Tuesday, October 23, 2007

So here it goes

My first blog! Wait, no, I had one for work a few years back, before I changed career paths from hot (in a nerdy sort of way) software developer to still hot (in a frazzled, frumpy sort of way) stay-at-home mom. So that means, technically, this is my second blog. But on this one I can actually write whatever I feel like!

So let me just get right down to it. I have a "Spirited" (love that term) 2 year old son, Ethan who lights up my day every morning (before the sun has a chance to!) and a 5 month old Sleepless Beauty of a daughter, Salla, who is a serious drama queen already. She's either cooing, laughing, and squealing, or screaming her little head off like I'm pinching her all over (which I swear I'm not!) Anyway, my son was not such a great sleeper as an infant and at 5 1/2 months my husband and I decided, after reading (and re-reading over and over again) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, to finally let him cry-it-out. Now, I know it was not fun, and it probably took longer and was much more painful than I remember (kind of like childbirth...) but for some reason, in retrospect, it wasn't so bad and he took to it quite well. Now, my dear daughter slept 8-9 hours a night for the first 3 months (tightly swaddled, which I still use as a crutch today...). I said "Thank you God! You've blessed us with an "easy" baby!" Hmm. I take that back now. Something happened around 3 1/2 months and it all went down the toilet. Night sleep AND day sleep. I was SO frustrated, number one because I knew I had to wait AT LEAST a few more weeks to start any kind of sleep training (and that seemed like an eternity), and second because I was all proud of myself and thought I was the baby sleep guru and I was shocked that I could have screwed up so bad the second time around! (Gotta love mommy-guilt). I lasted about 2 weeks before I just couldn't take it anymore (mind you, my husband was away for 3 weeks while all this was happening!) and had to let her cry. It had gotten to a point where my sure-fire soothing method (i.e. nursing) wasn't working and she would just cry when I held her and cry when I put her down. I felt hopeless and completely inadequate. I was miserable and I don't know how I was able to keep up with my 2 year old during the day. So, there began the crying. And it worked! sort-of...Now, a few weeks later is seems to be getting worse again. And I think the culprit is her day sleeping (or lack there of!) She hardly naps at all. Most days she'll get 2 35-40 min naps in. That's it. I just have not been able to let her cry for naps! The 2 times I tried she cried for the full hour. Maybe it's because I have another child who has to listen to her cry too, but I just don't have any will power during the day. And now I'm losing my will power at night. I feel like someone flushed the toilet again. I need to take a DEEP breath and re-group. I probably need to start over and this time, suck it up, go outside with my son, and let her cry for naps as well.

On the up side, I am officially working on getting her to sleep unswaddled. I was very reluctant to give it up since it's certainly a sleep cue for her and helps her fall asleep for the evening. But, the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it could be a hinderance to the sleep training since it certainly limits her self-soothing options (i.e. hand sucking or moving into more comfortable positions). So, tonight, she is officially sleeping with one arm out! HA! I did it! I thought it would be much worse, I couldn't quite get her to sleep before she finished nursing so I had to lay her down sort-of awake (which typically does not go over well with Salla) But I also gave her a little blankie/animal thing that she grabbed onto. She protested for a couple minutes and then went to sleep....(and I started breathing again). The rest of the night remains to be seen, but hopefully tomorrow night, both arms will be free!

Wish me luck! I'm done tonight's rant...


Rebecca, Dave, and Joey said...

Ooooh! Ooooh! I have a rant. I have a 3 1/2 year old son, Joey. If you have a child the same age, then you understand that to him, that "1/2" is all important.

Luckily, Joey sleeps like, well, a dream. My stumbling block is getting him to eat. Anything. Period. Well, he does eat carbs and fruits. Sometimes. But absolutely no meat, and no vegetables. I have tried everything I can think of, plus methods that my friends, family, and some books have suggested.

Every meal time is a struggle. And just because he eats something one day doesn't mean he'll eat it the next. If I can get him to put, say, a chunk of chicken in his mouth, he absolutely refuses to swallow it. I swear he is part chipmunk. Sometimes it'll sit in his cheek pouch for a half hour before I can convince him to swallow! At one point, his diet consisted of mac 'n cheese and biscuits. That's it. All I have to say is, Thank God for multi-vitamins (which he was willing to eat, thankfully).

With the rocky bottom in sight, I just surrendered and let go. I was surprised, when, instead of hitting the rocks, I started to float up. I started to serve him the same food I made me and my husband. If he ate it, fine, and if he didn't, oh well. He's is not going to starve by missing one meal. Guess what? His eating is slowly improving. Notice I said slowly. We're still riding the same roller coaster, but the peaks aren't nearly as extreme.

I know, I know. All my family, friends, and those books I read all boiled down to the same message: do not be a short order cook for your child. They were all trying to tell me, but I just DID NOT get it.

For Joey, eating is a control issue. One thing that he feels he had control of in his tiny, out of control existence (e.g., how would you like it if you were involved in something and suddenly someone came, picked you up, and took you to another place). It wasn't a like/dislike issue at all. He just simply figured out that although his parents could make him do a lot of things, and possibly even force food in his mouth (which, of course, we would never do), we could not make him perform the biological act of swallowing.

Perhaps, Leah, you are facing a similar control issue. Except instead of eating, your children are using sleeping as their power source. The important thing to realize here is, it is NOT a reflection of your mothering abilities. I don't really have a fool-proof solution. I can offer my sympathy, empathy, and compassion.

Leah said...

I knew I could count on my (little) big sister for support! Thanks! Doesn't it just feel great to spill it all for the world to read? I know Salla didn't sleep any better last night, nor did she nap well today, but I actually felt a little weight lifted off my shoulders today. Thanks for listening, er reading?! Love you!

Carrie said...

I can feel both of your pain! My 2 1/2 year old, Gunner, went through a stage where I think all he ate was fruit, wheat rolls and dairy products...mostly cottage cheese and yogurt! Luckily he decided he liked whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, so I have pureed or finely chopped everything from carrots to broccoli in that to get some veggies into his diet...oh, and cauliflour in eggs and mac-n-cheese works well too (had I known I could have gotten on Oprah, like Jessica Seinfeld did, by writing this stuff down in a cookbook I would have...assuming I had the time to even write down a grocery list, that is!). Of course I was endlessly worried and wouldn't listen to anyone who told me a few days of cottage cheese and strawberries wouldn't kill him...they weren't the ones changing those diapers! Of course they turned out to be right...he hasn't died and he is slowly allowing more things into his diet. We do have to resort to some dinnertime games too (i.e. Mommy Do? Gunner do?, where I offer to give him a spoonful and then he yells GUNNER DO! and shovels one into his mouth to show me...not sure why he finds this so fun, but he laughs like a crazy person, eats his food and doesn't throw a tantrum, so why question it!). Anyway, you are not alone in having to find out for yourself that once you just relax about it, they come around...of course tomorrow that could all change!

As far as sleeping, I can't wait until my 5 1/2 week old is old enough to really start sleep training. We are doing the Babywise technique because it worked so well with Gunner...and he had horrible colic, which, thank the lord, Hudson does not. We had some setbacks because Hudson caught a cold from Gunner (gotta love the germs he brings home from preschool, despite the scrubdown I give him!)and got a double ear infection at just over 2 weeks old. I didn't even know that a breastfed newborn could get an ear infection, and he didn't have a fever or really cry that much more (thank god he is a calmer baby than Gunner was), but it was a struggle getting him to take full feedings and he wasn't sleeping more than 2 hours at a time. Since then, he only has been sleeping 3 -3 1/2 hours. I finally have had Lenny (my hubby) giving him one bottle a night because I decided it wasn't safe for me to be driving a car while barely conscious from no sleep! I was really convinced that I needed more sleep when Lenny found a cucumber in the dishwasher after I "cleaned" up the kitchen. Anyway, we had our first successful night last night...I went to bed at 8:30 after feeding Hudson, Lenny fed him at 11:00 and he actually slept from 11:30 until 4:00 a.m.!! I feel like a new person...so keep your fingers crossed that it continues! We also had the double whammy of breaking him of the swaddle this week, since he kept getting his arm out and I was scared he would suffocate himself somehow. I am happy to say that it only took a couple naps to get him used to it. I think maybe we are more attached to the idea of it getting them to sleep then they are. Well, I realize I haven't given anyone any helpful tips, but it sure felt good to commiserate!! Glad to know I am not the only one feeling like I am crap at this Mommy thing sometimes....but Leah, you are the best Mom I know, so hang in there and I know that Salla will come around (and work on those daytime naps, they are KEY to night time sleep from what I have seen with Hudson).