Do They Have Sleep Training for Moms?

Tonight looked something like this:

Sometimes bedtime can be a joy – Lila is cool, stories, snuggles, songs.  Lucy falls asleep in my arms.  It is not 80 degrees in the house.  Cal isn’t doing anything he is not supposed to be doing and B-Cat isn’t screaming for her 35th helping of crunchies that night. Tonight was not one of those nights.  Three out of four of us may have been in tears at one point, there may have been a forceful teethbrushing session with an uncooperative toddler and B-Cat may still not have her desired amount of crunchies in her bowl.

Lucy’s six month check up was a week ago and I staved off any discussion of sleep training or modifications for Lucy stating that things were good.  She went to bed between 8-9pm, she slept until 1-2am, ate and then slept until 5-6am.  Would I prefer a 7-7 schedule?  Sure, but I also like feeding Lucy.  I like cuddling with her.  I miss her during the day.  I can’t feed her at lunch time anymore.  It is unclear if we’ll have more kids and everyday I am aware that this may be the last time I do X with a baby.  The doctor told us that if we were happy, that was fine and there was nothing showing that children who were “sleep trained” performed any differently in life than those who were not.  Sweet.  Lucy and I would keep on doing how we do.

Then Lucy got a cold last week.  And was up every 90 minutes.  I realized that we just can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. So I’ve been researching sleep (do you know about ISIS Parenting?  It is the most amazing thing in the world.  I love the webinars, I love their attitude and I just love the information.  Follow Nancy Holtzman on Twitter.  She is a treasure.) Lucy is still in our bedroom.  This is partly because we dragged our feet on getting a crib and figuring out how to put two kids in one room.  The other part is my refusal to accept that Lucy is already at the point where she isn’t my little baby who can be cuddled and snuggled and sleep wherever.   (Honestly, maybe back to my hippie flag waving, but I’d co-sleep with her if there wasn’t already a husband, beagle and cat in bed with us.  I love bringing her into bed with us.)  But it is becoming clear that being in our room, nursing her to sleep, not having a dark quiet place for her to fall asleep, this is all preventing her from sleeping through the night.

So tonight I fed her separate from bedtime and didn’t nurse her to sleep.  We both cried a bit about it as I held her and tried to offer the pacifier instead as she worked at falling asleep.  We put together her crib and she’ll start sleeping in it tomorrow night. I’m still really torn.  The logical part of me knows that this move is what is best for her, especially with another child and two full time working parents.  The emotional part of me?  I’m just not okay with it.  I don’t know how to balance the two.  Maybe all the crazy emotionalness will go away with sleep, but I think the realization that with or without my permission Lucy is going to grow up (and do it quickly) is one with which I just need to get on board.

PS – Lucy’s crib is still in the office until she is a more reliable sleeper so she won’t wake Lila up.  There is a spare bed in the office.  It is entirely possible I sneak in there to sleep and listen to her breath more than once or twice a week.

Haters Gonna Hate

There are several different types of mommy blogs.  Crafty ones, kitchen ones, God ones, working momones and then the uber angry ones where they seem to hate being a mom, hate their children and generally hate their lives.  I’m not going to link to examples of this type of blog, because I’m not trying to point fingers, but in reading a blog like this recently I became really concerned that maybe my blog may come off that way.

 I am far from the perfect mother.  I’m not shy about whining on this blog (or twitter) (or Instagram) (or a variety of other social media locations) that being a mom can be hard.  But I have to say, I hope that no one who reads my blog thinks that I hate being a mother.  Or that I hate my kids.  Because I really, really, really don’t hate it.  

Everyone has good and bad days and sometimes on the bad days you just need to vent.  I get that.  I mean, that’s what Twitter is for, right?  But I don’t get entire blogs dedicated to why being a mom makes you miserable.

So I guess the moral of this blog post is just to say, I love being a mom.  I love my girls.  I have good days and I have bad, but I hope that no one ever stumbles across my blog and thinks, wow, that mom is really angry and really hates her life.  Because I don’t.  Promise.


Guilty as Charged

Maybe it is my Catholic upbringing or just my personality, but I am often riddled with guilt.  About everything, about nothing, about something that happened three weeks ago.  It can be crippling at times – the guilt keeps me from moving forward or just doing something.  Being a mom has not made my “guilt complex” any better, but instead given me tons of new things to feel guilty about.

Things I currently feel guilty about:

– having a second baby and changing LC’s life so dramatically

– feeling guilty about having a second baby because it is unfair to Lucy

– taking “so much” time off from work for maternity leave

– returning to work at all instead of staying home

– looking forward to returning to work

– knowing that I won’t be as productive as others at work because I have two young children

– sending LC to daycare while I am on maternity leave

– not treasuring this “alone time” I have with Lucy while it lasts

– not exercising enough while on maternity leave

– wanting to hire a babysitter so I can exercise more while on maternity leave

– blogging when I should be reading in Russian to Lucy to stimulate her brain development

– only giving Cal one walk a day (at best)

– enjoying naptime a little too much

– spending money on maternity leave despite a reduction in my pay while on leave

– not spending enough time on my marriage

– worrying about my marriage when I should focus just on the kids

– not spending enough time on “me”

– even considering spending time on “me” when there is laundry to be done and dishes to be washed

So the list could go on.  Today I felt horrible guilt because I sent LC to day care despite the fact that she had been up much of the night.  Honestly, I was happy to drop her off and know I wouldn’t have to fight temper tantrums all. day. long.  But I went home and began making breakfast and sitting with Lucy and starting thing about how maybe LC didn’t feel well or maybe she just needed her mom or maybe she was upset at the treatment of Iranians in Argo.  I don’t know, but the thoughts kept tumbling in my mind.  I decided to call day care and see how her morning was going, willing to go pick her up if it was a disaster.  Her teacher assured me she was having a great day.  So I climbed into bed with my laptop to read the Oscar fashion reviews on Go Fug Yourself.  Which really only started another guilt battle in my head of – you should be cleaning the house or exercising or walking the dog vs. you should be napping because you were up most of the night vs. you should stop worrying and just enjoy the quiet time at home while Lucy sleeps and you don’t have to be back at work yet.

I don’t know how to reduce the guilt.  I try to acknowledge it and move on, because it really can be crippling at times.  The guilt I feel over two choices can paralyze me and keep me from making a decision – like today when I decided WTF and just climbed into bed with a sleeping Lucy and my laptop.  I’m hoping to find some better way at coping with these feelings before returning to work so that they don’t keep me from being the mom, wife and employee that I need to be.

Everyone is Still Breathing

Yesterday was Lucy’s 1 month “birthday”.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have noticed/remembered if a very detailed oriented friend had not posted it on my Facebook page.  I feel like I don’t have much to show for the last month.  I still have two kids – and two pets – and everyone is still breathing.  And I guess that, my friends, is what I have to show for the last month.

We’re still trying to work out the details of this “having two kids” thing.  We’ve been lucky to have almost constant grandparent help since Lucy came home from the hospital – which has been fantastic but has delayed us having to figure out how we are going to handle this on our own.  (I’m not complaining.)  Grandma Dede leaves tomorrow and we’ll have to determine how you do bedtime with two kids.  (I’m selling us a little short.  One set of grandparents left on December 29 and the other set arrived on January 8, so we totally kept two kids – and two pets – alive on our own for over a week.  And A went on a business trip beginning January 7, so I even kept all four of them alive on my own for more than 24 hours.  Go me.)

I know I shouldn’t be looking for a resume full of accomplishments for the first month of being a mom of two, but I just felt that having done this “newborn thing” before, I’d be better at it.  I wouldn’t mind the exhaustion, I would lose the baby weight immediately, I’d avoid any breastfeeding frustrations and I’d make dinner without fail every night.  For now I have to accept that I’m exhausted but I get out of bed every morning, I’ve lost some weight and am working to lose more, I’ve overcome the major breastfeeding issues and am working through the others and my family has eaten something for dinner every night (sometimes from Subway).  The trains may be running a little later than normal around here, but I’ve kept everyone alive for one month and for now, that has to be accomplishment enough.

When Doing Nothing is the Most Important To Do

A and I spent the night away last night, one last night before the craziness of the holidays hits and our family becomes a family of four.  We stayed at a very nice hotel downtown and ate at one of our favorite restaurants (Poppy) and ate breakfast at our favorite no kids tavern (Brave Horse).  A has a cold and I’m almost 36 weeks pregnant so after we finished dinner when A asked if I wanted to go anyplace else or just back to the hotel, I made it clear that the hotel was the only option.  A luxury king bed can be very appealing.  I fell asleep by 10 and A watched Homeland on his Kindle Fire.  It wasn’t an exotic get away, but the time away from all the to dos and upcoming stress was much needed.

Friday night, around 3:30am, when I was awake as my pregnancy insomnia often causes me to be, I had a panic attack that we were going away the next night.  I completely trust our babysitter, so it wasn’t the fact we were leaving LC with someone else, but it was just the fact that time is just crushing down on us.  We had the closets redone on Friday, which has created so much more organizational possibilities, but the contents of those closets are still spread all over the house.  LC loves her babysitter, but with approximately 4 weeks to my due date, I’m beginning to feel how little time I have left with her as my “only”.  There is Thanksgiving this week, which despite A’s constant announcements to the contrary, is not just a matter of sticking the turkey in the oven.  (To start, the turkey fairy doesn’t arrive with the turkey and all the fixings.  One must go to the holiday crowded store to find it all.)  I was ready to 1) wake A and make him start re-loading the closets at 3:30am and 2) cancel the babysitter.

By 4:30am, I had calmed down enough to know that if all of this stress can cause a middle of the night panic attack, a night away probably wasn’t a bad idea.  As they say, you must put your own oxygen mask on before you can assist others with theirs.  On top of that, with the busy season at work in full swing, new babies on the horizon and house guests arriving soon, some time for just A and I to sit and chat about things without toddler interruption, without work emails dinging in the background or a to do list staring us in the face was probably the most important thing we could do this weekend.  It’s hard to say that the most important thing to is nothing, but sometimes the answer is just that.

Pregnancy Paranoia

We reached a milestone in BE2’s pregnancy this week.  It is officially past the point in the pregnancy when I went on bedrest with LC.  34w2d yesterday and still no apparent complications.  We’re thankful that BE2 has been so healthy and that we’ve had a really “normal” pregnancy.  This doesn’t mean I don’t panic or worry with every kick, lack of kick, funny movement, odd feeling, or black cat that crosses my path.

This is our third pregnancy.  Our first ended tragically at 12 weeks.  Our second was filled with complications from early on and ended at 36weeks with a beautiful preemie baby girl.  This one has had no complications and it is making me more paranoid than I have ever been.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and something to happen – blood pressure to spike, preterm labor, well the list of possibilities is really endless (trust me I’ve googled it all).  So I’m trying to stay positive, focus on the last few weeks we have as a family of three (plus the furbabies) and this healthy pregnancy.  But stomach bugs, Braxton Hicks and other normal symptoms of a late third trimester pregnancy have me doubting myself everyday.

There are a million books written on the subject of pregnancy but none of them tell you how to relax.  None of them truly tell you how to tell when early contractions are just “your body practicing” or really preterm labor.  (Really, look at the descriptions of late third trimester and then look at the description of preterm labor.  They are surprisingly similar.)  The good news is there is only about 6 weeks left to freak out about every little symptom.  The bad news – I have six more weeks to panic about everything flitter, cramp and lack of appetite.  We’ll take the good with the bad, so long as the good results in a healthy (moderately sized) baby girl born at no less than 37 weeks.

Slow down or speed up

As I’ve mentioned (probably more than a few times), I feel very overwhelmed by my “before BE2” to do list.  Each weekend I feel the need to be able to check things off the list, but at the same time I want to enjoy the time we have left with LC as an “only”.  LC’s weekends are pretty booked – soccer, gymnastics, catching up on naps, play dates and the occasional birthday party.  We start each weekend morning up and running, trying to sleep as late as we can and still get up and get out for class in time.  (LC almost always sleeps later than A and I on the weekends, we usually have to wake her up to get ready for class.)  The end result is that things don’t always get crossed off the list and everyone is really tired on Sunday night.

This weekend I had planned that in addition to our normal weekend schedule, we’d also go to a pumpkin patch on Saturday and then do needed shopping on Sunday.  (After all, are you really a parent in the fall if you don’t take your kid to a pumpkin patch?  Facebook tells me no.)  We woke up Saturday (before LC) to pouring rains and a predicted high of 52.  After soccer and a cold, wet (hasty) walk through the dog park, we made the executive decision to go shopping on Saturday.  Shopping with an almost 2 year old is not a relaxing (or easy) task.  After a full, successful, but tiring trip to the mall complete with dinner at a new favorite (Boom Noodle.  Highly recommend, excellent for little ones and parents alike), we dragged ourselves home.  Barely able to walk from pregnancy aches and pains, I declared that the pumpkin patch was not in our future.

I felt guilty “robbing” LC of this seasonal pleasure, but I know she doesn’t know that a pumpkin patch was an option this weekend.  I also know how happy she was to hang out with us while we watched football and cuddled, or how happy she was to read about 35 different books on my lap after nap time.  LC’s just happy being a toddler – sure pumpkins make being a toddler more fun, but so does extra time pretending the dog is a baby.  

And that is the balance we are trying to strike as we prepare for BE2.  An acknowledgement that things will most definitely not slow down anytime soon balanced with the knowledge that so many things need to be done.  Sure, LC’s last trip to the pumpkin patch as our only little one passed us by, but we were able to do other things, like catch up on laundry and have a giant family nap time today.  These things might not make my master “to do” list, but they are just as important.

Checking it twice

It has been suggested that one way to focus on the task at hand and not become distracted by other thoughts is to make a list.  I’ve been trying to use this technique when all of the to dos for home begin to overwhelm me when I need to be focusing on work.  However, the other day when feeling overwhelmed about everything that needs to be accomplished before BE2 arrived and I made a list, it did not make me feel better.  In fact, it had the opposite effect of making me realize what a ridiculous list of things there is to do and how none of it will ever be accomplished in time.  I really should have just started my maternity leave at that moment if I wanted to have any hope of finishing.

Having a baby near the holidays is just poor planning on my part.  With a due date that could easily flow into an actual Christmas baby, my list includes:

– Plan Thanksgiving dinner to be cooked while 36 weeks pregnant. Find time to shop/order/store groceries for holiday.

– Do all Christmas shopping by Dec 1. (Be sure to remember babysitters, day care providers, neighbors who you may call on at 3am when your water breaks, dog walkers who may need to take dog to kennel after water breaks and co-workers who will be asked to do more than their share while you are on maternity leave.)

– Ship all Christmas presents to east coast by Dec 7.

– Plan Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas brunch, and Christmas dinner for family Christmas to be hosted at our home, either 41 weeks pregnant or with an approximately 5 day old baby. Find time to shop/order/store groceries for such events.

– Get and decorate Christmas tree.

– Ensure LC does not miss out on any part of the Christmas holiday.  Early Santa visit, holiday carousel and fake snow at Pacific Place.

– Order personalized stocking for BE2 so that holiday photos do not look funny with baby’s first Christmas missing her own stocking to match the rest of the family’s.

– Find baby’s first Christmas ornament (of which most designs are horrendous, so good luck finding one you can stomach) so that it can hang on the tree in time for baby’s first Christmas.   (as follow up, hope BE2 is not born at 41 weeks on Dec 26, thereby causing the need to purchase ANOTHER baby’s first Christmas ornament for the following year.)

I’ll stop there because I am dangerously close to not being able to sleep tonight just thinking about this list (and this is just the stuff in the “holidays” category.  We didn’t even touch on the “home” category.)

Nesting is a natural instinct as you reach the end of the pregnancy – I had just hoped it would be one of comfort and not one that keeps me up at night wondering why A thinks Thanksgiving dinner is not a “work intensive” holiday and why is there no Boston Market out here from which I could order Thanksgiving in a box.


Making the Leap

This past weekend we had one of LC’s best friends from day care over, along with her family.  LC and her friend had a wonderful time playing together, they even had dinner together.  (We continue to relive the visit this week as LC points out certain things throughout the house to remind us of the fun she and “Mimi” had.)  A and I enjoy spending time with the parents of LC’s friend as well and have enjoyed having the opportunity to get together for the girls to hang out.  But we still remain friendly, day care parents whose children really enjoy playing with each other.  So, how do we make the leap to being actual friends?

It is an awkward, almost dating like relationship.  Do I reach out to “Mimi’s” mom and suggest we grab a drink?  Play it cool and just inquire if she knows of any book clubs looking for a new member?  Casually mention that A and I were hoping to try a new restaurant in their neighborhood and see if they bite at trying an “adults only” dinner out?  Like dating, I don’t want to assume that they enjoy our company as anything other than fellow day care parents.  Maybe they have enough friends.  Maybe they think Cal is not that adorable.  Maybe they think we let LC wear too much pink.  It’s hard to put yourself out there and then hope that they don’t awkwardly reject your advances – and then have to see them at day care drop off every morning.

For now, we’ll try to continue to make plans for the girls to get together, and hope that the more time we spend together, the more the friendship will develop on its own.  Maybe by the time the girls are in kindergarten, I’ll get the nerve up to ask if a mom’s night out for wine is of any interest.

Missing Pets

Yesterday we learned there is a 6 foot python loose in our neighborhood.  This is a concerning bit of information, though I am not entirely sure the Seattle PD is taking the threat seriously.

Officers investigating report that a 6 ft yellow python is loose in Ravenna park. If you see a snake, plz call 911! cc: @samuelljackson
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 13, 2012

Apparently the snake’s name is “Timid” and it looks like this. (Britney Spears not included in the Ravenna situation.)

Rest assured, there is good news to this story.

Pet Python on the loose in Seattle’s Ravenna park. Good news is – it’s recently eaten meal, so not roaming hungry. via @camjohnsonnwcn
— NorthWest Cable News (@NWCN) August 14, 2012

This situation made me look at the laws that would allow such a thing could happen.  In Seattle, you can own a snake as a “pet” so long as it is a) non-venomous and b) less than 8 feet long.  I guess at 8 feet things start getting real.

The snake itself seems to be having fun, “Timid” (his reported name), has not one but two twitter accounts already.

@timidthesnake IMPOSTER!There can be only one!
— Ravenna Park Python (@RavennaPkPython) August 14, 2012

  Earlier today powers that be stated they were not going to be searching the park for the snake because it was hunting a “needle in a haystack”.  I find this unlikely, what with a needle being about 3 inches long and this being a 6 foot python (and bright yellow at that).  While horrifically frightening that this giant, killing machine is roaming the streets (or at least the underbrush of Ravenna Park), it is a fairly amusing situation, which have provided plenty of twitter fodder.

The escaped python in Ravenna Park makes me feel like I’m living in a sad, Muggle version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
— Colleen Toomey (@colleenptoomey) August 15, 2012

Here’s hoping the needle in the haystack turns up sooner rather than later and saves us all from this modern day Muggle nightmare.