Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sleep, Sweet Sleep

I always joke that I've been sleep deprived for the past 9 years, since our first baby was born. I've been pregnant and then had a newborn, pregnant, newborn, pregnant, etc. I don't even remember what it is like to sleep in unless I have major stomach bug which isn't restful sleep so it doesn't count!

We coslept with Elaina, Zoe, Judah and Silas (not Abigail but that was her personality). Around 10-months Elaina started taking naps in her crib and then slept in her crib through the night. Zoe was around 5-6 months old I think. Judah closer to the 8-9 months. So with Silas turning 9-months-old earlier this month I knew the time was coming.

All three of us were starting to get uncomfortable sleeping in a queen bed. Not to mention his mobility made me fearful he might climb out of the bed and hurt himself. I kept waking up stiff and in pain from laying in one position for so long so he could sleep safe. And then there was the screaming. Silas was restless and would wake up and just scream and cry... all... night... long.

Finally one early morning, before the sun was up, I finally laid my crying baby in his crib and stumbled to my bed and just crashed because I just couldn't do it anymore. To my amazement... he stopped crying and he fell asleep. His room is in our room so I could easily hear him and go to him if he wouldn't have settled down. I got two glorious hours of sleep before the day began.

It was time!

Once you start the cosleep weaning there's no going back in this house. I was determined to get him to sleep in the crib from here on out. Don't mistake me either. I love cosleeping. But there's a window of age where it is safer and better for our family to have baby in the crib. He's actually napping in my lap here because I only have him sleep in the crib at night right now.

So night 1 actually went really well, as did night 2. Night three and on? They've been very touch-and-go but he mostly wakes around midnight (which is when I'm in bed but not asleep yet) and then again around 5am to nurse and go back to sleep.

The first night we put him down in the crib (not referring to that early morning I put him down from fatigue for two hours) was kind of funny and sad! He didn't make a peep. He just sat in the crib, falling asleep. He put his hands out to keep from falling. He was swaying and nodding off while sitting. I tried four or five times to gently position him to lay down before he finally succumbed to sweet, restful sleep. It was funny because I've never seen a baby do that but sad because he kept nodding off and jerking awake while sitting there, almost in confusion! Once he got the hint he was supposed to lay down he hasn't done it since.

After two blissful nights with way longer blocks of sleep between wakings he decided on night three to scream and cry and let us know he was NOT okay with this new arrangement. I just stood there and patted his back and shushed him quietly. Sometimes humming. I let him know he wasn't alone and mommy was there to help him go to sleep.

There's no rush, parents. If your infant is extremely upset they are not going to just calm down and go to sleep. They will just get worked up, scared, upset and have major anxiety until they finally pass out from exhaustion. Part of parenting is being their rock and their comfort. Be there for your baby. It won't be like this forever! And believe me I know it is frustrating! All you want to do is go crash on the couch with your husband and watch your favorite show or unwind... or shower in silence. There's a lot you want to do when you have a child(ren) attached to you all the livelong day once they're in bed! I know this but... it will help your baby learn to sleep on his own a lot quicker to guide them to sleep, rather than leave them to figure it out on their own by screaming until hoarse and exhausted.

It's a process, for sure. It's not easy but you'll only make it harder on yourself if you start comparing your infant to others or make your expectations extreme. Expect to lose some sleep still. Expect that baby may sleep the night through one night and then wake you up 5 times the next night. Expect that when he does wake up half a dozen times one night that it doesn't mean he's going to repeat it every night henceforth. Expect that this may continue into the preschool years. New ages and milestones bring different bedtime challenges. I think once you learn to roll with it instead of fight it you've just taken the first step to more peaceful sleep for all.

My sweet boy!

Take it one night at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow. Worry about the here and now.

So what do I do?
Anytime Silas is having a difficult time I gently help him lay down by guiding his body to a lying position on his side or tummy (remember that he's an older baby - put newborns and younger infants on their back if they can't roll over on their own!) and I rub his back until he's out, usually a few minutes. If he's upset to an extreme and won't lay down, usually screaming and reaching for me then I do check the diaper, try to nurse him and then rock him in the glider until he's calm before trying to lay him down again. He's upset for a reason and needs reassurance. After I get him calmed he'll go back to the crib much easier. He knows I'm here. Trying to calm an upset baby by forcing them into something scary or uncomfortable will only make it harder! For all of you! Show him bedtime is not a time for anxiety, show him that you're still there. Don't put on music to drown out your infant's terrified screams (oh it hurts my heart so bad when I hear parents do that routinely - there's no clocking in and out of parenting!).

I'll let you in on a little secret. Once Silas was in the crib Judah seized the opportunity to come back to bed with us (so we're technically still cosleeping, tee hee)! All of the kids did this. They knew to stay out when we had a new baby. And once we hit that window where baby needs to be in their own space the toddler of the family found their place next to me in the middle of the night again. Embrace it, cherish it. It only lasts a season and then it is gone... it won't last forever.

This is something I've had to learn from experience. I was not a patient mother when I had my first baby. I compared her to other infants and wondered why she wouldn't sleep in her crib, on her own. I regret to say that there was a night I did try to let her cry it out. She cried and cried until she was gagging and I was crying along with her while yelling and pleading at my husband to do something. I didn't understand why she would only sleep with me. When I finally relented and realized she just wasn't going to be a typical American baby I brought her back to my bed until she was ready to sleep on her own. We were both much happier when we coslept in mutual agreement instead of me fighting her on it.

And I laugh now when I say she wasn't going to be a typical baby. Because the truth was that I WAS LIED TO. She WAS a typical baby. Infants are hardwired to survive through their mothers. They eat, sleep, breathe mommy. It's NORMAL. They form an attachment to you because it is necessary for their survival. Understanding that, and understanding "the fourth trimester", eases the stress of raising a baby.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Moving On

Well we are officially working on getting our house ready to sell. We live in an historic neighborhood, the gutters are falling off and the entire house needs to be painted outside, the kitchen is the ugliest you'd ever see and our upstairs bathroom is falling apart (literally - we have a clawfoot tub and one of the feet fell off when I was giving Judah a shower tonight!)... so we have our work cut out for us to make the home as move-in-ready as possible for potential buyers and get a good price in order to be able to put down on a homestead out in the country. I don't know how long this is going to take. It's exciting and terrifying all at once. I am on a roller coaster of emotions but at the end of the day I'm beyond ready to get out of the city and that fervor drives me more than any fear!

So I had to share a few pictures of rooms that are finished. And it's only two rooms of our three story house, ahhh!

 I painted the foyer this last summer. A cheery yellow!

It's hard to see the window because the sun was shining from that direction but I believe it is the original glass and it's in fantastic condition! Beautifully framed in solid wood.

Parlor room. Not sure how I feel about the blue but it's the least of concerns at the moment. If it continues to bother me I'll just paint it. What's a little more paint?!

View into dining room (which I will be painting soon, probably a soft green).

So lots to do. The main and most costly issue is the exterior so we want to knock that out as soon as we can. I am so impatient. I've been using the Zillow app to find homes we could look at and there are a few I hope we can look at but we cannot move until this house sells. I'm nervous about how long all the projects will take and then how long it will take to sell. I have to trust that God is in control but it's so hard to relinquish control.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Because Imperfect IS Perfect

I came to a realization recently that sometimes we honestly just don't know what we want. Or we think we want one thing only to find that the very thing we thought we wouldn't like ends up being absolutely perfect for us. Happens to me *all* the time. And I should know myself better than anyone out there, right?! Well there is One who knows me better than I know even myself because He constantly shows me this.

Once upon a time I never would have thought having a baby with stork bites would be perfect. I mean they're stork bites. They're birthmarks. They're not what some would deem a part of beauty or perfection.

And then I had Zoe...

And she was and is perfect. I fell in love with all of her and especially those birthmarks, which she had all over. The obvious ones are her forehead, between her eyes, her eyelids, top of her nose, upper lip, a huge one on the back of her head and a speckling on her lower back.

When I thought of what I would want before I had kids I could have given you a laundry list of all the cutesy little things I dreamed about: soft hair, button nose, pouty lips. Stork bites would not have been on that list. And not because I thought they were ugly, so don't misunderstand. They just weren't something you think of wanting to have.

When her pediatrician told me that the birthmarks would disappear by the time she was around 2 years old I was actually sad (they didn't, btw, and you can still see them when she has a fever or gets really hot). They were part of HER. If someone were to photograph her and airbrush those beautiful rosy pigments off of her face I would be so offended.

Because it turns out I love storkbites. And now I see babies with them and just melt all over again. They are imperfectly perfect, each unique.

Another baby of mine proved to prove me wrong again. I never, in a million years, would have said I wanted a child with flaming orange hair. But then I got one...

When he was born my midwife mentioned it. She said, "I think he's a redhead!" I denied it, saying it probably just looked different because his skin was still mottled and adjusting to life outside the womb. But as days went on his hair stayed bright as his skin tone evened out. I took him outside one day and in the sun his hair looked like it was on fire; it was so orange!

And this is when I fell in love with ginger hair. It wasn't something I particularly thought about nor cared for before Silas was born. I didn't see redheaded babies and people and think, "I just WISH and HOPE for that"! I didn't think it was bad or anything. Just nothing I thought I'd ever love. And now I see it in a whole new light. I love it. I keep exclaiming that I hope his hair doesn't change, as many kids will have different hair color as they age, because it is unique and so him!

In fact there's not a single thing about any of my kids that I thought, "Gee, I hope that changes because I don't like it!" Well except for bad attitudes, ha! They could have been born with crossed eyes or cowlicks or an extra finger and I'd have absolutely fallen in love with the trait. A mother's love is fierce and unique!

I thought back to all the times I hated things about myself as a kid. I hated my voice. Hated my hair (especially this one curl that stuck out on my forehead but my mother just found so endearing). Hated my nose. Hated this stupid off-center dimple in my chin and the fact that I had a crooked smile. And then I met my husband. And the *EXACT SAME THINGS* that I viewed as imperfect in myself are the *EXACT SAME THINGS* my husband loves the most. He loves my voice, my hair and he especially loves that stupid dimple and crooked lip. The imperfections I saw in myself were put there, by God, for a purpose beyond my own desires but the desires of someone else. And seeing my imperfections through the eyes of someone who holds them in high regard has helped me to accept these things and now see them as beautiful.

This extends way beyond the physical. God has shown me much more that He knew I'd love when I wouldn't have given it a chance before. But I was reflecting today on how these particular things are considered imperfections to many, if not most, and how those imperfections are completely and totally perfect.

It has given me pause so that I can raise my children up to see that their imperfections, or what they think are imperfect about themselves, are indeed perfect for them and often those who love them. There isn't always going to be someone else, nor should we put our happiness in the circumstances and people around us, to help unveil the beauty in the imperfect within ourselves. We have to train up our children to see it for themselves as well because we can't always trust others to edify them all the time.

So tonight at dinner we went around the table and thought of one physical thing we loved about ourselves and one character trait we loved about ourselves. We got so caught up in it that everyone started calling out what they loved about each other and not just themselves. Loving ourselves is so important in also seeing the beauty in others so it was natural to see them begin to tell one another the wonderful things about each other. I also made sure to tell them very specific things I loved about each of them (especially when some of them said they didn't know what to love about themselves) and to tell them one was not better than the others, they are simply different and unique and each should be grateful for the things that make us who we are.

What do you think is imperfect about yourself? Try to love yourself today and see the beauty in the imperfections.