Thursday, April 17, 2014

The journey from bed-sharing to independent sleep

Sleep.  The topic that will bring out the claws in with many moms.  The topic everyone...and I mean EVERYONE has an opinion that will try and sway you into believe is the right way to do things.  An area of my life I have been deprived of since H was born.  One of reasons I developed post-partum anxiety.

First off...I think every new parent is completely ignorant to how much sleep you will loose when you have a baby.  No one tells you about things like 4, 8, 12, 18 month sleep regressions.  I thought that once my child started giving me longer stretches at night, that would last forever.  Boy was I wrong.

We started off by having H sleep in her bassinet.  She and I would begin our night by falling asleep together, her nursing.  Once she was good and asleep, hubby would move her into her bassinet.  By 4 weeks, H was giving me 6-8 hour stretches.  At 4 months, she was waking every 2 hours or less.  That lasted until she was 14 months old.  To survive the 4 month sleep regression, I brought H into my bed.  Some nights she would sleep a few hours in her own sleeping space, and others she would sleep the entire night latched on.  This regression caused me so much turmoil.  I felt I HAD to do something.  I felt I was failing her, setting her up for a lifetime of bad sleep if I didn't sleep train.  I read TOO MUCH.  It was very overwhelming.  I didn't know what to do.  We already knew she was a horrible napper, needing to be bounced and worn for her to nap....I couldn't handle having a bad night sleeper too.  I cried. ALL THE TIME. I couldn't eat.  We gave her a bottle of formula at night to ensure she wasn't hungry.  We did white noise and lavander and everything else you could imagine.  I stopped eating dairy and wheat.  NOTHING WORKED.  I thought the only thing we had to do was let her cry it out.  I blogged about it.  I emailed others who did it.  But the thought of letting her cry made me sick.  Hubby refused to do it.  We argued about it.  Our world was focused and centered around sleep.  We even hired  sleep consultant who gave us an in depth plan.  We followed the plan and even though we had minimal success early on, by 2 weeks, I was waking up every 30 minutes with her and it was falling apart.  Nothing worked. 

It wasn't until I became involved with Le Leche league and started to attend mother's meetings, that I started to learn what normal infant sleep was all about.  I learned that my daughter wasn't going to always need me. That before 18 months, there is NOTHING you can do that can screw up a baby's sleep.  Crutches are things people use who need help with walking.  Babies don't develop crutches for sleep...or if they do it wont be forever. I learned the dangers of letting your child cry it out.  I read about attachment theory and how it is critical to develop a strong bond between parent and child.  I read about other cultures and what is normative and how we, in the west are 'abnormal' in how we treat infants.  I found my tribe for support and I slowly, became confident in my parenting choices.  This wasn't easy.  H was over a year old, before I can say I was truly confident in how we were dealing with sleep situation.  I went back to work, and H was still nursing all night long.  I would go to bed with her and stay in bed until she woke up.  I never had time for myself.  It was a long, hard haul.

Once H started daycare, she learned how to put herself to sleep other than nursing.  In less than 2 weeks, she went from needing to be bounced and worn to sleep, to sleeping for 2 hours on her own.  She has an amazing care provider and although there was some tears, she wasn't left alone to cry.  She realized since mommy and daddy weren't around, she would need to find comfort in another way.  We didn't have that same success at home.  At 14 months, hubby and I were supposed to go to a concert so he needed to learn how to put her to sleep so he could tell his mom what to do.  In 3 nights, she went from needing to nurse all night to sleep, to putting herself to sleep and staying asleep for long stretches.  If she did wake, hubby just needed to give her some water and she would go back to sleep for him.  We had reached an amazing milestone and we did it without letting her cry a single tear alone.  She did it because she was comfortable and confident we would be with her.  She was still sleeping in our room, but she was sleeping.  I would sleep in the spare room as my presence (milk) would wake her often.  The two of them had a good thing going.

Since she was sleeping so soundly in our room - but waking every morning with his alarm, we felt that it was time for her to move to her own room.  Last night, H slept 9 hours without waking in her own room.  It took her a LONG time to fall asleep - as she has never slept in her room before.  She wasn't secure or comfortable to just lie down and be tucked in and hubby say goodnight.  Hubby needed to rock her for a few minutes and lie her down to sleep.  But she stayed asleep.  She did wake up early and then came into bed with me.  But it was a start.  We are making progress. There maybe set backs, but she has made a huge leap in her independent sleep journey.  She knows we are there for her and she felt comfortable to sleep alone.  She slept for 9 hours last night...all by herself.  She woke and stirred a few times, but quickly put herself back to sleep. 

I am not writing this to say I'm better than those who sleep train. Some sleep train as its the best for their family.  Some do it as sleep deprivation has caused such sever PPD that it is necessary for survival.  Some tried and it only took 1 night of a few minutes of crying and your baby slept.  Some of you will be reading this and will relate to how I felt as you too felt pressured.  I am not writing to guilt anyone.  Everyone has a right to parent the way that they feel is best.  2 people can love their children equally but parent differently.  I am an advocate for Attachment based parenting because I have read the research.  It is what works for me.  I am not going to do what others did to me and condemn different parenting styles.

 I'm writing this for those who feel they can't sleep train. For those who feel they must do something or else they will be nursing their child to sleep forever.  For those with  babies who wont let them sleep train without hours, and hours and hours of crying like H would have given us.  For those who have tried everything and think their child will never sleep.  Yes, we actively sought out change and had hubby take over.  This was crucial to our success.  But we never left her to cry it out.  Every fiber of our beings couldn't let H cry.  Not being able to let her cry made me feel weak, and a horrible parent.  It wasn't until I found support otherwise that I realized I wasn't weak.  I needed to read these types of success stories early on.  But all I found were stories of cry-it-out success.

One of the best things about being a breast feeding momma, is the ability to comfort my child on my breast.  However, for some babies, that can also be horrible for the momma as nursing was the ONLY way to comfort H.  I felt I had to break this connection to get more than 2 hours of sleep.  Through patience and gentle guidance, we were able to extend the need for H to nurse without causing her any stress.  We didn't break the connection, just like we didn't break the connection when I returned to work.  It is possible.  Your baby is smart and KNOWS what it needs.  Once I realized that I just need to listen to my baby and forget about what others would say or think of me, the easier it got.  We knew when she was ready for a change and she showed us we were right.

I also realized that being unconventional is necessary to survival.  H used to sleep latched-on all night, we currently have wall-to-wall bed.  Hubby and I slept in separate rooms for over a year.  Yes this is all unconventional - but all temporary.  Babies change - yes there will be set-backs, but once a skill is learned it wont be forgotten.

For those momma's in sleep deprivation land, take a deep breath.  Relax.  It will get better.  Change your attitude around sleep and things will get easier.  Babies wake.  Babies need momma.  Don't listen to what your mom, neighbour, co-worker is telling you.  Babies don't know how to manipulate.  They only know what they need.  There are no wants this young.  Change your expectations and it will get easier. LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS. You have them for a reason and they will never lead you astray.    It is hard.  Sleep deprivation - especially when working - is hard.  Your child will let you know when he/she is capable of change.  Find support.  Enjoy the snuggles while you can :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding a work/life balance ... for now

I took almost 3 weeks off work to get over the nasty gastro-bug H and I had, and a chest/sinus cold that knocked me out.  I also took that time to try and get a handle on my depression and anxiety.  I am now back to work 2/3.  That means I only teach in the afternoons but need to be at work by 11.  Depending on how the morning goes, I drop H off at the sitters between 7:30 and 8 or if she is sleeping in, after 9:30, and then I go home and veg.  I still am suffering from mild insomnia, so I wish I could sleep...but I use that time in the morning to get some chores done (laundry usually), plan for dinner or put dinner in the crock-pot and watch tv, exercise or just veg in bed.  This is me time...and although I feel like I should be more productive, I'm perfectly happy just relaxing.  I'm not going to lie, I love this new schedule.  I always said I wanted to go back to work 2/3 but talked myself out of it saying the money is more important.  Now, since I have an anxiety disorder, I'm off that 1/3 on medical so I'm still getting paid.  This will continue until the end of the school year and then I guess I have to evaluate if I want to go on a 1/3 leave for Sept. or try and go back full-time.   Having this extra time in the mornings has allowed me to slow down and breathe.  I'm no longer rushing around all the time trying to figure out how to cram everything i need to get done in.  I am able to shower before work - which seems miniscule, but is HUGE for me.

I love my mornings with H and if she isn't up at the crack of dawn and wants to sleep a little longer, I love having our morning cuddles.  When I was off sick, I would often fall asleep myself.  But now I'm up with her around 5 am and can't sleep.  However, I now longer have to worry about getting out of bed and having to rush around to get ready for work.  I usually lie there and breathe, try and relax and just let my mind wander. 

Maybe this part-time thing is what I need.  Who knows where the fall will bring but I will enjoy every moment I have now!  

Monday, March 31, 2014

When depression rears its ugly head.

Well, I left off saying that Hubby and I were sick after H was up all night puking.  I thought the saga would end there.  Turns out, I was wrong.  I ended up needing to go to the Emergency Room as it felt like my heart was beating out of my chest and I found it hard to breathe.  These feelings lasted over 24 hours before I went.  Then, H woke up again and started puking.  After I thought we were all getting well.  Her second round of the flu did me in.  The card-house collapsed and I was drowning in anxiety and depression.  I couldn't handle having my baby sick for one more night.  I couldn't handle having to take another day off work and worry about how I was going to cope with working and a sick baby. All these negative emotions came running back. 

I took H to the Dr and while I was there, I broke down.  H had the stomach bug...nothing more.  I was signed off work for 3 weeks for stress leave.  I couldn't cope. 

I went and saw a counsellor and he made me answer 20 questions.  Apparently through these questions, he was able to identify that I was experiencing Sever Depression and Sever Anxiety.  The anxiety I understood.  I was a wreck dealing with H and everything we have gone through this winter...but the depression shocked me.  He explained that the way the chemicals in your brain work, is that if you have EVER been in a depressed state, you will go back to that state when stressed.  Each time you go back, the deeper the depression.  He says unless you treat the chemical imbalance, you wont be able to ever get rid of the depression.  He is also very much pro-natural supplements vs medications.  Since I am still nursing, I fear taking drugs as he said a lot of the drugs don't work for some people so it really is a crap shoot finding the right drug at the right dose.  He suggested I take amino-acids and cod-liver oil as well as beta blockers to help bring me out.

Funny what happens when the cards come crashing down.  Now, EVERYTHING is coming back up.  All the feelings associated wiht the miscarriages, the infertility, the abuse from my childhood.  Everything.  I have realized that I need to change.  I can't continue to go on in life the way I have been living as I am living on adrenaline and not taking each moment as it comes.  My immune system is failing me as I am so stressed.  My family is suffering, my job is suffering and my health is suffering.  I am too young and have too much at steak to not take this as a wake-up call.

While off, I'm trying to figure out ways to cope. I'm trying to not allow negative feelings and emotions to consume me. I want to be happy for me AND for H.

Being a working momma is hard.   Totally wish I had the ability to stay home with her.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This horrible winter and sickness

I'm DONE with this winter. I'm DONE with sickness.  My family and I have been SO SICK this winter that I'm starting to have panic attacks waiting for the next person (usually H) to get sick. 

Here is the run-down:

Oct- H started daycare and developed a cold.  I soon got same cold.  Took her to Dr's and it was just a horrible cough.  Spent many nights my first week back at work holding her upright so we could breathe and sleep.

Oct - I developed a sever blocked duct and started to get a fever.  Needed a day off to rest and seek therapeutic ultrasound to help dissolve block.  ALSO battling a horrible cold.

 End of Nov/Early Dec - I start suffering from SEVER insomnia.  Take a day off work to sleep as I haven't slept in days.  That night, H and I BOTH come down with stomach bug.  Both of us puking (and me the 'other thing') all night long.  Worst night ever.  3 days later, H has to go to emerg for dehydration. Next day we are back at Dr and she is diagnosed with double ear infection.  Brutal.

End of Jan/ First week of Feb -  H starts coming down with cold.  Take her to Dr's and she is diagnosed with Croup.  Figure we would just wait it out.  4 days later, she still has on-going fever so we take her back...fluid in the lungs and another double ear infection.  Another round of antibiotics.  1 week after, I come down with serious sinus cold. 

Beginning of March - another cold with horrible cough. Luckily it doesn't progress into anything

Mid March - H wakes up puking.  I wake up and faint 3 times, while hubby is dealing with screaming, pukey baby...I'm passing out and going unconcious.  I figure it was a combination of low-blood pressure, waking up too quickly, the 3 drinks I had (first time in 2 years) 4 hours prior and not allowing myself to fully recover the first time I pass out so I go on to pass out 2 more times.  3 days after, I come down with stomach bug and *void* from both ends all night and the next morning.  This is where we stand now.  Hubby stayed home today too cause he was feeling quite nauseous but hasn't actually gotten sick.  I am STILL feeling like crap 2 days later.  I am terrified H is going to get sick much so that I wonder if some of my feeling ill in my tummy is due to me worrying about her getting sick.

We have THE BEST sitter, and we can send her when she isn't her best...but I have taken quite a few days off work cause I have had to stay home with her.  Luckily, (or unluckily) I was also sick so I wasn't lieing (we aren't allowed to stay home with our children who are sick). 

I can't take much more.  I have 15 more weeks left of work till summer vacation.  I feel like I am so burned out from balancing being a mommy and a teacher.  I am failing at both.  I don't know how anyone else does it.  We eat fairly good.  We try to use alternative supplements to help boost immune systems. I'm still why is she getting so sick?  I'm not the only one who has had a winter like mine.  Many of my facebook feeds are of friends battling yet another illness or two in their families.  It doesn't help that I work with special needs students so I'm bringing home a lot of 'junk' and DH works in waste water so he is literally bringing home shit some days...  It just sucks.  Who gets the stomach bug 2 x in one season??? Today I bleached all surfaces of my home in hopes to get rid of any germs.  We've also had the windows open for brief periods of time a couple days this past hopefully when the weather is nicer we can open the windows more and get fresh air in the home and help us get healthy!

Has anyone else had a rough winter?   What have you done to stay healthy? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Finding a balance

Now that H is finally sleeping better (usually sleeps from 8-4:30/5 am and then goes back to sleep till 6:30/7) I have time for myself.  With this 'free time', I'm finding it hard to find a balance for all the things I want to do, and all the things I need to do, plus spend time with hubby. 

My job is very demanding.  My toddler is very demanding.  I wake up and take care of her, then after I drop her off I have a 20 min reprieve as I drive to work to only deal with people all day long needing the utmost care and attention. I then get another 20 min break as I drive home (with the winter we have had/having the drive isn't a break as its usually a snow-covered/drifty drive) and then I am momma to my toddler until she goes to bed.  Once I get in the door, she demands to nurse.  This nursing session is my favourite as its a wonderful way to reconnect after a day apart.  But, it also means that as soon as I get home I am glued to her for at least half an hour.  Once she lets me free, I have to make dinner, clean-up from dinner, make lunches for hubby and I and bathe her.  All the while dealing with her shannanigans - like tonight where she feels the ground is on fire and filled with man-eating spiders and refuses to let me put her down even for a second to pee.  Hubby helps where he can (makes dinner usually) but she doesn't want anything to do with him some nights.  So by 7:30 when she goes to bed, I am wiped.  I shower in the evenings so I don't have to worry about it in the morning, and usually that's the first time all day where I can unwind and relax.  Now if hubby and I want to have intimacy time (and since we are officially TTC again we aim to do this 3-5x a week...but we aren't likely reaching our goals) this cuts into my evening and desire to veg.  Since H wakes up between 4:30 and 5 - I usually wake up at that time and can't fall asleep. My insomnia is still pretty bad and if I wake up that early I'm usually up for the day.  So by 9:00 I'm exhausted and needing to sleep myself. 

So where do you find time for:
-exercise?  I NEED to get into an exercise regime. I miss it. I need it for my emotional health.  I need it cause I've gained weight from stress eating. I need it to feel good about myself.  I need it to help me sleep.  But when do I go? We have a bike in our basement to use, but I find it hard to even go on that when H clings to me for dear life when I'm on it.  I also can't work out after she goes to bed as its too late for me. 

-reading/watching tv: I love me a good tv veg session.  This is one of the few ways I can turn off my brain and just relax.  Once again...given my job I need this decompression .. but I'm finding it hard.

- see friends -

- blog?

I love my daughter.  I love my husband...but right now my momma duties and wifely duties are trumping my own desires.  I also can't sacrifice sleep for my own needs as I can't function without sleep. 

How does everyone else manage?  I'm blessed that hubby and I are both home by 4 or 4:30 - so we have more 'free' time in the evenings than most.  Yet I'm still feeling like I need more time to get everything in. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The working momma

First off, I have to say that living in Canada we are SO LUCKY to be able to take 1 year off of maternity leave and receive a partial income for that year.  For mommas in the U.S and other countries that aren't so fortunate, I have no idea how you cope! 

Returning to work has been hard!  I find the demands of my job and the demands of being a mother (and a wife) so difficult to juggle.  Time for myself is very limited and sleep is basically unheard of. 

Being a nursing mother returning to work has been easier than I anticipated.  About 2 weeks into work I didn't pump on my lunch (I wasn't pumping for milk to feed...but just to comfort as H wouldn't drink BM from a bottle or cup.  I ended up donating over 100 oz to a momma in need as it would have gone to waste otherwise.  Pretty proud of that considering I struggled with low supply for so long), and I forgot to 'check' the girls to see if they were ok. When I did check, I had a clogged duct.  It was brutal! I ended up taking a day off as I came down with a nasty cold too and went to a physio-therapist to receive therapeutic ultrasound on the clog.  Luckily it drained and haven't had one since. *knock on wood*  I've since given up that pumping session and now I can go the entire day without needing to express.  It saddens me some as my supply isn't as plentiful as it once was, but I was assured last night by my LLL leaders that my body/boobs know what they are doing!

Coming home is an interesting endevour.  H can be happily playing with her daddy and as soon as I walk in the door, she starts crying and whining until we nurse.  The nursing session is a long one and she has a rather long period of cranky/clingyness before she starts playing again.  I hate this.  I wish she didn't have to make up for lost time.  However, we are very fortunate to have an amazing sitter who loves H and H loves going to see her. 

Food and cooking and cleaning have been a battle.  I hate cooking.  I wasn't a very good stay at home wife for the year I was off and didn't prepare meals on a regular basis.  Now, it is a struggle.  I try to ensure there is meat out each night so that we can do something for dinner.  However we are still eating take-out on a regular basis.  I wish we were more organized...but that just isn't the case.  Many nights it isn't the cooking that is so daunting...but the cleanup.

H has been falling asleep on her own when daddy puts her to sleep.  She still isn't sleeping through the entire night, but it has given me a new perspective.  It is amazing to have a few hours to myself at night and be able to spend time with hubby. Unfortunately my insomnia has been HORRIFIC.  Since returning to work I have had so little sleep and I think its because of the stress of work keeping me awake at night cause many times it isn't the baby. 

Overall, we are coping.  I wish I had heard more stories from people who returned to work when there babies were a bit older and how they coped.  I miss being off SO MUCH.  Hubby and I are officially in TTC land once again.  I'm trying not to be obsessive - but its hard to not go down that road.  Since I'm up for a lot of the night, I'm finding it hard to temp - but I hope to try again next month. Ideally we'd like to be pregnant in May/June.  But we are trying now cause it took us awhile the last time around so we figure we wont waste any time! LOL

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back in the game

2 days ago AF came back.  Last time she came to visit, was January 2012.  2 years without worrying about my cycles.  2 years of forgetting I was an infertile and all the emotional baggage that came along with that. A few weeks ago I noticed a change in my CM and hubby and I DTD a number of times (we haven't used protection since having DD).  Over the holidays my nipples were so sore whenever DD nursed, I was exhausted and cranky.  I thought for sure I was pregnant.  So...there I was taking a HPT and thinking maybe, just maybe we wouldn't have to worry about fertility problems.  Atlas, AF came.  I am happy with her arrival as I was starting to wonder if I would be one of those women that would never get her cycle while nursing.  Now that she is here (with a vengeance I may add) I know my body is ready to conceive.  I am not ready to be pregnant yet.  I really don't want another late fall baby.  Nov/Dec is the worst time of year for me with my seasonal depression.  Having a baby during that time was rough.  Going back to work during that time was rough.  I would really love to have an early spring baby. .. or even late Feb.  Ideally we would love to get pregnant again in June.  However...we all know how much those plans pan each month will be an opportunity to try.  I am meeting with a fertility counselor next week who can help teach me how to chart my cycles while nursing (as it is a bit different given I'm up so many times a night). Hopefully with her help, I'll be able to relax and learn my body and learn when I ovulate and when a good time to conceive. 

Its funny - reading blogs lately.  Many fellow momma's who had dragon babies are back in the game too (or planning on being back in it) I guess that's what happens when your baby is a year.  You think about when number 2 will come.  Although I am so blessed to have H, I really feel my family is not yet complete.  I really want another baby on so many levels.  I pray that the second time will be MUCH easier and less stressful than the first.

On another note - in order to conceive...hubby and I need to be able to DTD on a regular basis.  Last Friday I went out for dinner with a friend and told him he HAD to put DD to bed.  Up until last Fri, I had gone to bed with her every night of her life for 14 months.  I nursed her to sleep and nursed her back down every time she woke (which ranged from 5-20 times a night).  Well he was able to put her to sleep with minimal fussing.  It worked so well he did it again .. and again..and again.  It is now his job to put her to sleep as he is able to read her a story, lay her on the bed say goodnight shut the light off and leave and she falls asleep on her own.  It is a miracle.  This would NOT happen with me at all!  She still wakes... A LOT.  But he is able to put her back to sleep quite easily.  At 2am I usually take over so that he can get some uninterrupted sleep before work.  We are hoping that by  him doing many of the early night wake-ups (he just goes to her, lays her back down and comforts her by laying next to her) she will wake less.  So far, we are making progress! We are still bed sharing...and we hope in the next few months to have her transfer from the king bed in our room, to the single bed attached to the king (yes we have wall-to-wall bed).  That way hubby and I can share the king and she can have her own space.  Neither one of us really care if she is in our room or not.  We love having a family bed.  Its amazing this transformation has occurred the week I get my cycle back as it proves that we are ready to start thinking about bringing another person into our family.  He putting her to sleep has changed my life and has changed our marriage.  I will never regret the time I spent with my daughter nursing her and making sure felt secure enough to sleep.  But I am glad she is giving us freedom in the evenings without her needing us.

I hope that this space remains a space I can share my thoughts and feelings...but I don't want it to become a negative space for me to obsess about every little thing.  I am trying to still enjoy every moment with my daughter and count my blessings for having her in my life.  I don't want to dismiss everything she is going through and learning just cause I am obsessing over becoming pregnant again.  Toddlers are hard (or so I am told).  Hubby and I have vowed to continue on with our AP style parenting and treat her with dignity and respect - even when she is screaming on the floor in a full-blown tantrum.  She needs us to help her understand her feelings and understand boundaries.  We can't be too preoccupied with fertility or lack there of.