Tag Archives: sleeping

Home again

Now that the party’s over, summer’s over, the “adventures at grandma’s” are over, we are back home in Montreal. We dragged ourselves, our 190 lbs of luggage (avec birthday gifts), our cat, my violin, and my daughter’s little carry-on that she refused to carry-on through a couple airports, a bus, and a subway yesterday. The cat probably had the worst of it. He didn’t even get to use the iPad.

My daughter spent most of the evening revisiting her toys, most of the night upset about her molars, and most of this morning unpacking her new toys. I was VERY curious to see how nap time would go, and here’s the result:

She went down for a nap without ANY NURSING or ANY CRYING for the first time in her life.

It only took 2 years.

I pretty much talked her into it. We got home from the playground and I just started telling her how we were going to go get her Paddington bear and lay down and it was going to be awesome and Paddington was tired too…
I just did not stop talking. I laid her down in her bed, tucked her bear in with her, rubbed her back, and kept whispering “you are very tired, you and Paddington, you both want to take a nap” and things like that.

She gave me this terrible look like she was SO offended/disappointed in me and put her head down. Closed her eyes. Fell asleep.

Ten Minutes.

I emerged from her room to my husband sitting on the sofa with his laptop (read: my husband in his natural habitat) and literally took a bow.

He golf-clapped.

Maybe it’s good to be home?

The Overtired Monster

Nessie: A handful of sightings. Overtired Monster: Millions served. I saw it last Tuesday.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being the parent of a small child is battling the Overtired Monster (OM). You do everything you can to avoid welcoming this creature into your life, but you still wind up, one way or another, face to face with this unpredictable and annoying demon.

You try to get home for that nap or to bed on time, but things happen. Suddenly, you are on a bus or in the car and your sweet little one transforms into this beast who whines and moans, throws things, issues sudden and ridiculous demands, gets upset at the slightest provocation, screams and cries, scratches and kicks, refuses to sleep, and will not be appeased. For some reason, this monster prefers public locations. Maybe it’s afraid of what you’ll do to it without witnesses?

I think all people with babies and little kids know about the Overtired Monster. What I wanted to address today was the horrible misinformation about the OM among people who don’t have kids or haven’t had them in quite some time. You see, there seems to be the consensus out there that the OM DOESN’T EXIST or that if they do, that they really are “not so bad.” This is very troubling! I have been told things like “wow, your child really behaves like that” or “she’ll sleep when she’s tired” implying the non-existence of the OM. Also, “just let her fall asleep then” or “we need to do several things before you can put her to sleep” which mean that they do not show sufficient fear of the OM’s terrible wrath.

Since I continuously fight to banish the OM from my life, it is alarming to me that those around me could be so reckless, so cavalier, about this subject. Go ahead, go say “Overtired Monster” in the mirror three times! Let’s try to keep my kid up an extra two hours tonight! Naps? A luxury! She can nap later. I need to make all this noise while she’s sleeping.

It’s like they don’t know!!

Maybe the former parents repressed the memory like a traumatic event? Maybe the non-parents think it’s just a conspiracy like bigfoot? Well, I’m going to tell you that the Overtired Monster is real. And fierce. I might not survive. So, do everyone with little kids and babies a favor and learn to fear the OM like we do. The life you save may be your own.

Breaking Sleep Update: June 2012 Edition

Record the time and date, people, because my daughter did the most amazing thing two nights ago at 9:42 pm.

I had nursed her to sleep as usual, slipped oh-so-carefully away from her in the bed we’re sharing, crept to the door, exited the room, and just before I had closed the door most of the way, she woke, sat up, and just sat there for about 30 seconds. Then, she flopped back down and went to sleep.

Just like that.

I was so excited. I don’t know if she knew I was just outside the door, but she could not see me. I have watched her fall asleep while I patted her back in her crib, but never seen her fall asleep on her own without me being there. It was like magic. I could get used to this. Is this how children who go to bed normally are? Am I so far out in the sleep battleground that I can’t even see what the surroundings looks like?

She did not repeat the feat tonight, so I’m free to write about it here. I have this odd superstition about exclaiming her sleeping accomplishments too much for fear that they will never be repeated. When she slept through the night for the first time since that fluke at 5 months sometime back in March, I don’t think my husband and I even said the words out loud. The conversation went something like this:
“When did she wake up last night?”
“I didn’t get her at any point before I went to bed.”
“Oh. So she…”
“Omg I think so..”
“We should probably not even talk about it.”

And I didn’t even tell my friends for a couple months that it had even been happening once in awhile. Now, it’s not something I can count on at all, but I’m getting familiar with the concept. I’m getting used to the predictability of putting her to bed and GASP! not having to go do it a second time 40 minutes later.

We’ve come a long way since February when I was sure that all was lost and she was waking up 24 times a night. She’s still got a lot of sleep milestones ahead that most kids her age have passed long ago. She’s very much marching to the beat of her own durge-playing drummer on the sleeping (and talking) front.

But at least she’s marching in the right direction.

The New Nightly Normal

My toddler has been sleeping a bit better at night than she was a few weeks ago. But that comparison is a bit useless since a few weeks ago what she was doing at night cannot be accurately described as “sleeping.” It pretty much couldn’t get worse, so improvement was just about the only way to go.

There were a few nights of substantial improvement, about which I tried not to get carried away with visions of such unattainable feats like “sleeping through the night” and “puts herself to bed.” There were a few nights of backsliding into some of the familiar misery.

After a few weeks of horrible night after horrible night, I finally sent my husband in to do the middle-of-the-night routine, figuring it couldn’t get any worse. My daughter normally flips out if her dad goes in to get her at night instead of me. The first time I sent him in, she didn’t cry as much as I expected, partly, because I think she was just so exhausted. Then she slept for a couple hours. I was shocked. A couple hours at that point was like a miracle. So, I let him take over the middle-of-the-night wakeups. And she started sleeping longer. I still don’t quite understand it.

His theory is that she just wants me in there so much that given the choice of being in bed or being held/patted by me, she will demand the latter. However, when he’s in there, she is more content just to go back to bed. There have been a few nights where she’s obviously in some discomfort and having a hard to getting back to sleep or in a good position that she makes him stay in there quite a bit longer, but otherwise, none of this approaches what was going on a few weeks ago.

There are two small drawbacks to this that my daughter likes to call:
1. Bedtime: “Since this is the last time I’ll see you tonight, mom, I’m going to make it count by trying to consolidate all the infuriating writhing and scratching and pushing into this time that I can. Oh, also I’m gonna take my time.”
2. Morning: “Since I slept a whole REM cycle, I’m going to wake up at 6am because surely you all miss me. Where’s the cat?”

As all you parents surely know, when the morning wake-up time gets shoved back, the nap times get shoved back and then you have a kid who’s hitting dinner time like a brick through a window and is overtired for bed making it harder for them to get a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes it feels like progress is riding in a really loud horse. A horse that leave messes and eats the furniture and kicks holes in the walls. You can barely greet your long-awaited guest because you are too busy trying to contain the damage.

Exit Protocol

Just don't do anything here.

Every person who puts a difficult-sleeper kid to bed (or back to bed) knows their hazards. You have totally erased entire semesters (or quarters, in Julia’s and my case) of whatever it was you majored in and replaced it with detailed methods, sub-methods, and environmental characteristics on how you can get your kid to sleep so that you can get something done please.

I know that, for instance, if I take a step on the floor in either one of several spots, it will make this soft snap sound. I also know that if I’m leaning over the edge of the crib and I stand up too quickly, it will make a slipping sound as my arm or whatever drags against the surface. And I almost always wear socks so that my feet don’t make any sticking sounds on the floor. Sometimes these sounds are all it takes. Even when I am careful to avoid all the room’s sound-traps, I will take a step and my ankle will make that cracking sound and my daughter will wake up.

And beyond sounds, I have light issues too. My daughter has a ipod player in her room that emits a green light which serves as a nice nightlight as well as playing her bedtime music. However, when the volume is turned up or down, the light flickers slightly and so I have to remember to turn it down before she falls asleep or sometimes flicker will make her wake up. There are is also the light from the hallway to contend with. I can’t open and close her door because that makes WAY too much noise, so I just have to remember to keep her face turned away from the doorway whenever I’m holding her. And I have a blanket over the side of her crib on that end to block light. I’ll just add that the “hall light” isn’t actually a light on in the hallway, it’s the spillover light from a lamp in the living room. Ah, apartment living.

There are a million different little things I have to know to execute the successful transfer of my sleeping child from my arms to her bed. And the WORST part: as soon as I think I have learned all the rules or good tips, things change, she changes, sometime completely unpredictable happens.

And another few months of “Bacterial Genomics” goes out the window.

Weaning vs. Potty Training

My 16 month old has a fair amount of curiosity about the potty. I’d like to work with that. I haven’t outright DECIDED that it’s time to “potty train,” but it seems like a good idea to start making some positive habits.

My 16 month old also has many night-time nursing sessions. I’d like to eliminate those. She doesn’t need them and she is capable of going back to sleep without them. The problem is, when she decides she wants to nurse in the middle of the night, there is no deterring her. We’re not just talking about a “few nights” of unhappiness, this is full-scale hysteria and I’m pretty sure I’d scar my kid for life if I tried to make her quit cold-turkey.

In the battle of Weaning versus Potty Training, I fully expect the latter to win soundly.

It seems slightly ridiculous to me that I’m even thinking about moving my kid out of diapers when she can’t even get through one night without nursing at least a few times. Isn’t this weird? Am I putting the cart before the horse? Am I crazy?

The last one was rhetorical.

Right now, the biggest sleep challenge we’ve had since we got home from our travels is Being Set Down in the Crib. This hasn’t been a problem for almost 8 months. It has sometimes been a problem in the middle of the night (usually around 3 or 4am when she wants to go to bed with me), but not at the beginning of it! I’m at a loss. I’m just hoping it’s a phase because I don’t really know how to deal with it other than to just keep trying to get her to lay down and go back to sleep.

A voice in the back of my head keeps telling me this is the moment where my daughter will start hating me just a tiny bit. If they say that motherhood is a long process of letting go, then my kid is going to hate her mother because the one thing I know about her for sure: she doesn’t want to be let go of.

Mommy Confession Time

For all of my and Shannon‘s complaining about our respective babes’ stubborn refusal to sleep through the night, I for one, am ready to own up to the fact that I sort of kind of am okay with it…

I know, I KNOOOOOOW! I can’t believe myself as I’m typing this mommy blasphemy. I should be given twenty stubborn awake screaming babies at two AM for the next fifty years as punishment.  The twenty babies should all simultaneously and continually paw at my shirt and scream at the highest decibels. And the very instant that even one of the twenty screaming babies falls asleep, a fleet of helicopters should begin circling just above my roof. With that punishment in mind, hear me out, Mommy Powers That Be!

Virtually every Monday through pretty much every Friday, I spend my son’s waking hours locked away in an office, creating decks, making presentations, looking at at rows upon rows and columns upon columns of data. Through it all, I put on professional airs while totally and completely missing my little boy. He misses me too.

I fly home through an hour of traffic in time only to feed him dinner, give him a bath, read him a book, and sit with him while he drifts off to sleep. We’ve got the routine down pat and by 8:45 every evening, he is out cold.

I trod off to do the dishes, pack my lunch, maybe cook something for the next day before collapsing into my bed. And through it all, I totally and completely miss my little boy.

So when he wakes up crying for me at 3 AM like he did this morning, I am tired and sleepy, but only too happy to hug him and have him lay down next to me. He gently touches my face, my ears, my hair before finally turning away and assuming his ‘little spoon’ position and I think he must be pretty happy too.

Last Night: An exercise in fail

Last night was the kind of night where you completely accept that you are unqualified to have children.

Two forces collided to form a hurricane of misery: my toddler decided that she was going to refuse to settle for sleeping alone and without her claws on me and I lost my freaking patience/mind/ability to stop grinding my teeth.

She just had to be physically on my person while she slept and would not be set down in her crib. She woke up a few times before 2am, but at 2:30, she became impossible to set down. I’d get her back to sleep and as soon as I set her down, she’d wake up and cry. We did this about 15 times. At about 3:30, I finally took her to my bed (I had not gone to bed myself yet), but I couldn’t fall asleep with her flopping all over me and bumping my almost-broken nose. So when she finally fell back asleep, I decided to remove the temptation for her to nurse constantly and I went out and tried to sleep on the sofa. I was so uncomfortable. At 4:30 I went back to bed and she woke up. I tried again to put her back in her crib once she was asleep again.

When she wouldn’t stay asleep there, after multiple attempts, I snapped. She was getting really upset. I was more upset. I stepped out of the room with her still in her crib, crying. She totally lost it. It was awful. Ugly. A million levels of terrible. The 6th level of Hell.

I tried to console her without picking her up. No use. After several more attempts to get her to calm down, I just gave in and let her come back to bed with me. She fell asleep clinging to me like it was the end of the world. I felt horrible, she was terrified, the cat was like, “will someone feed me now?”

We all slept in, such was the trauma of the whole ordeal. It kind of made feel today like a bit of a waste. I got nothing done. I messed up the first pancake so bad that I had to wash the pan and start over. Things were not going well.

Crossing my fingers for a better night tonight. The cat is like “you can feed me with crossed fingers, no?”

Mommy Hazing

I should mention that my daughter almost broke my nose with a maraca.

It was quite festive out today, the snow was coming down in a pleasing way, it was cold but tolerably so. People were out shopping. We went out to go to the fabric store (Fabricville, aka “Polyesterville”) and get lunch. Our daughter was SO good at lunch and sat in her highchair the entire time, I almost wanted to order more food since she was being so patient. Why can’t she be like this when I’m out with her alone and I really need her to sit still, when her dad isn’t there to take her out for a walk?

Oh yeah right, because she’s trying to break me down so that I’ll be compliant and a pushover in her teen years.

What’s brilliant about her plan is that she doesn’t just make it hard ALL the time, she gives me long stretches of wonderful so that I will be more confused and frantic when she shifts into impossible-mode.

Going to bed is a great example of this. The rule lately seems to be this:
If my daughter falls asleep easily, fast, and without any fight (eg. under 10 minutes, without tossing and turning and nursing forever), she will wake up many times during the night and be more difficult to put back to sleep each time.
If she takes a loooong time to fall asleep and makes me damn near lose my mind getting her there, and I miss all my favorite shows, then she’s going to have a good night.

I suspect that this is because the nights she falls asleep faster are when she is overtired and just crashes, not getting the adequate time to wind down. Therefore, when she wakes up about 40 minutes in, she thinks “I’ve been tricked, drugged, hypnotized! How long have I been out?! What day is it?!”

So generally, she likes to keep me on my toes every night, but in varying ways. And then she’ll go and create an exception to the rule, just to make me second guess everything.

She is brilliant. Did I mention she almost broke my nose with a maraca?

Random things I’ve learned since having a kid

1. Unless you live in the rainforest, buy a humidifier.

2. Babies’ onesies don’t just have that special neckline with overlapping shoulders to accommodate their large heads, even that that is the primary reason. These necklines also make it possible to pull the whole thing DOWN and off in case of a huge mess. Also, you can pretty much never have too many onesies.

3. Buy swimsuits in the summer. If you think your kid is going to need a larger swimsuit anytime during the year before next summer, get the larger size before all the summer-clothing disappears from stores or you will have to search long and hard for a swimsuit in November. This also applies to other seasonal-items (if you are going to Greenland in June or something). Thankfully, there is number 4.

4. Check Amazon. Whatever it is, before you go out and try to find it in person, just check Amazon. This way, you have not only an idea of what commonly exist, but a reference point for price so that you know if you are being ripped off. This is probably a good lesson even if you don’t have kids. (And I do mean amazon.com, not amazon.ca which sucks.)

5. Cloth diapering while an environmentally friendly choice is also a great choice for your pocketbook. Even if you use more expensive options, like BumGenius, you will still save loads of money. If you don’t use them all the time (like me), you will STILL save money. Better yet, if you treat them right, the cloth diapers/diaper covers hold a lot of value and can be resold when you are done! There is a Cloth Diaper Swap on Facebook that is one of the most aggressive sale-sites I have ever been on. Those ladies are freaking serious.

6. You can’t wear heels, you need more flats. I always preferred wearing heels. And I tried to continue, but hauling around my baby and all her stuff while wearing them made my feet ache (a feeling I am used to and can usually ignore), my shins feel bruised, and my knees feel like two delicate little girls who were about to pass out. Eventually, my back got word of all of this muscular-skeletal distress and joined the strike. So, I had to buy more flats. It is preferable you get ones that you could climb a small mountain wearing and that you can put on in under 1 second with no hands.

7. Someday, you will be *that* person that everyone in the restaurant/train/plane/store is staring at thinking “what a terrible parent, why can’t she just get it together?!” You may be lucky and only have it happen once. But it will happen.

8. And a continuation of 7, you will never really feel like you have your shit together. I fondly remember the days before the kid when I really knew that I was capable of accomplishing a series of tasks. I was on time, I was presentable. I had my wits about me. If you are a child-less person and considering having children, you should ask yourself how important it is to you that you always feel like you are “with it.” Because even on the days you are doing a great job, as a parent, you are always one kid-mess away from total functional breakdown. You will also have to lower your standards on house cleaning. Or lose your mind. Your choice.

9. That you will physically hurt when your baby cries: in your boobs (if you are nursing), in your stomach, in your brain.

10. That it’s not you. I spent about 10 months completely obsessing over my daughter’s (lack of) sleep predictability. She was one of the worst sleepers I’d ever encountered. She used to wake up 24 times a night sometimes, from about 6-8 months old. Naps were hell. She is still a bad sleeper compared to her peers. But several months ago, I finally realized: It’s not me. There is basically nothing I can do to make her sleep. It’s just a milestone she will meet when she’s ready. I drove my self crazy trying to make everything perfect. Now, all I do is try to give her a consistent schedule, keep her room dark, quiet, and comfortable, and just hope. If she wakes up, I go get her and do whatever she wants me to do to get her back to sleep. I never “sleep-trained” her since I know it would never have worked. I’m glad I didn’t. The crazy idea that I had any impact on her sleep habits at this age had to be put to bed, pun intended. I wasn’t me. Took me a long time to learn that, but now I appreciate the many areas of her life that this lesson covers.