Trial and Error (Light on the former, heavy on the latter)

So yesterday I went to a baby shower. I was lucky enough to never attend a (non-work) baby shower before this one (except my own). I didn’t know anyone there besides the mother-to-be and it was really far away from my place, requiring over an hour of travel time each way. Being at the shower meant I’d miss most of Isa’s awake hours, which was hard. But I was still excited to go because I love the woman having the baby (she is my best friend’s wife) and hope we can see them a lot when when they enter parentdom.

There was only one moment during the shower when I felt the difference between our two experiences (she got pregnant the first month trying). She was retelling the story of how she told her husband that she was pregnant and I suddenly remembered both the times I told Mi.Vida about our pregnancies. The differences between the two instances are substantial.

The first pregnancy I found out about while traveling without him in New York. When I got home I bought him a Father’s Day Card (it had just passed that weekend) and wrote, “I know you’ll be the most amazing dad” in it, or some such sentimental saying. And then I gave it to him with a positive pregnancy test. It was amazing and I was so excited. Of course we lost that pregnancy two weeks later in an ER with an MVA and two methotrexate shots in the ass.

The second time I told Mi.Vida we were pregnant it was 6am on a work day and I was sobbing with fear that we’d have another ectopic. There was so little happiness in finding out about that pregnancy. And for some reason, hearing her tell her story made me realize that for the first time. And I had to take a few minutes to mourn the excitement I should have felt when I found out about the pregnancy that brought me my daughter. It only lasted a moment though, and I rallied to play all the silly games and watch her open present after present.

On the way back I thought of how I’d tell Mi.Vida we were pregnant for number two, if we’re lucky enough for that to happen to us. I don’t want to share it because Mi.Vida reads my blog. I have to say, I’m excited about it.

Until I wonder if that will be another doomed pregnancy, and I’ll be wasting my special idea on a something I will remember later through the anguished lens of loss. There is no way to know until it’s too late, so I’ll have to take that step in faith, if the time ever comes.

Anyway, enough of that sad-sap stuff. I mean, I didn’t have to go to work today. Why am making myself feel shitty in spite of that awesome fact?!

I actually made myself feel pretty shitty earlier today too. I’m sure you all remember that I was a little over-zealous about Isa’s sleep schedule, especially about her naps. Well, the good news is she’s a great napper now, taking two 1.5-2.5 hour naps every day at consistent times. The bad news is, we’ve become completely beholden to said nap schedule, which leaves us these times to do anything out of the house: 8:30-10:00, 12:30-2:30, 4:00-6:30 (give or take 30 minutes). By the time Isa is up, dressed and fed we’ve lost 30+ precious minutes of that time, leaving less time left than most outings would require to execute.

I’ve really noticed the constraints of this nap schedule when trying to meet up with a mom who lives in the area. Her son is only five months and is still taking three naps. Which means our children are on completely opposite schedules. Whenever Isa is awake, H is asleep and vice versa. We haven’t been able to see each other since I went back to work.

So today I did a bold and uncharacteristic thing. I said f*ck it and took Isa out, leaving after she was supposed to go down for her nap. Not only did I do that, but I stayed out for 1.5 hours, bringing her home when she sometimes gets up from her nap. Oh, and I also didn’t bring a bottle.

About 7 blocks from home she totally lost her $h!t. Like back arching, shrill screaming, tears streaming lost her shit. I felt horrible. I hurried home, made her a bottle and put her to bed. She was so tired and looked so dejected as she finished those eight ounces, I felt horribly guilty. I promptly broke down when I walked out of her room declaring myself the Worst Mother Ever.

So my first attempt at flying in the face of Isa’s nap schedule did not go as I had hoped. In the end I wasn’t even thankful to see the woman that I met up with, even though I was so desperate to talk with a fellow mom that I took Isa out during her nap in the first place. Of course, I did nothing to ensure a successful outting, and I only have myself to blame for that. The next time I try this I will be home much earlier (and I will have a bottle with me, just in case).

We spent the rest of today making some homemade baby food (which I will tell you more about on Useful Tuesday) and hosting some friends for a couple of hours of adult conversation.

Tonight I’ve said I will cook dinner, as Mi.Vida has much to do and little time to do it. My pipe dream is to bring Isa downtown between this nap and bedtime so I can use an Old Navy coupon before it expires. I doubt that will happen, but a mom can dream.

In the meantime, I’m so behind on my Creme de la Creme comments, I need to get on that. I’ve read up to 80 but have only commented up to 65. Gotten shrink that gap!

Happy Holidays Part I

We’ve been in St. Louis for three days now. It’s been so wonderful to see my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m very much enjoying myself.

Isa weathered the insane travel day relatively well. Not surprisingly her sleep schedule is totally wacked out and after two nights of her laying wide awake in her crib from 10pm-12pm we let her stay up last night until 10pm (after a 6pm-7pm nap) and she slept great from 10pm to 9:30am the next day. I’m going with the flow this week and hoping that when we get home we won’t have to start from scratch re-introducing her sleep schedule.

I feel like there is so much I could say about being here, sharing the holiday spirit with my extended family and watching my amazing partner hold his own with all my over zealous relatives. But unfortunately there is no time. Instead I’m going to post some pictures of the trip so far. This will be the first of three installments. My hope is that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Isa finally gets some rest on the last leg of the trip.

My darling "niece" Bella (and her beautiful mom).

The great-granddaughters meeting for the first time.

Isa being cute.

Isa's hand over her great-grandmother's.

Beautiful Bella Boo.

Isa and her NaNaDoo (grandmother).

The lake at my aunt's new farm.

The women sitting and sharing.

While it’s passing me by at lightening speed, this trip has been amazing. I hope all these pictures will help me remember my daughter’s first Christmas with all her loving family.

And we’re here

Well, I was definitely worried about our day of travel but I have to say, what we experienced was 1,000 TIMES MORE HORRIFIC than anything I could have imagined. It just goes to show that there is no point in worrying, as you may have to deal with something far worse than you were worrying about in the first place.

And yesterday was far worse than anything I had imagined in the week prior to our trip. Yesterday was the worst travel day I’ve ever experienced.

It started with the storm hitting California and the fact that the first leg of our journey was from San Francisco to LA. We had purposefully chosen this layover as there are rarely winter weather problems in LA and we figured we’d be safe from any snow storms that might close midwestern airports. Of course we end up flying on one of three days of the year that southern California gets weather or any kind, let alone of the inclement variety.

Needless to say we realized pretty quickly we were not going to make our connecting flight. So we got booked on a much later flight to Dallas and then an early morning flight to St. Louis. The problem was that we had so little time in between when we landed in Dallas and had to be back at the airport the next morning that it made more sense to sleep in the airport.

Sleep in the airport. With a 6 month old.

Yeah, that was the plan. Lacking other options we took the new flights, requesting that our luggage go to Dallas with us so we’d have the checked car seat and baby bed with us for our overnight stay. We were told our checked bags would meet us there (anyone detect ominous foreshadowing?)

By the time we got booked on a new flight we’d already been in the airport for over three hours. We had two more until our Dallas flight was estimated to leave, but it had already been delayed several times. Isa was so overstimulated by the lights, people and announcements that she wouldn’t eat much of anything and she certainly couldn’t sleep. I kept trying to feed her but it only resulted in my milk letting down about four times and my daughter not actually eating anything, leaving me with very heavy, uncomfortable breasts.

When it had been five hours and Isa still hadn’t slep I decided to try some Benedryl which our pediatrician had said we could use to coax her into sleeping. The stuff had barely touched her lips before she vomited all over me. All the effort I’d spent trying to get some nourishment and hydration into her tiny body was totally ruined. Also, I was covered, literally covered, in vomit. I had no clothes and was about 7 hours from reaching my first destination.

Now the real fun begins.

We finally get on the plane. Isa still hasn’t slept and has barely eaten anything. It’s past her bedtime and she’s skipped her second nap entirely. Still, she’s being a great sport. On the plane though, things start to catch up with her. She’s tired but she can’t sleep. She cries a lot and blows out her diaper. The fasten seat belt sign NEVER turns off so we have to change her across Mi.Vida’s lap. Isa also throws up all over me again. The man next to us never once acknowledges our existence. I end up spending the only thirty minutes of the flight where she actually sleeps sitting sideways so her feet won’t hit his arm or rest in his lap. Mi.Vida is upset that we’re even attempting this insane overnight in Dallas. Isa cries or vocalizes loudly for much of the flight but rallies at the end and is all smiles. We wonder how in the hell she’s still standing.

We arrive in Dallas past midnight and promptly discover that our luggage was not detoured to Dallas but has checked straight through to St. Louis. The good news is it will beat us to the airport the next morning. The bad news is we don’t have a bed for Isa or a car seat to take her to the cheap motel we’ve decided to spring for. Luckily (I’m trying to find the silver lining here), airlines have car seats they loan out when the ones people check are lost (I guess this happens a lot) and they are able to wrangle one up for us if we can only walk a significant distance to another baggage claim. We do so and the cheap motel’s complimentary shuttle service picks us up. I have to speedily install this foreign car seat in time to stop the driver from speeding away with the trunk door open. It’s a scary two mile drive to the motel.

Once there we try to make the most of the 3 hours and 45 minutes we have to sleep. Isa throws up her fourth meal. Some of it lands in the bed but most of it makes it to the floor. We lay out a towel to keep from sleeping on the wet sheets. Isa sleeps between Mi.Vida and I with her Forest Rain sounds blasting from Mi.Vida’s iPod Touch at the head of the bed. It takes her about an hour to settle down and fall asleep. I make it through the entire Forest Rain track (55 minutes long) two times before I managed to put it on repeat and fall asleep. At 4:45am our alarms go off and we get back into yesterday’s clothes. I haven’t brushed my teeth and I’m still wearing the same pants and shirt that Isa has thrown up on multiple times. Throughout the trip I’m accompanied by a constant wafting of vomit smell from my shirt.

By the time we make it back to the Dallas airport Isa has only slept four of the 16 hours she’s accustomed to. She’s managed to keep only three meals down, none of them very big. She’s obviously EXHAUSTED but handling it like a real trooper. She is amazing.

Luckily our Dallas to St. Louis flight leaves right on time and is practically empty. Isa gets to lay down over two seats and sleeps for an hour of the short flight. She is also keeping down her considerably sized breakfast. Things are looking up.

At 8:40am we arrive in St. Louis. I realize that I haven’t once actually thought about making it here, I was totally focused on surviving the insane journey.

Today was very low key. Isa slept 5 hours during the day and then had a meltdown at around 6:30pm. By the time we got her home she was way too tired and it took her over an hour to get to sleep. As I’m typing this she finally seems to have nodded off. We’ll see what tonight brings.

I have to say, the almost 24 hours it took us to get here were harrowing, but we made it. I’m so tired and can’t wait to hit the sack myself. Of course, our bed is covered in luggage and clothes and we have to clean it off in the dark without waking our sleeping daughter, but after last night’s ordeal it seems very manageable.

I hope all of you have much easier travel experiences than we did this Christmas.

Happy Travels!

Useful Tuesdays: Sleep Solutions Seminar

I think I’ll shelve the working mama drama for today and finally relay the awesome sleep tips I got from the sleep solutions seminar I took a few weeks ago. I’m sorry it took so long for me to get this up, but as you know the Behemoth recently took over my life and I was only recently able to reclaim it, just days before I started work. Time has suddenly become… well incredibly sparse.

So, without further ado, the sleep solutions seminar tips! I want to preface them by saying that I really, really like the woman who present at the class. She is the mother of twins and her seminars are mainly times given to mothers of twins; us singleton mothers and our sleepless nights seemed like small potatoes for her. She gave us five major tips for getting our babies to sleep 10-12 hours a night (which she said that any baby who is 12 weeks old (adjusted) and 12 pounds was physiologically capable of doing) and take longer naps. She said that babies up to 18 months needed around 15 hours of sleep and could get that in 10-12 hours during the night and 3-5 hours during the day.

TANK ‘EM UP

Make sure your baby is getting enough to eat. A breastfed baby should be getting 2-2.5 ounces per pound. So a 12 ounce baby should be getting 24-30 ounces a day. If you’re breastfeeding and are not sure how much your baby is getting you might want to pump for a whole day to see how much you’re making. I did this and realized I was not making NEARLY as much as I thought. I started giving my daughter a dream-feed bottle before I went to bed and she started sleeping like she used to. Basically, if a baby is hungry, she is not going to sleep for 12 hours at a stretch.

CREATE THE ULTIMATE SLEEP SANCTUARY

A baby’s room needs to be her sleep sanctuary. To create a baby sleep sanctuary you need the following (this is especially important for naps):

Darkness. If 10 is pitch black, your baby’s room should be an 8 when she sleeps. Not almost an 8, but an 8. Darkness helps trigger a baby’s circadian rhythm letting them know it’s time to sleep.

Sound. Have a sound machine or some sort of white noise that stays on all night (or for the duration of the nap). Those stuffed lamb noise machines are great but they turn off after 45 minutes, exactly when babies are waking from their sleep cycle, so they aren’t really very helpful. We bought a 50 minute mp3 called Forest Rain and we play it on repeat all night. It’s worked miracles for our daughter. Fans are also good, as they are recommended by the AAP for circulating air and helping prevent SIDS.

Temperature: AAP recommends 65-68* to help prevent SIDS.

Non-stimulating Surroundings: Make sure the room is not over-stimulating. Black and white mobiles are a no-no, so are large posters or decals with contrasting colors. Make sure that everything around the crib is calming, not stimulating.

SLEEPY TIME ROUTINES

Before nap times and bedtimes there should be some kind of routine. It doesn’t have to be much, just something you do every time. The nap routine can be different from the bedtime routine (also, naps can take place in a different spot than bedtime sleep, as long as it’s a consistent spot), you just need to do the same thing each time. She actually recommended against baths because she said that they are stimulating and bright and full of toys and splashing and while they are warm and possibly relaxing, when you get the baby out it’s cold, which raises their cortisol levels (driving away sleep). She also urged us to make sure that books were not super stimulating (blacks, whites and reds make baby brains go boing). She recommended just changing the babies into PJs (or putting them in a sleep sack) and singing a song or telling them a quiet story. All of this should happen in the baby’s room (sleep sanctuary) and not in different rooms, as moving around gets them riled up, and the sleep sanctuary should be activated (lights down, sound on) before you go it. It should be like bringing the baby into a spa where all their senses are met with sleep triggers.

OTHER TIPS

Babies should not be up for more than 1.5-3 hours at a time. Movement-induced sleep (i.e. in a stroller, front carrier or car) is “junk sleep” (as in not nutritive – like junk food) and should be avoided. It’s important to be home for baby’s nap and to keep her to some kind of schedule. Don’t try “sleep training” unless you’re really ready, and you’ll know when you are really ready.

If you do want to do sleep training, start with the naps. Naps should be at least 1.5 hours long and “cry-it-out” timing is 45 minutes for naps. That is 45 minutes total. So if you baby cries for 15 minutes, then sleeps for 40 minutes, she still has 35 minutes to cry before you go get her. Hopefully she’ll fall back asleep and sleep for 40 minutes and you’ll be done. We slept trained Isa and she went from taking three 30-40 minute naps to two 1.5-2 hour naps. It’s been wonderful.

I hope all this was helpful. I’m sure there is stuff I’m forgetting, but feel free to comment or email with questions if you have them and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I pumped 9 ounces this morning and 6 ounces this afternoon. Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding with my SIL and I had to pump a third time and it was only 5 ounces. My last pump of the night was a measly 4 ounces. I wonder if I make less milk throughout the day? I did start taking Fenugreek – I’ll let you know if it helps with my supply.

Confessional Fridays: Virgin Post

I know I said I’d be doing Freebie Friday and I want to. I hope to continue giving free stuff away, but as I fund Freebie Fridays myself and don’t always have the money to do so, I thought I’d have another kind of Friday – Confessional Fridays. I’ve been thinking about how there are so many things in my life I don’t share with people because I’m embarrassed or ashamed. I try not to keep those things off my blog, but many times they are small things that don’t warrant an entire post, but still define me and bring to light my expectations of myself and others. Right now, as a SAHM, I have all sorts of confessions to make about the state of my house, the state of my daughter’s room, the state of my partnership with Mi.Vida. As a mother who’s suffered a loss I have confessions to make about how I (STILL!) feel when I see pregnant women and completed families. As a mother who hopes to have more children I have confessions about fears and anxieties that still well up inside of me. As a blogger who’s made it to the proverbial “other side” I have confessions about guilty and confusion and desperate questions of “why me and not them?” I have tons of confessions to make, and when I become a working mom I’m sure I’ll have even more. So today marks the virgin “Confessional Fridays” post. Here goes…

~ I have changed the sheets on my bed exactly two times since my daughter was born. She just turned 5 months old and has spit up and had diapers leak in that bed over a dozen times. You can do the math.

~ I never clean my shower until it starts to get pink around the edges.

~ There are days I don’t eat a single fruit of vegetable. Many days. Even when pregnant and while breastfeeding. I am so ashamed of that.

~ My daughter has started crying for 1+ hours at a time at night and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. It’s tearing me up inside. PS I LOATHE the Daylight Saving Time change (though I adore Daylight Saving Time – I think we should get rid of Standard time, frankly).

~ Right now I would rather sleep than have sex. (And not just right now, at this very moment, but “right now” in a more general, since-my-daughter-was-born-and-actually-even-before-when-I-was-pregnant, sense.

~ I sometimes feel jealousy towards other bloggers. (More on this next week).

~ I love trashy reality television (and I know that Khourt.ney Kar.dash.ian’s son is named Ma.son). The more pointless drama the better.

I guess that is good enough for the first Confessional Fridays post. I already have so many great confessions ready to go, starting with a real doozy next Friday. Stay tuned…

Useful Tuesdays: Sleep Training

As you know, we’ve been struggling with sleep issues for many a night. Weeks really. Or is it months? I feel like I’ve been so wrapped up in sleep solutions I’ve hardly experienced the past month or so. I’ve spent so much time on it that now that I feel our sleep problems are solved, I don’t know what to do with myself.

Sleep problems solved you say? But how?!

Let me preface this post by saying that I read the No-Cry Sleep Solutions book from cover to cover. I tried many of their suggestions and was able to make minor changes in Isa’s sleep patterns. But after weeks of intensive work, we really hadn’t made much progress and I was starting to suffer for it. As my graduate class started and I the sleep nights started piling up, I realized I needed to make more significant changes. While I totally respect people who only use no-cry sleep solutions, I had to accept they were not the best for me and my family. And while you might not agree with the method we ultimately used, please don’t attack me for what I choose to do with my daughter. I absolutely believe that we made the right choice for our family and I’m very happy with how everything worked out.

We ultimately used the “progressive-waiting” approach from Richard Ferbers’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. The “progressive-waiting” approach could be considered “cry-it-out” and if you believe that, it’s fine. I’m not against calling it that, because my daughter did cry as she learned to self-sooth. But I do believe she learned to self-sooth and was not just “crying it out” aimlessly, tortuously. I believe she was learning because every night my daughter was better at falling asleep on her own, until tonight, the fourth night, she fussed for less than three minutes before she settled down for the night.

The system we used works like this. We put Isa down, drowsy but awake, in her crib with no pacifier and no noise machine; she had to be put down in the same way she’d wake up, so she could teach herself to fall asleep that way and would be able to fall back asleep that way when she woke up later in the night. Every night we put Isa to sleep that way.

On the first night we let Isa cry for three minutes then five minutes then ten minutes. At the end of each of these intervals one of us went in for about a minute, rubbed Isa’s tummy and told her we loved her and reassured her that she was okay. Then we kissed her on the forehead and gently left the room. If Isa had continued to cry past the first ten minutes, we would have gone in every ten minutes to comfort her briefly. We never did though, because she never continued to cry past the third interval, not once in three nights.

The next day we went in at five minutes, ten minutes and twelve minutes. Actually, we went in at five minutes because she was asleep by eight minutes. The reality is, she cried about 15 minutes twice on the first night, then 8 minutes and 25 minutes on the second night. The third night she cried less than five minutes both times she woke up.

The first two nights I fed Isa when she first woke up around 11pm, but did not feed her when she woke up at 2am or 3am. The third night I decided not to feed her at 11pm, opting to pump instead. If Isa had woken up any time after midnight I would have fed her, but the thing is, she didn’t. Isa went 11 hours last night without eating, she didn’t breastfeed until 6am! That means I got to sleep for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT, from midnight to 6am. And the only reason we went to sleep so late was because we were having important couple time (wink wink), which we never would have been able to do before the sleep training.

So far, I think sleep training has been a resounding success. My daughter can fall asleep all by herself, without her pacifier and best of all, she can STAY asleep throughout the night. Every morning she wakes up with the biggest, brightest smile on her face.┬áDuring the day she’s happier and more alert. I truly believe she is benefitting as much, if not more, from the sleep training, than we are.

And boy, are we benefitting. I feel like a new person. I never knew how stressed out I was about nighttime until I stopped being stressed out about it. Now, when we put Isa down, she falls asleep and stays asleep. We can cook dinner, watch TV, have conversations without being interrupted by crying (or phantom crying, which was starting to drive me literally insane). I can feel the tension melting away from the two of us, from our relationship. It’s like having a restart button. It’s like having a life again.

I know that “crying-it-out” is not for everyone. For many weeks, I wasn’t sure if it was right for us. When we finally did choose to do it, I felt that it was absolutely the right move. I’m thankful to be able to look back on that decision and know it was the right one for me, Mi.Vida and Isa. I feel like this was my first “mom” mandate and I’m proud of how it turned out. I have more confidence in myself and in my partner. I feel like a more capable parent.

If you have any questions about our sleep training approach or what we plan to do in the future, please don’t hesitate to comment or email!

And now, a toast – to sleep!

UPDATE – Isa slept for 12 hours straight last night, without waking up once. Now I’m worried she’s not getting enough to eat with only five feedings during the day. Ah, a mother’s job is never done…