Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm writing in haste because she's in the crib strategizing

Every day is better. I feel it's safe to say I will NEVER be the mama who longs for times that have passed. One more day of holding a tiny sleeping infant when Wynne is older. Up to about 4 months, it was all just so much. And I do not miss it one. tiny. bit. I don't care if someone thinks this makes me a bad mama. I am just glad we made it through. At no point have I wondered where does the time go. It does not seem like just yesterday that I was pregnant or that she was brand new, and I am honestly glad when each day is over and we have one more behind us. Because we get closer and closer to being sleep trained, to being ready for real food and sitting up and talking and playing. Every new day is better. We get more smiles and giggles and sounds and motions. And we get more tears and fits and chances to fail, so when these days are gone I still won't wish to go back.

I hope I'll always be sensitive to other women's situations. Women who can't have babies, who have to wait for ages, women who parent alone, whose babies are sick or don't make it. I don't take for granted that my baby is healthy, is here, is in no danger except what might happen to her as a result of having clueless parents. My baby has a daddy, two sets of grandparents, lots of aunts besides just our two sisters. We have doctors for every possible body part and condition, books and websites and studies to learn from and help fill all the gaps. People who say all you need is milk and diapers ought to be stabbed. And I have some choice words for seasoned parents whose advice is to relax and enjoy it. Just find me ONE woman who felt relaxed during her first year(s) as a mother. Mike and I say that we'll know better the next time around and it will be easier. I can already tell you twenty things we are going to do differently, do better. It's a cruel system, having to practice and flounder and fail with the first one (and possibly subsequent ones). Only when you've done it all wrong do you realize there's a better way. Nowhere do your mistakes and shortcomings haunt you like they do in parenting. There's my mistake, crying in the crib for half an hour. Dirty (baby) dishes, piles of laundry and pizza boxes and new clothes in bigger sizes, filthy floors, days between pictures of the baby, weeks between updates to the grandparents. And what do we have to show for all of it? A list of what to do differently next time around. It's fortunate that parenting is heavy on the love, because it sure is heavy on the guilt. Amiright mommies?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

sleep training help us Lord

Sleep training is kicking our asses, guys. We have undoubtedly brought it on ourselves by always holding Wynne until she was completely asleep (and often for an entire nap). She never slept like you'd think a brand new baby would, for hours at a stretch and only waking up to eat. She was always awake for far longer at a time than I thought seemed right, but I had no idea how to MAKE her sleep. When she did fall asleep it was usually while eating, so we'd just hold her sort of upright until she woke up (since we never burped her before she nodded off and since we thought you were never supposed to wake a sleeping baby). Even then she'd only nap for maybe 30 minutes before an arm would fly up or the paci would fall out and she'd be up again. So for the first 3 months or so, we had a chronically overtired baby who had no idea how to self-soothe. Nighttime was never a real problem, likely because by then she was too exhausted to fight anymore, so I'm mostly talking about naps here.

I bet plenty of people diagnose babies with colic in situations like ours. It's an easy assumption based on all the fussing and crying, but really she was just way overtired. I knew she wasn't colicky, and after we ruled out milk sensitivity or anything in my diet, we finally arrived at the truth: we had a sleep problem. We started reading and watching lots of Dr. Weissbluth (I love him. Just listening to him talk makes you want to get under a blanket and nap) and agreed that we had made some mistakes. I don't mean to say it's a mistake for anyone else, but for us it has caused some serious strife that I suspect we could have avoided. If only we'd known. So now we're doing our version of Cry It Out- a mix of Weissbluth strategies and things I read on a blog I really like called Chronicles of a Babywise Mom, at And it is awful. Wynne got used to someone holding her until she was totally asleep, and that is a big no-no (according to many sources by which we now abide.) So she doesn't know how to get to sleep when we put her down awake. Her arms are unwieldy and her legs won't stay down and her paci falls out and there's nobody to put it back in and it's just more than she can handle. She grunts, then fusses, then cries, then cries hysterically. As per the guidelines of graduated extinction, we check on her after five minutes of crying, then give her ten and check again, then fifteen and so on. Many CIO parent testimonials say "we never got past the 20 minute check! She fell asleep and slept twelve hours straight!" Our testimonial would NOT include that statement. I think part of the trouble is that we don't have to cry it out at night, just naps, so there isn't an open-ended time period in which she can cry until she figures it out. After an hour or so of naptime crying, it's time to get up and eat and get on with the day so maybe she'll be tired for the next nap. The books don't seem to address this problem, so we really don't know what to do.

Crying it out is a snap in theory- put her down and let her cry until she falls asleep on her own. Next time there should be less crying, and the time after that even less, and so on until you lay her down and she drifts off to sleep without a fight. But man. In practice, there are so many variables. What if she gets hiccups? What about dirty diapers? Changing her gets her all roused up. If after the 10-minute check she's quiet for 8 minutes, then starts up again, do we start the 5-minute check over again or wait 15? If she's been wailing like a banshee for 45 minutes, and we know there's no chance she'll go to sleep in the next 15, do we just let her cry the whole time anyway before getting her up to eat? Has she learned anything if all she does is cry for the whole nap time and then we go pick her up? When the schedule is such that she's eating right before a nap and the bottle puts her to sleep, does it undo the self-soothing we want to teach?

Sometimes she goes down without much of a fight, sometimes it takes 20 minutes for her to get calm and drowsy. We never know if she'll sleep for 3 minutes, 15 minutes, or 40 minutes before waking up. She goes to bed around the same time each night, but we don't know when she'll first wake up (12:30, 1:55, 2:30, 3:45, 4:oo, 4:45- these have all been her first waking just in the last two weeks), so we don't have a routine so much as a pattern. It's a lot to manage, and factoring in how often and how much to feed her when we don't know what her sleeping schedule will be, and getting in play time and baths, it is truly a wonder to me that anybody ever does this more than once. Before Wynne I wanted 4 kids. Now I just want this one to make it to the age where I can reason with her about the importance of sleep. Or at least bribe her. What age is that?