What nobody told me about motherhood

Teddy bears in bedI definitely think someone should write a book about the things they don’t tell you about motherhood. I’m sure there’s at least a book worth of stuff that I have learned just from on the job training. Considering all the mothers I’ve known in my life, it sure would have been nice if they had filled me on on some of this.

One thing I had no clue about, is that I had no idea I could be dealing with an 18 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the  night on her own. Inevitably she ends up in our bed each night somewhere between 12 – 4 am. And if that wasn’t good enough, once she gets into the bed it’s not like she cuddles and sleeps the rest of the night. After she’s in the bed she proceeds to wiggle and turn so much that nobody is getting any sleep. Needless to say, she’s got to sleep in her bed and stay there.

I have researched a few different sleep training methods, and realized there are some things I just won’t do. Sleep training is a very personal thing and there is not a one size fits all policy. I simply won’t just leave my daughter in her room to cry it out. I am not judging parents who use these methods; it’s just not for me. Even more, I resent people who tell me to just let her cry or act like I have a third eye when I tell them my daughter still has trouble sleeping. I know I’m not the only one!

Recently I was told about a class given to help mothers struggling to get their children to sleep. The class is in Orange County, CA, and is conducted by Heather Irvine at Good Nite Baby, who also does personal consultations. For one thing the class is great because it’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with toddler sleep issues. The class has also been a huge wake up call in addressing my own part in her sleep problems. One thing that has been kind of hard to deal with is that essentially the issues I’m having with my daughter’s sleep are of my own making. We are doing what they call “reactive co-sleeping.” In an effort to maintain sanity we bring her to our bed instead of doing what we need to get her back in her own. And it’s not even like it helps us get sleep, it just helps keep her quiet. Luckily there is no judgment, just solutions, but it’s crazy to think that my attempt just to pacify my daughter may have led to more issues.

So far in weeks one and two we have learned various ways to set the stage for sleep success. We haven’t even officially begun “sleep coaching,” but I have already made so many changes! Here’s just a quick list -

  • Eating dinner earlier, but snack before bed
  • Oatmeal as snack for most nights
  • Bath every night (as compared to every other night)
  • Shorter bedtime routine
  • Less reading time after bath
  • Louder setting on white noise machine
  • Adding a humidifier at night

I think there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. Next week we start the official sleep training, and while I know it will be hard I am looking forward to getting her into regular sleep habits. I think I’ll be an even better mommy once I can sleep through the night again.

Trials of mommyhood

The first time you see your baby bloodied or bruised is not likely to be a time you forget. I had my first brush with this downside of motherhood this weekend. I was holding my sweet pumpkin as she fell asleep, when I realized that her other side was covered in blood. There was blood everywhere, her hand, her eye, in her ear and all over her pj’s. I had no idea where the blood was coming from, all I knew was I had to clean her up and figure it out. Luckily she wasn’t crying or flipping out, so I was hoping the injury wasn’t anything major, but the amount of blood that had come from my baby girl threatened to make me lose it a bit.

I ran to get a towel to clean her up, and tried to figure out where it was coming from.  Once I got her cleaned up a bit, it was easy to see that the wound responsible for all of this blood was a small cut to her middle finger. A small cut that didn’t want to stop bleeding despite the fact I was applying as much pressure as I could to her tiny little finger. A couple of moments passed by and I realized I just needed to be a little patient. Everything was okay.

I still can’t believe how much worry I could feel from one little injury. I think I’m still realizing every day how much your capacity for emotion changes when you become a mother. Being responsible for the care and well being of another person is an incredible responsibility. One that I am still learning and adjusting to on a daily basis.

How much is too much?

I had no idea how hard it would be when I became a mom. It probably doesn’t help that when you become a mom, the rest of the world does not suddenly go away. Before having my daughter I was already a wife, step-mom, daughter, sister, full time employee and student, among other things. Having a child meant one more huge commitment. Nothing else went away and more hours didn’t suddenly materialize for each day.

Stressed mom

It's not unusual for me to feel like this during the day

It has been a struggle to find the time to manage everything I have to do. Many days I feel that I do not do very well at any of my obligations. I have little time to cook an actual meal, clean my house, workout or take some good ol’ me time. I end a lot of days feeling like I’m a horrible mom and I’m not doing enough.

I’m blessed in that I have a husband that does more than many for our household. He does such a good time trying to take care of me and the kids. But he has his plate full as well – in addition to having a full time job he’s also a father, a student, and he spends one weekend a month making sure he’s ready to defend our country at moment’s notice, should the need arise. Obviously, he’s stretched pretty thin, too. Utilizing family to help is not much of an option, as both of our families are so far away.

Worst of all, I know I’m not the only mom, or person, in this boat. So many of us have too much on our plates and not enough hours to get it all done. How do you decide what’s most important so you can prioritize? Is there anything you can really let slip through the cracks?

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I simply cannot do it all. If I keep on the way I’m going, something is going to break, most likely my marriage, my health or my sanity. Some time ago I posted about wanting to be a stay home mom. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option a year ago, and it’s still not. I also don’t think it’s the answer to what I’m going through right now. But I needed to start thinking outside of the box, and luckily I was able to figure out a possible solution. It may not work for everyone, but I sure hope it works for me. I’ll post more on this soon…

We be buggin’!

Yo Gabba Gabba CrewI have a secret infatuation. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I think I like Yo Gabba Gabba more than my daughter does! Sometimes I turn it on for her and find myself watching it while she plays with her toys.  Even worse, curiosity has driven me to discover all sorts of weird info about the show – such as the fact that Plex is voiced by one of the show creators, DJ Lance is in his 40s, and the show is dubbed in the UK. 

The music and the colors somehow draw me in way more than a children’s television show should. Last time I watched it was one of my favorite episodes – the one where Muno raps about bugs. That guy has skills. I love that song so much I had to download it! I know that I’m not acting under my own influence here.  Surely this show is part of an evil plot to take over the world?

Throwback Thursdays – The Beatles

I have never considered myself to be much of a Beatles fan. I never understood what the big deal was and I didn’t think I knew many of their songs. Then in 2007 I took a cruise with my family, and one of the shows was a Beatles revue. During the production I repeatedly found myself singing lyrics to songs I didn’t think I knew. Even more, I actually enjoyed the performance. That performance helped me realized just how pervasive the Beatles have been to our culture and the influence the group continues to have on popular music. Now, when the Beatles come on the radio I am much more likely to sing along than change the channel.

For more of the Beatles click here or download on iTunes.

Throwback Thursdays – DeBarge

Corny fact about me, but one of my favorite movies of all time is The Last Dragon. The summer that I turned 16 I think I watched it more times than I could count (and my have subjected my sister to it as well). I love the movie so much that at the end of the movie when DeBarge is on the screens in the club singing “Rhythm of the Night” I always want to get up and dance, too. Luckily my hubby loves this movie, too. So he doesn’t laugh at me too much when I make a fool of myself.

This week’s song from DeBarge takes it down a notch and definitely puts me in the mood for romance. I hope it makes you feel that way, too.

Get more DeBarge here or download on iTunes.

Sick baby blues

As a new parent, one of the moments I dreaded was the first time my pumpkin would get truly sick.  With little things it’s sometimes hard to tell if your baby is really sick.  Gas and teething sometimes mimic the symptoms of being truly ill.  Unfortunately, about a month ago I realized I was dealing with the real thing.  My poor baby had a horrible cough, a fever and just wasn’t herself.  My pumpkin who normally likes to be on the floor, crawling around and getting into everything she’s not supposed to, only wanted to be held and cuddled.

I ended up taking a few days off to take care of her, and took her to the doctor just to make sure all was okay. The doctor said that the cough and fever would go away on their own, but it was good I had brought her in because her cold had led to an ear infection.  Taking her back to daycare the next day when she still wasn’t all better was one of the hardest things I have had to do as a mommy.  As her mom, I just wanted to stay with her as long as possible, but unfortunately I know I need to save that time for the next issue.  As I’m finding out, with a child, there is always going to be another issue.

Sure enough, Tuesday of last week I pick her up and I know right away something is wrong.  The culprit this time – pink eye.  So off we go to Urgent Care to check it out and get some meds.  While I was there I mentioned the fact that she still had her cough and still didn’t seem to be better from when she started getting sick a couple weeks prior. I almost didn’t mention it because I thought I was having one of those new mom worrying too much moments, but something inside me said that being sick that long just isn’t right.  To my surprise the doctor listened to her chest and decided to send us down for chest x-ray.  Instantly I went from slightly worried to panic mode.  What could be so wrong with her that they’d need to do a chest xray?

We were quickly taken back to the room where they were they were going to do the xray.  Before this moment, I had never really thought about how they would do an xray on a baby.  Would I have to hold her?  Would she stay still?  What I didn’t know is that there is a device just for this purpose.  Called a pigg-o-stat it’s a clear tube like device that holds a child still for the purpose of getting a good image.  The device makes sense and is extremely critical for the purpose it serves, but putting my baby in that thing was not a good moment.  Here’s my baby who can’t even talk, shoved into this tube with her hands above her head.  Even though she couldn’t say anything, the way she looked at me with those big eyes was one of the saddest moments I’ve had yet.  I wanted nothing more than to snatch her out of that device, but there wasn’t much I could do at that point.  Luckily the xray tech was quick and sensitive and it was all done soon.

Back in Peds we were taken to see the doctor again who informed me that the xray actually read a small amount of pneumonia in her right lung. I was glad to know what the problem was so we could treat it, but was shocked that my 10 month old baby girl has pneumonia!  Luckily it was mild and it was caught, but it scares me to think that if I had just waved my concerns off as new mom worries that she might still be dealing with it.

Overall things have calmed down and she is getting better every day, but it’s kind of scary to think of how quickly such a small issue as a cold can turn into a bigger issue with a baby.  For me, the moral of this story is to trust my instincts.  I know I may be a nervous new mom, but I also know my baby better than anybody.  In the end, that’s way more important than looking like a nervous nelly to a doctor.

The lighter side of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding motherOn days like today I forget about how hard breastfeeding can be. One day I hope to write about it in detail, but breastfeeding didn’t start out easy for me. Things change though. Over time breastfeeding has gotten so easy that I don’t look forward to the quickly approaching one year mark, when food becomes more about necessity and less about experimentation.

More nights than not, the pumpkin ends up being in the bed with us. It’s a survival tactic that I want to start changing, but for right now I’m just too tired. Oh well. This morning she woke up and I just wasn’t getting to a functional state as quickly as I should have (guess I should haven’t stayed up so late last night). As I’m coming to I realize that she is leaning over me and had decided to find her own breakfast!  I guess mommy just wasn’t moving fast enough for her so she had to take matters into her own hands, or rather, mouth.

I love breastfeeding for giving me extended in the bed cuddle time with my lil pumpkin.  These days are flying by and I know we won’t be able to do it forever.

The date that wasn’t a date

Ever had one of those days when you feel like you’re in an alternate universe?  That’s what it was like the first time my (now) hubby and I went on a date.  Actually, it didn’t even start off as a date. We started off as coworkers, but we saw each other through some difficult relationships and became friends. Later, when we were both we would hang out from time to time.  

The plan was to meet up at Roscoe’s House of Chicken Waffles in the LBC. We were going to go next door to check out their little jazz spot, but interestingly enough one of the musicians broke his hand and there was no music that day.  We stopped for a drink though, and one of the people working their mentioned that it was a good date place.  Quickly I said “oh no, we’re not on a date.”  Immediately it was like a big “oops” moment.  I didn’t want to insult B, but I didn’t want him to think I thought it was a date.  Very confusing.

So we went next door, ate, talked about stuff and decided to head to the next spot.  We moved over to this little crappy bar in Long Beach.  That’s where the fun begins.  Seemed like that night I must have taken love potion number nine.  The place was tiny, but every, well almost every, red blooded guy, in the place was giving me attention, and even a chick, too!  

This one woman, obviously drunk as a skunk, kept trying to touch my butt and singing “Baby Got Back.” (Maybe my butt is a tad big.) It was hilarious, but you probably had to be there.  The bouncer, who came up to my chin (I never said they were all studs) kept trying to talk to me and impress me with his martial arts prowess.  An older fellow was trying to teach me how to play pool (I suck), and at least two other guys were openly flirting with me.  

This kind of stuff never happens to me, so it was crazy that it was happening the same night I was hanging out with B. Anyway, from the bar we went to his friend’s house and the three of us stayed up all night talking and listening to music.  At the end of the night when he dropped me off at my car he kissed me goodbye and the rest is of course, history.

Mama said there’ll be days like this…

I just didn’t know there’d be so darned many.  

Before I got pregnant I knew there’d sleepless nights.  I figured that the first few months would be pretty hard and then everything would all even out.  Little did I know that I’d be nearly 10 months in and without a good nights sleep for nearly a year.

Yes, a year.  Unfortunately I was one of those pregnant women that began my sleepless nights well before delivery.  Towards the end I tossed and turned at night, trying to find a good position.  Being pregnant reduced me to sleeping on only one side.  Obviously you can’t sleep on your tummy.  On your back you suffocate.  And on my right side I felt like someone was sticking a hot poker into my upper abdomen (I still don’t know what that was all about, but occasionally I get that same pain now after I do ab exercises).  So that left me with only my left side.  After a while, even that’s gonna hurt. So I bought a maternity pillow. That helped… a little. 

Post pregnancy was no better. It seems that what’s good for babies – breastfeeding, helps ensure that they do not sleep. Ever. Going back to work only made a bad situation worse.  Did you know that some babies who don’t get to see mommy during the day wake up more during the night to see her?  Yeah, super sweet thought but it doesn’t help me sleep at night.

As I wrote not too long ago, things just haven’t gotten any better as she gets older.  Last week she was sick and it was even worse. When does it get better?  Does the switch go off finally where she’ll just magically learn to sleep through the night.  With each passing night I lose just a little more hope.  And a little more sleep.

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