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.

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