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What’s the hardest thing to juggle?

March 23, 2010

Recently the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra asked on Facebook, “leave your comments on what you think would be the hardest thing in the world to juggle.” The answers ranged from octopi, to piranhas covered in baby oil, to Chinese finger traps. Amongst the amusing and creative replies were a few that rang with truth.

  • Family and career
  • hhummm… motherhood and career???
  • holding a new born baby and trying to catch eggs flying up in the air as you slip on the ice. or more realistic, family that don’t get along that well, new career/profession, pregnancy
  • 3 jobs and a small family of 3 children!!!

Family and career. An often debated subject – whether to stay at home with the kids, work from home, work out of the home. What is best for your family, what is best for your kids?

Obviously the answer is going to depend on the family. What meets your needs as a family unit, as a parental unit, financially? Finances are probably the largest factor in the matter, dictating the need to work for many. For some, the desire to be at home, to be with their children, is overwhelming. Through inventive solutions, sometimes strained relationships, and mostly likely strained bank accounts, some parents are afforded the opportunity to stay home. Then there are the rare few that are fortunate enough to be able to stay home, whether with a bit of a lifestyle change or not.

In our household, it was the desire to purchase a house that drives our decisions. We could afford the mortgage payments on my maternity benefit income, so we knew we could do it when I went back to work. We simply could not afford it if I stayed home.

So there is my lot in life – for right now anyway. I have to work. I have to be a mom. I have to be a wife. Or I could choose not to be on any of those, but I think life as I know it would fall apart pretty quickly if I did. So I juggle them all. It’s not a perfect set-up right now, but we muddle our way through. I spend a few hours with Penny in the morning – in between taking the dogs outside and her nap before rushing off to the dayhome. I go to work in the afternoon, which is quite ideal for me to be honest. But by the time I get home, it is 8:30 or later. That doesn’t leave much time with Court. If Penny’s not in bed by the time I get home, she goes as soon as I get there. We scrounge up some supper, we cram in a little PVR’d TV. Then it’s time for Court to go to bed. The poor um… guy gets up at 6 in the bloody morning. I’m not happy with the way this is. I don’t get enough time with Penny. I don’t get enough time with Court. We don’t get enough time together as a family.

Weekends come along and we try to cram in as much time together as we can. While grocery shopping, house supply shopping, family visiting, hospital visiting, dog walking, sleeping – just about everything except relaxing.

Can you suggest anything to help us connect until my schedule changes at work (not sure when or to what hours, but eventually it will change as I’m on a training shift)? I miss my life :(

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Penny’s First Birthday: My Year in Review

January 4, 2010

At this time of year, many people are posting their year in review. What kind of year was 2009? What did they do, and what are they looking forward to in the coming decade? Some people are even brave enough to share their New Year’s resolutions with us.

The past year of my life can be summarized with one word: Penny. On the eve of my little girl’s first birthday I want to remember how we got to this day.

365 days ago, right about this time (8:00 pm), I was just getting moved into a delivery suite at the hospital. My labour had been induced 36 hours before with noticable contractions starting up about 28 hours before. It would be almost another 12 hours before Penny Elizabeth came into our world, a fashionable 12 days late. She was beautiful, and she was mine.

The first month of Penny’s life was spent focusing on the art of breastfeeding. My little 8 pound bundle of joy was STARVING! Or that’s how it seemed anyway. She ate every 2 hours, or more often than that sometimes. We were new at this, and weren’t exactly doing it right. I ended up in pain, but we got it figured out. It was my goal to be able to comfortably nurse Penny in public, without feeling the need to cover up either of us. I can proudly say we reached that goal!

When Penny was almost 6 weeks old, we discovered she had cataracts. Court was born with cataracts too, so we knew there was a 50/50 shot she’d get them. Luckily, we caught them before her eyes were developing too much, and she had surgery on both eyes to remove the cataracts and implant lenses by the time she was 9 weeks old. At 11 weeks old she got her first pair of glasses. Glasses for babies are kinda funny looking. But at that point it’s about functionality, not looks. And they grow out of the ugly frames quickly.

In March, Court and I finally grew up and bought a house. We wanted somewhere permanent and stable for Penny to grow up in, and maybe have some room for a little brother or sister for her eventually. We were building a house though, so it would be months before we actually got to live in our new house.

I think I spent most of April at The Clayground, painting pottery for everyone for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Penny was such a good girl! She’d sit in her carrier and sleep, or watch me and play with a couple of small toys. And of course, smile at everyone there! I’d make a mess of her trying to immortalize her footprints, but luckily the paint is non-toxic and washes off easy. I’d really love to go back and paint more pottery now (and can, since I got a gift card for Christmas), but Penny can’t go with me. She’s just too active now!

When Penny was 5.5 months old, she passed that all-important milestone: she got her first tooth! Once that first one broke through, they came fast and furiously. Within weeks she had the bottom front 4, and the outside top 2. Normally they get the front teeth first, then the outside 2, but not Penny! I was starting to think she’d want her front 2 teeth for Christmas. Now she has 11 and a twelfth one that’s been threatening to break through for a couple of weeks.

With the weather warming up, Penny and I spent alot of time visiting – grandparents and other babies from our prenatal classes. I looked forward to taking Penny swimming, although we didn’t do that until almost the end of June. We went to Riley Park a number of times, mostly with the other moms. Penny wasn’t as keen on swimming as I was, but she didn’t hate it. We didn’t have a bathtub in the house we were renting, so she didn’t know what to do with water. We always showered with her. Just now she’s learning about baths and bath toys.

Once Penny was old enough to start feeding her solid foods, I was all gung-ho on feeding her SOLID food and not jarred crap or cardboard dust pablum. For a while she did really good, gnawing on onions and peppers, sometimes on steak. But after a while she just stopped. She’d hold the food but it just didn’t go in her mouth anymore. Feeding her was a source of anxiety and confusion for me throughout the year. I found there’s alot of information if you want to make your own baby food, or how to feed your baby good nutrition. But there’s not alot of information on how to transition from breastfeeding to solid foods. Eventually I found out that breastmilk is still supposed to be the major source of nutrients until Penny is a year old, and I stopped worrying about it as much as I was.

In August, we went for swimming lessons. Now that Penny got to spend some real time in the water she started to learn about splashing and playing. Definitely no fear in that child! She would sit on the side of the pool and lean forward to fall into my arms. But she knew it was coming and would close her eyes before she got to the water. I really wish I could have taken some pictures there, but the pools have a no cameras policy.

In September, Penny got her second pair of glasses. Her prescription had changed drastically, surprising even her doctor! Her new glasses look so much better on her, causing the nickname “Professor Penny.”

Right around then I started to think about going back to work. I didn’t particularly want to, but at the same time, I was having a rough time at home with Penny. Going back to work would be a sanity thing for me, as in it would save my sanity. I ended up finding a job and starting there the same weekend we moved into our new house at the end of November. Why not do everything at once? Now Penny goes to a dayhome from 12:30-6 every day. It’s a good thing that she goes there, since she gets to interact with other toddlers. It’s kind of funny to see everything she picks up there, from new words like “uh-oh”, to trying to walk down the stairs. Unfortunately Penny doesn’t walk yet, so walking down the stairs doesn’t work too well for her.

And finally we got to Penny’s first Christmas! While I was still pregnant I was SO tempted to buy some of the Baby’s First Christmas outfits. But I was due on Christmas Eve, and I knew there was a good chance she might not be here in time to use them so I waited. Thankfully I did! It saved me alot of money, because by the time this Christmas rolled around, everyone forgot it was her first Christmas. We only ended up with 2 tree ornaments instead of all the the cute little shirts and onesies I would have bought last year. Penny might have been almost a year old but she doesn’t understand the concept of Santa or gifts. We ended up opening most of her gifts for her, but she was quite happy to play with them once we opened them.

And now, 364 days later, we’re ready to celebrate the anniversary of our baby’s birth. I love Penny so much! There’s nothing I’d rather do than snuggle with her. I love watching her play, I love watching her interact with people, I love listening to her babble. I love recognizing each step of her development as it happens, and anticipating what the next one will be. I love waking up in the morning and hearing her “mumumumumumumum” as she calls for me. I love when she falls asleep in my arms as I nurse her. I love looking back at her from the front seat of the car and seeing her adorable smile peeking out from the confines of her snowsuit. It absolutely melts my heart when she lays down on the floor and puts her head on the dog. It breaks my heart to hear her cry.

The year was hard – harder than I thought it would be. I thought being a mom came naturally; that I’d just know what to do and when. I thought Penny would know what her role was. And I trusted that the doctors would know what they were supposed to do. I guess it doesn’t work that way though, and I find that the past year has actually been a struggle. There has been pain, both emotional and physical. There has been depression, for both myself and Court. There has been tears, from all three of us. But would I change anything? Hellz no! I wouldn’t trade the past year for anything in the world. All it takes is one smile from my little girl, and my whole world is right again!

Happy Birthday tomorrow, Penny!

Coming tomorrow: Horoscopes for the next year of Penny’s life.

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CIO in more than 140 characters

December 22, 2009

Yes, I admit it. I’m on Twitter. I’m addicted – well, I was until recently anyway. I spent alot of time on Twitter talking to like-minded mothers, trading stories, supporting each other, offering advice. I went there looking for the kind of advice that I wanted and wasn’t receiving from my family and friends. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the advice I was getting but some of the advice just didn’t suit the way I felt about parenting. I didn’t know back then that my parenting style is called Attachment Parenting.

Attachment parenting… is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s socio-emotional development and well being.

I love Penny to bits, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than cuddle with her. I want to parent her in a mature manner, which in my mind means including her in decisions, using reasoning rather than dictation, and I never want her to doubt my love for her. In general, my beliefs about parenting fall under the umbrella of attachment parenting, even if I don’t subscribe to every ideal.

One of the big issues that is raised with regards to attachment parenting is the concept of “crying it out.” There is a huge debate between the different parenting styles, with attachment parenting denouncing crying it out (or CIO as it is commonly referred to) as harmful to the child and your parental relationship with them. I’m not here to debate this topic. I have always felt that letting my baby cry is unnatural, and not what nature intended. I won’t go so far as to say it is harmful to the child’s mental well being, but the reasoning does follow that it could be. A child may feel abandonned or that their needs are not being met when they are left to cry. I haven’t often heard about the potential mental health issues for a parent who lets their child cry. I am currently on anti-depressants and in counselling, thanks to Penny’s crying. No, my child crying did not give me post-partum depression. But my reaction to her crying led me to finally seek medical help. When your child cries and you can’t fix their problem, you can’t make their world right, you feel incompetent and unfit to be a parent. At least that’s how I feel.

Anyway, back to the issue of CIO. The mothers I talk to on Twitter are generally of the same mind as me. They believe in attachment parenting, and don’t belive in CIO. About a month back I had alot of problems with Penny’s entire sleep routine – she wasn’t napping long enough, was napping too late into the evening, fought going to sleep for the night, and was waking multiple times a night. My family all said she had to cry herself to sleep. That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I asked every one of them – my 2 sets of grandparents, my parents, my in-laws – and that was the answer I got from all of them. Only my father-in-law understood how difficult it would be and acknowledged that it wasn’t the best option. I turned to my friends on Twitter, and was surprised at how many of them said I had to let Penny cry. I still didn’t want to hear that answer. I never got the answer I was looking for. I don’t know what that answer was since I was probably looking for a quick fix.

After we moved and settled into our new house, Penny went to the dayhome and I went to work, and we all settled into a routine. Thanks to that routine Penny finally got onto a better sleep routine. But in the process of waiting for all of our routines to be reworked we ended up letting Penny cry it out. The first time we did was horrible, but I think it was less horrible than it could have been. Penny was still sleeping in her playpen in our room. The night we let her cry we stayed in the room with her, as we were trying to go to sleep as well. In my mind, being in the room with her helps mitigate the fear of abandonment. Hopefully it helped to have us there. Since then we’ve had to let her cry herself to sleep a number of times. It’s horrible every time. I just want to bash my head against a concrete wall every time we do it (fortunately I’m on meds that help stop me from doing it).

Ever since the first night that I let Penny cry, I’ve been avoiding my friends on Twitter. I’m disappointed that I let her cry, and ashamed that I continue to let her cry. I feel like I no longer belong to the ‘club’ of like-minded mothers. I am scared that they’ll look down on me and they won’t want to talk to me any more. I know better. I know that parents do what they need to do to get through. There’s no manual on how to raise a child. There’s no right or wrong way, just a right-for-you way (OK, there’s a wrong way, but we’re not talking about abuse and neglect here). But I still feel like I will be shunned if I admit that I let Penny cry herself to sleep. There are so many women I look up to on Twitter, and I think they’d never let a child cry. How can I aspire to be like them after I have crossed that line?

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Here Comes The Panic

November 5, 2009

I’m almost into count-down mode. We get possession of our house 3 weeks from today. And I’m starting to get worried. Why, you ask?

The mortgage broker’s assistant emailed today asking for 2 things that we’ve already given them. One I faxed them on October 10th – I still have the fax cover sheet to prove it. The other was an amendment to our offer to purchase, which we signed the day after we signed the offer to purchase. So now I’m a bit worried about them. Is it just a lack of communication between our broker and her two assistants, or what?

I’m worried about our down payment. We’re withdrawing money from Court’s RRSP at work, and they neglected to tell their contributors that

  1. there are blackout periods where you can’t withdraw funds
  2. that there is a total pool of money that employees can withdraw from, and each employee only gets a certain percentage. In this case, it’s less than half of what we had planned on
  3. it takes the RRSP provider an inordinate amount of time to get your request processed and get the money to you. We asked for our money for Nov. 12 and they said they’ll try

I’m worried about packing. 760 square foot house with 3 people, a dog, and way too much crap, and I’ve packed a total of 4 boxes. OK, 5 but the last one’s not taped yet. Oh yeah, and we have extra stuff in our basement that’s not ours. And there’s a bunch of crap to get rid of. Luckily, we’re doing a dump run the week before we move so we’ll get all that out of the way. I want to get packing but with Court sick it’s hard. I want to pack during the day but I don’t want Penny downstairs, and I can’t leave her alone upstairs. I had planned to start packing in the evenings this week so Court could help then the big lunk went and got sick.

So, um… EEEEEEEEEEK! This is our first home. I know it’s normal to worry, but I’m not usually the worrier. Court decided to wear those particular pants long before I ever met him.

Anyone have tips on packing everything in 3 weeks? =D

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Memoirs of an 11-Year Old

October 25, 2009

When I was 11 I was a trouble-maker. I stole. I stole food. I stole postcards. I stole coins.

In my memory, I stole the food because there was only enough food made at supper for my dad to have seconds, and for my step-brother and I to share a second helping. I was still hungry, so I’d come upstairs at night and make myself a peanut butter sandwich.

I stole postcards in my desire to get my Collector’s badge in Girl Guides. Needless to say my dad pulled me out of Guides because I obviously couldn’t live up to the ideology they were trying to teach little girls.

I stole coins from my dad’s change jar and bought massive amounts of candy with it. And I stole coins from my step-mom’s collection of coins from around the world – because they were cool.

We had just moved in with my step-mom, step-brother and step-sister the year before when my dad and step-mom got married. I didn’t get along with my SM (step-mom for short – gonna get sick of typing it). It wasn’t an issue of her replacing my mom as my mom and dad had been divorced for years, I hadn’t lived with my mom for years, and she had just passed away the year before. It was probably something like I just didn’t want to share my dad, since I’d had him to myself for so long.

I started Grade 7 on a Thursday. A new school, since I was in Junior High now. New school, new people, a whole new routine. I honestly don’t remember what I did that weekend that got me in trouble. Whatever it was, my dad had had enough. He didn’t know how to deal with me anymore. He packed up my stuff, packed me in the car and drove me 3 hours away to my grandma’s house. I lived with her for the next 15 years. It was explained once upon a time that in a few years I would move out and live my own life. My dad would be with my SM forever. He made his choice to be with her and save their relationship by not having me there.

17 years later, I’m still facing the actions of a lost kid and her frustrated parents. When I see my parents now, I still feel like I did when I was 11 and on my way to my grandma’s. I feel like no matter what I do, it’s wrong. I feel like I can never to anything to please my dad, and I can never live up to his expectations. I still feel like a disappointment to him now.

It doesn’t help that my dad and SM are very critical. They have very high expectations of their children. They have sharp tongues and a pressing need to make us learn through their experience. They have done better than most people in life, and they wish that for us kids too.

Combine my 11-year old mentality, and the whip-fast lash of their tongues, and I leave their presence almost every time upset and wondering why I let them get to me. They like to share their advice with us, about absolutely everything we could face in life. But their advice comes across as demands, and ‘this is the way it must be.’

I have been told not to let Penny play with pots and pans, or she they will always be toys to her. I’ve been told not to let her play with her food or it will always be a toy. She’s not allowed to play with phones or remotes either. I’ve been told (before Penny was even born mind you) that I should wean her by 9 months. And I got eye-rolling tonight when I was talking about co-sleeping.

Their advice isn’t limited to my parenting either. We walked through our new house today and received quite a few comments there as well. I commented that it didn’t look like there was alot left to do, that it shouldn’t take the builders another month to finish. My parents started listing off all the stuff left, and how long it takes to install individual pot lights. They act like we should know this information, and you can hear the unspoken question in their tone of ‘are you stupid?’.

Last summer, when I was still pregnant, the conversations with them revolved around Court getting his drivers license so he could drive me to the hospital. Every time we talked to them, every time we saw them, it was brought up and hashed over yet again. My dad would look at me and ask me when Court was getting his license – with him standing right beside me. It was a major point of contention, and the way they hounded us about it upset me every time. Eventually during one visit with them, as soon as they asked about his license I explained that it was a subject that greatly upset me and I’d prefer we didn’t discuss it. You see, I thought I was doing the mature, adult-like thing by saying this. And let me tell you it took ALOT of guts to be able to say it. And needless to say I stormed out in tears because they brought it up again a while later and wouldn’t drop it. In the end, Court never got his license because as soon as he does, our insurance doubles and we can’t afford that.

I don’t know how to deal with this problem. I don’t know how to say to them that we do value their advice. They have more experience than us, they’ve been through things that we’re just starting to experience. They have valuable information to pass along to us. But advice is meant to be taken or ignored, depending on the receivee’s viewpoint. I want the freedom to ignore the advice if that’s what we choose to do. I know we’d be more receptive to what they have to say if they’d just word it differently, if they’d use a less critical tone of voice, if they weren’t oozing condescension. I don’t know how to approach them about this and not have it taken as an attack on them. I don’t know how to diplomatically tell them to *@&% off. Sometimes I feel like telling them if they want to raise a kid so bad, go have their own. And today my grandma said to tell them when we get to be their age we’ll have that much knowledge too. I don’t know how to say what I want to say, and be treated like a mature adult while doing it.

I just know I’m hurt and upset after almost every encounter with my dad or my step-mom. I dread going to see them, but know that I can’t avoid it. It feels poisonous. I don’t want Penny to pick up on those feelings from Court and I, and I’m not sure what to do.

Advice is welcome and solicited, but may be ignored.

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Late Night Ramblings of an Upset Parent

October 18, 2009

I’ve realized a couple of times lately (but haven’t said anything to anyone), I am now older than my mom. Sound weird? My mom committed suicide when she was 5 months past her 28th birthday. She will never be older than that, but I will continue to age, hopefull WELL past there. I am now 28 and a half. The last 2 years or so I’ve lived with a completely irrational fear that something would happen to me while I was 28 where I would commit suicide too. There’s no evidence that would make me think that, hence ‘irrational’ fear. I just thought it would happen because it happened to my mom. I know some of you who read this will be able to understand why I would think that, just as some would be ready to call the police thinking I am suicidal. I’m not. I don’t want to end my life, I haven’t thought about it, haven’t dreamt of doing it. There is absolutely no reason in my life to want to.

But thinking about my mom, that fear creeps in. And when I realize my mom just didn’t have those maternal instincts, I start to wonder if I’m not the same as her in other ways too. See, my mom realized when I was quite young that she just didn’t have it in her to be a mom. Or not a full time mom anyway. She knew, somewhere inside her. So after letting my dad have custody of me, she got pregnant again when I was 6. Rather than deluding herself, she knew right off the bat that she was going to give my sister up for adoption. Long story short, my sister’s aunt and uncle adopted her and we’re still in contact now. But knowing that she couldn’t be, or didn’t want to be a mom, makes me wonder now.

I’ve always wanted children. Way back when I was 17, I wanted a baby SO bad. I wasn’t stupid enough to get knocked up, but I wanted one. I’ve always thought I’m meant to be a mom – both in physical aspects and mentally. So how is it that one little 20 pounder with the cutest little vampire teeth and most infectious smile can make me doubt myself, doubt what I’ve wanted for so long?

In the last month we’ve been having such horrible sleep problems. Just when I think I’ve figured something out, Penny switches up how she’s screwing with her sleep patterns. Whatever. She has sleep problems. And I’m trying to fix everything. But missing even one nap throws us into this painful spiral of tears and frustration. I can’t stay cooped up at home all day, every day in fear of missing one of her naps! But I’ll tell you, I can’t go on with life the way it is at the moment either. Something’s gotta give, and I don’t know what.

This isn’t the ramblings of a sleep deprived parent. I’m frustrated beyond belief. Between Penny going for half hour ‘naps’, being awake for 5 or 6 hours at a time, back arching, refusing to be held yet screaming when you put her down, constant nipple pain from breastfeeding, a desire to see my family, a wish that I had a backbone to tell my family to stuff it, and an utter lack of sex (sorry if that’s TMI for you. It’s a fact, and it plays into my frustration too) I’m really starting to wonder if I’m cut out to be a mom.

Just when I think we’ve put Penny down for the night successfully, half an hour later she’s crying and standing up in her crib. Half an hour is enough to keep her going for another 4 hours. When she’s standing it means she’s awake. It’s not as simple as putting her soother back in to get her back to sleep. She won’t let me cradle her to rock and walk her, she won’t lay down, carrying her upright facing me just makes her straight-arm away from me. She throws herself backwards, she arches her back. She cries and whines and grumps, and spits out her soother. And it all makes me want to run away, as far as I can and as fast as I can. Court has moved beyond patience with a hint of annoyance, so full blown frustration as well. And I can’t be bothered to soothe him anymore. When he gets upset, I just get this feeling of ‘about time you had to deal with her’ and an overwhelming urge to leave the house and just make him figure it out.

Penny wakes up happy in the morning, and when she’s happy Court and I just look at each other and say “she’s so cute!” Then she gets tired and my entire day just goes downhill from there. I can’t deal with these sleep problems. I can’t deal with Court’s frustration – I’m trying to get a handle on my own. I can’t deal with the criticism advice that’s dished out to us. I can’t tell anymore when Penny’s teething, or if she’s just tired. I can’t snuggle her, but I can’t get away from her.

I just don’t know what to do anymore. I no longer feel like a proud parent. I’m sick of rocking and shushing. I want to give up on breastfeeding because I can’t deal with the pain anymore. I just want to give up on all of it and walk away.

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Changing Penny’s Sleep Patterns

October 13, 2009

I bought the no-cry sleep solution by Elizabeth Pantley, with the goal of changing Penny’s sleep patterns. Of course the first step it lists is to have the desire to change them. The author asks you to really look at yourself and the situation and decide if you want to change how your baby is sleeping. I had already decided this well before I bought the book.

Most people who read this book will be looking for ways to get their child to sleep through the night. I honestly don’t care whether Penny sleeps through the night or not. I don’t mind getting up to feed her. Now if we were getting up and it took an hour to get her back to sleep, I might have a problem. Luckily when Penny cries when she wakes up, I grab her from her crib and take her to our bed, and nurse her – all while she’s not quite eyes-open awake. When she’s done, I simply re-wrap her, shove a soother in her mouth, and put her back in her crib. I want to change how she gets to sleep in the first place, and at what time this happens.

Goals

After reading the book and implementing what is in it, I’d like Penny to go to sleep at 9, theoretically sleep till between 7 and 9 am, and wake up twice. She should be down to 2 naps during the day, so I’d like her to go down twice. She should be getting 2.5-4 hours of sleep from her naps, but because we get up so late, there’s no way she’ll have a long nap in the morning. I think an hour in the late morning, and a two hour (or more) nap in the late afternoon would be good. But as I’ve heard, the mistake most parents make with children is that they “plan.” My goal is not unreasonable – Penny just may not conform to what I want. That’s fine, and I get that. But it’s still my goal, it’s something to work toward.

Naps

According to the book, for Penny’s age she should be getting two naps for 2.5-4 hours total, and 11-12 hours of sleep at night. In the 24 hours that I logged, Penny had 3 naps for a total of 4 hours, and slept for 9.25 hours at night. Her naps should be mid-morning and early afternoon. Yesterday they were late morning, early evening and late evening. The late evening nap wasn’t intended as a nap – I had hoped when she woke that I could convince her to go back to sleep after feeding her, but it didn’t work. Luckily she was only awake for 2 hours after waking, instead of 4 or 5.

Prebedtime

One of the first things to be done is to track the hour before Penny goes to bed. What kind of activities are being done? How loud are they? How bright are they? For the 2 hours before Penny went to sleep last night, we rocked her and played music for her in her dark bedroom. I nursed her (twice) in our dim bedroom. We gave her a shower, which was the brightest and loudest activity we did – although our bathroom light is on a dimmer so we had the light turned down. And I read to her about Nutkin the Squirrel. Normally the time before bed wouldn’t be so dark and quiet for her, but we’ve been making a conscious effort to help Penny get to sleep. Court had started a bedtime routine with her last week, consisting of a shower, pyjamas, reading a book, and music. We will continue with that routine for now.

Night Wakings

Next was to log Penny’s night wakings. Too many… Penny still wakes up almost every 2 hours. Again, I don’t mind feeding her at night, but I would like to see the number of night wakings reduced. Last night she woke up 3 times (I think. I forgot to right everything down till this morning and I vaguely recall. But it seems like there was one more wake-up in there where I convinced her to go back to sleep right away). I can’t really say how long she was awake at each one because she barely opens her eyes as I move her and nurse her. Then she falls back asleep while nursing. I am learning that if I go to her while she’s still in the whimpering and grunting stage, I can potentially get her back to sleep without getting her up. The first time she woke up last night I managed to do that. She’d scooched herself up in the crib so her head was against the bars and she was grunting and getting upset. I went in and slid her back down away from the bars, put her soother back in, and folded her blanket back over her. And she went back to sleep for almost another 2 hours. 4 hours is about her limit though, then she needs to feed. Up until now if she made any noise I would just get her and feed her. Now I will make the effort to see if her soother and her blanket will help get her back to sleep. Also, I know I need to feed Penny more calories during the day so she doesn’t need them at night. We’re working on that a little at a time and it’s VERY slowly progressing.

What I’ve Learned So Far

Now that I’ve paid attention to when and how Penny sleeps (or doesn’t as the case may be), I can continue reading the book and start implementing some of the ideas and suggestions. From what I understand, the author will outline a number of different steps to help your child sleep longer at night, and you take what you want to implement and make a game plan from those. Then it will take a few weeks to a few months to get your plan to work. While I’m still reading and until I come up with my plan, we’ll focus on a few things:

  • quiet time in the hour or 2 before bed
  • dropping her early evening nap or discouraging it
  • getting her naps under control – putting her down around the same time every day, and not being out running around all the time
  • eating more during the day