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Month: September 2008

big boo hoo

I should have known better.

Last night:

asleep at 7:15 pm (okay)
up at 10:30 pm (fed reluctantly)
up at 1 am (fed reluctantly)
up at 2:30 am (let cry for 15 minutes, went back to sleep, okay)
up at 4:30 am (brought into bed)
up at 5:30 am (changed diaper and fed to sleep)
up at 8 am (smiley as can be, I’m exhausted)


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little mini woo hoo

One night does not a pattern make, and I don’t want to jinx any possible trend we might be on the verge of, but Zeke went to sleep last night at 8pm (nearly effortlessly), and stayed asleep until… wait for it… 3am. (insert happy dance of joy here)

I’m not going to try to figure out what happened or what tiny thing we may have done differently to encourage this change. And I’m not going to count on this lasting for more than a day or two. I’m just going to be very, very happy for as long as it lasts.

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the book of “It’s Okay”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve spent the past couple days trolling my friends’ baby blogs for horror stories about their early days of motherhood: sleepless nights, napless days, excessive fussing.

It’s not that I’m taking pleasure in my friends’ pain, but these friends have beautiful, healthy, happy one (Violet) and two-year-old (Daisy) kids, and the moms are happy and healthy and well-rested. Reading about the challenges of their early mothering experience and knowing the positive outcome gives me hope in a way that nothing else I’ve read has. In fact, most of what I’ve read has made me crazy.

My mom friends and I spend a lot of time talking about all the different books out there: books on breastfeeding, books on baby care, books on developmental milestones, and, most importantly, books on sleep. We all know these books are not going to help our babies get through teething pain or learn to sleep through the night, but we read them anyway. Somehow, reading something in a book legitimizes our choices and methods. It makes us feel like we’re at least trying to make our babies lives better by using this theory or that routine. These authors have done the research and proven that their ideas work, and if we only follow their suggestions exactly as written, we would have success too.

Most moms know that one book is not going to have all the answers. So we read many books – each giving different, and often conflicting, solutions to whatever problem we’re trying to solve. It’s utterly maddening and ultimately makes me feel like I’m developmentally disabling my kid, or at least creating life-long bad habits by doing what feels right – or at least works for now and helps me get through the night.

So I want a new kind of book. Here’s what I’m thinking. It’s called “It’s Okay: A Mother’s Guide to Doing Everything Exactly Right.”

It’s pretty simple. Basically, it tells you that whatever it is you are doing is the right thing to do. Every chapter contains a list of things moms freak out about, followed by a positive affirmation from a voice of authority. For example, in the chapter on sleep, you would find the following list:

I rock/nurse/bounce my baby to sleep every night.

It’s okay! You’re doing the right thing.

My baby only naps in the stroller/sling/car/my arms.

That’s great! You’re doing a fantastic job.

I let my baby cry alone in his crib for 20 minutes at a time.

Totally fine! You’re doing what you have to do.

I bring my baby into bed with me at 1 am every morning.

Wow! You’re the best mom in the whole world.


Truthfully, most moms I know are doing exactly the right thing for their baby, and they only question their decisions because whatever book they’re currently reading tells them they should do something different. And then time passes and everything changes and they read another book which tells them to do everything differently and they feel bad and question themselves and get all stressed out and go against their instincts and then everything changes again.

I think what we all need is someone to tell us that we’re doing a good job, a really good job. Hearing this from our own moms, our partners, and our friends is nice, necesssary even. But it’s not the same as reading it in a book – a bestselling book. So c’mon Dr. Sears, Baby Whisperer, Dr. Weissbluth. Let’s have it.


zekey has a cold

It was inevitable with a middle school teacher for a dad. Zekey caught his first cold. I have to say he’s handled it pretty well. He’s been sneezing and coughing and he sounds all hoarse and nasally. He had a low fever a couple nights ago but it hasn’t returned. And I would say he’s having a hard time sleeping, but that would be redundant.

We’ve been trying to help the little guy by squirting saline drops up his nose and using that crazy bulb syringe thing (which he hates), running a vaporizer all night (which the plants love and makes me feel like I’m on a tropical island), and generally trying to shower him with as much affection and sympathy as possible.

The big irony is that he’s actually been pretty mellow since he hasn’t been feeling well. Dave said I should be careful what I wish for. I’m trying awfully hard not to enjoy this respite just a little bit. Poor guy.

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we’ve truly lost it

We spent a couple hours this afternoon laughing hysterically about teaching the baby to flip the bird the bird, and making lists of things that are better than being kept up all night by a crying baby including getting kicked in the head and getting hot wing sauce in your eye. (Dave has actually done this and said it’s bad, but not as bad as being kept up all night.)

I suppose it’s a positive thing that we are laughing about all this. Zekey’s 4 month birthday is tomorrow and our expectations are approaching rock bottom. He spent about an hour today lying quietly on a blanket in the living room and we started worrying that something was wrong with him.

Don’t get me wrong, the mellowness didn’t last. In fact, Dave is pacing the bedroom with him right now – trying to put him to bed for the fourth time tonight. I can come up with any number of excuses for Z’s latest fussiness: teething, a developmental leap that, according to the book The Wonder Weeks, lasts from about 15-19 weeks (only two more to go in that case… um… yay?), the change in the weather, the fact that we stopped swaddling him for bedtime, blah, blah, blah.

But I’m tired of hearing myself talk about this.

Today, we’re just going to laugh.


Zekey goes to the beach

First, I want to thank everyone for all the great encouragement following my recent posts. I’ve felt very loved and supported from friends and family near and far, and it’s definitely helped me get through this rough patch. There’s nothing like a few good rants to vent some frustration, and I am definitely feeling better as a result.

So – on to happier news. We took Zeke to the beach! It was definitely a balancing act – trying to show him all the wonders of sand and sea while keeping him clean and fed and protected from the sun and surf, but on the whole I think he really liked it. He always looks very serious when we introduce him to new things, and this was no exception. But he wiggled his little toes in the sand and stared at the waves for a good long time. I think with a few more visits we’ll have him smiling and giggling like he does in the tiny ocean of our bathtub.

Other exciting happenings:


Z rolled over the other day! I have to admit I wasn’t being a very attentive mama when it happened. He started crying just as I got out of the shower, so I was half-dressed and trying to comfort him when the phone rang (a call I had to take). So I ever so gently tossed him in the crib on his belly while I juggled the phone and my pants and a toy for Zeke and he just kind of leaned to one side and flipped over. Everything stopped for a second – he and I both were really surprised. And then he started crying again. I suppose I would cry too if my world suddenly flipped 180 degrees. I’ve been trying to get him to do a repeat performance ever since to no avail. But considering how active this kid is, I have no doubt he will be rolling around like a maniac in a matter of weeks.

(Z actually kicked himself right out of his diaper the other night – and pooped all over everything. Perhaps the diaper was not secured as tightly as it should have been, but still, that’s a lot of kicking.)


I’ve been resisting saying that Zeke is teething partly because I’ve heard that lots of moms use teething to explain away standard crankiness (and only later find out what real teething is), and partly because I feel like the kid needs a break. But I was hanging out with a group of more experienced moms the other day and one of them looked over at Zeke drooling like a fiend and gnawing at my hand and basically told me in no uncertain terms that he was teething. I said he was too young. She shook her head. Poor guy.

I suppose that explains some of the formerly inexplicable crying, and now we can at least try to do some things to make him feel better. But it doesn’t bode well for us actually get a full night’s sleep any time soon.


I’m reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, a book that’s been recommended to me by lots of moms. I know enough now to recognize that no book has all the answers, but this one is less about making suggestions and more about research – how much babies need to sleep at what age. It talks a lot about fussy babies, and suggests that if your baby is hard to read at 3-4 months (which Zekey has been), try putting them down for a nap after every two hours of wakefulness.

Z has been napping fairly regularly from 9-10am for a couple weeks now, so I used that as a guideline and have been putting him in his crib (or in the stroller) every 2 hours after that – whether or not he’s acting tired. And it’s kind of working! A few times now, I’ve put him down awake and he’s actually fallen asleep on his own – no crying or fussing. He doesn’t sleep very long – really no more than 45 minutes or an hour on a good day, but its a definite improvement over the nap struggles we’ve been having. According to the book, fighting naps happens when your baby is already overtired, so by putting them down before they’re tired you avoid that trouble. This actually makes a lot of sense to me and fit’s pretty well with Z’s behavior.

I’ll also tentatively say that this more regular napping is helping Z get to sleep better at night. He’s still waking up a lot, but for the past three nights, there’s been a lot less crying as we try to put him to bed the first time. We even had a couple nights where we just kissed him goodnight and left the room while he was still awake, and he fell asleep on his own after awhile without our intervening.

Now, if we could just get him to stay asleep, I will be a very happy camper. One step at a time.


16 weeks

Disclaimer: This post was written at the end of a very long and exhausting day after close to 4 months without a good night’s sleep. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds. I almost deleted the whole thing after I wrote it, but that feels dishonest. So here it is. Don’t call child protective services quite yet.

I wonder if there’s a point in every new mom’s life when she feels it just can’t get any harder. I imagine for most moms, that happens a little closer to the beginning – at four, or six, or eight weeks – when you stare down at this tiny person and can’t believe that you are solely responsible for keeping him alive. When your back hurts and your breasts are sore and you are so very, very tired. Maybe I should consider myself lucky that I haven’t felt this way until now. But at this moment – 16 weeks into this new life – I don’t think I can handle any more.

I must have gotten a total of about 3 hours of sleep last night. First I couldn’t fall asleep. Then as soon as I finally nodded off, Z woke up for the second time. (I was still awake for the first.) Then the kicking started. And it didn’t stop. Finally, at 3:30am, I decided to banish the boy to his crib in the other room. Then I cried for 20 minutes. When I went to check on him, he was fast asleep. So I went back to bed and fell asleep myself. 10 minutes later he started crying. Some amount of sleep finally happened between feeding him again and Dave leaving me alone with him at 6:30am.

I’m not entirely sure what happened between 6:30 and 10:30am when I left the house – but there was some crying (his and mine), some eating, some swinging, and a bit more sleeping. Most of the afternoon was okay. We went for a hike with a mom friend, and Zeke slept almost the whole time (reinforcing poor napping yet again). But even when things are okay these days, I dread the inevitable breakdown that will come – and that is no way to be with a baby.

My latest attempt to curb Z’s fussiness is putting him down for a nap every two hours (more on that later). At 4pm, I swaddled him and put him in his crib. I put my head down on the railing, gearing up for the long lulling-to-sleep process, and I actually fell asleep there. I was jolted awake at 4:15 when my arm slipped off the rail. Luckily, Zeke had fallen asleep as well, so I was able to sleep on the couch for another 30 minutes before he woke up again.

Dave got home and we had a nice hour together before the dreaded bedtime routine which, per usual, led to complete hysteria and my feeling like I really can’t take this anymore. (Compounding matters is a bit of an oversupply problem I’ve been having which is causing Zeke to have green poop and reject the boob from time to time – a terrible thing when it’s all I can do to soothe him.)

So here we are – 16 weeks into this thing – as tired as I think it’s possible to be, fearful of not being able to handle one more night feeding, one more bout of crying, one more forced nap. Another mom friend said the universe won’t give you more than you can handle. If this is true, I’ve about reached my limit.

PS: It’s not all bad. The new 90210 is thoroughly entertaining. This is how far I’ve sunk.