Nap wars are going to kill me

I’d like to be writing a beautiful post right now about the joys and struggles of motherhood. How I look at C’s face and fall more in love every time I look at her.  Or even one about how I struggle with weekends because I want to turn off work, but my to-do list is still looming and I just know that if I put in a few hours over the weekend, my week will be much better.  Or, talk about how we went for a walk this weekend with C in her Baby Bjorn strapped tightly to Craig’s chest and the vision of my husband with my giggling baby girl was the best thing ever. 

But I can’t write about those things because I am dead.  The nap wars have killed me. 

I fall into the category of parents who think that kids do better on a schedule.  I also tend to think that it’s OK for them to cry a little and I believe the books that say it’s important for babies to learn to fall asleep on their own.  Or maybe, I’m just scared to death that they’re right and I will be breaking bad sleeping habits when she is old enough to talk and walk and thus it will be a hell of a lot harder, so really I’m just lazy and taking the easy way out. 

A few weeks ago, I thought I was working my way into the Mom of the Year competition by sort of getting C to sleep on her own and take naps that lasted longer than 30 minutes.  Then it turned out that she was sick.  Can you say observation fail?  So, instead of sleeping because I was such a rockstar sleep trainer, she was sleeping because she had a virus.  Still, I fought on.  Made a few changes to her daily environment including loading my mother in law up with sleep sacks and lullabies.  The weather broke so now they go on walks and she sleeps in the stroller.  And I thought it was getting better. 

Until this weekend.  When she took two 30 minute naps Saturday morning and then I missed the window for her afternoon nap.  By the time she realized she was sleepy she was also pissed and didn’t want to sleep.  So while I rocked and walked her, she screamed.  She didn’t want to be held.  Didn’t want to lay down.  Finally after 30 minutes of screaming, I gave up.  Another 45 minutes later, my mom got her to sleep.  Sunday, she fell asleep in my arms for her 9:00 nap and again after our walk around noon.  When she got fussy, Craig took her on a walk and she fell asleep. 

So at the end of another weekend, I feel like a failure.  Like maybe someone else knows my kid better than me.  Has a better “way” with her than I do.  Spends more waking hours with her and knows more about her schedule and patterns than me, who has to ask for a recap.  (Just a way to add a little more working mom guilt to my blog.) Leaving me to wonder what I can do to help my kid sleep better, longer, consistently. 

And, I’m stumped.  Because I’m worried that the stroller is becoming her crutch for sleep.  I know that we don’t want to be pushing the stroller around the house because that’s the only way she’ll fall asleep.  But I’m out of ideas, and at this point, I just want the child to sleep.  I’m trying not to get all worked up and react to a bad day.  Generally, she’s a pretty happy baby.  What I’m really looking for is someone, anyone, to say that she’ll be OK.  That, maybe, as she gets older, she’ll start sleeping longer.  That there’s nothing I can do differently. 

Anyone?  Anyone?

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Flashing my “First Time Mom” badge

I don’t have Mommy instinct.  There I said it.  To everyone who said “you’ll just know what to do,” I say “you lied”.  I don’t know what to do.  When C was a wee one and went through a fussy spell every night in the early evening, I read “Happiest Baby on the Block” to learn how to soothe her.  I decided what to dress her in for bed because it was what a friend of mine dressed her daughter in.  When she got to the age that I thought she should be learning to put herself to sleep, I asked another friend for advice and bought “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”.  We decided to start solid foods because the doctor said we could.  “Just knowing” has not been a part of my parenting experience.

So.  When I kissed the back of C’s head yesterday afternoon and it was hot enough to make me take her temperature (101.4) I immediately flashed back to our child birth class.  The one where a pediatrician came in and talked to us about when to go to the doctor.  My head was spinning as I texted friends, talked to my mother-in-law and called Craig.  My thoughts were jumbled, 90 miles an hour and went something like this: 

“My baby has a fever. OMG.  MY BABY HAS A FEVER.  It’s 101.4.  That’s high for babies, right?  The doctor said to bring her in if it was more than 101 and they were under 6 months.  Or was it 100 degrees and 3 months.  I can’t remember.  I think it was 101 degrees, under 3 months.  But she’s 5 months.  So, what do I do?  I should call.  No, I’m not calling.  She could be teething.  I’ll give her some Tylenol.  Ok, I should still call.  They’ll make me bring her in and it could be nothing.  Maybe I’ll give it an hour.  No, in an hour the office will be closed.  I think maybe I’ll call and ask if they can see her.  But Oh, hell, I haven’t showered yet today.  I’ll wash my face while I call.  OH MY GOD MY BABY HAS A FEVER.”

Craig made the decision easy and told me to call.  So I did and got an appointment for 6:10.  Where she played and giggled in the waiting room.  Another mother even said to me, “She sure doesn’t look sick”.  Then they took her temperature and found it was 99.4.  Could be a difference in thermometers, could be that the Tylenol kicked in.  Doctor gave her a clean bill of health and said to watch her an if it got to be 104 to bring her back. 

OHHHHH….104 is the magic number.  OK then.  Here is my first time mom badge and my $20 co pay.   Have a lovely day.

What if I forget?

At just a week shy of five months old, C has clearly left her newborn stage in the dust.  Gone is the teeny tiny human that would lay on my chest in the afternoon and sleep for hours.  No longer can I cradle carry her in the sling.  She needs to be up, facing out, ready to take on the world.  Her hands and her legs are in constant motion, as if, given half a chance, she would take off running.  

While things may not have changed greatly – our days are still all about the rhythm of bottles, diapers and sleep – there is a definite difference between our baby girl at 4 weeks and our girl at 4 months.  I don’t want to be eating her birthday cake this fall and not remember the weight of a newborn who spent 16 hours a day in my arms. I want to file away the moments that she gazed into my eyes while I was feeding her with a look that said “I trust you.  I need you.”  I want to close my eyes and remember how the sound of my voice or the comfort of being wrapped up in a sling would immediately put her to sleep.  I want to remember the sweet smell of milk on her breath and the lavender scent of the lotion I used after her bath.   

Those first few weeks were filled with nerves and anxiety, with excitement and visitors and complete love and adoration.  The three of us became a family the moment she was placed in my arms and I want to remember how I felt when I looked at her.  How she screamed her head off until they laid her in my arms when she briefly stopped as I pressed my lips to her head and softly said “Hi baby girl.  I know you.”   

3 weeks in, giving a new meaning the phrase "sleep when she sleeps."

 

So much has changed.  Every milestone she reaches equals a stage or a moment of time that she’s leaving behind.  Instead of laying on my chest, she likes to lay on her side curled up next to me.  She no longer likes being held up to my shoulder for fear that she will miss what’s happening behind her. When I feed her instead of just looking at me, she’s touching my face, reaching for my cheeks or pulling on my ears.  She is slightly more predictable and just as opinionated as always.   She recognizes my voice, reaches for me when other people are holding her and follows me with her eyes when I leave the room.   

In possibly a few weeks, definitely a few months, this stage will have passed as well.  She’ll be crawling, or scootching across the room; we’ll be playing games of throwing things on the floor to see if Mommy will pick them up; and instead of the shoulders of my shirts having milk stains her bibs will be stained with baby food.   

My hope is that when that time comes I can remember the milestones and the every day moments that we’ve passed in the process; the tiny bits of time that have shaped myself, my baby and my family.

I Want My Maternity Leave Back

I feel awful saying this out loud but I really didn’t enjoy my maternity leave.  When I was nearing the end of my 40 week stint as a professional incubator, I had visions of snuggling with my squishy baby while watching TV and reading books.  Long chats on the phone with friends and family.  Shopping trips and lunch with the ladies.  Catching up on blogging, email and Facebook.  Basically just six whole weeks of Saturdays and Sundays. 

Instead I pushed out a child and was thrust into this brand-new life with an itty bitty (well, not that itty bitty at 8lbs 4oz thank you very much) baby who was easy by most accounts, but still, a brand new baby.  And we had a lot of stuff to figure out together.  Like those hours in the early evenings when she just cried.  For no good reason.  And I wanted to throw myself on the floor and cry right along with her.  Or the times that she projectile vomited and I wanted to run for the phone to call my husband, my mother and the doctor because O MY GOD a baby should not have that much stuff coming up.  Or the never-ending challenge of trying to determine if she was hungry or tired or just pissed that she pulled the short stick and had to go home with me. 

Then there was the coming to terms with the new me.  The me that had to choose between bathing and eating some days.  Bathing almost always won because it was the only that made my lady bits feel better.  And speaking of lady bits, I spent 5 damn weeks medicated, sitting down ever so carefully and scared to death that I was going to forever feel like someone took a baseball bat to my crotch.  It took me a good two weeks to pull out a mirror and check out the damage for myself.   The new me was always in sweats, never in make up and desperately wanted to slip into my pre-pregnancy jeans. 

The thought of leaving the house seemed like both an escape and a death trap.  I wanted to leave the house, see people, be human again, but that meant leaving my child or taking her with me.  Leaving her seemed to go against every fiber in my body, but taking her?  That means putting her in a car and driving.  On a road.  With other people.   You see where I’m going here? 

I figured it out.  As my six weeks came to an end, the lady bits started to feel a bit more like normal (although it would be another four weeks until the bleeding stopped – that’s right folks, I bled for TEN EFFING WEEKS).  I got some of my energy back. I mastered the Happiest Baby on the Block soothing techniques.  I learned how to bath with the baby in her bouncy chair and grab a granola bar on the way out the door.  I took a deep breath and took C with me when I left the house.  I finally got back into those jeans. I met a friend and her little one for shopping and had a jolly time pushing the girls around in their strollers. 

And then two days later I went back to work.  So now that I sort of feel like a better version of my former self, I think I would like a redo on my maternity leave.

4 Month Letter

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. 
Listen to the shouldn’t, the impossibles, the won’ts. 
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.  Anything can be. 
– Shel Silverstein

 

Hello Baby Girl. 

Four months old today.  Four whole months.  Like every letter I write you I could marvel about how big you are or how cute.  I could go on and on about how much I love you and how the squeals and giggles that you greet me with when I walk in the door after a long day at work, make whatever annoyance or frustration I’m bringing home melt away. 

But I think instead I will talk to you about the things I want you to learn as you grow up.  And while it’s not fun to hear this and your daddy would give his left arm to prevent it, I want you to know that sometimes you will have to fight for what you want.  Whether you are learning to walk, trying out for a starting position on the basketball team or interviewing for a job.  Sometimes you will fall.  I want you to get back up. 

Get back up and try again.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Practice.  Kick. Scream. Cry.  But get back up.  You are already such a determined little girl that I have no doubt that if you dream big dreams you will achieve big things.  You will find people along the way that will tell you can’t.  There will be voices in your head that tell you to just give up; to go home.  But I want you to remember that you can do anything you set your mind to.  Stretch your imagination.  Reach for the stars. 

Your mommy and daddy will be with you every step of the way. 

I love you, sweet girl.

4 Month Shots Today. Hold Me.

Thank you, Dear Lord for making it so that children can’t remember their first few years on this earth.  Because I am sure that if C could remember that two months ago, we took her to this same place, held her down and let a stranger stick a needle in her thigh.  THREE TIMES.  That she would surely begin to scream the moment we pulled into the parking lot. 

I hate the thought of her getting shots.  I’m far more nervous about these shots than I was the 2-month immunizations.  Probably because at the 2-month appointment, she screamed and I sobbed.  Her little scream was clearly a “You hurt me” scream and it shattered my heart into a million pieces. 

I will pay a four hundred gazillion dollars to the person who invents immunization shots that will not hurt my baby. 

PS. Other than her legs being a little sore if I held her a certain way, she was totally fine after like, 2 minutes.  How did your little ones react to shots?

It’s a Girl!

Damn, I hate it when he’s right.  But he was.  From the beginning.  The day I peed on the $14 stick and announced our pregnancy status to Craig, he said “it’s a girl.”  I was not as convinced.  Throughout the pregnancy he held firm that we were having a girl, while I waivered.  And secretly hoped. 

Some say that every woman wants a baby girl.  That we all want little girls that we can outfit in pink dresses and take shopping.  Others say that the bond between a little boy and his mother is unlike any other.  I’ve heard both sides.  But I still wanted a girl.  I had visions of doll babies, cheerleading camps and prom dresses.  I saw myself pushing her through the mall in a stroller and graciously accepting comments about how cute she was. 

Now that I have a daughter, I’m beginning to comprehend the responsibility of raising her. She’s not just my baby.  She will be a classmate, a friend, a partner, and, if she’s lucky, a mother.  While I still want to dress her up, buy her dolls and have long talks about boys, I also want to teach her many of the things that my mother taught me.  I want her to learn to be independent but not be afraid to ask for help.  I want her to identify the things worth fighting for and work like hell until she gets them.  I want her to always be safe, but take risks and push the boundaries a little. I want her to know how much she is loved. 

This baby that squeals when I blow raspberries on her belly will have her toes stepped on and her heart broken.  She will try and sometimes she will lose.   She will want things that she can’t have.  My job is to help her grow with each loss and praise every win.  To be her biggest champion but not carry her through life.  To let her struggle as she finds her way.  To support her every single time.   

And to teach her that a new pair of shoes can cure almost any bad day.