and the beat goes on.

so it’s a new year and i thought, why not a blog post? right?

so what happened in 2013? thought i would share a little of what’s been going on around here with alfie and sleep and us in general.

always start positive! so alfie still sleeps like a champ through the night. that is, most of the time. ;-) regressions are just part of being a baby, and he still surprises us once in awhile with night waking (or night screaming. “DADDY! MOMMY! ….DADDDDDY!). but for the most part, we get rest.

naps are another story. he never napped well. i’ll probably write a silly song about it someday, but it’s true. the kid will not take a damn nap. it ended this past summer. i had got him to about 45 min, maybe an hour if i was lucky and then we left him at my parents for a weekend while we went to VT with friends. when we got him back, the nap drama came full force, and i’ll tell you, i fought it for WEEKS. i stayed as consistent as possible, but it was bumming me out listening to him screaming for an hour. for the record, he will not sit in his crib and play pretend like some children who have given up napping. it’s a full tilt of screaming. the tilt o’scream. so i gave up. now we go wherever we want during the day, with no schedule to get in the way of whatever activity we’re doing. i guess he won that battle, but i’ve made peace with it because he’s in bed by 6pm and i have the whole evening to wind down from our day.

as you can imagine, the month of screaming through nap time followed by full, no-nap days with a high needs toddler is still taking a toll on my anxiety levels and depression. my healthy methods for dealing with this is regular therapy appointments as well as regular primary care check ups to take the little ‘how depressed are you’ quiz, and to see if we need to change anything in regards to my medication. if i was gonna be really good, i would exercise, but let’s not get too carried away.

my unhealthy methods for dealing with it mostly include a stiff drink or two in the evening hours once little al is alseep. that probably doesn’t sound too bad, but with the holidays come the parties and happy reunions with far away friends, but also emotional highs and lows, so the last few months have been particularly boozy. but not this month. i ordered myself a new 18oz. klean kanteen. the libations are put away and the fridge is soda-less. i will drink water. it’s not a new years resolution. it’s the realization that i’m constantly dehydrated, tired, stiff, sore and irritable. not to mention the dark bags under my eyes, red blotchy patches on my skin and added weight from countless rum and cokes (not even diet coke sometimes, y’all).

i’m not giving up all alcohol for good. i’m started from scratch. re-booting. trying to pace myself and save what i can of my skin and brain cells. i turn 31 this year and it’s never too late to get into a new routine.

being a mom is still awesome, by the way. people will say, ‘but you can’t just pick up and leave and travel whenever you want. you’re so limited with a child’. i would say to them, there’s nowhere i’d rather be than with my little high needs monster. after a week in any part of the world, i’d be itching to get back to him just to watch him play with his choo choo’s and his cars and to watch him look over at his daddy while tapping me on the knee and asking, ‘is it mommy?!’.

2013-10

fragile tchotchkie.

kids sure do bring out the nuttiest behaviors in an adult. i’m so glad there’s no recording of me staring at pal while he’s eating, and me starting to enunciate loudly, “ARE YOU USING YOUR SPOON?! IS THAT A SPOON, ALFIE??????!!!!….SPOON!!!….CAN YOU SAY…SPOON???!!!”. that would surely make me sick. alfie doesn’t talk much. he’s 21 months, yet most of his younger buddies are mimicking their parents and saying all kinds of crazy stuff. i finally realized that my introverted self is often quiet and silent when it’s just me and buddy hanging out together. all of a sudden, i realize i haven’t said anything for the last half hour. hence, my loud and arbitrary verbalizing of every little detail. i wonder if it weirds alfie out that i go from being completely silent to yelling the names of objects, or if that just gels with his own craziness.

i’m also glad there isn’t a video of me trying to use chopsticks, because that’s even more painful, i assure you.

his boo-ness is in to EVERYTHING these days. what do you when your kid gets taller, but not necessarily smarter? he can reach heights that were previously safe for a coffee cup or fragile tchotchkie. is everything i own now supposed to be above 3ft apartment level? i can’t tell you the intense amount of liquids that are permeating our vintage braided rugs thanks to his little mittens getting their hold on every beverage trying to be consumed here. thank god the rugs are multi-colored. if you knew the language that i mutter under my breath when a fresh cup of delicious and necessary coffee is over-turned by little paws, you would say three hail mary’s for me, i’m sure.

all this to say, alfie is by far, my favorite person on the entire planet. no one gives better hugs or kisses than that little man, and maybe it’s narcissistic in a way, but he just amazes and captivates me more than any other creature i’ve ever met. and still sleeping great at night, i might add! for those of you still wandering around like zombies because you’re little one still won’t make it through the night without needing you to soothe him/her: email me. there is hope. there will be a few tears, yes, but your sanity and mental health will be intact, and that is what your child needs most; sleep and a healthy, present parent.

what’s more reassuring as a parent than putting your little one down in the evening and knowing they are getting a full nights sleep to help restore their energy and drive you crazy for yet another day? am i right? feb.-119aflie: 21 months.

shut the door and good night

happy & rested.

happy & rested.

i know, i know, it’s been forever. it’s actually been nice to have some people seem legitimately angry that i didn’t finish up writing about sleep training. that means they’re interested!

alfie is 18 months old now and is sleeping 12-13 hours a night with minimal issues. as i said before, we implemented a sleep plan and emailed with amy, the sleep consultant, everyday. sometimes, multiple times a day. we had a routine for alfie at night that had to be tweaked here and there, (he couldn’t handle a long bedtime routine, as it would just remind him he was going to bed–all he needed was nursing and a book) and we stayed as consistent as possible with the time of day or night we put him down. at first, he went on an 11 day nap strike* that had us worried he would never nap again. the naps are definitely hardest to nail down with sleep training. since he wasn’t napping, bedtime was at 5:00pm. this was sort of weird in the summer, with it being so light out, and also with us having to be home-bound from 5:00pm on. it took alfie about a week or so to go down without crying for more than an hour for bedtime. he was so tired from lack of a nap though, that he couldn’t put up too much of a fight.

my job was to try and keep alfie from falling asleep in the car or the stroller while we were training him. this was especially hard after not napping because he had been crying in his crib for an hour or more and was utterly exhausted. it was not an easy couple of weeks. when the nights finally fell into place though, it was magic. we nurse in dull light while bp reads two books, but also make sure he absolutely does not fall asleep while nursing. then, we turn out the light and have ‘dark phase’, as we call it. i sing him a little song here, and then we say we love him, and place him in his crib. shut the door and good night. he goes down with zero tears now and has for months. there HAS been occasions, especially on vacations, where he will wake up early, say 4 or 5am. we try to keep him in his crib until 6am unless we know he is sick. it’s REALLY hard to listen to crying at 4am and know you still have 2hrs, but we found alfie will eventually fall back asleep.

the naps are still hard. he will go down without crying now, but has never really slept for more than an hour except for a few mean flukes where we thought things were progressing. silly us. we still do the routine though, no matter what, and we also decided to go for just one nap per day since he would be transitioning soon anyway (he was almost 15 months when we started and babies will start to transition to one nap around 18 months). the goal with naps is to try and get them to go down around 1:00pm and sleep for 2hrs. then bedtime would be 4hrs after that (7ish). alfie was stuck at 11:00am for a long time and would only do an hour, so bedtime has stayed mostly around 5:30pm. we try for 12/12:30pm for the nap now, and are slowly making our way to 1:00pm.

*as of this post aflie is on another nap strike. he’s got molars coming in, a snotty nose, and is starting to go through an 18 month developmental growth, including trying to learn new words. i’m staying consistent and crossing my fingers that it will pass. for the most part though, he is soooo much happier now that he sleeps. i’ve seen amazing changes in him, and in myself as well, now that i know i have the whole evening without worrying about him waking up. it’s easy to get a friend or a sitter to sit at the apartment while we go out because he is asleep the whole time! it has been, overall,  a HUGE weight off our shoulders.

i. would. totally. recommend it.

sleep begets sleep begets sleep begets sleep…

as i said in my last post, bp and i hired a professional sleep consultant last month to help us with pal’s constant night waking and lack of self-soothing skills. we immediately offered to pay her for her biggest package which included a face to face consultation, either in our home or at a neutral location, (we had her come to our house – i’m not too concerned that amy is a stalker or anything) a comprehensive sleep plan tailored just to alfie (for this we had filled out a pretty detailed questionnaire about what was going on) and as many emails as we needed with her for the next two weeks. amy came over on a monday night and we talked about what alfie’s needs were, sleep-wise and how babies have sleep rhythms and a pretty amazing little internal clock that we as parents, need to be more attuned to. she explained the importance of an early bedtime and how it would seem weird to put him to sleep so early, but ultimately it would work.

to back up just a smidge; i thought amy was going to be two middle age women dressed in middle age women clothes who had each had 7 kids and worked with babies since before the beginning of time. i don’t know why i thought there would be two women except that i think the business was started by two women originally. but amy was not much older than us, dressed in a modern day maxi dress and was 7 months pregnant with only her second kid! i was a little skeptical. apparently her daughter was a horrible sleeper and she got started in the business after SHE had to hire her own sleep therapist a few years ago.

ALSO: the first decision you need to make before you even start sleep training is if you want to be co-sleepers (we were at the time) or to have the baby sleep independently in their own bed/crib. this was not a hard decision for me to make. i wanted my bed back. simple as that. and i didn’t want alfie sleeping in my bed ’till he was 5 or 6 or 7. and i wanted my bed back. did i say that already? i knew the best way for him to get optimal sleep was to learn to self-soothe and to sleep by himself. i have NOTHING against co-sleeping families. i love the idea of attachment parenting. but i needed to be able to toss and turn or sprawl out on my own bed without worrying about waking up a baby. (did i mention i was also going insane!)

by tuesday morning amy had emailed us alfie’s sleep plan and by tuesday night we started implementing it. it’s stuff we all know. you have a routine. you stay consistent. you put them to bed BEFORE they get too tired (it’s harder for them to fall asleep once they’re fatigued). you shut the door and you don’t open it until the next morning. we started with putting alfie to sleep at 5pm. yes, you read that right. 5pm. and we didn’t open the door until 6am. in the beginning? it. sucked.

amy said it would only be a couple nights of painfulness. very funny amy. clearly you haven’t met your match – yet. to be continued…

hiring a sleep therapist.

so you know things in your household are getting crazy when someone asks how the therapist is working out and you both reply, “which one?”  or maybe that’s just normal.

about a month ago, bp and i were literally at the end of our rope with the whole sleep stuff.  pal was still waking up a million times a night to nurse, with no self soothing skills in sight, and i was about to put him in a moses basket to be sent down the river in hopes that a good family would find and adopt him.  i know they have agencies for that sort of stuff but it seemed more dramatic to do it that way.

bp, in his desperation, found a baby sleep consultant agency only a town over from ours and emailed them right away about our little nocturnal creature. Well Rested Baby is the website and let me just say that my first thought was to take her most expensive package and say, “Just fix this!”  and that’s exactly what we did.  we hired her.  amy.  an angel really.  i didn’t care what she did to us.  i invited her into my home with open arms and hoped she wasn’t bearing any, because i couldn’t see the forest through the trees at that point.  there was no sunlight in my eyes.  the night before Amy came over i had actually punched the wall in frustration as Pal woke up after only a mere half hour after being put down.

so what happened? i will divulge soon. let’s just say I’m sipping a cocktail at 6:26pm with no worries that i will be called away.  and it’s an amazing feeling.

sleep training or, that thing which is ridiculous.

oh this world we live in. a world where phrases like ‘sleep training’ and ‘crying it out’ are even options. ridiculous. what did women do hundreds of years ago with there little no sleep babies? prolly just slept in bed with them is my guess. “co-slept”, if you will. or maybe they did leave them to “cry it out” in there own little hut. whatever. the point is – we have now written books upon books upon blogs of about this stuff and people like me are STILL HAVING PROBLEMS WITH IT.

take for example, my son. exhibit A. alfie. pal. my little love. HE WILL JUST NOT STAY ASLEEP. we are pretty sure at this point it’s some sorta sleep apnea or perhaps, an abundant amount of tumors or something on his stomach creating intense discomfort. all it’s going to take is a real good doctors exam and a little minor surgery and he’ll be cured!

not likely.

what’s been happening is this: i nurse him all the way down in the rocker by his crib. he’s CONKED out and i slowly get up and set him down. most of the time he wakes up and starts screaming but if i’m lucky, as i have been lately, he protests for only a second and then falls asleep. if he does start screaming (bloody. f-ing. murder) then bp goes in right away and last week this was calming him down immediately. then bp went away for 4 nights, i got lax and kept him in my bed, and now we are back to square one. and where he would stay asleep for at least a few hours, he is only lasting as long as he does in our bed; an hour or two. not fun!

each night, my hope is to get him to stay in there for at least 4 hrs. before bringing him back into bed with me. sometimes this happens, sometimes not. i don’t know how bp and i, such laid back people, got such a type A, intense baby, but we’ll keep trying. for now, bp’s arm is sore from crouching over a pack n’play to soothe a screaming baby for at least a half an hour before he feels completely numb. sigh.

someday we’ll laugh about it. and hopefully our sanity will still be intact.

and so…

well little pal turned one. one people! i have a one year old. he no longer needs to be put on the boppy to nurse. he no longer sits in the bumbo. or a swing or any other device for infants, because he ain’t yo. well, is he? when does infancy end? is he a toddler yet? i sort of pride myself in not knowing these tidbits. the point is he and i have hit this milestone and we are still alive. he is a great walker. he just let go of my hand on mother’s day and that was the end of that. i do it myself now, he ‘says’. he walks around and gestures with his hands and says crazy baby scramble. we all laugh.

HOWEVER. however. things pal still does that i thought would be over now? he nurses nurses nurses. that boy is not weaning himself to any extent. he’s not even eating. just sucking for comfort. i’m home base still and as beautiful as i want that to be – it’s draining for me. i loved what breastfeeding did for my body and pal’s in the beginning, but having a highly sensitive baby has proved to be difficult in that he needs that sucking comfort constantly and won’t take any other alternatives. at least he won’t be running around with a pacifier until he’s 5.

as for me: i need to start doing more things for myself. now that we have moved and have no plans to again in the near future – it’s time to get some good routines going that include doing more things for my mental health. i started seeing a counselor here in town right away. i’ve had one session and another one on thursday. i feel that i need to be more honest to my nearest and dearest that i’m not always the happy mom i lead people to believe i am. giving my whole body and efforts over to a baby for a whole year have taken a pretty hefty toll on my mind and body. my homework from my first week of therapy is to inquire at the YMCA about memberships. they have great childcare there and i’ve missed yoga and swimming and working out in general (AND BEING BY MYSELF). i think it’s a pretty good place to start. i’m a big believer in therapy and have been before. i’ll keep you updated as much as i feel comfortable doing so. let’s just say it’s pretty imperative that i go and get some things off my chest.

and as for little pal – he’s sleeping in his own crib right now. that’s right. it’s not without many tears (ok – blood curling screams) but at the moment he’s asleep in his own room and my poor husband is passed out on the couch from exhaustion. the trick for tonight was daddy going in right away after i nursed and put the little guy down. apparently he looked at dad, said some baby scramble, and whipped his head to the side and started snoring. i have no idea how that all happened but we are happy. we’ll see how long it lasts.

’till next time.

i’m still here!!!!!!!!

blogging has been on the back-burner here in the young night thought household due to moving AGAIN. however, i’m still here and will be posting more in the near future. a few recent tid bits? we now live in a new town on the north shore of MA, little pal ain’t so little anymore – he turned one! and is walking walking walking.

we are still working on moving from a co-sleeping household to a sleep-in-your-own-bed household and i will elaborate on that later. needless to say – i’m having a beer tonight!

We’re Moving!

I know. I haven’t been keeping up with this. Tsk Tsk!! I’m sorry.

But we’re moving! June 1st! If you can’t tell – I’m excited. But also very stressed. Pal has been going through what seems like a lot of changes lately and it’s a bit stressful. He basically wants to nurse or be in my arms every second. I did however get up to my hometown for a few days so my mom could watch him and I could go shopping! TJMaxx and I had a date and it went well. I fit into size 8 shorts! Man did that feel good. At least SOMETHING good is coming out of the little turd running me ragged! Ah well.

Life goes on, eh? I really want to do a series on sleep and am thinking it will happen, but maybe not until after we move. And mostly because we are attempting to once and for all get Pal into his own crib and room. It seriously needs to happen. Little man turns one June 1st!

Back when I showered…

I remember before Pal was born that I would think, like others did, that I wouldn’t be able to remember what life had been like without him. I had heard people say, “I just can’t even remember life before little Jessica came along”. Or whatever.

Well, I remember. The few times I have been away from Pal – driving in the car or sitting in a movie theater – has felt so strangely normal, and it’s not that I don’t love him to death. Just that I was without him for so long that having him here is still not the norm for me. There are some things I desperately miss. Sitting down. Taking a shower. Being alone at all. Getting my hair cut. Going to the bathroom (you know – without hoping he doesn’t tackle the heater grate).

And driving. Oh especially driving. I love to drive with the windows down and the music up and just think about nothing. I’m sure someday I’ll get to do this again, but for now that seems a long way off.

When will having a kid be the norm? Probably when I feel like I’ve done it for longer than I can remember.