Thursday, November 7, 2013

strike

So a couple of weeks ago, the little L went on a nursing strike. Apparently there is such a thing, I have since found out through the internet. It involves not nursing. At all. Ever. Apparently, the little L had all the classic signs. She nursed perfectly well (often 5-6 times day), and then suddenly decided that she would scream at my boob instead. The day it happened was a Sat. She nursed that morning, and then we all spent the day at a nearby amusement park. I didn’t nurse while we were there because she was too busy going on the big kid rides, and I figured she’d be distracted. After we got back that afternoon, she seemed fine but beat. She nursed and fell asleep while doing it. Got up, nursed again. Was cranky about an hour later, so even though it hadn’t been that long, I offered again. She bit me twice. I yelped, and pushed her off and didn’t offer again until after dinner, when she refused. She’d had a big dinner though, so we didn’t think much of it.

The real test came during the middle of the night. Usually she woke up to nurse and went right back to sleep. That night, she started to scream instead. She wanted nothing to do with it. But clearly was unhappy because she just kept crying and crying instead. It took us 2 hours to put her back to sleep. I offered numerous times during that time, in various locations around the house. But she was adamant. And without the nursing, she wouldn’t go back to sleep. I think that night, we ended up finally giving her something to eat before she finally calmed down and went back to bed. And that’s how it went, over and over again for a week. Clearly she was miserable but for some reason wouldn’t allow herself to nurse. And she’s never really loved the bottle, so it was a challenge to get her to take much milk at all. She ate a ton, and that was fine, but by day 2, I noticed that her diaper was barely wet, and she was constipated from all the food. So Mon, I called her pediatrician, who told me to push juice any way I could. So between meals, that’s what I did. Sips through a straw, a regular cup, a sippy, whatever she would take. Once I even put some breast milk in a sippy cup and she took it! And in the meantime, I pumped to make sure I wouldn’t lose my milk.

Of course I turned to the internet for advice. I read that babies who stop nursing at this age are almost never weaning. It’s too early for most babies to do this on their own before 18 months. Usually, something sets it off. Often, it’s an overreaction to a bite or teething. So I’m guessing my yelping over the weekend may have had something to do with her sudden refusal. Also, on Sun, a bottom tooth popped up, so we had that going for us, too. I hoped that once the tooth was fully out, she’d come back to nursing but she didn’t. There was tons of advice on how to end a nursing strike on the internet. Take baths with your baby, and offer to nurse while you’re in there. Hang out with your shirt off so that she sees them and remembers how much she loves boobs. Nurse when they’re very sleepy. Sleep with them so that you can offer when they’re barely awake. Feed in a quiet room in the dark. Try different positions. Address teething issues, like maybe a cold rag just before nursing to numb the gums a bit. I called lactation specialists and a local La Leche League member. They offered other ideas, such as showing her pictures or videos of nursing babies, talk to her about nursing, go to a nursing support group where she can watch other babies nurse, maybe pump in front of her to see if she gets jealous. I tried them all. The little L was indifferent. She ignored me and played in the tub. G liked the walking around topless idea but he was the only one (unless some neighbors happened to catch a show). When sleepy, I’d offer and she’d wake right up, protesting as loudly as she could. She yanked on my pump parts. She pushed keys on my computer when I showed her some videos of animals nursing. If I laid on our bed with her next to me, she’d crawl away. At the nursing support group, she crawled around the room full of mostly newborns, and tried to grab all the blankets and car seats that were sitting on the floor. A few times over the course of a week, she’d seem briefly interested and lean in for a quick bite but then immediately pull off. I was careful not to react.

Things started to get better after a few days. I realized that the little L took a bottle when she was very tired but not hysterical, so I made sure to sneak one before every nap and bedtime. In the middle of the night, for the first few days, she would wake up and be up for 2 hours at a time, miserable and not wanting to settle back down. By the 4th night, we had gotten with it enough to get the bottle ready quickly so that she’d drink it and go right back to sleep. Every time she woke up, I’d pump. The 5th night she only woke up once and we started to think that maybe there was something to be said for the bottle. Aside from that, I pushed water and juice as much as possible.

But I was devastated. I wasn’t surprised that it affected me, but I was surprised by how much. I fell into total utter depression. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was a wreck at work. I spent most of my time googling the same sites over and over again and trying to find stories of nursing strikes. Sadly, for every good story out there, there are at least a couple of others where people said their kid just stopped nursing altogether. Or that they waited a few weeks and finally gave up. More often, people would post in forums about it and then never update. I think I even randomly emailed people who had posted years ago asking them how it all turned out. I must have called half a dozen lactation consultants, even though I knew by the second that they wouldn’t have anything new to offer. The one thing that all the lactation consultants said over and over again was to NOT STRESS. When I offered to nurse, pretend like I didn’t care one way or the other. This was so much easier said than done. Don’t freak out about her not getting enough fluids or nutrition, they said. She will get what she needs. She’s not going to let herself starve. So just keep offering as much as you can without pressure. And I kept trying, but each time she rejected it (me), I felt more and more emotionally drained.

I also made the mistake of telling lots of people about it. Because, you know, that’s pretty much all I thought about. And I have to say that about 98% of the responses I got did not help at all. So by the end of the week, I only mentioned it to people I knew wouldn’t say something ridiculous. And really, it was no one’s fault but my own, so I’m not trying to rag on anyone in particular. I guess I should have expected that the 60-year-old male judge in my office was not going to say something comforting. But I have to say that it was across the board. One of the most common things I heard from other moms was, “Maybe she’s weaning.” And then proceed to tell me how their kid weaned at 11 months or their friend’s kid suddenly stopped too. Another common response was to point out the good stuff like, oh, at least with a bottle you can get your husband to help at nighttime. Or, I can’t believe you’re still pumping so much. I wasn’t looking for silver linings at that point, and honestly, was feeling like nothing else really seemed that important. I realized that unless someone had a good story to share (Oh, I went through this. It was SO hard, but we got through it), it was best if they just said, “Sorry. I hope it gets better.” Or one coworker started telling me about something she’s been really stressed out about with her kid and said something along the lines of, “Man, kids can be such rotters; stress us out so much, but it always gets better, doesn’t it no matter how it turns out?” I found that surprisingly helpful. Otherwise, each time I mentioned it, especially during the first few days, I found myself just getting more bummed out. The lady from the La Leche League was hugely comforting and helpful, so I started emailing her constantly with random questions. I’m not a member of La Leche League, so I wonder if she started to feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of emails each day.

It’s odd. After our first kid, I was prepared mentally for nursing to not always be perfect. I loved nursing D, but there were always periods when she rejected the boob and only wanted the bottle. And it was rough for me, but we were pretty successful overall, and I realized it was fine. We got off a rocky start, but then eventually settled in. I don’t think she loved nursing though. And in retrospect, she must have gone on strikes, as well. I just didn’t realize that’s what they were. If D had suddenly stopped nursing altogether at 11 months, I would have been sad but probably more accepting. With the little L, it’s been different. I’ve often talked to my friends about how much easier it’s been this time around. This girl LOVES to nurse, and the issues we’ve dealt with it have been the exact opposite. Getting her to take a bottle. Trying to figure out how to get her to stop nursing quite so damn much. Honestly, I’ve been more worried about how I’m going to stop nursing. And that’s the other thing. I don’t plan on doing this for much longer. With D, I stopped pumping at 13 months, and expected the end of nursing to follow soon after. It was gradual and expected, and although sad, right. When researching nursing strikes, I’d read random posts from women who’d say things like, “Yeah, we went through this, and now we’re still going strong at 3 years.” Uh, no thank you. I don’t want to be one of those people. I want my body back. And after a year, I don’t think there’s really much benefit to nursing anyway. So up until now, I’ve worried about how the heck I’m going to get the little one off me. We’re nowhere near the point we were at with D at this age. I’m still breastfeeding several times a day and a couple of times at night. So some times over that week of striking, I wondered if I should just accept it. If somehow, she was offering me an easy way out. If I should take advantage and wean while I could because it might be too hard later. And really, what’s the difference between 10.5 months and a year.

But I couldn’t bring myself to accept this. The cold turkey thing just didn’t work for me. And I just kept thinking, goddammit, of all the things we’ve dealt with this time around, nursing has never been one of them. Why couldn’t she pick something else to challenge me with? I’m sure there were hormonal things going on that weren’t helping. And I just couldn’t understand because through it all, the little L didn’t seem happy either.

The strike lasted 6 days, and it felt like months. Suddenly, on the 6th night, it was as if the strike had never been. G and I were still on a high from the night before, when she’d gotten up just once, quickly taken a bottle, and gone right back to sleep. So I almost didn’t try at all, thinking maybe it was time to give us both a break. I was getting tired of the rejection. But in the end, I couldn’t help it. I figured I’d try just for a minute while G got the bottle ready. And what do you know, she went right back to it. No hesitation, not a second thought. I don’t think I breathed the whole time, and a part of me expected her to wake up screaming any minute. And the next morning, I was still 50/50 as to whether she’d come back for good. I worried that it had been a random half-drowsy middle of the night lapse that she’d quickly forget about. But apparently, she’s back, because since then, she’s been nursing non-stop. In fact, I’m regretting any comments I made during the strike to the effect, man, I now miss those nights when she woke up every hour or two wanting to nurse. I’d take that over this any day. I gotta say, that was pure desperation talking. But I am happy that things are back to normal. I still keep waiting for it to happen again. This last weekend, she bit me again a few times, and while I was careful to not scream, I did stop nursing when she did it. And I wondered if she’d again retaliate by not nursing. She didn’t. So we’ll see, but for now, all is good.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How (NOT) to run a half marathon

Decide to run one even though you’ve never run farther than 7k (that one time when you were in your early 20s and could run it without dying even though you had not trained and had been high the night before). Everything seems fun when you’re bored at work and looking for a distraction. And by all means, go ahead and mention your plan to your run-crazy coworker. That can only fuel the flames of your insanity.

Research training plans and come up with a weekly running schedule that involves three days of running and some 2 days of some cross-training event. Note that most training plans say to allow three months to properly train and realize you actually four. Wait to actually start running because no one likes an over achiever.

Decide that maybe yoga can be your cross-training activity and go to an occasional class.

Realize now that you have less than 3 months and finally go out for a run. Take the dog. Wear your husband’s old shorts that fit perfectly while you were pregnant. Spend most of that “run” pulling up your shorts and looking for your dog as she keeps disappearing at the park.

Repeat a few more times with different shorts.

Plan on getting a new pair of shoes but not.

Finally ditch the dog after you’re left with just 6 weeks until the run. Go out twice more. Once, even run over 5 miles (!) but kind of twist your ankle while doing it. Ignore the ankle.

During the last month, realize that you can count the number of times you’ve gone running with one hand and decide to bail. Enjoy a glorious week where finally, you’re not running and you’re not feeling terrible about it. I mean, you had that first part down all along, but the nagging feelings of guilt were kind of a nuisance before.

Mention the change of plans to the same, “I-run-marathons-in-my-sleep” co-worker. Somehow be convinced that it’s not utterly bat shit crazy to train for a half marathon in less than a month. Excitedly plan for a run/walk approach that will relieve some of the pressure. Note that said coworker is not actually running this particular race but seems confident that you can do it, despite having absolutely no idea as to your fitness capabilities (or lack thereof).

Waver a few more times, including the night before the run, when you’ve brilliantly decided to spend the night in unfamiliar surroundings, thus ensuring that your little one will not sleep. Wake up at 5:30 the morning of the run after you’ve been up from 2-4:30 putting your baby back to sleep and prepare for the hour drive up to the run start.

Sprain your thumb but figure, who really needs it for running anyway.

Barely make it in time.

Realize you’ve forgotten the little strap-on thing you thing you bought specifically for the run. So now, you have to carry your phone instead of wearing it on your arm.

Put on that fanny pack you bought for the very first time and realize that it’s not really big enough for your stuff. And that it keeps sliding down your waist. Unfortunately, you can’t tighten the damn thing because your thumb hurts. Also, you can tie your shoelaces for the same reason.

Wonder if your phobia of porta-potties will keep you from ever becoming a long distance runner.

Have to poop but see above.

Around mile 3, feel like none of this matters. That it’s a beautiful day and that you feel great. The poop feeling’s finally subsided. Your shoelaces have been nicely tucked in. The fanny pack is resting comfortably on your tummy bulge. Carrying your phone isn’t that bad. You’ve only dropped it once. There really is nothing better than going out for a run on a lovely day, surrounded by amazing wineries. Pat yourself on the back, cuz, dude, you got this!

Mile 5: notice that your ankle hurts.

Mile 6: wonder if your grungy old shoes are really built for all this running. If you’d managed to run more than 6 miles during your training, you may have recognized this sooner.

Wonder if the run will ever end. What is this, 13 miles or a million? And damn those stinky grapes.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

2nd chances

So with all this Ferberizing, I’ve been feeling guilty about how much time we spend getting our toddler to bed. Princess D rules in the land of dawdling and our nighttime routine is rarely routine and far from smooth. There’s the 20 minutes in the toilet which we’re scared to rush because she usually tells us to wait, that her poop is coming. “Just WAIT!” Apparently her poop takes its sweet time, just like she does. And believe me, we’ve tried giving her poop a deadline and then calling it done. But then we’ve paid for it later in the evening when she really has to poop and we have to go BACK to the potty for another long stretch, taking off pj’s and diapers that we’ve spent forever and a day putting on in the first place. Then there’s the milk that she hangs onto and takes tiny sips out of until the minute she goes to bed. And, of course, we can’t brush her teeth until she finishes the milk. There’s usually an argument about not wearing a diaper and sleeping in her underwear at least once a week, and we remind her that we won’t let her try that again until she gives up the milk earlier in the evening, which she never wants to do. It’s a discussion we’ve had plenty of times but it doesn’t stop her from throwing a monster tantrum about it every time she decides to ask again. So anyway, you get the idea. It all takes a while.




And when it’s all done, I’ve recently gotten into this habit of hanging out in her room with her. It didn’t use to be this way. We used to sit with her in a rocking chair in her room for a few minutes until she got tired of us, pointed to the bed, and we were free. But then we moved to her big girl bed in her new room, and there wasn’t any room for the rocking chair. So for what I thought to be a temporary solution, I started laying on the floor of her room. Sometimes she lays next to me, and sometimes she stays in bed. The plan was to stay for just a few minutes. But being as sleep deprived as I am these days, these sessions usually ended up with me falling asleep and then waking up an hour later to realize she was crashed out next to me. I’d move her to her bed and leave. And this kept happening until one day I didn’t fall asleep, had stuff to do, and tried to leave while she was still awake. Let’s just say she wasn’t a big fan. So this is where we’ve been at. I kind of actually liked having that time with her and didn’t fight that hard to end it. Our best conversations usually happened then. And it released me from baby-duties, which I liked, because well, come on, this option let me pass out for a while and catch a quick nap. I’d take it over endless bouncing on an exercise ball any day of the week. Plus, I was flattered that she wanted me. We went through a long phase during my pregnancy when I was not the favored parent. It got to the point where D would cry when I went to get her in the morning, lay back down in the crib, and say she’d just wait for dada to come back home from work. So I wasn’t willing to give up my place at the top.



Until now, when I feel guilty that we have one baby crying herself to sleep while the other gets both our attention for a fairly big chunk of the evening. So I’ve been coming down hard on the sticking around. No more than 5 minutes. D’s grumbled a bit but dealing with it all right for the most part. And yesterday, we made some additional changes to the bedtime routine that should streamline things a bit more. No more milk after dinner. Potty first. Books as time allows after she’s all ready for bed. Things were going well last night. Still not much fight over any of these changes.



Until we had a meltdown of epic proportions. Let me preface this with one more piece of information. A few weeks ago, when G was coming home with the girls, I guess one of our neighbors drove by with this old motorcycle/scooter that I think he’s been fixing up. I don’t know, it’s old and loud an doesn’t look like it can really be out on the road anymore, so I’m guessing it must just be a hobby. Anyway, he drove past, D pointed it out. She likes pointing out motorcycles when we’re driving. And apparently, he drove past again and for some reason, this time she flipped out, went running up the driveway, and wanted to go inside to get away from the motorcycle. It was strange. She wasn’t on the street, he wasn’t coming up our driveway. But G was just glad that she wasn’t going to dawdle in the driveway and went inside. Since then, she’s randomly mentioned this motorcycle and used it as an excuse to come inside. We’ve been perplexed and said things like, “Oh it won’t hurt you, kiddo” but haven’t really dealt with it other than that.



Last night, though, she freaked out. Refused to let me leave, clutching me as I was trying to set her on the bed and completely beside herself. Worried that she heard this motorcycle and it was coming for her. It was the meltdown of all meltdowns and I had no idea how to deal. I called in G and we spent a good half hour telling her that motorcycles do not come inside the house, that this one cannot get her. That it’s probably broken anyway. We told her she could keep the door open/closed, the window open/closed, she could hide under the covers. Basically we tried to reassure her in every way we knew how. I have to say that I handled it badly. I thought this was a ploy to get us to stay with her at bedtime, and that if we did stay, we’d be giving into her. I had already stayed my allotted five minutes and then a couple minutes more when she clung to me. I wavered between worrying where this irrational fear was coming from to being impatient to worrying that she’d wake up the baby. Several times, when we tried to leave her in her room and walk out, she came running out screaming and stood there wailing in the hallway. I very not so gently pushed/dragged her back into her room. Fortunately the little one slept through all the drama.



Finally, we left. And she didn’t come running but wailed in her room and kept calling out to us, telling us the motorcycle was coming. At one point, she called me to cover her with a blanket so that “nobody could get her.” It was heartbreaking. She was sobbing while she said it, and for a split second, I wondered if someone had tried to hurt her somehow and that this fear was maybe stemming from some real incident that we didn’t know about. I think it was at that moment that I realized finally that this fear, as weird and unreasonable as it seemed to us, was very real and frightening to her. I tried to google “3yo irrational fear of motorcycles at bedtime” and nothing came up. Shockingly. It was 9pm at this point. G and I tried to go about the business of washing dishes and preparing for the next day. All hope of an efficient, seamless bedtime had of course been thrown out the window already.



At 9:15, she was still crying and calling out for us. I had a thought. I went in and told her that yes, motorcycles were loud and scary and sometimes people got hurt by them. But guess what? That’s why we have a dog. And Mia’s hearing is SO good that she could hear a motorcycle even if it was 3 streets away. And Mia would make sure that the motorcycle didn’t get close. She’d bark and bark and bark, and then if we needed to, Dada and I could go out and tell the motorcycle to go away, that we were sleeping, etc. And that did the trick. Apparently all she had wanted all along was to feel validated and have a plan. And even with all of our reassurances before, we hadn’t been able to do that for her. We just didn’t get it. I asked if she wanted Mia to sleep with her and she said no. (Mia’s loud and annoying to sleep with). But she liked the idea of Mia watching from the hallway and keeping “her ears open” from our room. She asked about the baby and I said, yes, Mia would take care of the baby too. “Did you know that, Mama? Did you know that baby is scared of motorcycles too?” I had not. Randomly, she asked about Porter, my brother’s dog. I said he wasn’t scared of motorcycles either, but he was at her uncle and aunt’s house. “Why?” Because everything calls for a why these days. Well, Porter was busy taking care of her baby cousin. She was very reassured that her baby cousin was also getting equally strong motorcycle protection. She asked if I could watch her on the monitor for a few minutes, and I told her that we always watched her on the monitor.



And that was it. She was probably asleep even before I got from her bed to the hallway. And I keep thinking now that it won’t be like this forever. There will come a day when the way we react to things will have even bigger and long-term consequences. We won’t always have the opportunity to do it over and over again until we get it right. But for now, I’m grateful that she’s gives us these second and third chances, that she doesn’t hold onto our screw-ups. The chatter this morning had nothing to do with how I’d physically dragged her back into her room or how we’d belittled/downplayed her fears. Instead, it was all about how she didn’t hear any more motorcycles all night and how Mia had kept them away. And then, just like that, we were moving onto waiting for the weekly garbage truck, which fortunately – at least for the time being – seems to have no power to hurt her.



But I have to admit that I’m worried. Because if it’s taking us this long to get these 3-year-old problems sorted out, how will we ever deal with the teenage years and all the hurdles she throws at us then? And honestly, at this rate, are we even going to manage to make it that long? What if by age 10, we have a social recluse on our hands who’s afraid to leave the house because she’s got ligyrophobia (fear of loud noises) or ochophobia (fear of moving vehicles)? Mia’s not going to be around forever. And how will we even know if we’re getting it right as we go along? Gah, I wish I could just hang out in baby-land forever and deal only with questions about nap schedules and bottle feeding. As important as those things still are to me, I know that the answers will not result in any lifelong trauma.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

more Ferberizing

After reading the book, I realized that Ferber says more than just let your cry it out.  He says that when you put babies to sleep in one setting and then move them to another, they're more likely to wake up disoriented.  So for example, when they fall asleep in your arms and then randomly wake up in their crib, they get confused and go back to sleep.  Waking up is natural, Ferber says.  We all go through sleep transitions, during which we wake up for 1- 5 minutes.  But we eventually learn to sleep through them.  Babies need practice learning how as well.  He doesn't say that we're necessarily teaching them by leaving them alone.  There's really no way to do that.  But they'll only figure it out if given opportunities to learn.  And, if they fall asleep on their own where they're going to end up all night, the additional disorientation factor isn't there.  I didn't agree with everything he said (he seems to think, for example, that babies need less sleep than they do; plus his section on naps isn't great).  But overall, he makes a lot of sense, and I was at a point where I just wanted the little L to sleep.

He's all about routine, too, and waking babies up on the early side in the morning.  My friend's sleep consultant said the same thing, wake 'em up between 6:30-7:30 no matter how rough the night was.  Says to pick a time in that window and stick with it day after day.  This part's been hard for me.  I'm of the school where I just can't even picture intentionally waking a sleeping baby up.  And it's just hard after we've been up multiple times a night.  Plus, the little L hasn't been sleeping at daycare, so I can't rely on that to help her catch up during the day.  But all of the books seem fairly clear on this.  Early bedtime and early wake up time are the way to go.

The consultant also said that babies/kids have sleep windows during which times they're naturally sleepy.  If you put them to bed during those times, it'll be less of a struggle.  She went onto describe a daytime schedule that she recommended sticking with no matter what.  Hers was for a 4-month old (which is how old my friend's son when she talked to her), but she gives tips on how to adjust for an older baby.

So I took everything and came up with a schedule for L.  I talked to daycare to see what they did so that we could be consistent.  They said that it was hard to put L down for a nap at 9 because that's when the other babies are playing.  They said they could try for a catnap around then but weren't enthusiastic.  They were all for pushing the afternoon nap and had coincidentally, themselves decided to let the infants cry to try to get them all sleeping during those hours in the afternoon.  I think they do it with the teacher in the room, and if they had told me about a few weeks earlier, I would have been opposed.  Now, I'm just glad that things will be at least somewhat consistent between house and daycare.  Based on the daycare schedule, we decided to push up wake up time even more to about 6:45-7.  We'll take the kids in earlier (by 7:30 instead of 8-8:30) and have the little L nap as soon as she gets there, before it gets loud and clamoring.  They'll work on the afternoon nap the same time everyone else goes to bed, around 12:30, which is pretty much what my schedule says too.  And then for now, since she's transitioning between 3 and 2 naps, I'll pick up early and let her take one more nap in the afternoon if she needs it.  Bedtime between 7-7:15.

So far, it's working out pretty well.  It's kind of brutal, and today, for example, I was feeling crappy and didn't feel like waking her up until 7:45.  She doesn't go to daycare today, so it didn't seem to be a big deal.  Plus she's got a cold, so seems extra sleepy.  So do I, so I appreciated a few minutes of extra zzz's.  D, for some reason, has been falling in line too, and getting up earlier which makes it easy too.  Before, we were never n sync.  If L was up, we'd be sitting around waiting for D, or vice versa.  And before we get everyone ready and out the door, the baby is already pooped.  So we'll see how it goes tomorrow, when both kids are back at school.  I work from home M-T, so keep the baby home with me.  But more than anything, I feel like having a strict routine has been key in helping the little L sleep better.  So I'm very motivated to make it work.

Also what helped is that a few days before we were going to try Ferber, I was bouncing L to sleep and having a rough go of it. She kept flailing around in my arms, and I was so fed up that I unwrapped her, figuring it couldn't get any worse.  It took me forever to get to sleep but when I put her down, she stayed out.  And that night, her sleep was comparable to sleep with the swaddle!  So that worry, of her waking up more times because she couldn't sleep without the swaddle was lifted.  And actually, she seemed to put herself back to sleep several times on her own when given the opportunity.  We could give her a few minutes to self soothe because we weren't freaked out by her rolling over with her arms imprisoned in the swaddle.  And she showed us that she actually could at times drift back into sleep.  That night, she had a bad cough, so had several opportunities to practice.  A few times, we saw her almost sit up in the crib, look around for her lovey, and moan her way back to sleep.  To me, that was very encouraging.

We started training for real on Sat night, and so far, it's been better than I anticipated.  Not easy but not terrible, I guess.  I've heard horror stories of babies crying for hours before finally sleeping.  We generally stuck to the routine during the Sat and put down for 7:15 bedtime that night.  She was out by 7:45.  And not screaming that loudly.  It came in waves, and mostly seemed to be whimpering.  I've heard her go after it much louder in my arms.   That first night, the intervals were 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, Ferber recommends sticking to that max time for the rest of that attempt.  What's important, he cautions, is not to give in because then you teach the baby that if they cry long enough, you will come.  If you decide to make a go of it, he says, you should really make a go of it for a few days before re-assessing.

I tried to stick with the intervals, but at first check at 3 minutes, L went from sort of crying to totally losing it.  So I waited 10 minutes before going in again, watching on the monitor the whole time.  She actually hadn't been crying that hard at the 5 min mark anyway.  When I went in at 10 minutes, I patted for a couple of minutes and she actually seemed like she might fall asleep if I stayed for just a few minutes more.  I resisted the urge to stick around and left, probably prolonging the process a few more minutes.  Before the next 10 minute check, she was out.  There were some false alarms a few minutes before where I thought she was out but she raised her head for one last cry.

On Sun, we did the same thing for naps. I set her down for the first one early.  She cried for about 15 minutes before conking out.  G set her down for nap#2 and said she hadn't cried at all.  Just played around in the crib for 5 minutes before falling asleep.  He also did bedtime and it was about 20 minutes that night.  Yesterday's naps were the same, more fighting in the morning, almost none in the afternoon.  So we're plodding along.  I'm not sure it's getting per se, but since it's not terrible to begin with, we're going to stay the course.

Last night, night 3, was probably the worst it has been so far.  Still about 30 minutes before she fell asleep but it was an intense 30 minutes, the loudest we've had yet.  And it killed me because she had been passed out on me nursing before that, but since nursing to sleep isn't part of the plan, I pulled her off for one last diaper check before putting her to bed.  I won't say that I haven't been tempted to give up, especially on the nights, like yesterday, where putting her to sleep probably wouldn't have required much.  All I really wanted was to move away from the endless bouncing and rocking.  But it was G that said no.  It was my idea to try this, he said.  And if we really want to give it a chance, then we have to be consistent.  He's right of course.  And there have been times when it's been so painless.  So of course, I'm hoping that as the week goes on, we'll have more of those times.

And I have to admit that her sleep has been vastly improved since we started.  I think getting her on a schedule and losing the swaddle went a long way towards that.  Yesterday, her afternoon nap was almost 3 hours long.  She's had those kinds of naps before, but yesterday was the first time it happened without any intervention from me.  What I've noticed is that she does seem to get through the early sleep transitions on her own now.  So where she'd cry almost predictably at the 15-20 minute mark, she kind of rolls over and stays asleep.  Or, if she wakes up, she moans for a few minutes and goes back to sleep.  Before, that would have entailed me being in there rocking for another 20 minutes, helping neither me nor her.  And maybe Ferber's right, maybe it helps that she's exactly where she was when she first fell asleep.

So. . . that's where we're at.  A few last thoughts and an update tomorrow. . . 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ferberizing

So about two years ago, I came down hard on parents that let their kids cry it out.  This week, I've joined their ranks.  Call me hypocritical (and I do), but I couldn't take it anymore and suddenly, there I was, reading the book and proposing it to G, much to his total shock and amazement.  For months now, we've struggled with the little one's sleep.  She takes forever to put down.  It usually involves bouncing forever on an exercise ball, then slowly, gently placing her in the crib and hoping that she didn't wake up in the process, which meant we'd have to start all over again.  Then, if we did manage to make the transfer, hoping that she didn't wake up in 15-20 minutes.

It wasn't always this way.  Well, I take it back.  It was always hard, but in the beginning, once we went through the dance, the little L would at least take a solid nap.  We were usually lucky enough to get one good (sometimes up to 3 hour) nap a day.  So it was worth it, and also meant that we didn't care about the other 2, crappy naps.  But at 4 months, it all went to shit.  First, we traveled, and I thought she was adjusting.  Then she rolled over, and I thought maybe it was this developmental milestone that was keeping her up.  The 3-hour nap disappeared completely, leaving us with the remaining crappy naps.   G and I started leaving our Kindle in the baby's room and catching up Netflix.  I'm on my 4th season of West Wing episodes, watching only while I'm bouncing away on that stupid ball that I never want to see again.  If we had a longer nap, it was because we went in and put back to sleep every time she woke up, cobbling together a 2 hour nap maybe but after almost that much time rocking and bouncing.
Then we thought she was maybe teething.  In the 4 months since then, the little L does not have a single tooth but many a night has been spent thinking she must be teething.  If she is, that tooth sure is taking its time making its way out.

Naps weren't the only issue.  Nighttime was getting better and better initially until randomly, she slept through the night for 2 nights in March.  And I mean REALLY slept through the night, from 9pm to 7am.  On the third night, she got up at 6am and we felt greedy when we wanted more.  Then 5am.  Then 4.  Well you get the picture.  About a week afterwards, she woke up at 1am and we fed her.  From then on, she wanted to eat at 1am, then again at 4, then one last time when she got up in the morning.  Many nights, she'd eat and go right back to bed.  But about once or twice a week, she'd wake up and want to play for 2 hours.

It wasn't just that G and I were miserable (we were, and taking it out on each other).  But I felt terrible that L wasn't getting the sleep she needed.  Sleep begets sleep and I'm more convinced of that than ever.  I returned to work part-time in April, then full-time in June, and wondered how I managed to function.  The little L started daycare and things deteriorated even further.  Every day, I'd get their daily reports informing me of how she'd taken one crappy half hour nap all day.  And of course, that made her a bear at bedtime.  They told me that they'd started putting her to sleep on her tummy and I didn't even care, though I'd been super paranoid about that with D.  But while that worked one week, it never did again.

At home, we still swaddled.  We tried numerous times to stop, resulting in more weeks of sleep disasters.  We'd give up, put her back in the swaddle, and sleep would improve for a day or two.  We'd tell ourselves she wasn't ready to lose the swaddle and that must have been the issue all along.  Until a few days went by and we again ran into issues.  The little L has always been strong, and swaddling her has tested my strength.  I'm rarely able to do it and have it actually hold.  G is the master swaddler around here, and even he had issues.  She kicked and screamed and fought, making us think again and again that she was done with the damn thing.  But without it, we couldn't get her to fall asleep in our arms.  And if by some miracle, we did, we couldn't move her to the crib.

I tried every no-cry solution out there.  Most of them tell you to wait until baby is fully asleep before transferring and help them through the sleep transitions by putting back to sleep.  Clearly that was getting us nowhere.  I also spent all kinds of money on things that are supposed to help wean from the swaddle.  But they just seemed to piss her off more.  I didn't mind swaddling.  I would have happily done it til she was 5 if she let me.  But once she started rolling at 4 months, getting her to stay still was horrible.  I hated having to depend on G to do it all the time.  And at some point, it clearly wasn't helping lengthen her sleep as it once had either.

The other thing about the swaddle that was killing us was that we couldn't really give her any opportunities to self soothe.  With D, for example, we'd let her sit in the crib for a few if she wasn't really crying.  And sometimes, after just minimal fussing, she'd go right back to sleep.  I usually had a bathroom rule.  Anytime she cried, I'd go pee first before grabbing her.  With the little L, the moment she got up, she rolled over in her swaddle, and got pissed that her arms were restrained.  I always got freaked out by this and went running in.

It also didn't help that it's been much harder to get the little one on any kind of schedule.  With an older sister around, her needs often fall last on the totem pole.  Naps disrupted while I go get D from daycare, bedtimes playing second fiddle to a toddler's lengthy routine and dawdling.  In the beginning, for example, I knew the little L wanted to nap in the evenings, but I could never find time between getting D and starting dinner.  It didn't help that getting the little one to bed has always been a production, so I needed some time and never had it in the evenings.  D fell into a natural routine early on because I had nothing to do but run on her clock.  Not so this time around.

So I took the plunge.  I read Ferber and decided it couldn't be worse than what we already had going.  For one thing, the little L often cried forever in our arms before settling down anyway.  If she's crying anyway, I thought, who cares whether I'm there or not.  All last week, I prepared.  I read the book.  I decided that we would do it all in one swoop, the bedtimes, naps, and losing the swaddle.  We'd try it for a week.  If it didn't work, we'd move onto something else.  We traveled last week so I was waiting til we got back and everyone had time to adjust back to the time change.

Basically, Ferber says to let your baby cry it out, but go in at regular intervals to check on her.  Stay for just a minute, to reassure yourself and her that you're there.  But make her figure out how to get to sleep on her own.  A friend sent some sleep notes that promised to be less crying but ended up being mostly "Ferber-lite." So according to this lady (a consultant my friend had hired with her first), comfort more when you go in, then walk out.  I sensed that this wouldn't work with L, who would most likely just scream at the sight of me.  But I decided to start there.  But most importantly, these notes talked about a strict routine for your little one, waking up a specific time each day, and putting down at the exact same time every day for naps and bed time.  Ferber says essentially the same thing, but the consultant gave more specifics.  So for a 4-month old taking 3 naps, for example, wake up at 7-7:30, put down for nap#1 by 8-8:30, and so on.

Since I've gone on for too long already, tomorrow, I'll tell you how it's all going (not bad!).  But I'll say this, it's much less traumatic than I thought it would be.  And the absolute key, more than anything else, has turned out to be the strict schedule.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

flat

So I think that the universe is laughing at my attempts to exercise more.  That's gotta be why I found myself trying to run last week with my shorts half falling off and my phone not working to play music.  I was that girl stopping every 30 seconds to tie my shoes or pull up my shorts or restart my phone.  I decided to start off slowly by running around the track near my house, mostly because it lets me take Mia out with me.  I don't see her really hanging in there for a run but at the track, she can just chill and be in the general vicinity without having to run every single lap.  Well, I was also the girl walking around the park later yelling for my dog who was all the way over on the other side (about as far from the track as she could go) eating garbage by the picnic tables.  

I think it's also the reason I found myself with a flat tire coming back from yoga last Sat.   So far, I have yet to have a stress-free workout.  Missed classes because of kid-related stuff, me being stupid and taking every wrong turn/exit I possibly can even tho I've been to this studio now a half a dozen times, and then a flat tire.  At least the flat was after the yoga class, so I had that going for me.  I was just leaving when I saw that my tire pressure gauge light was on in m car.  The only reason I knew what the light was though is because it's gone off in my car before.  And the guys at Subaru told me that it's just an issue with the gauge.  Sometime about the sensor getting off during cold weather or something.  

Well, last Sat was definitely not cold, but I figured it again must have something to do with the sensor.  So I ignored the light and figured I'd take it into Subaru soon.  Ignored it, that is, until my car started to rattle on the freeway, and I pulled over to realize that I had a flat tire.  To make matters worse, my phone was completely dead.  Can someone please explain to me why this sort of shit happens to me?  As I was walking out of the house that morning, I even said to G, "Oh my phone's almost dead.  But I guess I don't really need it.  I'm coming straight back after class."  Universe laughing at me, amiright??  What else? 

Anyway, did you know they still have all those call boxes on the freeway?  You didn't?  Well, guess what, if you ever find yourself with a flat tire on the freeway without a cell phone, those yellow call boxes still work!  There I was driving 5mph on a flat tire, wondering what the hell I was going to do (I had started walking initially but f- that.  There's only so much exercise I'm willing to do) and suddenly, there it was.  So I used it and the operator was able to send AAA over to fix my flat.  

Then on Mon, I spent all morning trying to get the tire replaced.  There was a big old hole in it, but I had then managed to blow out the whole tire by driving on it, so I was pretty sure it wouldn't be a quick patch.  I first went to Costco, where the guy told me that since I had all wheel drive, I needed 4 of the same tires, and they didn't carry the brand that was on my car.  He took a look at my tires and said the other 3 looked pretty good, I might even be able to get away with just one tire.  

I went to Sears next and the guy there told me essentially the same thing, but said he had to sell 2.  They didn't have this tire in stock tho and he'd order and have it ready by the next day.  

Strike 2.  I went to yet another place, where the guy told me Subaru required that I sell all 4 tires.  With AWD, it was a liability issue and he could not sell me just one tire.  OK, so I admit.  I'm not a car gal but that sounded pretty fishy.  Not only that, he then tried to convince me to get a credit card so that I could get a rebate.  I came back to my car and called Subaru, who called BS.  And also told me that I probably had tire coverage on my prepaid maintenance plan.  So after a morning running around, I ended up getting a free tired at Subaru!  Not bad for a day's work, I guess.  I gotta thank that scammer because otherwise, I wouldn't have even thought to call Subaru and never known about the tire coverage.   

But dude, guess what I did not do on Mon again?  Go running.  I'm telling you, some one clearly does not want me to exercise.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm back!

Well, I'm back and I have no excuse for not posting for over a year and a half.  Other than having another baby, who has been sucking the life out of me (literally and figuratively).  But since she was born almost 8 months ago, it's not a real excuse, is it?  Especially since I managed to find time during my maternity leave to watch Downton Abbey (in like a week), several seasons of Mad Men, and a bunch of Game of Thrones.  But it was much easier back then to watch TV and nurse than it was to type.  Nowadays, it's hard to do either really since baby L doesn't like being distracted while nursing and bites me with her gums when she senses that I'm not paying 100% attention to her.

So anyway, no real excuse.  But we got another little one, and I'm looking so forward to having two teenage girls one day.  I'm not on maternity leave anymore.  In April, I started going back part time, and by June, I was back to full-time.  It's been hard.  There's no way to sugar coat it, and I totally called it last year.    The little one has not been easy.  She didn't take a bottle for the longest time.  They spoon fed her in daycare for weeks.  She's a pretty crappy sleeper, and a good night for us is having her wake up just twice during the course of the night now.  Last night, she was restless even while sleeping and woke up at least 3 times, I think.   It's all a blur now.

On the other hand, unlike D, she's a greater nurser and loves to eat.  She gets angry when we eat in front of her, so we've taken to feeding her little bits of whatever we're having.  Angel hair with alfredo sauce, quinoa/brown rice mix, hummus, whatever we're eating basically has found its way into the little one's mouth.  And out the other end -- thanks quinoa!  Who knew you weren't digestible by an 8-month old?  She's active and will probably have us running after her in no time.  And it's pretty easy to get a grin out of her.  And man it's a pretty good grin.  OMG.  Even on the most frustrating, sleep-deprived days, all she has to do is smile at me, and I'm almost ready to forgive and forget everything else.  

It's fascinating to me how different the two girls are from each other.  It's been like night and day from the beginning.  Where D had to be woken up to eat in the early days, L announced her hunger loudly and at regular intervals right from the get go.  Where D struggled to nurse and later, didn't like solids for the longest time, L clearly has no issues in this area.  Where D lingered at my boob for days on end, L gets in and out because (I think) she can't be bothered to waste her time eating.  Where D slept through the night almost from the beginning, we're still struggled to attain that magical milestone at 8 months now.  And of course, where D was content to hang out in one place, L already tries to leap out of my arms.  She rolled over even before 4 months and sat up soon after.  She's been trying to crawl and pull to standing, and I imagine, once she can do both, there'll be no stopping her.

What's been even more amazing is how close the girls have been to each other almost from the beginning.  I have pictures from the first weeks of L's eyes fixated on her sister.  And to this day, she hears D's voice in another room and immediately smiles and gets excited.  And our toddler, who can throw down a tantrum with the best of them and can be as pissy as all get out to us, has never been anything but smiles to her little sister.  Well, there was that time she told me the baby cried too much.  And more than a little bit of toy grabbing from the baby's hands.  And several times when she's "helped the baby roll over" and over and over.  But L doesn't seem to mind and I'd say there are far more hugs than anything else.

When it comes to the baby, D loves to help.  Sometimes, when I'm busy, I'll send her in to check on the baby, and I'll watch on the monitor as she leans into the crib and offers L a toy.  Or says, "Don't cry, baby.  I'm here now."  And what do you know the baby sees her and stops crying.  I know there will come a day when they'll fight and pull each other's hair out.  But man, I hope this spirit of closeness continues throughout their lives.

Anyway, life's been busy and stressful and kind of lovely and terrible at the same time.  It's been a good year, but not easy, and I've found myself to be cranky and tired more days than not.  So I'm making a conscious effort now to have a life beyond just the kids.  So seems like as good as any to get back into blogging too.  I'm also trying to get back into yoga and am training to run a half marathon!  And meal plan so that our evenings go a little smoother, and pack up for daycare the night before so that our mornings aren't as hectic.  It's like making new year's resolutions in August!  If I fail, at least I can say I kept my resolutions til Aug!  :)  So stay tuned!