The No-Cry Sleep Solution Experiment (Catch up after illness)

So yes, of course a week after I began sleep training, little one get’s sick. He had a fever of 102 and fussed about a sore throat for a week after that, and then we had to travel for a wedding. BUT, I’m back, a month later, and the bits that we’ve been consistent with have really made a difference! Here’s last night’s stats. As usual, if you need a disclaimer and all that fun stuff about different parenting methods, look at the last post I wrote on sleep training.

Bedtime at 8:30, down in the crib by 9 (we are slowly inching his bedtime earlier)

Wake 1: 12:30 a.m. nurse and co-sleep

Wake 2: 1:30 a.m. comfort nurse for 5 minutes

Wake 3: 4:30 a.m. comfort nurse 5 minutes

Wake 4: 6:00 a.m. nurse for 20 minutes

Wake 5: 8:45 a.m. awake for the day

Outcome: That’s right, we went from THIRTEEN wakings to FIVE! That means he’s beginning to soothe to sleep some of the time, and the extra two hours of nap during the day are helping him to be less fussy when waking up at night! Party it up!

Unfortunately, it’s about to get worse because I’m instituting the Pantley’s Gentle Removal Plan and taking away night pacifiers because this kid comfort nurses like nobody’s business and I’m ready to stop co-sleeping! Who am I kidding… I didn’t even really wanna co-sleep, but hazy sleep deprived newborn mom Hannah was all, What? I don’t get to sleep? Yeah, no, we’re going to co-sleep.” Values, people. They are a good thing… Start out how you want to go, whatever way that may be. Or, you know, break associations and habits like me and do it the hard way. Yay.

Like I said, for naps, he’s been sleeping two extra hours during the day, which brings his total up to three and a half hours broken over two naps (sometimes three). During the day, I’ve been doing whatever I have needed to do to get him to sleep, even if that’s nursing him the whole naptime, because a sleep deprived baby just doesn’t respond well to change at night. It has, however, afforded me a lot of reading time! I just take a flashlight in there with me and prop it up on the other side away from him while I lay down and nurse him. Because of that, I’ve finished a Mother’s Rule of a Life and almost finished Walking with Purpose, not to mention, the No-Cry Sleep Solution book.

Yesterday, I wrote out Eliot’s sleep plan, according to the book’s instruction, and I plan on posting it on the bathroom mirror, so that when I want to smash a mirror when I’m irrational and sleep deprived later this week, I can see all the facts and NOT sleep deprived Hannah will tell me to take a chill pill and keep going. Great thing about first babies…they teach you things you want to try with the next one or want to avoid with the next one! Live and learn.

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Lent, Pride, and the Sequel to the Roach Story

Oh, hi, Lent.

Just when I thought I was “lent-ing” enough, God decided to give me an exercise of humility to kick that pride where the sun don’t shine… Lent is always a season of constant evaluation (or it should be) in our spiritual lives. It is a time where we question our weaknesses, we ask how we can join our sufferings to Him, we meditate on His great sacrifice out of love and we let those meditations help us to fall before Him again and again. If we think we are “lent-ing” enough, we’ve probably stopped that evaluation or meditation (or both) and we probably need to turn around and stop letting pride in. There are so many ways pride can enter into the season of Lent… That’s a huge reason we are to fast in secret! I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see just how clearly pride can weasel into this beautiful, painful time, probably because I got a rather large dose of it, followed by a rather mortifying dose of humility.

If you’ve been a follower since I had my old blog, you might remember a funny blog post about my experience dealing with a huge roach while Daniel was gone. It involved a broom, a grocery bag, multiple things being thrown across the room, me standing on a bed yelling, and a silly depiction of the whole episode using “paint.” Well, I’ve just experienced the sequel…

This time, I couldn’t face the roach with as much dignity. Yes, that’s right, I said dignity. At least in my experience before, I was able to face the roach and eventually destroy my enemy. But today, I was pretty petrified and found myself wishing things like, “I just wish I was in the hospital with LABOR PAINS over this!” Apparently, roaches are a bigger deal to me than I thought…

With the baby on my hip, I grabbed my phone, began panting out of fear, and practically yelled when Daniel answered. “THERE’S A ROACH AND IT’S REALLY BIG, AND IT’S CRAWLING REALLY FAST!”

“It’s OK, I’m going to walk you through it. Do you have a shoe?” Daniel said.

“NO, WHY DO I NEED A SHOE? I CAN’T KILL IT! I JUST CAN’T! IT’S TOO SCARY!”

“Where is Eliot?” (side note: shortly after Eliot was born when I saw a roach, I ran screaming from the room and was back within 15 seconds to grab the baby that I forgot who had been laying next to me…)

“He’s in my arms, Daniel, I just can’t kill it! I don’t know what to do! IT’S MOVING!” I danced from foot to foot and Eliot watched me lose my  marbles over what I perceive as the devil’s insect demons.

“Well, put your shoes on, and leave. You don’t have a lot of options. I can’t come home and kill it because I’m swamped here. You can either camp out in the bedroom until I get home at 9:00 or you can kill it.” He said, evenly.

“I CAN’T KILL IT! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!!” I yelled into the phone, standing atop a chair.

This exchange went back and forth for a while, and I continued to act like a crazy irrational person, and at some point, this was said, “I know you would protect Eliot from any harm if it were a human being threatening you, and this is just a stupid bug! YOU CAN DO IT.” And to that, I replied something like this, “ROACHES ARE WORSE THAN HUMANS!”

So, I, dressed in my superman pajamas, unshowered with a baby who desperately needed a diaper change, stood there thinking and barely kept from crying. After a moment, I asked Daniel if his best friend was home from work today, who lives about twenty minutes away with traffic. He said he didn’t know, so he hung up and called him, after giving me instructions to not leave the roach unattended. Five minutes later, he called me back to tell me his friend was on the way.

“He’s coming over, it will take about twenty minutes. Don’t move. Watch the roach and make sure you don’t lose it. Feed him lunch, thank him profusely, and don’t let the roach out of your sight.I have to go back to my meeting now.” I continued shrieking as the roach crawled quickly from place to place, and for the next twenty minutes, I followed it from the living room, to the kitchen, to the living room again, keeping my distance. I spent the entire time lamenting in my head about my weakness and agonizing over the thing. I spent that time in embarrassment over what my husband must think and what my husband’s friend must think.

I spent a lot of time being mortified.

And finally, after that long period of terror, embarrassment, and mortification, a friendly face appeared at the open door and came directly in to deal with the three inch monster. I pointed it out, gave him a hug, and said I was going in the other room because I had no intentions of losing my marbles so audibly in front of this friend. After a few minutes, I heard, “He’s dead!” and I came out of my retreat and took a shaky breath.

I was reminded of my many flaws, today, and more importantly, my weaknesses. I couldn’t even deal with a roach on my own, and it reminded me of how much more I can’t do without God. It reminded me of how I need to be thankful and grateful, and how I need to repent of my sins, because I NEED GOD. I had to have the humility (whether chosen or not) to ask a friend to help me with my weakness, and I need to have the same humility to ask God to help me with my more spiritual weaknesses.

 

Motherhood is like a Macro Lens

Do you ever feel like Motherhood is so up close and personal, that you have a difficult time taking a step back to survey and reflect? For the last few days, every time I lay on my side in the bed to nurse my little one to sleep, I can’t help but think that it’s so overwhelming because there’s too much to do. There’s too much to see, because I’m too close to be able to put that many things into my brain. I’ve been praying for a way to be able to take a step back to see the whole thing.

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Motherhood is like a macro lens. I’m not really a photographer, but the little I dabbled with several years ago afforded me the understanding that “macro lenses take pictures that are really close up.” (Good thing I didn’t pay for those lessons, right?) I’m talking the kind of close up that turns a flower the size of (ironically) your baby’s fingernail, into the most detailed bloom you ever saw, with splendid petals, and colors that even the biggest flower has a hard time showing off!

Well, I can see how I’ve been turning Motherhood into that macro lens, and honing in on the tiniest thing, which seems to have the most intricate details. It’s not really a bad thing…and I think it happens naturally to many women. But there comes a time when you need to step back and see the beautiful scene and all its parts. Not just that tiny little flower bud.

Right now, what seems to be zoomed up close is everything from sleep training (necessary) to playtime, and every little bump on the head in between. Like I said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because seeing both the good and the bad up close can often help us to grow! But laying in bed and nursing the baby to sleep gives me ample time to be too zoomed in and be unable to see anything else.

What is life going to look like in a couple of years? I don’t know. I don’t have the slightest idea. I don’t have time for thinking like that, because the baby needs to sleep. The baby needs to eat. The baby needs this and that, and whoa, I don’t even have time for myself! That happens sometimes, but I think I go a little bit crazy when I don’t let myself try to think about the “far away.” I can’t always control whether or not I get recharge time, but I can control how I think, and a healthy dose of perspective can help a person recharge sometimes just as much!

It’s good to be that macro lens, but it’s also really good to recognize when you’re too much that way, and you need to just chill out. I need perspective to recharge. I need to acknowledge that it’s not always going to be this way when the times are tough! Sleep training will end… I’ll have time to spend with my husband. The fussing out of frustration will turn into words of frustration, and communication will increase between me and the little guy. The anxieties of motherhood will change and fluctuate and it takes both kinds of lenses at different times. Perhaps its time for me to set down the macro lens for a bit. 

 

Date Night is a Battle

Sitting on the outside patio of the packed restaurant, in the far corner, under the heater while watching  a line form in front of the door of the establishment, I bounced a wiggling baby on my knee and shoveled food in my mouth. In between bites, I fed mashed potatoes to a hungry, savage, baby, and smiled at my Valentine across the table, who reached over to cut bite sized pieces of my chicken. Pureed spinach stuck to my shirt, and upon occasion, I got a lovely breeze in the chest area while a tiny person sized blanket flapped frantically up and down to reveal a live, Greco-Roman-sculpture-esc rendition of “woman nursing child.” I never even thought I’d get to participate in such high society, educational, living for the general public, but motherhood comes with all sorts of surprises. On my left, there sat another couple with a small baby slapping the table, and directly in front of me, there paced a lovely pregnant lady, dressed in her finest. Looking behind me, away from the corner, I saw young high school aged couples, and couples dressed in the city’s finest, and even an older couple who walked through the gate while dropping the car off with the valet. Our corner definitely seemed like “fertility corner.” I shared a laugh at that thought with my Valentine, and we smiled, peacefully.

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Date Nights don’t look like this anymore, but look how cute!

Today, I realized just how important it is to spend time with your husband after “baby in a baby carriage.” It has been so easy to look at myself in the mirror, think, “why bother” and skip the dates in the name of “motherhood.” I’m sure the other couple in our corner would agree. But, what I have come to realize, is that if the couple doesn’t make time for their marriage, nobody else is going to do that task. If I don’t get up off the floor and out of my pajamas and into something presentable, I won’t go out. If I don’t go out, Daniel probably won’t suggest it either, out of respect for the job. If we don’t go out, months fly by, and the baby is a toddler, and the toddler has more needs that prevent date night.

I suppose what I’m feeling about it, is that date night (no matter where or what it is) does not happen for us unless we MAKE IT HAPPEN. It’s just too easy to not date after baby. It’s too hard to date after baby. As much as we love our little one, we have got to set aside time for each other and to connect, even if it means bringing the baby along! Nobody is going to inject the romance into our relationship. Nobody is going to magically provide the time. Nobody is going to make it happen, but us.

Date night is a battle. But a battle WORTH fighting.

After our Valentines date, we came away refreshed. Even in light of the expose-show, the arching eight month old, and the lack of “staring into each other’s eyes.” We just needed to be together. Sit together. Eat together. And Occasionally, share a joke together. The weeks fly by no matter what we do, and every week can be exhausting. I have to make time to build my husband up, and likewise, he makes time for me to crawl out of my den of motherhood and participate in just regular old adulthood.

Date night fills our cups, and gives us the energy and spirit to face even the biggest of blowouts, or the loudest of work-related criticisms. It’s important, and it’s a fight that every person in the midst of parenthood SHOULD fight. Here’s to one round won, and many more rounds fought!

It seemed appropriate to share these thoughts on Valentines Day and maybe give some encouragement to other Mama’s and Daddy’s out there battling date night.

A Chapter in the Life (Ch. 20)

Family News

Wedding and Traveling: The most eventful piece of news on my end is that I finally finished the flowers for my friend’s wedding, and the wedding is over! I left my phone in the bedroom so I can’t post a picture of the finished bouquet as my sweet little one is asleep in there. They turned out nice though, the bride liked them, and my fingers are no longer raw. After an unfortunate mishap in the ordering of wedding attire that resulted in one bridesmaid’s dress being a different color (that’s me, not having it together as a mom), and an endless amount of driving with a seven month old in the car, I’m ready to sleep for about a month! But that’s not really how life works, and all is over now, so I can kick myself back into gear. Aside from the wedding/travel stuff, we’re just chugging away on the day-to-day train over here, and I’m happy to say that moods are improved and spirits seem content. So often, life can seem tedious and stressful in the daily living, and we can fall into despair, discontent, and unhappiness. I think we’re learning how to be conscious of our spirits and identifying when we need to take a step back and work on our perspective before we allow ourselves to fall into those pits.

Sleep: My generous parents bought us a nifty baby video monitor which makes nap time a cinch! And speaking of naps, and what’s going on lately, I’m sure you got to see my newest project. I’m working on getting Eliot’s sleep schedule more of a schedule and attempting to reclaim my own sleep in the process. We’re on day nine of sleep training (although we did have to take a break due to travel this past weekend) and so far, nap time is beginning to exist again, even though night time is still a battle. I have noticed that night time is getting easier since Eliot is starting to get the amount of rest that that he needs during the day, though. Tomorrow night is another log night, and I’m excited and a little bummed to see the log. I know there will be progress, but I also know that there will be little of it due to the traveling. I’m just going to keep on it, because I know it’s really helping things.

Day to Day: The house is slowly getting in order after holidays and excessive travel, and I have decided to use Lent to de-clutter and donate. Really, to simplify. Books will be sold, clothes and shoes will be donated, items that don’t serve a purpose in this household will be given away, and ultimately, I’m hoping for three things. A clean home, an easy packing process for the summer, and a more grateful heart. It’s so hard for me to be grateful when I’m overrun by stuff, as I really get caught up in the material, so a good purging is really good for my perspective. As far as life staying at home, I’ve finally gotten back into a habit of some exercise, and it’s making me feel loads better! I downloaded the Ease into 5k app and have been following it while pushing Eliot in the jogging stroller. My mood is improving during the afternoon lull. I’m hoping to train up and run a 5k for a charity sometime before the hot weather hits this summer. I’ve never been a huge runner, but I am finding myself enjoying it because it seems like my exercise is organized when I’m running with a race in mind. When I run for the sake of exercise, I never run for more than a few days… I like the idea of killing two birds with one stone. Getting my exercise, and building up to a race where I can help support a charity! There are so many out there.

Lent 2016: Daniel and I also spent time today figuring out what we want our Lent to be this year, and there really is nothing like having your spouse help you figure out what to take away or add for it. Granted, I practically forced him to tell me what he thought I should do, but still. 🙂 I’ve decided on a few different things in addition to the practical simplifying of the stuff.

  1. I’m giving up Dr. Pepper, because I find myself picking one up after a stressful time with Eliot, instead of confronting my feelings and keeping the peace. It seems like a crutch.
  2. I’m giving up TV for two reasons: I don’t want Eliot growing up with the TV on all the time, and I know I have a serious addiction to Netflix for comfort. Life needs to be a bit more uncomfortable. I also think it would be a great time to really introduce healthier habits and make more time for things like reading and praying.
  3. I’ve also decided to continue working on my daily rosary. So often, I can forget to pray one, or I can shove it off until later when it just doesn’t get prayed. So those are my Lenten observances.

Becoming a Better Reader

Reading: I finished the Rosary book I was reading (check mark on my list!) and I’m more than halfway through Walking with Purpose (my mother’s group book). I started a Mother’s Rule of Life and I’m enjoying it. A lot of my regular reading is getting halted a bit due to reading The No Cry Sleep Solution book, but I’m more than halfway through it as well. I’m actually getting a hang of this reading thing again! Thanks, Jen, for pushing me!

I think that sums up our life right now… I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with friends during my daily life and it’s such an encouragement to have friends who stay at home too and are in the same place in life. It’s not like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, or that we have the pressures of working, but I think having community even while staying at home is an important support to living the Christian life and to living a mentally healthy life!

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As we are already entering into Eliot’s first Lent, I can’t wait to see what happens next in our family’s little life somewhere in the huge state of Texas.

Thanks for reading our little life update today, and I wish you all the peace of our Lord and Savior.

Hannah

Day 1: No-Cry Sleep Solution Experiment

Disclaimer: Sometimes, on this blog, I like to post just for myself, as though it were a journal, record, or baby book. A lot of bloggers that I know do that as well. If you read this and enjoy seeing some of the inner workings of our family life, great! If not, don’t read these posts because it really is as simple as that! I just want to say this now so as not to have people take this post personally and think that I’m attacking their parenting, faith, or lifestyle. I acknowledge many different ways to parent, and certainly this is not the only one, but this is what we have chosen to do with our family life. We have reasons for doing it this way, just like I know you have reasons. Being human is to be complex, and we all have been given the freedom of choice, so let’s all respect each other, and in the words of my great grandmother; “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” (Let’s amend that statement for bloggers, “if you don’t like what you’re reading, don’t read it.”)

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Back sometime before Thanksgiving, Eliot and I were working on our sleep routine, and we made some GREAT progress! But as many parents discover, holidays are loved for many reasons, but not for the change it has on sleep routines. So basically since before thanksgiving, Eliot and I have had absolutely horrendous sleep habits and have been cranky with exhaustion. Even Daniel has been affected. How we could get on the right track for sleeping has been on my mind ever since then, and in the haze of nighttime, I recalled working at the bookstore and a top seller parenting book. The name really caught my attention, because I don’t really read parenting books yet (I’m very particular about what kind of parenting book I read so I don’t read much). “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley sold like hot cakes at the bookstore, and many tired parents swore by it when picking it up for a second read as they were on their second/third kid. I decided to give it a go after reading a lot of reviews, and I’m only in the first couple of chapters. So far, it’s extremely helpful, as it describes mine and Eliot’s sleeping behavior perfectly! It advocates crib, co-sleep, and bed-sharing, and really just wants baby AND Mama to sleep well by making healthy sleep associations.

So, as I fall somewhere in the middle of “cry-it-out” and “parent-sleep-martyrdom,” we decided to begin last night. For the duration of this experiment and exercise, both Mama and Daddy are making sacrifices. Daniel picked up some coffee for me yesterday so that I would be able to do daytime after really going back to those foggy, sleepy, newborn days at night, and he is sleeping on the couch so that he’s able to get enough rest for working through this last semester. Parenting really does cause unity in the couple from what I have experienced! Unity in sacrifice, compassion, and love. It’s more than being able to just cuddle together in the bed at night (although one night in, and I do miss that).

This particular parenting method asks that parents log their baby’s sleep habits on day one and then again on day ten and twenty after practicing the method with the baby. So last night was day one’s log and it went like this:

Bedtime at 9:05 (nurse to sleep, put down in the crib)

Wake 1: 9:30 p.m. Soothe back to sleep

Wake 2: 9:45 p.m. nurse to sleep 10 minutes

Wake 3: 10:40 p.m. nurse to sleep 5 minutes

Wake 4: 12:16 a.m. nurse to sleep 15 minutes

Wake 5: 12:45 a.m. Nurse to sleep 10 minutes

Wake 6: 1:30 a.m. Soothe to sleep

Wake 7: 1:50 a.m. Nurse to sleep 15 minutes

Wake 8: 3:00 a.m. Nurse to sleep 20 minutes

Wake 9: 3:50 a.m. Nurse to sleep 5 minutes

Wake 10: 4:30 a.m. Nurse to sleep 10 minutes

Wake 11: 6:00 a.m. Nurse to sleep 10 minutes

Wake 12: 7:20 a.m. Nurse to sleep 5 minutes

Wake 13: 8:30 a.m. Nurse sleepily, wake up for the day

Outcome: Didn’t sleep longer than 1 hour and 10 minutes at most.

Naptime – Begin at 11:00 – Nurse to sleep, down in the crib

Wake 1: 11:06 a.m. Soothe to sleep

Wakings between 11:30 and 12:00 during the practice of the method

Up at 12:15 p.m.

Outcome: Fussed when being put down drowsy OR asleep but began soothing without sleep by 12:00 p.m.

What I have found from this method is that it is very hands on and time consuming. But it is already showing me after one day that the gentle encouragement works as promised. Eliot is even in a better mood today after his nap, even though he only slept soundly for thirty minutes and slept fitfully the rest of the time. I attribute that to knowing I won’t abandon him. The book elaborates on the finding that children are emotional beings rather than rational beings, and as they learn security in their crib, home, and mother, they are more readily able to soothe quickly and wake less.

This is the first of what I believe will be a long process, but my hope is that by the summertime, Eliot will be sleeping through the night with minimal nursing in his own crib so that we are able to move him to his own room with little fuss after the move. I’ll be posting again on Day Ten to log what our practice as accomplished.