Four Score and What Seems Like a Bajillion Years Ago

Well, lucky YOU!

I just typed and deleted two paragraphs about blogging and why sometimes I do it and other times I don’t. But no one really cares about all that, and I don’t feel the need to apologize or construct some fake blog guilt, because WHO HAS THE TIME? It would be dumb.

Anyway. I’m still here and I am perfectly fine. Yay! Shockingly, I have a lot of energy for someone who parents a toddler and is approaching the third trimester of growing a baby boy. I still don’t sleep through the night and probably won’t for a while, but I am kind of used to it after a couple of years. Most days I can function as a normal human. So, no that is not why I have been away.

The other day, I was looking through some old photos for a #flashbackfriday pic to upload to Instagram. I found myself lost in my DPH (daily picture of happiness) albums from not so long ago but what feels like a lifetime ago. Unexpectedly, I got homesick. A real achy feeling. I missed my dusty camera. My REAL camera. I missed my old neighborhoods. I want to look at things differently again, searching for the DPH that I used to post so religiously each day.

I want to take the time to fall in love with little details and daily moments, and to make capturing and reflecting on them a priority again. I want to celebrate the big things, too. My life is richer now than it was when I created those albums, so why was I achy when I saw them? Do I miss the ritual? The daily reflection? The creativity? The perspective it brought to me? Yes, I suppose I do.

Life is about to change again in a big way this April. In no way will it be easier to photograph and write when I add another person to care for. I know this.

But somehow it has to work.

I am not promising DPH every day again. Or long posts or perfect images that were captured with a real camera and edited on a real computer. But I am promising myself to live with that goal in mind. I’m excited to make this a priority again, and I hope the achy feeling in my heart was just some pent-up awesomeness that is about to come out.

While Justin put Benton to bed tonight, instead of laying in the dark with my glowing phone, I went into the quiet living room with my camera. I captured some shots of the Christmas decorations that I refuse to take down until it snows at least a few inches. These aren’t life-changing photos, but the act of taking them was my first step towards a place I want to get back to. Or forward to. Forward sounds right.

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Doing Stuff

Awhile back, I wrote down everything Benton and I did for a day. If I recall, it was when he was still a floppy new person. My day looked pretty similar to anyone else’s that was a new first-time mom of relatively easy-going baby. It was a story that was not unique to a city mom vs. a small town mom vs. a suburbia mom.

Now. We have moved to the South Loop in Chicago, and Benton is anything but floppy. He is a busy toddler who likes to do ALL THE THINGS all the live long day. We have a couple of rooms in our apt, but he is mostly limited to the living room. Basically a big play pen. Smeared in avocado.

I like our apartment just fine, but it was not why we moved here. We are here because of the location.

B and I take full advantage of being a short walk from:

  • Two parks with jungle gyms and a sandbox
  • Grant Park
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Field Museum
  • Target
  • Whole Foods
  • Trader Joes (!!!)
  • The beach
  • Millennium Park
  • The CTA
  • Starbucks

This is why we pay the rent we do. We don’t have a yard. And yes, I still long for a yard someday, but the two parks are only a block away. It seems like we have more space than we do. It is not private, but it is entertaining.

Most days we wake up, eat breakfast, and then go out. I used to take him in the Ergo, because it is was the easiest way to travel around the city when he was light enough. Now, I use the jogging stroller because B is getting huge, and I am trying to walk more to keep some pregnancy weight at bay. I would love to get a smaller umbrella stroller that can fold up on the CTA.

We usually head east to Grant Park and the Museum Campus. We are now members at the Shedd and the Aquarium. They are the perfect distance from my apartment, because I am usually in need of a restroom upon arrival. We don’t feel pressure to see all the exhibits, we can just pop in for an hour or so and see our favorite fish, dolphins, stuffed bears, mummies, or dinosaurs.

Sometimes I have to run errands in the morning, and those can usually be accomplished within a couple blocks and clipping bags to the stroller. Done!

After lunch and nap, we go out to the local park again and B runs around all he wants and watched big kids. That is his favorite activity. Big kid creeping. 

DADA comes home in between 6-7 and we eat, bathe, and read to the B. Then he is asleep at 8.

So that’s about it. I know that some Twitter friends had requested I post about having a toddler in the city, but I can’t think of anything super juicy to tell you. It is the only lifestyle I know, so maybe you can ask me specific questions in the comments if you have a burning quandary. Let me know!

Such a different life than just a few months back. Toddlerhood in the city has been good to us.

A TMI Story About Pee, Blood, and Tiny Life

I promise that this is a happy story although it may seem like tragedy at times. There is also some content that may gross you out.

There are two kinds of pee-on-a-stick pregnancy testers. The Eager Pee-er and the Cautious Optimist-pee-er.*

I am an Eager Pee-er. This means I buy packs of early detection sticks in bulk for cheap on Amazon. I don’t mind testing way before the time that is recommended and seeing a possible false negative because it is too early to pick up any hcg hormone in my system. No big deal, I will just pee again tomorrow! I realize this method terrifies the Cautious Opti-Pee-er.

When testing early, there is also the possibility of detecting a chemical pregnancy and then losing it a couple of days later when your period is due. This is when most miscarriages occur, and most women never know they were pregnant. This would obviously be heartbreaking to know about, but still I test early.

Last month, after a couple false negatives, a faint line positive line showed up on one of my tests! Though it was very light, I knew I was pregnant and became giddy. My plan was to continue to pee on the tests each day until the pink line became dark enough so that I didn’t have to squint to see it. I would hand Benton the positive test just before Justin got home from work. B would run up to Dada and deliver the news that we were becoming a family of four.

Best laid plans.

The second day that I saw a positive test, the line had definitely darkened. I became more excited and started texting pictures of the said test to close friends and discussing due dates.

Then I started bleeding.

SO much blood. Not the cute implantation bleeding that you hear about. Serious blood. So I lost hope and started to cope with the fact that I had been barely pregnant and was not any longer. Instead of announcing good news to Justin, I told him that I thought I was having an early miscarriage.

He was not super convinced that I had lost it, and said to just wait and see. I called the midwife, and there wasn’t much they could do. I was sad. More sad than I thought I would have been. I started to read about miscarriage on the internet and how common they really are. And I read a lot of hopeful stories about how sometimes it is easier to get pregnant right after a miscarriage because your body is all revved up to grow a baby. I was comforted by this.

Day three came. More blood. Should I pee again? I know that the hormone can hang around in your system for a bit even after losing an embryo. Hmmm. So I figured I would just keep peeing on the sticks until I saw the positive line lighten and disappear. So I peed on another stick. The line was DARKER. What?!

Day four. More blood. Hopes are low. Positive line darkens. I take Michelle on as my lab partner and she starts researching hcg and inspecting my pee tests with me via internet chat.

Every morning brings more hope, confusion, stress, and sadness. Every test gets darker. Michelle is emailed a new photo every day and we freak out. A week later, the bleeding has stopped. I request testing from the midwife office and they agree that I should do two blood tests. The first would be to see what my levels of hcg and progesterone are. The second blood test would be 48 hours later and it would reveal whether the hcg numbers were going down as they would with a loss, or doubling as they would with a normal pregnancy.

MORE STRESS AND WAITING. More lines darken. I am all consumed with confusion.

Eight days after I saw my first faint positive and started bleeding, I got a call from the midwife office. My hcg was doubling.

DOUBLING!

Progesterone was high. I was still pregnant.

What?

I don’t know. They still don’t really know what happened. If I hadn’t tested early, I would not have known I was pregnant for another few weeks, because I would have assumed that my period had occurred as normal.

The interesting thing that I learned from all of this is how many women experience bleeding in early pregnancy. Many people have told me their stories, and seems way more common than I would have thought. How awful if you are one of these women! The fear of loss is beyond stressful. I never bled a drop with B and was ignorant to these issues.

Sorry if you had to wade through all that pee and blood talk to get to the good part. I am announcing this pregnancy a bit earlier than the 12 week mark because I am not in an office anymore. I don’t see a reason to keep this a secret because if I do experience a loss, I will need support. Miscarriage happens, and I wish it wasn’t so hidden.

Yesterday, we got to see our new little one squirming around and waving those tiny nubbin arms and legs around. I am about 8.5-9 weeks now. There was a good heartbeat and no signs of anything unusual that would account for the blood. If all goes well, we will meet her in person sometime in mid-April. Although I would adore a little brother for Benton, I am quite sure there is a little girl in there and she is clearly a feisty lady already.

 

*Justin just reminded me of a third kind of pee-er. The kind that really doesn’t want to see a positive line. Ooops! The PLEASE NO-PEE-ER.

Midsummer Night’s Dreamfeed Part 2: The Plan in Action

Taking notes in the middle of the night is an interesting process. You all are lucky that you don’t get an accidental text from me in the night that looks like:

“3:15 minor hugs in chest 4=39 roll fuss”

Bless my poor phone for keeping track of this sleep journey so I can type it coherently for you here.

If you read my previous post, you know our sleep history with Benton and that we are now doing a bit of training to make nights more restful for everyone. Especially meeee.

We have now completed stage one of the plan that I am predicting will work for us.  We are two days into stage two. Here is the nitty-gritty of how it went:

Stage ONe: Night One

Going into the plan, I was fairly nervous about how loud this would get, but I still felt confident in my decision to start night weaning. No turning back! I inform my Twitter mamas that I am embarking and much luck is wished. Virtual mama power is inhaled. Special concern was given to make sure B was well hydrated, fed, and nursed in the daytime. READY!

During stage one, I am allowed to nurse B to sleep, and when he wakes up. BUT I am not to let him fall asleep on the boob as he would prefer to do. He can also be comforted in any other way that I choose during this stage. He just must fall asleep without nursing.

  • 8:00: B has been nursed to sleep while I lie next to him.
  • 9:50: B wakes and I nurse him for a couple of minutes and then remove him. He cries while I pat and try to cuddle him. 10 minutes later he falls asleep holding my hand.
  • 11:00: B wakes up, is nursed, removed. He yelps in protest, but rolls over and sleeps.
  • 1:15: B wakes up, is nursed, removed. We do the cuddle cry routine for 4 minutes and he falls asleep.
  • 2:00: B wakes up, is nursed, removed, sleeps without protest.
  • 3:30: B wakes up, is nursed, removed, sleeps without protest.
  • 4:40: B wakes up, is nursed, removed. Pathetic yelps for 10 seconds. Sleep. I am having a really hard time staying awake during nursing since I usually do most of this barely awake or dozing off.
  • 5-6:20: Constant wake ups and fuss every 15-20min. I didn’t nurse during this because I started to worry about rewarding all the fuss and kept thinking he would stay asleep. Finally nursed him for breakfast.

Oy. Looking back, this was probably the worst night, but MUCH less crying than I expected. I was feeling positive that the next night would be better.

STAGE ONE: Night Two

  • 7:45 B has been nursed to sleep.
  • 11:45 B wakes up, is nursed. He seems hungry so I let him nurse a little longer than the night before. I remove after a bit and he shuffles around the bed to get comfortable on his own. He fusses twice, but puts up little protest.
  • MYSTERY Wake up: This was my fault somehow and I don’t recall what happened. I think it was shortly after he went down and I accidentally woke him.
  • 3:30 B wakes, nurses and goes back to sleep with no fuss. The peasants rejoice. I am thrilled to see the clock and become giddy.
  • 5:30 The usual drill. NO FUSS!
  • 6-6:30 Breakfast nursing in bed.

This was a great night for us and I was feeling like he was starting to understand that sleeping was more fun than waking up a million times. It’s worrrkinnng!?!?

STAGE ONE: Night Three

  • 8:22: B had a late nap this day and went down later than usual. He was nursed to sleep.
  • 3:00: FIRST WAKEUP. I freak out. Yay. This hasn’t happened since he was a tiny baby. Or ever. He is nursed, removed, then he sits and cries for 30 seconds. I cuddle him and he lies on me. He rolls to be on his own and holds my hand. More fuss but laying still. Then some shuffling. Dozed but woke up and fussed at a ten minutes later after restless sleeping. Finally asleep after more shuffling and a nursing session again at 3:50. Asleep by 4.
  • 7-7:30 Breakfast in bed for B.

So that was the end of the first stage of the plan. I felt like we made a lot of progress, and would recommend it to co-sleepers with older babies or toddlers who don’t want to night wean, but would like to nurse less in the night. 

STAGE TWO: Night One

At this point, although I know he can fall asleep on his own now, and will likely wake up less, I am still nervous about how he will deal with no nursing. I have trouble falling asleep because I am anxious about the first wake up.

  • 8:00-8:25 Nurse to sleep.
  • 11:26: Wake up. Cry. Cuddle. Sleep within 7 minutes.
  • 11:55: Roll off (floor) bed onto pillow. WTF? This has never happened. He is repositioned into the center of the bed and he is asleep within 2 minutes of cuddle cry.
  • THEN A HUGE STORM HITS. I don’t sleep at all. B sleeps through. I am super annoyed and edgy.
  • 1:50 B wakes and shuffles around and fuss cries. Asleep within 10 minutes.
  • 2:45-4:00 Constant shuffling, dozing, cuddling, fussing, repeat. I still haven’t slept.
  • 7-7:30 Breakfast in bed for B. I have slept from 4-7. Dumb.

This wasn’t as bad as expected, and it is the longest he has ever gone without nursing. For me? Being a light sleeper really sucked that night. The storm ruined me.

Stage two: Night Two

I went to sleep feeling like it would be easier than the night before. No storms on the horizon. We had a really long day of with lots of social activities, so I expected him to be pretty tired from all that. (As I am typing this, he is napping. He woke up and fussed for a couple of seconds and went back to sleep !!!!!!!!! Exclamation points are warranted, folks.)

  • 8:20-8:50 Nursed to sleep. He went to bed late because we were at a friend’s condo eating cake pops and such.
  • 1:35-1:40: B wakes up and has a 2 minute cry. I lay my hand on his chest and hum baby beluga. He sleeps.
  • 3:15: B wakes up, lies on me. Rolls off and falls asleep. Minor fuss.
  • 4:30: Wakes up and shuffles around. Some fussing. Sleeps.
  • 7:30-8:00: Breakfast in bed. Later wake up than normal. Yay.

This was a great night.

So we will continue down this path. The plan is gentle on me and Benton, and my mama guilt hasn’t shown up at all. During the next stage, I am not allowed to pick him up, which I haven’t been doing anyway. So I guess eventually he will minimize the wake-ups and–GASP–possibly maybe Sleep Through The Night? I will let you know how we are doing. I feel great about all this so far.

More

I recently taught Benton how to sign “more” and “all-done” to avoid grunting and screaming in the high chair. I haven’t gotten much further than that, but he picked up the signs in a few days and has been doing well. When he signs “more” for a game that we are playing or wrestling with dad, that is when I  pretty much die.

This post wasn’t supposed to be about signing, but whenever I hear the word “more” I picture B’s little fingers touching with an expectant look on his face. And then I lose my train of thought. You know when you read the same paragraph over and over again in a book, because your mind wanders elsewhere? This is much of my day.

More. The past year has been more everything. More happiness than I could imagine. More loneliness than I could have predicted. More worry than I would have liked. More victory than I expected. I have more love to give than I thought possible. More patience than ever before. More uncertainty than I’d hoped. More laundry. More mess. More work. More reward. More tired. More play. The good days are that much better. The bad days are that much worse. Everything is exponential.

I saw someone post on a new mother’s Facebook wall that she will “loooove being a moommmmy soooo much <3<3<3!!!!” I admire her friend’s enthusiasm. I too, love being a mom. But, that wall post only tells part of the story. I keep seeing it in my mind and it has started to irk me. Will this new mom feel sad when she isn’t loving every minute of her new life? Should she feel guilty for not loving each and every aspect of motherhood? Newborns are wonderful, but also such a mystery. In the heat of frustration, I hope she doesn’t feel like a failure if she isn’t loving being a mommy right at that second.

Maybe I am over thinking this harmless comment. I guess I don’t like when motherhood is portrayed so simply. Wrapped up in a neat happy package that and handed to a woman like:  “HERE! LOoooove it!” It doesn’t work that way for most people, and it perpetuates expectations that are impossible to live up to.

Yes, I am a happy mom. But if I stop there, then I am selling myself and every other mom (or mom-to-be someday) short. I am also a ____ mom. Fill in the blank with nearly any other emotion you can think of and multiply it by a million.

The exponential aspect of being a parent continues to fascinate me. My heart is certainly in new territory from so much swelling. I feel stronger and ready for more. 😉

Sorry about the winking emoticon. I have recently come to love it. “Doesn’t it scream, We are in this together and it’s all OK?” I like that sentiment.

Midsummer Night’s Dreamfeed: Part One

I haven’t written much about Benton’s sleeping habits in the last year. The reason for this is because I find the question “Does he sleep through the night?” eternally irritating. But it is understandably common. The only reason I am writing this now is because someone out there may relate to our scenario and find our experience helpful.

For those of you who really don’t want to read a long drawn-out post about baby sleep, I totally understand. Come back in a week or so. Bye for now!

The HISTORY:

Everyone look at our beautiful nursery with this lovely crib:

Isn’t it lovely? It makes me laugh. SO MUCH LAUGHING. We didn’t use it beyond changing diapers. So.

When we brought little Benton home from the hospital, we had a bassinet-type thing set up in our bedroom for him to sleep in for his first 3 months or so. Like most first-time parents, we knew very little about what our newborn would be like as far as sleeping goes. Actually, I’m sure there are parents of multiple children that still have no clue what their new baby will like in the sleep department. They are all very different. That being said, I am not going to pass judgement or tell you what method YOU. SHOULD. USE! That is clearly silly.

We didn’t read many books or articles about any sleeping methods early on. I don’t think I knew the acronyms STTN, CIO or even what co-sleeping was. All I knew was that we had a tiny human that was used to living inside me, and was now supposed to live on the outside. He was just getting used to the world, and seemed most happy when being held by mama or daddy. He also was used to being fed 24 hours a day when he was growing in my belly, so learning to only eat part of the day was also a big deal I’m sure.

During the first night of sleep, we brought him into our bed because newborns are the most snuggly thing I can think of, and we wanted to love on him all the time. The bassinet suddenly seemed far away, even at the end of the bed. We may have tried the bassinet a few times, but I just didn’t sleep well if he wasn’t next to me.

If I needed to check on him, I could simply open my eyes and not lift another muscle of my recovering body. If I needed to feed him, he was right there, no need to get up awkwardly trip over our cats in the night. I feel back asleep much easier after each nursing session than I would have if I had to go sit in a recliner. Eventually, we both learned to sleep through the nursing sessions. This is just what felt right. And it was also super easy.

He was a “good” sleeper. Months 0-4 I got stretches of 6 hours without much interruption. Things were good. Even now, I can count the times that he has woke up in the middle of the night for anything other than nursing. He is not the type to just sit up and expect nighttime entertainment. We are so lucky there.

Month 4 hit and he went through a sort of awakening. He no longer acted like a fetus baby and was much more aware of his surroundings. Everything seemed to reset, and we were hit with the 4 month sleep regression that some babies go through. This was also the time when the queen bed seemed to be getting smaller and smaller, and the crib was looking good. Talk about the dumbest time to try to transfer Benton to a crib. Ahh, well. Needless to say, the crib transition failed for us.

Month 5-12 have been OK. We now sleep in a king bed, which was a total game-changer. For months, B has had access to nighttime nursing and dreamfeeds whenever he wanted. This works for me because I can doze through them and I don’t really feel exhausted during the day. B is comforted during the night and doesn’t fuss or cry.

Present day? This is not working for me anymore. I have become a ridiculously light sleeper in order to respond to B’s nighttime needs. Everything wakes me up and it is often hard to get back to sleep in between the hours or 3-4 for some reason. Then from the hours of 4-7, he is restless and seems to need to be latched on the entire time. So I am basically awake at 3 a.m. Um, not working. Benton needs an alert caregiver in the day, and I need brain cells and sanity.

CURRENTLY:

Enter the idea of night weaning. I have thought about this for a few months, but only now am really comfortable with implementing it. He is eating a lot of solids and drinking a combo of whole milk from sippy cups while still nursing a few times a day. He is learning things very quickly and can understand basic concepts more easily than a young baby can. There is also a clear difference between a whiney cry and a painful cry. I feel like the nighttime nursing is more of a pacifier than nutritional at this point.

However, I am not discounting the importance of nighttime comfort for a baby/toddler, but it would be nice to teach him to rest easy without my boob in his mouth. I have been the solo-nighttime parent for more than a year now. At this point, it would be nice to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. Or it would be great if I could put him to sleep and possibly leave the house once and awhile after he is asleep. Right now I am still tethered to bedtime and nighttime if I don’t want B to go into hysterics and leave Justin or a sitter with zero tools to comfort a screaming overtired toddler. Not to mention, the stress of leaving him far outweighs any benefit of me getting out of the house for social interaction.

Someone sent me this article awhile ago about night weaning for co-sleepers. I read it and it made sense to my mama heart and mind.

So far it is going really well, although the hardest part may be yet to come. I am taking notes on each night to keep track of how it is working. The next couple posts I will share our (hopeful) progress.

Whiiiiiine

Typity tap. I have nothing in mind, but I am typing. This is great news! Yet also terrible news for you readers.

Because, dribble.

And I don’t feel well, so can I lay next to you and drink sprite while you pat my hair? Thanks.

I’ve not been sick in a really long time. Right now, I am feeling increasingly sick as I type each word. I think I may have an ear infection, so I put some olive oil in my ear because that is what I learned to do from twitter. This is slightly better than medical advice from google. I also don’t really have a primary care physician because I just don’t right now.

Pre-motherhood, I wouldn’t have really mind a sick day (as long as vomit isn’t involved). I could take a PTO day and lay on the couch, watch terrible daytime television and nap. I could take care of myself properly and drink the recommended fluids without a tiny toddler arm plunging elbow-deep into my coffee table beverage. I could rest. REALLY rest. Needless to say, there are no sick days for me. I simply can’t get sick. CANNOT.

Hmmm, this is not the first post I wanted to right about SAHMdom upon my return to the blog because it sounds super whiney, and I’m generally a whine hater. But since this is already a downer, I would just like to bitch about having no PTO days in general. Can we form a union or something? Join a commune? I love taking care of this little person all day, every day. But seriously. Worker’s rights, yo.

This has nothing to do with what I just wrote, but how awesome are yards? We went to one today at our friend Erica's house in the burbs and it was lovely. Our commune would have a sweet yard. The well people would play and the sick people would rest indoors.