Throwing Out The Plan

Sometimes, you have to just do what works, even if it’s not what you planned. I think every single person in this community can understand that concept.

Baby Whisperer was working-until it wasn’t. We had a few hellish nights where things appeared to be getting worse. Every baby is unique, and my spirited child was MORE stimulated by Pick Up/Put Down, and by stimulated I mean miserable and horrified. It was like putting her through a trauma every time I put her down, and a glorious relief every time I picked her up. It just wasn’t working for us anymore.

So last night in a fit of frustration I threw my hands to the heavens and swaddled the kid up. Then I got her comforted and put her in her pack n play. I was exhausted, so I scooted it over next to the bed so I could lay down but still reach her. Almost instantly she was at ease. Apparently having me stand over her was disturbing to her, probably because she kept expecting me to pick her up instead of just put my hand on her chest and try to comfort her.

It took 45 minutes last night of me laying next to her and her cooing, playing, and wiggling in her bed. Then I put a pacifier in, she took it and fell asleep pretty quickly.

AND SLEPT FOR SIX. BLESSED. HOURS.

This kid has never been a pacifier fan, and now all of a sudden she wants one. I was reticent about it because I was looking forward to not having to worry about weaning from a paci, but I’m letting go of that. LETTING IT GO.

Tonight was Chief’s night, so after bath I nursed her, read her two stories, and nursed a little bit more just to be sure she was really full. Then Chief changed her diaper again because we got a surprise poop, and he took her away to be swaddled and put to bed.

No crying, and she was asleep in 16 minutes. Did I mention no crying? And she wasn’t held to sleep?

Two weeks or so ago she acted like she was done with the swaddle, but for whatever reason she is not. And that’s fine. Its another thing I’ve made my peace with. We’re doing what works, and this works. And tonight Chief did most of bedtime by himself. If we could get her to take a bottle I wouldn’t even have to be in the house for bedtime.

And as someone who has not left her baby’s side for six and a half months except for a few hours here or there to run to the law firm for work, do you know how magical that is? I love my baby. More than I can ever, ever express. But this tiny bit of freedom is just goddamn amazing. And we will all be better for it, because now she’s building a stronger relationship with her dad, she’s learning how to sleep on her own, and I’m getting just a little bit of relief.

Sweet, sweet relief.

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“She used to pump in the car. IN FRONT OF ME.”

Hey y’all. Everyone have a lovely holiday? Excellent.

We did too mostly. It’s hard with a six month old who still firmly needs two 1.5-2 hour naps a day, especially since she only got one. She was pretty fussy all through our second celebration of the day, but it was loud and there were lots of things happening. She had a hard time going to bed last night but we made it through to today.

Here’s something though:

Yesterday morning we celebrated Christmas at my dad’s house in the morning. When we were done opening gifts dad said we could go down and eat breakfast. I said that was good timing because Charlie seemed ready to eat too. No one exactly started to move and I indicated, again, that once they left I could feed Charlie.

My sister started going “Oh GOD-i didn’t realize you were going to do it RIGHT HERE. I’ll get out right now I do NOT want to see that!”

All I said back was “you have boobs yourself, it’s really not that big a deal.” But I left it at that. They left, I nursed. We moved on.

Then that night at my grandmas SHE brought it up. She said that she had been traumatized by her boss pumping in the car when they would go on business trips. “SHE DID IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.”

“Well, she sort of had to. I mean, you were in the car so there’s really no place to go. And you have to pump regularly to maintain a supply.”

“Jesus Christ-she could have covered up. No one needs to see that.”

I didn’t get mad, but I did calmly say:

“Honestly? If I didn’t know that it would horrify P, and Uncle C (my male relatives) I would be nursing right here in front of all of you. Because it’s not a big deal. I do it at restaurants all the time, and I’m very discreet.”

Then I got compared to a farm animal when my sister said that she didn’t even like it when her goats did it. She also didn’t understand why I don’t just pump and feed her through a bottle so that others aren’t “grossed out” by me. She said that it seemed like less trouble to not have to “worry about who is staring at me or offended.”

And I didn’t get mad. I just brushed it off because she is so, so ignorant that it’s not worth the fight. And it’s Christmas, and Christmas isn’t just about me-it’s about my whole family, and I know they’re stressed enough when K and I are around each other because of the tension.

But I won’t lie, it got under my skin. I’m not gross. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m feeding my baby in the manner of my choosing. I love nursing. I truly do. I don’t love pumping, but I do love providing life saving milk to NICU babies through my donations.

There’s nothing wrong with what I do. I am incredibly discreet about it without even having to use a cover. You see maybe a centimeter of breast with my method, but the bottom line is that I’m considerate that my family is a bit backwards on this and I always let them know that I need to feed the baby so that they can leave the room or I can. That’s all that needs to be said about it. No one needs to remind me of how grossed out they are by me.

And yet someone always does.

We were up, then we were down

Charlie went down so nice and easy last night (well, compared to the night before). She only slept for three hours before waking up the first time, but still, I wasn’t discouraged. Three is fine considering where we were coming from in the past few weeks.

The problem was that last night, unlike the night before, she wasn’t going back in the pack n play without a fight. It took us 15-20 minutes each time to try to put her down awake, and it happened probably three, maybe four times throughout the night (it’s fuzzy right now). Not optimal. I sobbed a lot last night because I missed my baby. I wanted her next to me. I had to remind myself why I was putting both of us through this.

Around 5:00 am she woke again and I nursed her in bed….and fell asleep. So the tricky little minx got the last two hours in bed with momma like she wanted. And I can’t say that I regret it. Going cold turkey on cosleeping is really hard. I didn’t realize that two nights ago was our last night of cosleeping, and it’s probably good that I didn’t because I doubt that I would have slept much.

This morning it became clear (at least partially) why she wasn’t sleeping well-our house was FREEZING. We’re dealing with these awful temps right now. It’s in the 60’s and 70’s during the day and dropping into the forties and fifties at night, and last night we forgot to turn the heat on before bed, so it got super cold. Charlie sleeps in a baby merlin suit, but that leaves her feet exposed. Poor girl had icicle feet when I got her up at 5:00 am. So again, no regrets for the extra snuggles. I needed to warm that baby up. I have to think that being chilled had something to do with the rough sleep last night, and I feel terrible about it. I can say it’s a mistake I won’t make again, because now it’s imprinted in my head.

Anyway, as a result of the crappy sleep last night, her nap this morning was shorter so she’s taking another little cat nap right now. Hopefully we can get her back on track tonight and have a better evening.

Much improved

So. Last night it took us an hour and forty five minutes of constant comforting, putting her down and picking her up, and finally giving in and nursing her for about five minutes, but keeping her awake. Then we put her down awake and she fussed for a few moments, started cooing, and went to sleep.

She slept for five hours straight. This in and of itself is huge and rare. Then she woke up. I nursed her, we put her down awake. She fussed, I picked her up, comforted her, and put her down awake again. She fussed for a moment, then cooed and went to sleep. Rinse and repeat three hours later, except I only had to put her down once and she went to sleep.

She took two 1.5 hour naps at very logical times. She woke up right around 7:00 today. We snuggled in bed this morning, played all throughout the day, took a bath together, read stories, tried some oranges this morning (she is not yet a fan). We had a damn good day.

Tonight, we put her in the tub at 7:00. Chief got her out around 7:20 and gave her to me. I nursed her until she was pushing me away, then we read three stories. Then I put her in her bed and we did the dance for a little while, then chief did the dance for a little while. I would estimate that we picked her up and put her down for about 25 minutes. Then she cooed and went to sleep.

So that’s a pretty big effing improvement.

I know that any sort of sleep training is controversial these days with attachment parenting. I ascribed to AP a lot. I nurse on demand. I was cosleeping. I babywear as much as possible. But honestly, I genuinely believe that sleep training is important for Charlie. I was sleeping just fine with her in bed with me. This wasn’t about me and Chief. This was about my baby girl, and she had the best day she’s had in weeks, and that’s saying something, because she is a sweet little thing. Even at 6:00 when she would normally be getting really fussy and angry at us, she was happy and smiling in the basket at the supermarket. Because she’s rested. Honestly, I’m more tired today than normal because cosleeping was easier for me than this.

But it’s not about me-it’s about her. And I’m so happy to see my angel sleeping well.

Getting Serious about Sleep

Guys, for all you expectant mommas, or mommas with newborns, or hopeful mommas, I would love to be able to tell you that the sleep issues one faces with a baby aren’t that bad.

But frankly, sometimes, they are.

In my last post I talked about how Charlie’s night waking doesn’t bother me because it’s usually just a minute or two, then she nurses, and she’s out like a light again. I enjoy cosleeping. I love having my baby near me.

I could live like this for a long time, honestly. But in the last week we’ve had a new and startling development: Charlie won’t nap. Not at all sometimes, and at the best she’ll only nap for 20 minutes. UNLESS I’m napping with her.

This is a big. freaking. problem.

I work from home. It’s a necessary thing for this kid to not go to daycare-I have to work somehow. Which means she has to nap. Also, she’s a tiny cranky angry monster if she doesn’t nap at least 3-4 cumulative hours a day. And I would love nothing more than to take that many naps with her  a day, but I just can’t.

I fear that our cosleeping has created a dependency that has to be broken and fast. We actually tried something that I never thought I would try today: Crying it out.

Lest you rush to judge me I’ll just tell you, I have done a SHIT TON of research on this, and there’s no evidence that CIO is damaging or cruel when done correctly. That being said, even armed with all the evidence, I only made it about seven minutes. We laid her down after she nursed and had a diaper change, she cried for five minutes, Chief went back and patted her shushed her, told her it was time to sleep and left. Then she cried for another two minutes before I couldn’t handle it, and also before I remembered that she is room sharing with us for another six months, so CIO isn’t feasible for us.

So put away the pitchforks and torches.

What we’ve decided is that we have to break the association of momma=sleep. Which is a bit heartbreaking. I narcissistically love being everything to her. We also know that, at least for now, CIO is not in the cards for us. We want to try a few other things first.

So we’re going to try some no cry things. Chief got her to sleep this afternoon by comforting her, laying her down, and then repeating this each time she cried this afternoon. It took him about an hour, but she is now asleep in her bed without a swaddle or a sleep suit-just her jammies. He has agreed to becoming her night time person for at least the next week to see if we can break the association of momma=sleep, but we’re not leaving her to cry, because neither of us can handle that. I know it’s very likely that she will cry, but she’ll be in his arms and he says he can take it.

We’re really hoping this will work. I don’t even mind the night waking. I don’t mind getting up with her in the night, but I know she needs to nap. It’s crucial for her brain development that she get enough rest, and if I have to withhold the boob at night to make that happen that’s what I’m going to do. She’s six months and almost 15 pounds, so she is capable of not eating at night now.

Send me strength because I will need it. I want to give that little lady every single thing that she wants, but I know that it’s more important to give her what she needs, and that’s what I’m desperately trying to do.

Six Months, Anxiety

Guys, it’s December 16th. And that means that at 8:31 am, (I guess actually 7:31 am, because of DST) Charlie has been on this earth for six months exactly.

Here are some things about this girl:

  • She can roll over both ways (though she doesn’t like to).
  • She can sit up mostly unassisted. She does wobble and fall sometimes, but she gets better by leaps and bounds every day.
  • She giggles and smiles BASICALLY all day, with very little fussing.
  • She loves, loves, LOVES the bathtub. I think she would live in there if she could. I’ve started putting her in the tub with me for the first half of my bath (before I start dousing myself in chemicals that make me fit to enter society).
  • She has TWO teeth and they came in almost at the same time.
  • She’s wearing 3-6 and 6 month clothes. She can still fit into three month stuff but it’s mostly summer stuff, so it’s not weather appropriate.
  • She got baptized this past weekend!
  • She LOVES the swing. Such a 360 from when she was first born.
  • She LOVES the jumperoo.
  • She can sit in a high chair which has made eating at restaurants a glorious experience.
  • She loves to be worn. My husband says I have an unhealthy baby carrier obsession. I have a moby, a moby go, an ergo 360, an Infantino Mei Tai (that I’m about to donate to the charity taking them for Syrian refugees), and I JUUUUUST ordered myself an early Christmas present of this. I cannot wait for it to come! Lenny Lamb has been my dream for a while now! I think once I have a Tula as well I’ll be complete.
  • She still breastfeeds like a champ, and now she can drink from a straw!
  • She really wants to eat food. Should get approval from the doc tomorrow to start BLW. On Thanksgiving she ripped a crescent roll out of my hand. The other night she yanked the straw out of my cup. She’s not playin’, she wants food.

She’s not a great sleeper, but that’s okay. Honestly most nights it’s totally manageable. She sleeps for a few hours in her PNP (3-4, sometimes she needs comforting every hour or so, sometimes she doesn’t) and then around 11:00 she usually wakes up and wants in bed with me, and that’s fine with me. Sometimes she does well and I don’t feel tired the next day, sometimes she’s up every hour. She never actually stays up. She just wakes up crying and wants to nurse a lot. It’s just inconsistent and I never know what to expect from her. It would be more of a problem if I had to get up every day and look presentable for work, but since no one sees me while I’m working it’s not a big deal most of the time. The last few days have been not great, but I know it’s not forever, so I usually don’t stress over it.

Basically she’s just the best thing. Literally the best thing. Sometimes I literally find my face sore from smiling at her for so long. We sing and dance and laugh and play and 99% of the time have wonderful days together.

I am still dealing with some anxiety, and I know I need to deal with it. I do, but Chief has to go to physical therapy 2-3 times a week and on top of him doing that, he has class one night a week and has to work at the BX one afternoon a week, so that doesn’t leave a lot of extra time.

The other night I found myself unable to sleep and crying because I was afraid of being in a mass shooting. What I was most afraid of is that Charlie would die and I’d be left here to go on without her. Obviously the thought of losing their child horrifies any mother. I think considering everything going on right now this is not out of the ordinary entirely. I was thinking about Charlie’s baptism and how afraid I was of a shooter storming my church because we’re liberal and my preacher is black. I think about it happening when I’m at storytime, when I’m shopping, basically anywhere there’s a group of people, I think about it.

I also think that because I don’t have a great outlet for my anxiety that I’m handling it in unhealthy ways. Like last night Charlie was actually sleeping well, but I couldn’t. I stayed up obsessing about this family tree Christmas gift I’m doing for my uncle. Like literally obsessing. Checking my email constantly to hear from the girl on etsy who is doing it, even though I KNOW that my email would push through because that’s how my settings are on my phone. Then at 1:30 am I left my baby in the bed with my husband and sat at the end of the bed addressing Christmas cards and doing thank you notes for baptism gifts, because I was afraid people would find me rude if they didn’t get a note within the week.

And by all rights I was exhausted last night. The last few nights Charlie has been up every hour. These teeth are driving her nuts. She’s like a rabid chipmunk. So last night when she was actually sleeping well I should have taken advantage, but I didn’t. So collectively over the last three nights I’ve probably had about 12 hours.

I’ve become obsessed with keeping the house clean because I’m concerned Charlie is developing allergies. I vacuum every two days and I hate when there are dishes in the sink. This is not me at all. I’ve never been a neat freak. I’m already anxious about where we’re going to put all of Charlie’s Christmas gifts (all of our family has fessed up that they went way overboard-this baby is LOVED y’all). I worry about Chief getting the grades he needs in school to continue with the graduate certificate. I worry about getting in a car accident with the baby. Earlier I sprayed febreeze and then had a panic about her breathing any of it in and getting sick.

Honestly, I need some self care probably. Charlie isn’t hard on me, but she’s my responsibility primarily, and that’s a lot of pressure. My friend C has expressed some concern and wants me to leave Charlie at home with Chief one night after the holidays and go out with her. Chief is down, and I’ve agreed. But I think I’m going to need something more, and probably that needs to be something like exercise, or yoga, or something I can add into my routine that is just for me and is GOOD for me. That takes care of my body and my soul.

Finding the time to do it is hard, but I think it’s important. So it’s sort of my goal to deal with after the holidays. Charlie and I see the same doctor, so I may talk to him when I’m tomorrow about the anxiety and see what he thinks. I really don’t want to take anything medicinally, so I’ve been pretty hesitant to mention it to a doctor.

And that’s my super long update. Sorry they’re fewer and far between these days.