I want to kiss our pediatrician

a backyard

 

This summer has been ROUGH in the sleep department. Partly the sunshine streaming in the window until well past 9pm, partly an attachment toddler who wants his mama thisclose to him all.the.time when he’s sleeping, has led to a spiral of sleep deprivation that was just not working anymore. Potamus needed a good 2.5-3 hours of me laying in his bed with him before he would fall asleep. We’d start bedtime routine around 7, and it’d be close to 10 every.damn.night before he’d fall asleep. We tried mixing it up, doing really active things before bedtime routine started (running, wrestling, playing hard). We tried quiet activities before bedtime routine (reading stories, turning off all electronics, warm showers). NOTHING worked. Not only did it take that long to fall asleep, he’d only stay asleep about 1-2 hours at most, and then want Mama. Which meant, in my exhaustion, he was coming into bed with me before I had really even gotten any sleep for the night. 

Now, I’m not opposed to co-sleeping…when it’s working. But his restlessness would continue, even after he was snuggled in bed with me. He’d kick his legs and twiddle my neck, digging his fingernails into my chin…all night long. I would wake up crabby and exhausted and frustrated that it wasn’t going well. 

So I made an appointment with our pediatrician. I thought maybe it was growing pains? Or after a quick google search I saw things like Restless Leg Syndrome, or iron deficiency, or all sorts of other ailments. But I love our pediatrician and figured he’d be able to help. 

His diagnosis: poor sleep hygiene. 

What I love about this guy, is that he has a way of saying things in the kindest, gentlest way, while also sharing about his life. He said that the only way to get Potamus to sleep differently was going to be making the behaviors go extinct, which means, not reinforcing them, which means…not laying next to him for 3 hours to get to sleep. But then he told me that it’s not something I HAVE to do, but told me how to do it, if I wanted to do it, in a way that I would feel good about. And then he divulged that his family co-sleeps, and his son is almost 10 and ‘really small and immature for his size, and he comes into our bed every night to snuggle. he just needs to sleep next to a human being for awhile to feel safe.’ 

Yeah,  my pediatrician co-sleeps his older elementary school age son. So he’s not just telling me to leave a 3 week old in a crib to cry it out. I felt hopeful. He said it’d be hard, but it’d work. 

And so that’s what were doing. We read stories, and snuggle, and I give unlimited hugs. I’m still in his bed until he falls asleep, but I’m no longer laying next to him. And until 2am (ideally around 5 would be best), if he wakes up crying, I go in there and snuggle him, and put him back in his bed, and wait until he falls asleep. The first two nights were brutal. It took him awhile to fall asleep, and then he was restless for a good hour in the middle of the night (aka midnight). He’d fall asleep, but as soon as I’d creep out he’d wake back up. He’d want 4 more hugs and then he’d go back to sleep. 

My goal is not to eliminate co-sleeping for good, just alter it a bit so we’re all getting sleep. Because work starts back for me in 2 weeks, and he can’t be going to bed at 10pm and getting up at 6. He’ll be a crabby zombie. 

We’re at 4 nights this week, and last night he fell asleep ‘on his own’ (with me there) relatively easily. And at midnight he woke up crying, but in the time it took me to pee, he had soothed himself back asleep. I went in there and checked on him…zonked out. He came into our bed around 3am. Already he’s getting more sleep in a row than before, AND when he does sleep next to me there is snuggling, but no twiddling, kicking, tossing and turning. He reaches out to touch me, then curls into himself and passes out. Exactly what I hoped for in our sleep relationship. I like having his little warm body next to mine, but I also like sleep. 

I’m so thankful that I have a compassionate pediatrician who listens to my life and helps create a plan for making it fit into our lifestyle. I feel like I’m able to do a modified ‘cry it out’ (without any crying?) that suits my attachment parenting needs, without going to an extreme that doesn’t feel congruent with my values as a mom. 

So here’s to a few more hours of blissful sleep…for all of us. 🙂

 

Be Nice

I’m trying out a new mantra, it goes like this: Be Nice.

I got an opportunity to practice this mantra over the weekend, when spending time with my family in Eastern Washington. I had started to dread the trip, getting about half way and thinking, “ugh, I hate making this trip,” which is true. Mostly my anxiety is before an event, and I’m okay when I get there, but there’s just something about going to the shithole I went to highschool in that brings up a lot of angst. Not to mention, knowing it was going to be a 24 hour trip and I’d probably end up spending time with my sister, who I’ve been in conflict with for awhile now.

When she walked in the door 45 minutes late, as we were packing up to go, and I had to realize that we were going to end up leaving later than anticipated, instead of making some flip comment about being on time, I bit my tongue and gritted my teeth into a smile. When my dad made some sarcastic comment about his career being ‘work’ and not a ‘job’ I just changed the subject. It did feel forced at times, and somewhat awkward, but overall it had a pretty pleasant vibe to the visit. I left feeling like nothing had been resolved, but nothing had been made worse.

So why is this Be Nice mantra so hard for me? Because it feels fake. It feels superficial, like we’re not addressing the deeper issues of conflict and just ‘pretending everything is okay.’ That’s not how I like to roll. Maybe it’s because of my own anxiety, but I prefer to voice when I’m frustrated, saying “I’m annoyed with this conversation,” or, “I’m upset that you’re late again,” rather than just sitting there feeling upset. I don’t like superficiality and the Ms. Suzy Sunshine role. But can I share my anxiety in a setting or time that works better, and in the meantime just let it go? I don’t know, I managed to do it this weekend, but I’m not sure how long I could just hang out ‘being nice,’ without also, ‘being honest.’ And I haven’t figured out how those two can go together well.

Thoughts? Have you ever told yourself to ‘be nice’? What was the result? How do you balance that with wanting to be emotionally honest with people?

Oh Vulnerable One

Do you ever have moments where you have SO MUCH TO SAY and then you sit down to write and nothing comes out? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s almost like a physical manifestation of anxiety…where I’m anxious about nothing in particular, but it feels like everything, and I can’t articulate what’s exactly going on inside my head.

But I have been writing…a lot more, but it’s been by hand. I’m now 6 days into my 6 week Zen Pen Course, and I am LOVING it! If you were interested in signing up, but hadn’t gotten around to it, she’s going to offer another session starting September 30th…it’s so neat to begin this process. For example, this week I wrote a letter to my abs from my low back. Whoa! So much wisdom when I get out of my head 🙂

Bikram yoga and therapy is helping me relinquish some of the family roles that I’ve been playing into for a long time. The “Angry One” has been able to be the “vulnerable one,” in spurts, which has been able to communicate some needs in a way that is heard differently. Same message, different method, providing different satisfaction. I’ll be interested to see where this goes…

I leave you with this. King of the Naked Chair Sitting…

954774_10100178508165393_1675603447_n

Summer Series First Third: Adventure

a little boy + miles of ocean and sand

a little boy + miles of ocean and sand

Today marks the beginning of the 2nd third of my summer vacation sabbatical. A little swell of panic rises up in my throat when I think that it’s one third over, but then I give a little sigh because that means 2/3’s is left! It got me thinking, though, about breaking the summer up in thirds, rather than trying to make the summer into ONE BIG THING. Case and point, the first third of the summer was full of: ADVENTURE!

Not that the next third, or the third after that, won’t be full of adventure, but I noticed that my desire right after school got out was to PLAY! We took two vacations to the beach, which meant a lot of travel, a lot of routines being broken, and a lot of coffee. It was lovely and exhausting all at the same time. The tag-line “makin’ memories’ sticks with me from a conversation I had with my mom while sitting on a driftwood bench.

Even just writing about this summer’s thirds reminds me of a book group my mother-in-law went to, which broke life up into rough thirds. I guess because they were retirement age they were in their third third? But, I think, with the birth of Potamus our life switched from the first third ADVENTURE, to this new phase of figuring out and settling down and beginning to establish a tentative routine with some tentative stability. I mean, I’m hardly running off to India for a 6 month solo trip anymore. So I wonder, maybe if the 2nd third of the summer won’t be like that a little bit? I’ve noticed, even in this past week, now that daycare is back in swing and I’m starting yoga, that we’re getting into a comfortable (albeit slightly boring at times) routine with a nice ebb and flow. So maybe this 2nd third will be called ROUTINE, or RESTING, or HEALING? I won’t know how to really categorize it until it’s over, I suppose…

So, what would you title your summer so far?

Hungry Mother

What are you hungry for?

What am I hungry for?

This thought floated up into my consciousness while making an impromptu trip to Fred Meyer for some vegetables and ended up with a cart full of…not so many vegetables as cookies and crackers. This was on the back of a conversation with a good friend about nutrition and feeding children and the abundance of choices that dumb us down so we can’t really understand what our body is trying to say about nutrition. Going to the store is overwhelming to me as an individual, but buying for a family with a small child feels nearly impossible. And then, going to a mega store, trying to remember the handful of nutritious recipes that I know, figuring out what I need to buy to execute those recipes. I get very distracted by the boxes of Nilla Wafers and Ritz Crackers. Because that just seems so much easier.

For the first time in months, cheese entered my grocery basket. I’ve been round and round in the past few weeks about re-introducing cheese into my diet. I don’t feel good about it, but I have to admit, I’ve been indulging in cheese all along. There’s been tortellini on an every-other-night basis with Potamus, and plenty of slices of pizza as we tried desperately to survive the accounting busy season. My lunches have been hungry fits that have left me standing wide-eyed in the cafeteria buying chicken strips and french fries to try and cure some craving. It felt like the time I worked with pregnant teens who said that if they had used protection it would have made them admit that they were premeditating sex. I’ve indulged in cheese and dairy by pretending to not pre-meditate it and giving in to the moment of starvation.

So, I’m buying cheese and using in moderation, and finding other wonderful options to try, as well. I picked up Daiya “meltable” fake cheddar shreds and it went fine in my omelet yesterday. I picked up some non-dairy sour cream for a stroganoff later this week. It’s like a grand experiment, but like anything, it’s easier to think when my belly is full, and that sandwhich I packed for lunch seems like I am more mindful and treading lighter in areas than buying that greasy fast food from the dining hall. Maybe that’s not the case, but it feels better to me, that I’m listening to what my body is telling me, rather than reacting out of survival mode.

Potamus is teething and the zucchini was a great tool for him to soothe his gums and get some new tastes in his mouth. He’s rejecting so many things (canned mandarin oranges, peaches, asparagus (he used to love it)), and I’m getting discouraged. The daycare says he can’t keep eating as much yogurt since he’s moving up to the waddler classroom soon. I try not to feel like a shitty mom, because I know that he’s really getting a lot of good nutrients from that yogurt since our pediatrician recommended it. This whole nutrition things is hard and frustrating and makes me want to eat a cookie.

I eat to feel something.

I eat to not feel something.

But what am I really hungry for? And what are you hungry for?

The Mindful Carnivore: A Book Review

Image

When I’m interested in knowing if I am the only one in the world wrestling with some moral/spiritual/ethical dilemma, I turn to reading. I read in various forms, blogs, quotes on Pinterest, but mostly books. I love the feeling of a book in my hands, the crinkle of the pages turning and the satisfaction I get scribbling notes in the pages.

But ever since I married Boof, and got flak for my CONSTANT need to buy books off Amazon. The bookshelves were filling up and every time we moved I realized that my book boxes outweighed all my others. Seriously, it was becoming a problem. But thankfully smartphones have Kindle included, and I’ve been reading books on my phone ever since. While it’s not as satisfying as holding a real book, it’s much more practical, especially reading in bed, after nursing my kid to sleep.

So last week I ordered The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance on Kindle and happily devoured (no pun intended!) the first few chapters. I had been drawn to this particular book because of my still-meat-eating-status and my interest in mindfulness. What I was surprised was, that the author was a vegan…or former vegan…a former-vegan-turned-deer-hunter.

The story from childhood fishing trips to renouncing meat after beginning meditation, he weaves a story from beginning to end that brought me along for an amazing ride. At each step of the way, he explained where his head and heart was at in relation to eating meat. Between stories of his own life, he shows extensive research on the history of hunting and vegetarianism and veganism in America. I was thoroughly fascinated in both regards.

He starts off here, with:

Though unfamiliar with this history (American vegetarianism) at age twenty-five, I had woven my convictions from many of the same threads. Abstaining from meat was part of a natural, healthy lifestyle. It would make me whole, both physically and morally, cultivating compassion in my heart and alleviating the suffering of animals…Vegetarianism-and, soon thereafter, veganism- became more of a diet. Though secular, it became a way of life, a statement of values and identity, a coat of arms for the struggle to right all that is wrong with the world.”

What began his shift in thinking, was coming across information such as:

Whenever any of us sit down for breafkast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, it’s likely that deer were killed to protect some of the food we eat, and the beverages we drink.

He begins to weave the information into this picture, that even when abstaining from certain things, like meat, we may be alleviating suffering, but in so many ways we are contributing to the overall suffering of the world. I know that right now my thing is diary cows being separated from their calves, but moms and babies are being separated all over the world, not to mention the rest of it all, in factory farms and whatnot. “No matter what I ate, habitat had already been sacrificed. No matter what I ate, animals would be killed.”

His exploration of suffering and eating and compassion led him to try hunting his own game. His mindful eating adventure had led him to the conclusion that,

“If my existence was going to take a toll on other beings, I would rather exact that toll consciously, respectfully, swiftly-and for the specific purpose of eating. I could make a deeper peace with intentional harm.”

This book was eye-opening and helped me put words to many of my thoughts. While I’m not about to go hunt my own meal, I think his point about knowing where animals come from, and really taking a mindful look at the industrial practices overall (even the vegan and vegetarian ways that it contributes to destruction), is a wise one. I’m still feeling good about my decision to be dairy free, for now, I also know that I feel equally as good about my decision to eat the local butchered hamburger.

I guess this goes back to my idea of labels. That vegan is some sort of fundamentalism that I do not yet stick to, and that I can be meat and/or dairy-free and still not be vegan, while also being true to myself and mindfully eating.

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the history of veganism/vegetarianism and hunting in America, while also having a personal and accessible glimpse into the author’s wrestlings with compassionate eating.

Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs: A Mama’s Perspective

maslow-hierarchy-of-needs

You don’t need to spend hours in a psychology class to hear about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The basic premise is that people need certain things in their life, and these things build on one another to get to a full, well-rounded experience of life. It’s like the food pyramid, with the basic needs being on the bottom. I like to spend my time in the top tier, but I’ve noticed that, in my time as a mom, I can not be in the top tier as often as I’d like. Not because my house is crumbling around me, or that I don’t have adequate food resources, but, because I am so freaking tired.

Seriously.

At 13+ months, Potamus is still sporty a gummy West Virginia smile. Zero teeth. None. And for the most part I’m cool with this fashion statement, but in the past few days the snot has begun running more profusely, a lowish grade fever, and CHOMPING on everything in site, which is usually his fingers, and I’ve noticed some self-induced bulimia action happening. I think, finally, he’s going to cut a tooth (or 9). I can’t quite see them all coming through, yet, but it’s the only thing to explain the bizarre crying jags at 4 am, that have kept us both up for the past 3 days (thank God I’m off today).

Because when I am tired, I am less able to be compassionate. When I am tired, and stuck at home picking up all the books that he has thrown around the room for the umpteenth time, I get cross, and forget he’s in pain and tired, too, and developmentally, tossing books is super cool. I think, if I were a better mom, I would have indoor house activities planned, but I just don’t have the energy, so I let him pull books of the shelf and toss orange slices to the dog from his high chair. Sometimes work is easier than parenthood, especially without those basic needs being met.

I’m trying to take it all in stride, as this is the first week Boof is at work, and normally we share Friday duties between the two of us. His late-home arrivals are going to be hard, but thankfully tax season is just that- a season.