, but for me it was all very new.

First, I got Sitemeter for my site. I read about it over at Mama D's and thought I’d look into it, just out of curiosity. I can’t say there’s anything really great about it, but it’s free and if you want to know more about who is looking at your site and how many people have been and how often your parents come each day (dude, you guys need to chill.) then there’s certainly no reason not to get it…unless it will make you obsess over your blog. I was afraid I would, but honestly after the first few days I forgot to even look at it, just like Mama D said I would.

But here’s where it gets a little dicey. I found out that there are more people coming here than I realized. You’d think I’d be happy about that, but it has brought up some concerns for me. Before, I lived in my nice little oblivious world where everyone who came to my site left me comments and I was getting to know all of you and it was all very happy. Now I realize there are some strangers coming around. And I don’t mind lurkers, not at all (hello lurkers), as long as they are not the kind of scary lurker that hides in the shadows of dark alleys, know what I mean? And I'm not saying I have like tons of readers or anything, I don't. But it only takes one freak, right? And this made me realize that there are people coming over who I don't know about, which has gotten me thinking about internet safety. I wanted this blog to be about Sam and my family, and I never really thought to worry about weirdos checking it out, maybe I should have – I still don’t know. But I’m thinking about it now. Do I want to post all these pictures? Do I want to use my son’s name, my name, both of which are fairly common? Do I want people to know what city I am in? The answer to that one is “no” and so I have changed my little “about me” over there. I worry that stressing about this will stop me from writing things about him that I love to share, but obviously I want to be smart about it. I know every single person reading this has a different opinion on it. I’d like to hear it. Where do you stand on what is appropriate for a mommy blog and why?

And now for something more fun for you to comment about – I am considering using a nickname for Sam, both for safety and his own privacy. The first thing I thought of was “Little Pooper (LP),” because I call him that all the time, because that is what he is. But some of you guys know him pretty well by now, and you know he is more than a poop machine. Got any suggestions?

Now onto the other site I discovered. Stephanie posted recently about Bloglines, which I had heard of before but never actually bothered to find out about. Well, I did. IT IS AWESOME. If you have not gone there and subscribed for feeds for all the blogs you read then you are missing out. It saves you so much time because you know just by checking it who has put up a new post since you last did your rounds. I now feel like I can “manage” my blog reading. Some of you may think, “What is she talking about? Who needs to manage blog reading?” Fine, then I am the one with a problem – my name is Beth and I’m a blogoholic – but for those of you who have ever said to your husband, “I’m really behind on my commenting. It’s getting difficult to remember who I need to read and stuff. I wish I could manage it somehow,” then bloglines is for you.

So tell me all about it: I need your opinions on privacy for mommy blogs, an awesome nickname for Sam, and to hear that Bloglines has changed your life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wordless Wednesday - 1 week old

"Kiss Off"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This one's for all the ladies

For years and years I wore the same ugly nightshirt. Even Hubby commented on its hideousness occasionally, but I explained very patiently that it was comfortable, which is certainly the most important quality in sleepwear. Year by year, the nightshirt stayed. When I think back, I’m pretty sure I got it in high school – it was that old, blue with tannish flowers and an awful neckline with strange embroidery. It was butt ugly, I couldn’t argue with him on that.

After I had Sam I really needed a nightshirt that could open up so that I could nurse him at night…let me rephrase that, so that I could nurse him all night long. I had seen a nightshirt in a maternity store that had slits on the front for just this purpose. In my extreme exhaustion I decided it would be a good idea to give my lovely nightshirt a little makeover. Scissors in hand I told Hubby what I was going to do, and he did not raise a finger to stop me. I know why. He saw me with those scissors and thought to himself, “This is it! This is the end of the Butt Ugly nightshirt I’ve had to look at for the past 4 years. Stay silent. Take no part in what is about to happen, because when this turns out horribly you don’t want to have been involved in any way.” Sometimes silence says more than words.

And so I cut my “nursing slits” in my beloved nightshirt. The result reminded both of us of Silence of The Lambs. You know the part where you get to see that dress hanging on the back of the closet door when it all becomes clear that the killer is following a dress pattern using the skin of the women? That’s what it looked like, with its symmetrical diamonds cut out of the front. What added more to this effect were my huge breastfeeding nummies protruding from these slits in their flesh colored nursing bra. It was all very…fleshy. It was gross. It gave whole new meaning to Butt Ugly. That was the end of my long loved nightshirt. I’ll always wonder how Hubby did not rejoice out loud in front of me, but he kept silent and made sure he wasn’t even the one to suggest that it might be time to let go.

The replacement nightshirt was equally unattractive. I knew now that I needed something that opened up so that Sam could nurse next to me, but finding a short sleeved snap up nightshirt is a lot harder than you’d think. It’s the whole short sleeved aspect. But any of you who have slept in the bed with your baby while nursing know that it is just a big sweat fest. Sam would leave sweat stains on the bed as he slept in my armpit, so dressing lightly was crucial. So the one and only shirt I found was yet another Butt Ugly blue number. More floral was involved, this time consisting of other shades of blue and red creeping up and down the front. It was so amazingly Granny-esque, but again, quite functional. And that’s what I’ve been wearing for I don’t know how many months. It’s been long enough that the whole thing started to stretch out, and lose all semblance of the shape it once had. It was not flattering. I was not attractive. But Hubby was smart enough this time to keep his yap shut, knowing I required a fully functional piece for getting through the night shift with Sam.

He let me wear Butt Ugly 2, “The Big Granny,” without saying a word. Perhaps he knew that I would one day discover on my own how truly unattractive the shirt was and perhaps have the motivation to change it. Yesterday I finally had that realization. I woke up in the morning and looked down at my stupid shirt AGAIN, and thought to myself, “Why the hell am I wearing this still? I don’t even use the snaps any more – I just lift the shirt for Sam. There is no shape to it, making me appear even larger than I already am. And most importantly I am not, in fact, 65 years old. I would never under any other circumstances buy this shirt. Had my mother held it up to show me in a store I totally would have rolled my eyes and probably made some sort of sound effect a la barf.” I started to wonder why I would make a choice to specifically be unattractive and not care. I started to think about other ways I do that each and every day. It’s as though I have given up in certain areas claiming exhaustion, stress, lack of time, and perhaps just being married as an excuse. I wear clothes sometimes that I have seen pictures of myself in and sworn I would never put them on again only to pick up those nasty shorts again the next day. I’m wearing them right now! Why?!

It was time for a change, and I encourage you to follow the following steps to make this change with me; I think you’ll feel better. This will not be a huge change. For example I was not going to give up my lame mom haircut or put on anything more than lipgloss because that is just not realistic. I can get myself better pajamas though. I can wear something to lounge around in during the evenings and mornings that actually fits and has a least a hint of cuteness (dare I say even sexiness) and does not insinuate that I feel ok about becoming a grandmother just yet. And that’s what I did. I took an hour for myself and went to Kohls – easy, inexpensive - to get some new jammies. And I love them. They do not involve lace or frills, nor would they ever be categorized in the negligee genre. They are simple. Very soft solid shirts that are actually my size in nice, flattering colors (the softness adds the sexy) and crop pants that also fit and compliment the shirts. These jammies are cute and comfy, who knew? It’s not like I went out and bought some sort of “let me slip into something more comfortable” nightie that only comes out for birthdays or something. These are functional yet not totally disgusting, and that’s all I’m saying here. Just a little bit of improvement can go a long way in how you feel. As moms, we spend a lot of time in our jammies, and when husbands work then much of the time they get to see us (mornings and evenings) we happen to be in our jammies, so it really is important that we not feel like hags during that time.

So I say to you, go forth. Go forth all of you mommies who have been schlepping around in that Butt Ugly of your own, whatever it may be. Go out for one hour to the nearest cheap department store and get yourself something nice that you will feel good about. I will only add the following rules to make sure that you really benefit from your excursion. And you MUST follow the rules.

1) You may not shop for your child. You may not even look. You may not enter the children’s clothing or toy section of the store. If you feel this will be difficult, you are not alone. I tried to get my cart past the little boy clothes but that thing had a mind of its own. I had to leave it behind and save myself. It might be a good idea to take an alternate route past those sections if you feel this could be an issue.

2) You must buy something you will actually wear. We all have those little nighties of various kinds that never come out of the drawer because they are not practical and are only for certain…special occasions, ahem. No, the point here is to find something that you will enjoy every day and night. So stick to whatever pajama style you happen to wear and then find something in that style.

3) It has to fit. You are not allowed to buy the next size up. This is not up for debate. Stop asking me! No! Listen to me, look at my eyes: IT HAS TO BE IN YOUR SIZE. You will feel better because you will be less bulky and it will still be comfortable if you have done a good job of finding the right thing. I promise.

4) The new item may not be in the same color scheme as your old bedtime attire. We need to do some pattern breaking here ladies. Try something new.

5) If, on your way out, you happen to pass the make-up section and it is calling to you, you must go there. We are working on feeling just a little better about ourselves and if you are a product junkie who has been deprived since becoming a mom and getting on a budget then it is high time you allow yourself a little somthin’ somthin’. Get yourself one thing that you will use every day. Again, not something that will go in a drawer and come out for special occasions. For me, it was some under-eye cream that is meant to get rid of the dark circles under my eyes (big shocker I would go for this, right?) using the “reflecting qualities of Micah.” Yeah, I don’t care. I wanted it and I like it. Go find one for yourself and use without guilt.

Trust me, when you tell your husband what you want to do at the store he will jump at the chance to watch the kiddies while you go. He’s been looking at that blue floral thing for God knows how long and his eyes are sore. This is just as much for him as it is you; he’ll make sure you get there. And seriously, there’d better not be a husband out there that would deny their wife one hour to rejuvenate.

Go forth. I wish you well.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Note of clarification

I just realized that I failed to mention in my previous post that Hubby was in there with Sam. I just edited the post to make it a bit more clear, but for some reason I still felt the need to add this because I realize the rest of the post (as well as previous posts) may have been confusing/contradictory. Hubby was trying to put him to bed so that he could work on finding ways to comfort Sam. It didn't work, as you will/did read, but I was not saying that we were in the midst of a crying it out plan.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Phase Two - Who's Your Daddy?

Tonight we begin Operation Sleep: Phase Two - "We love Daddy too." Let's note the time: 7:54pm. Hubby is in the bedroom with Sam trying his hand at bedtime; our next step is Hubby involvement. Sam is so close to being night weaned; we're on the brink of success. I thought last night would be the night, but then for some reason it was a really bad night. We had one unwanted nursing session. Still, that's pretty good and I'm trying to focus on the good right now as I listen to my son scream as though he's alone in the room...or as though someone is plucking out his eyelashes. What are the neighbors thinking? I have heard many times that when night weaning it is really helpful to have daddy handle the wakings since when mommy does it the child is confused about why mommy won't give him the desired nummies...

It's now 8:48pm. Sam got so upset that he threw up. It was at about 8:02pm when Hubby called me in. Up above I was about to tell you all the really great reasons that we decided this should be the next step - that Sam wouldn't be alone so we'd know he wasn't scared, that it would still break the habit of needing me all night, that it would give me some relief for at least some of the wakings...I guess there's no point in going over those though. I was prepared to sit here and listen to a lot of crying. I was going to make you read my stream of consciousness as I sat and listened. Who knows what wonderful things I would have shared with you to pass the time. But now I am forced to tell you instead that Sam threw up everywhere. When I came in it was all over him, the bed, the carpet, and once I arrived, me. I took him to the bath. He didn't stop screaming until we were naked and in the warm water together. Hubby dealt with the pukey bed situation. I put him to bed and he fell asleep almost instantly. All signs have told me that this is something I have to do myself, with Sam. We're in for the long haul.

I'm not sure what to do here. I'm trying really hard to discriminate between all the things people are saying to me (not that I am judging anyone, just that I am trying to determine what is best for us, just as each of you did what was best for you), what I read, what I hear, and what I feel. I'm trying really hard in general. It would be really nice to have a good night tonight. I just hope that once the weaning is complete the wakings really will go down. Change takes so much work. It's really no wonder this went on so long.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another kind of blogad

As a mom, it's really nice when you find a product that you feel truly makes your day a little easier, a little brighter, a little...smarter. I don't mean in the practical tell you about helpful products sort of way, but instead the I-feel-connected,-enlightened,-more-aware,-and-just- plain-old-proud-to-be-a-mom sort of way. That's how I feel when I read the following two magazines. And no, I am not getting paid or anything like that. I just wanted to share what I can about these mags because I genuinely enjoy them and I would have liked to learn about them earlier myself, so maybe you might too. I have read a good too many annoying magazines for moms that were product driven, uninspired, and just plain boring. These are different.

I found Wondertime in my pediatrician's office and immediately ran off to the bookstore to buy myself my own copy. It was exactly the kind of parenting magazine I'd been looking for, one that focused on and appreciated the beauty of childhood. The slogan after the title is, "Celebrate your child's love of learning," and I think what makes me enjoy the magazine so much is that it really does emphasize the joy and fun of learning and how you can find these opportunities in a natural and meaningful way, rather than pushing a mom to force her child to excel (you know how I feel about that whole flashcard mentality). Best part is, if you sign up to subscribe they will send you the first issue for free so you can check it out, so there's nothing to lose!

More recently I stumbled upon Brain, Child. Cool title, huh? At first I didn't like it but it has really grown on me - if you have a brain and you have a child, this is for you (I think I just don't like pausing between the words when I say it out loud). This is not the glossy photo filled run of the mill mass produced mag we have come to know. It is "The magazine for thinking mothers." I've only read one issue but that did not stop me from also subscribing to this one immediately. A few pages in, I think I was just reading the letters to the editor, and I said to my husband, "Wow, this magazine is smart." When you know how good a magazine is just by reading how eloquently its readers respond to its articles, that is something. A few more pages in and I was hooked - it was a section where readers respond to a topic set forth by the writers of the magazine. The topic was "When Kids Mimic Us," and I tell you as I sat there reading the stories people sent I felt like I was reading a string of really excellent blog posts and laughing out loud, reading some of the best to Hubby and cracking him up. The magazine is made up of essays, fiction writing, as well as features dealing with current topics facing us as moms. I love it.

I just thought I'd share these just in case there were others looking for something just a cut above. If you have parenting magazines that you love please share them with me in a comment - I love a good read!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Spray

Monday, August 14, 2006

Alive, Zombie Style

This will be brief, as we are working hard over here, but I wanted to say thank you. I can't tell you all how much your support has helped. I had hoped when I started blogging that I might find a few people to read my blog and vice versa so that we could get to know each other a bit. I never, ever imagined how much of a community I would find, nor how much care and concern I would find in people who had never even met me. More than once I have needed support or advice and have found it from mommy bloggers, you. Perhaps when we are all better rested in our house I will write a proper ode to blogging. And I certainly intend to come back to your blogs (or be introduced to your blogs for the new people I have met) and respond to your emails and send you all love letters and chocolates and flowers. I intend to, just as soon as we get out of this vacuum that is Operation Sleep: Phase One. But for now, thank you all for your comments, emails, articles, posts, support, and just for reading.

Many of you have asked about the status over here so here is the update. We are on day 3 of Operation Sleep: Phase One - "crib time and night weaning." For us, night weaning has been the step that has really messed us up and our inability to get it over with has really been the essence of our problems. Back when we met with the "sleep consultant" we all agreed that the frequency of Sam's wakings would go down if we could get him out of the habit of night nursing; he will wake up less if he knows there is little point since there will be no nummies. Problem is it's just really hard to night wean. It takes A LOT of endurance and we've pretty much been on this step on and off for months. So Hubby and I decided it is our first goal right now, along with moving him to his crib. He's been starting out the night sleeping in an Amby Bed, which was extremely helpful in transitioning him out of our bed (he had that weird bouncing thing), a huge step taken at about 9 months. And then he's been moved to our bed anywhere between 2:00 and 5:00am each night. But now he's really getting too big for the Amby and it's also not a safe place for older babies if they are awake and unattended. So if we are ever to get him to sleep on his own, he can't be in the Amby and needs to learn how to sleep in the crib.

So right now we are staying in the room with him and touching him (rubbing his back, holding his hand, etc.) to help soothe him to sleep so that he can get used to the crib and not be afraid of it. I am also cutting down on the duration and frequency of his night nursings with the intent of stopping them altogether in the next 3 days. And then later this week we will be in the room with him but not touching him.

The first night was a bit sketchy. Hubby and I were not totally clear on all of the details (when do I nurse, who does what, etc.) other than "move him to the crib" so it backfired a bit by about 2:00am and he ended up back in our bed. Last night was hard but more successful. He woke up every 45 minutes on the dot but I managed to keep him in his crib until 5:30 and only nursed 3 times - and I thought I was tired before! While all of it is very difficult and exhausting, I feel more confident in what we are doing because he is not alone. I feel like we are addressing our specific problem and helping him to know that we can soothe him without nursing and, eventually, that he can soothe himself with us just short distance away, which will hopefully show him it is really just not worth waking up. Once we are weaned for a few days we will evaluate where we are, how often he wakes up, what he requires when he wakes up and so forth and then develop Phase Two.

And so we're off on night 3. Can't wait to visit all your blogs again and see how you all are. Thank you again for reading that incredibly long post and then taking even more time to thoughtfully respond. Although I do not wish sleep problems on anyone, it is so good to know I am not alone.

Ok, so I guess this wasn't so brief...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I have a secret.

That’s what it feels like, like I have a secret that I keep from everyone I meet, from everyone who reads this blog, from our families, although my parents have some idea of what has been going on. I’ve alluded to it before – in my blog, in your comments, in jokes made to strangers – but I’ve never really explained anything to anyone. We have been harboring this secret, this problem, for 15 months now, because that is how old Sam is, and I think we’ve finally hit the point where we can’t go on like this anymore. I can’t. The truth is I am not actually the hypersensitive, fairly unfashionable, bad haircutted human mommy that you think I am; I am actually a half dead zombie.

Ah, she jests, you think to yourself. But believe me, the lightheartedness ends here, because I spent hours last night sobbing about what I am about to relay to you: Sam can’t sleep on his own…at all. He’s 15 months old, we’ve let him get to be 15 months old, and he can’t sooth himself to sleep. You may think, big deal, so you have to put him to sleep when he goes to bed. Well, if that were the case this would not be nearly the problem that it is. For those of you that have battled with sleep problems you know that we all have what are called “light awakenings.” For adults this is when you sort of half wake up and roll over and instantly fall back to sleep. The sleep cycle lasts several hours, making you have a few light awakenings each night – maybe during one you realize you have to get up and pee. For babies these awakenings are much more frequent, varying according to age between 45 minutes to about 2 hours on the outside. When a baby has a “sleep problem” it means that he cannot get back to sleep on his own not only in the beginning of the night, but for every one of those light awakenings throughout. That’s how Sam is. That means that from the time he was about 2 weeks old he has required assistance, in some form or other, to get himself back to sleep ever hour to 2 hours or so. That means he wakes me up roughly 5 times a night, sometimes more, and needs me to help him. What he requires to help him back to sleep during these awakenings is the part that has changed over time. We started with just nursing, which resulted in him not being able to sleep at all if I was not next to him. So I had lay next to him for every nap of every day, keeping perfectly still and quiet, and I’d have to go to bed with him at 6:30 at night, reading a book in the dark with a booklight while my husband watched TV alone. You may think so what, all babies need that in the beginning; this was until he was 7 months old. And now we jump to what he needs now, which is to be taken out of bed and nursed and then put back in bed and have someone's hand on him as they bounce him in his weird Amby bed (it's like a hammock thing that we can bounce - he had a bouncing thing for a while and this was the only thing that would let us put him down to sleep without being on me. There was a whole phase in there that required and exercise ball...) until he falls back to sleep. But ever since he had that cold a few weeks ago he will only accept the help of me, mommy, so that I am the one dealing with every waking. I’m just going to stop here though. I just can’t. I don’t have the energy to rehash this anymore.

I have started so many posts on this topic and never finished them. There are so many details that I could share about what has happened over time, how we got to this point, how we let it go on so long. I’ve filled pages and pages and still had no end in sight when I write it that way. And I’ve realized why I write it that way. I want to rationalize it to you because I don’t want to be judged, because I know it is extreme to most people. And that is what has really started to get to me. Every time I read a post someone has written, or heard someone talking about putting their baby to bed or their child’s sleep regressing because he no longer sleeps all the way through the night but wakes up once or twice, or waking their child up in the morning…I just want to scream. I want to throw something through the window. I am reminded that what is happening in our house, in fact, is not what is happening in the homes of everyone who has kids. I know no one who has dealt with something like this, not even remotely. And I totally have no resentment toward the people that say these things; I know that what is normal is relative for everyone and it’s certainly not like anyone knows what we’ve been going through. But I have had resentment toward Sam, and toward my husband, and toward myself. And I’m exhausted. I don’t know what it feels like to sleep for more than 2 consecutive hours anymore; it's been at least 16 months since it has happened. I don’t know what it feels like to go through the day without that scratchy eye feeling like you’ve pulled an all nighter. I’m scared to drive because I just don’t have the focus I used to have. And I feel like I can’t do the things I want to do with Sam, the extra things that would make me a better mom, because I’m just barely keeping it together.

I’m finally writing about this today because I know we have to change. I know we have to help him learn to sleep on his own. We have tried everything we can possibly try to make this a gradual change, to avoid crying, to make this easy and slow on everyone – nothing has worked. We’ve read books, we’ve hired a “sleep consultant” and we’ve been working on it for 8 months. We’re going to have to do what I always said I would never do with my children. I’m not the cry it out type – I’m a Dr. Sears woman. And because I made this decision long ago I have loaded a lot of baggage onto what crying it out means and what it does. I’m convinced that I’m going to lose my baby, that he is going to wake up in the morning (assuming he ever falls asleep) and a part of him will be lost because he has learned something new – that mommy will not always pick him up when he needs her, that there is a such thing as fear and being scared. I want to believe he will wake up having learned about what it feels like to be independent, but that’s not how I see it right now. I feel like he is going to change, be hesitant, fearful, anxious, less joyful, because he is going to have lost the security he once had. And so I feel trapped, as I have for so many months now. I absolutely cannot continue this way for the sake of my mothering and my marriage, and yet I detest the only solution that is left.

And so I am asking for your help. I’m writing this so that you can know about our secret, so that we can be held accountable. Being able to hide this problem has allowed us to let it go on and on, rationalizing and perpetuating. And I guess I am also asking for your support. Tell me that you let your child cry some and that they still loved you in the morning, that they still laughed during the day, and that everyone was happier because they were rested. Tell me it made you a better mom in the end.

For 10 months I have dreaded going to bed at night. It’s been one of the worst things about this – to be so tired and to know that going to bed will not give any rest, but will only be a time to work even harder than I do during the day. I have hated not being able to look forward to sleep and being in my bed with my husband. I dread tonight even more.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nummy Envy

Sam is nursing like a fiend. He was starting to show less interest in breastfeeding, just wanting the nummies a few times throughout the day. Then he got that cold a few weeks ago and totally regressed. So lately Hubby and I have been trying to just make sure he knows he has his other options when he has been nursing a lot more than usual. I’m not weaning him or anything; I plan to follow his lead, but if he has just nursed recently and then decides he wants to again simply because he saw some cleavage or something we’ll offer him a sippy cup or regular cup instead. That’s what happened yesterday. So Hubby went to get him a sippy cup with some milk and he brought it in for Sam. On his way he made a little joke for my benefit, holding the sippy cup up to his chest, spout out, and leaning toward Sam, who opened his mouth in anticipation of the cup. My milk came down…big time.

So add that to the list of ways to get your milk going: hearing your baby cry, hearing running or rushing water, leaning forward and jiggling a bit, watching your husband affix to his chest a bright blue and green cup.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wordless Wednesday - Kitty!

You can go and see other Wordless Wednesdays at 5 Minutes For Mom

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Do I want to try?"

I love it when things fall into place. Today was hard in that hard on yourself as a mother sort of way. But you never know when or where you'll find an encouraging word.

One of my new favorite authors is Barbara Kingsolver (I know, I'm way late and totally missed the boat on this one). I'm currently reading my second novel of hers, "The Bean Trees", and came across this passage. It's funny and inspiring to find fictional characters dealing with issues I feel I've been addressing for quite some time now, ever since becoming a mom.

Just so you know I'm editing this to get down to the part that really spoke to me. Hope I'm not breaking any sort of copyright laws here.

"When you told me about babies getting dehydrated it scared the living daylights out of me. I realized I had no business just assuming I could take the responsibility for a child's life."

"There's not a decent mother in the world that hasn't realized that."

"So how does a person make a decision that important?"

"If you don't mind me saying so I think you're asking the wrong question. You're asking yourself, Can I give this child the best possible upbringing and keep her out of harm's way her whole life long? The answer is no, you can't."

"So what's the right thing to ask?"

"Do I want to try?"

We're none of us perfect - we can only do our best and try not to berate ourselves for our shortcomings. Our best will be good enough; it has to be. And I already know I want to try, there's not been a question about that.

Now I just hope I can really hear this.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

But What Was the Best Part?

We have returned. One may wonder what best part of the trip was. Let us consider the options and recount the lovely vacation we just had. What was the highlight of it all?

Was it pushing the car around on the beach?

Hanging out in the beach duds?

Filling and emptying the bucket?

The public displays of affection?

Putting the cap on the bottle? (oh yes, putting caps on things definitely should be included in the possible highlight choices)

Nope. It was this:

Finally, FINALLY Sam took his first steps. The pics aren't great because the room was pretty dark and we didn't have the video camera on the trip (of course!) but he can totally do it. He's very brave now that he has gotten started. We've probably got some booboos ahead, but right now we're all very proud. And glad to be home.