Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sleep Training is AMAZING

Tonight, my son, who has woken up several times a night and required exhausting pre-bedtime rituals for 14 months has officially slept through the night for THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW!!!!

And guess what he did this evening? You'll never believe it. We went through the normal bedtime routine, I put him in his crib, he sat up and watched me leave... and then DIDN'T CRY!! He must have layed right down, snuggled in, and fallen asleep! With no tears! Oh my gosh. You can probably tell by the excessive amount of exclamation points I'm using, but I could not be happier.

I will never take sleep for granted again. These past few days have been heavenly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sleep Training Sucks

Cry it out? Can't do it. Or can I...???

For 13 months, I have been firm in my resolve to not let my baby cry himself to sleep. Doesn't it seem horribly cruel? Yes. But does it work...?? Until now, my answer has been- I don't care! Even if it works, is it worth it?

However. Isaac is now a 30 pound 13 1/2 month old. Our bedtime routine up until now has been to take a bath, get into jammies, read books in the rocking chair, turn on a lullaby mix, and then Mommy walks, bounces, jiggles, runs, and jumps Isaac to sleep. (I only go through this rigamarole because he won't let me rock him. Rocking hasn't worked for months. Bouncing around the room like a crazy person has.) Up until 3 weeks ago, it was working. I only had to do the walking/bouncing/jiggling/running/jumping for 2-4 minutes before Isaac was drowsy enough to put in his crib without screaming to get out again. Then something changed and nothing I did was working. I am pretty darn strong by now (if I do say so myself), but I can no longer hold a 30 lb baby for an hour while walking/running. Something has to change.

My first idea was to sit in his room until he fell asleep. So he can learn to self-soothe but not feel abandoned. Perfect compromise, right? No. I sat silently in the rocking chair across the room and he did every silly thing he could think of in the crib. Bouncing on his knees, smashing his face into the rails, saying "Ah! AH! Ah? Ahhhhh????" I could see this was not leading us in the right direction.

The next night I tried a slightly later bedtime. I prayed that this would be enough and I wouldn't have to change anything else (for now, anyway). WRONG. After going through our routine only to deal with a wild baby arm honking my nose and grabbing my hair and doing any and everything else possible to keep himself awake, I put him in his crib and left.

Baby screams. Mommy's heart breaks. Daddy soothes Mommy. Mommy goes in to soothe baby. Leaves. Baby screams. Mommy's heart breaks... rinse and repeat.

Despite the broken heart, it's actually going fairly well. I'm doing a modified version of Ferber's approach; baby cries for set time, I go in and reassure him. (I don't let myself pick him up... I put a hand on his back or hold his little hand) If I think he'll fall asleep, I stay with him for awhile. If it's clear he's not going to fall asleep, I leave again and let him cry a few minutes longer than last time. Go in, touch him... repeat until he's asleep. So far each night it has taken under an hour (!!) and my arm muscles are thanking me for this new plan.

Tonight we try this approach during the night time wakings, too. It's time to get more than 3 hours of sleep at a time...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Convincing Myself

A few days ago I received mail with this letterhead:

School is starting! Crack open that crisp new planner! Log into district e-mail! Prepare your hands for constant washing/santizing!

I should start by saying that I do love my job AND I'm only going to be working three days a week this year instead of five. (I'm hoping for the perfect mix of home/work life, grown-up time and baby time, paperwork and housework...)


This means it's official! Summer is over! Isaac's second summer ever! Gone! Just like that. So in order to feel a little less melancholy and panicky about it all, I've decided to list some of the things I love about fall. Because I do love fall.

* The way the sky becomes slate blue and looks lower, almost, against the autumn leaves
* Hoodies!
* Bonfires
* Actually being able to breathe when you get in a car that's been sitting outside for any period of time.
* Open windows
* That fall smell. You know the one.
* Pumpkin everything
* Cool nights and crunchy leaves
* Fall's seasonal beers
* That new-school-year tingle. This year I'll be an even better teacher! The sky is the limit! Go me! (Until the darn paperwork starts piling up…)
* Our TV shows come back on!
* Lazy football Sundays

Okay Fall, I'm ready. Bring it on!

Friday, July 22, 2011

His Turn

Before Jonathan read my last post, I asked him what he remembered most about Isaac's hospital stay. He talked, I transcribed, so these are his words:

I remember:

* the waiting room.

* that we got to know a lot of people really fast.

* I got a work call and wondered "Why am I answering this?"

* thinking we were taking a lot of pictures, but looking back on it, I wish we would have taken more.

* changing Isaac's diaper for the first time. Black poo.

* going to Subway and also McDonalds. Remember? We went driving around and couldn't find a restaurant, so we sat in the parking lot at McDonalds. I had to calm you down.

[We had a side bar here. After a brief discussion, we figured out it was actually the previous night that he had to "calm me down." That was the night that Lexie had spent much of the night with Isaac and I was so scared that she would change her mind and it would be all over.]

* when we stayed at the hospital you were always at the ready when he cried. I was in a fog and would wake up when you woke up but had no idea what had to be done or why I was being woken up at two in the morning. Then the sudden realization that this is going to be the way it is for a long time.

* leaving the hospital. I think I was probably the most emotional person there.

* I was glad I didn't know how bad the c-section was. And then I found out later that you had been nervous. Ignorance is bliss.

* Picking out his name last minute. We saw him and thought, he's born now, he needs a name. We picked it in the NICU waiting room.

A Family of Three

July 23, 2010, my heart was in my throat as we said goodbye to Isaac's birth family and drove away from the hospital as a family of three. Today, he's sitting in his high chair, gobbling up fajita meat, pointing at Cody and saying "Gog." How in the world did we get from there to here so quickly?!

Because Isaac joined our family in such a whirlwind-ish manner, I never sat down and recorded all the details that made his birth and hospital stay so unforgettable. This post gives the nuts and bolts, but doesn't even begin to describe what it was really like.

Now seems the perfect time.

(Disclaimer: this walk down memory lane is very, very long. It was fun for me to write, but probably not as fun for you to read, so if you don't make it all the way through, I completely understand.)

I remember:
* pulling into the hospital parking lot and seeing Lexie's parents walking outside. They were holding hands and everything about them said, "Whatever this day brings, we will get through it together."
* rounding the corner into Lexie's room and seeing her standing there in her dressing gown, looking much, much more pregnant than she had just a few days before.
* Jonathan making lots and lots of trips to the coffee machine.
* Lexie's blue lips and violent shivers from the epidural. I felt helpless and awkward and so sorry that she was uncomfortable.
* every inch of the waiting room.
* ordering pizza to share with Lexie's parents and grandparents. Labor had slowed and we weren't sure when the little guy was going to come out. Turns out we ate as Lexie was having her emergency c-section.
* losing my appetite and getting a sick feeling in my stomach as I watched the clock. The doctor had said the c-section would take 20 minutes. Why had it already been 40?
* walking to the nurse's station to ask for an update. They stopped talking when I approached. They told me that the baby was "out," but they seemed reserved and told me no more.
* the sinking feeling when the nurse came in and said there were complications and the baby was in the NICU. When I asked if he was all right, she hesitated and said, "I will let the doctor explain."
* pacing the hallway in the NICU as the nurses tried for 45 minutes to find a vein they could use to replenish his fluids. The huge wave of relief when their "one last try" actually worked.
* seeing another family with blankets and pillows camped out in the NICU waiting room. It looked like they were old pros. My heart broke for them.
* the nurse asking me what formula we were planning to give him. Uhhhh. Hadn't thought about that. She recommended Enfamil or Similac. I said, if it's all the same, how about Enfamil since we have coupons for it at home.
* a nurse stopping by to admire Isaac and asking me his name. There is something special about the first time you tell your child's name to someone. It's real now. He's here and he has this name that we gave him.
* holding my son (my son!) until midnight and making the very difficult decision to go home and get some sleep while he was being extremely well cared for by the NICU nurses.
* stopping at Cub foods on the way to the hospital (what else is open at 5:30 in the morning?) and wondering, what do you get for the woman who has just spent an entire day in unspeakable pain, birthing your child?
* Lexie, in her wheelchair, holding Isaac for the first time. I knew right then that I not only loved him, but her too.
* waiting and waiting and waiting for Isaac to pee for the first time. He waited until the very end of the "normal range" they gave us.
* thinking that the hospital should use better fabric softener for their baby blankets.
* having to request a pacifier. (I thought they just gave you those greenish newborn ones...) The nurse brought out a Nuk brand pacifier, still in it's plastic and cardboard packaging from the store. We've been single-handedly supporting that company ever since.
* wondering whether we should refer to the baby as "Isaac" (the name we chose for him) or "Jacob" (the name Lexie gave him). We couldn't decide, so Isaac was "him," "the baby," "the little guy," etc. for three days. =)
* one time in particular when Lexie and I were alone in the hospital room for awhile. That was a special hour for me; I felt like I was really beginning to get to know her.
* driving alone to the hospital one morning (Jonathan went back to work so he could save his time off for when we were home) and pulling over on a dirt road between two corn fields because I felt like I was going to throw up. Even though I felt like I was coping well with the stress and excitement, my body gave me away.
* trying to go out to eat somewhere during Isaac's last night in the hospital. We wanted to give Lexie some time alone with him before he spent the night with us. However, it was late, and the only places open were bars that didn't serve food! We ended up sitting in a dark parking lot eating McDonald's and killing time.
* sitting down in the room the hospital let us use on Isaac's last night, looking at him all swaddled up and asleep in his bassinet, and wondering.... now what? We mostly just stared at him.
* "waking up" (only I don't think I was ever asleep) every 10 minutes or so to make sure the swaddle hadn't come loose and suffocated him.
* Jonathan and I waking up the next morning with the same heavy feeling in the pit of our stomach. Time for Isaac to go home. Our happiest day was going to be one of Lexie's saddest.
* going to Target because we forgot to bring clothes to take the baby home in!! It suddenly occurred to me that he can't go in the car seat swaddled and I don't think he should just wear the diaper and cotton shirts he's lived in for the past three days... I felt like such an idiot.
* tears, tears, and more tears as Lexie said good-bye and left the hospital. It was as heartbreaking as we had imagined. How could we take Isaac away from the one person who had loved and taken care of him for over 9 months?
* how Isaac's eyes grew ten sizes larger as we brought him into the great outdoors for the first time and loaded him into the car. He had this look on his face like "What. The. Hell."
* saying to Jonathan as we drove home, "So. There's a baby in our car..."