The beauty of naps

1002356_10100177203095763_155110387_n

Sunlight streaming through the window, as you’re stretched out on the couch. Blanket draped haphazardly around your knees, barely covering both feet, but the streaming sunlight and heater humming creates the perfect cozy warmth. There’s the dog chewing quirky on a bone on the floor, maybe piercing the silence with a sharp bark or two when the mailman drives by, but mostly it’s peaceful, quiet, afternoon lull. One forearm is draped over our eyes as we drift through dreams and stirrings.

Or there’s the blackout shade drawn tight to block the streaming sunlight. If it’s “five o clock somewhere” then it’s “bedtime somewhere” is a perfectly acceptable phrase for the overly tired. Maybe we’ll change into our jammies or sweats even if it’s only 2pm because we know we’ll wake for dinner, but maybe won’t have the strength to do much else besides nuke some leftovers. If the kiddo is drippy nosed, we’ll possibly snuggle in together for a three hour nap and wake in time to watch some cartoons and go back to bed for the night.

There’s something magical about naps that doesn’t happen in my all-night sleep. I’m rarely aware of the time, and float dreamily in and out of consciousness. The dog may bark, but I’m less inclined to yell about it, and the phone may ring and I may or may not answer. Even when I’m crunched for time, a nap feels delicious, where crunched for time in the evening makes me feel panicky and wasteful of the 6, 7, or 8 hours that my timer says are left before my alarm gets me up for the next day’s activities.

Potamus and I have been taking a lot of naps together lately. There was the barfing incident last week, and then my Friday off, where we hunkered down in the dark bedroom and slept like the dead. I haven’t woken up so refreshed in a long time. But the magic of naps is quickly used up, like the spare change you find in the couch. It’s Monday morning and no matter how many naps I took this weekend it didn’t make me less tired this morning as I drove to work. It’s difficult, the anxiety prodding me awake at all hours of the night. My bladder prodding me awake at all hours of the night. My son’s grabby little hands prodding me awake at all hours of the night. Nap-time restfulness never quite fills me up for long enough.

But those beautiful moments, when we’re sweaty and rosy cheeked after a long slumber. When we yawn and crawl out of bed to more giggles and Hotwheels cars racing down the hallway…those moments are the ones I try to hang on to. When I’m gasping for my morning cup of coffee and it’s not even 8:00 am, I try to remember the luxury I felt this weekend when I got to take the elusive mother-nap.

Sleep Deprived Thoughts

You know when your kids is super restless and it takes 2 hours to get him to sleep, but keeping him asleep means having his sharp talons toenails digging into the soft flesh of your stomach, rendering you with only 4 hours of sleep, so you cancel your morning yoga class to enjoy a good 3.5 hours of napping bliss while kiddo is in daycare before you head off to get 6 fillings in your mouth, but when you go to take this luxurious nap you lay there for an hour and cannot sleep? At all?

Yeah, it’s not a good feeling. I mean, at least I’m getting to sit here catching up on some lovely recorded TV shows and stuffing my face with MegaStuf oreos, but that doesn’t feel as good as yoga would have. Or a nap. I desperately need a nap. But I will settle for the second best- Mt. Dew at the RoundTable pizza buffet. This is how I survive. One hour to another hour to another hour.

I’ve been reflecting on all of the lovely advice from IRL and bloggy friends on my post: Be Nice. I feel that it took me so long to learn how to give voice to my feelings, having been labelled shy as a kid, and totally fear of rejection and being judged that I wouldn’t talk about what I was thinking or believed in. So when I learned how to use my voice, I unleashed. A damn has broken and I’m not afraid to speak up. But now I get to learn how to…not speak up, in the moment, especially when it might make things worse. I want to explore this more, about the power in choosing when to speak, now that I know I CAN speak, ya know?

So it’s really about this internal experience/perception/reality vs. an outer experience/perception/reality. Like how everything on Sunday went ‘just fine’ with my siter and family, but I still felt internally awkward because of the conflict. Like when I’m in yoga class and the instructor says “straight back” and I feel like my back is straight, but then I look in the mirror and realize that…um…I’m really swaybacked. Like a broken old nag whose given far too many rides to fatass cowboys. Yeah, the difference between how I feel internally (straight back) and the reality (swayback) is striking.

Cover Up Those Boobs!

603494_871511132933_1008278456_n

I’m basically a wreck.

Last night I half-joked in a crazy sleep deprived stupor “maybe if I bash his head into the wall he’ll stop crying.” Boof immediately snapped “that’s not even funny to joke about.”

I know. I know it’s not funny. I wasn’t trying to be funny. I was trying to prove a point that I am exhausted and a sick kid who can’t sleep any way but being held is not helping the matter. I try really hard to be the mom I want to be, but sometimes I just have to admit that I am fucking exhausted. Fucking exhausted.

I don’t know how other nursing mother’s do it, or if their children are just amazing at the whole sleep thing, but Potamus sucks at sleeping. Seriously. He sucks without me, and he’s only marginally better with me present. I read those things about human development and bonding and attachment and psychology and I know that, in the grand scheme of things, I am doing a really good thing for Potamus. But I am also concerned that I am losing myself slowly into a pit of black or white thinking about nursing. It’s been 17 months, over 3500 nursing sessions to date, and frankly, I am exhausted.

I also love nursing. Really love it. Love the bonding time with Potamus and the way in which it easily calms him down. But I need more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a time. Because, there’s only been a handful of times, in 17 months that I have gotten more than 4 hours of sleep in a row. Actually, it’s been twice, and it was one 6 hour stretch (that he slept, I only slept for 5) and one five hour stretch. The only time I’ve napped for as long as I need has been twice, in the past two months. On paper it looks like I’m getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night, but it is so chopped up and full of movement (from room to room) that I don’t think I’ve had a full sleep cycle in a few months. I’m hypervigilant about NOT sleeping, for example this afternoon I barely let myself get sleepy during naptime, because once I started to doze, after 30 minutes, he was awake, crying, and I couldn’t get him back to sleep…nor could I go back to sleep. It’s causing me to be crazy. I literally feel crazy.

So I think about weaning.

I wonder, is it even worth it anymore?

When I don’t have thoughts of dashing my kid against the fireplace, it’s thoughts of running away, not telling anybody, and sleeping in a hotel bed for a week. I’m literally that exhausted. And we’re crazily thinking of having another kid. I just might freak out.

It’s a chicken-and-egg problem..I’m so tired that the thought of beginning to wean in anything other than cold-turkey is exhausting. Putting up with tantrums and slow progression and figuring out alternatives (especially when we can’t figure out alternatives to even food). I read an article entitled 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning and thought there were some really good suggestions. I think I’ve been wishy washing on the whole weaning issue, wanting it to be solely child-led, but I’m wondering if I’m becoming a doormat in this relationship. It’s been easier to just give in then stand up for myself and what I need in a moment.

While I’ve noticed that we’ve cut back some, it hasn’t really been consistent…I give mixed messages, like when it says don’t offer, don’t refuse. Whoa, that’s pretty mind-blowing. I offer all the time, especially at night. I flop down and whip it out. There have even been times when he hasn’t even moved toward the boob and I think “um, what? he doesn’t want to nurse?” Wowzers, I have some things to work on.

And, I had to laugh, at the “cover up your boobs,” (okay, it just says cover up), but holy crumb cakes, a nursling can be triggered to nurse for up.to.a.year post weaning. Wow. I feel that I know so little about this whole process. I guess I just assumed that one day it would just stop…and that I wouldn’t miss it, and he wouldn’t miss it, and bam bam bam we’d be on our way. I guess if it was hard to start, with weeks of struggle and crying and feeling totally overwhelmed, then the end of a good thing is going to be hard for both of us. But I hadn’t even though that what I am wearing could possibly be contributing to him prolonging the nursing. I’ve just been wearing skimpy tanktops because I had gotten so accustomed to needing to whip it out quickly.

But then I also wonder…if he was just a better sleeper…if we did different routines at night when he wakes up sad, would that help? I don’t want to make any rash decisions based on being exhausted…but I don’t think I’ll be less exhausted until I, at least, explore the option of him sleeping better. I just don’t know. I’m all sorts of muddled in the head. I know he’s sick-ish, and teething, and don’t want to just freak out irrationally, but I am so tired. I just want a kid who sleeps for more than 3 hours at a time, you know? I keep hoping and waiting and hoping it’ll happen, but it’s not, and so I think I need to do something different.

Suggestions?

Blackout Anger Part Two

Thank God for Google, because after I wrote that post yesterday my mind went “eep, I just self-disclosed to the ENTIRE internet (or all 90 of you followers) that I am batshit crazy sometimes and WHAT IF YOU CALL CPS ON ME?” Yeah, a tad melodramatic, but still, my mind wanders in that direction. Plus, what mom do you know shouts “hey, I get crazy angry when I’m sleep deprived,” in normal coffee-conversations?

Apparently, at least according to Google, there are lots of “sleep disorders” and that waking up angry and not remembering it is common in something called a “sleep arousal disorder” (which, in mom speak can be coined as “fucking tired, yo”) and typically happens when someone’s woken up prematurely during the first part of the night (yep!). Whoa, so I’m not the only one who’s had this issue? Yesssss! I came across sleep forums and Y!A questions and personal stories that sounded so similar to me two nights ago.

Phew.

And I guess, the answer is…get more sleep and don’t get woken up suddenly in the first hour of sleep at night (barring any medical emergencies or something like that). Hopefully Boof can be on board with that plan, right?

Blackout Anger

When you drink so much that you blackout, that experience where the events that happen the night before are hazy (at best) or absent altogether, you might have a drinking problem. And there is something you can do about it. But what happens when you have sometimes moments of rage that you can’t remember but vague details the next day? How do you stop THAT from happening?

I used to watch crime shows where some defendant in a murder trial would claim ‘I can’t remember anything,’ from the horrible murder, and the audience (and jury) tend to scoff at such assertions. But, while not on the level of murder, I’ve had instances of anger/rage that I haven’t remembered much the next day, which is scary as fuck.

Like, last night for instance (it always happens at night), where I was exhausted and had been in bed for about 45 minutes before Potamus woke up. And that’s when I have to rely on Boof for the rest of the memory, because I don’t remember much except one encounter with my fist and a wall and yelling ‘Potamus! GO TO SLEEP!” I was asleep, myself, and with earplugs in I couldn’t hear much to begin with. Boof said I was initially very concerned about Potamus crying (Boof was changing him because he had peed through his diaper) and he wouldn’t stop. I guess I was concerned and sweet and then went to pee and punched the wall twice and slammed a few doors. And then there was yelling, but that was 30 minutes later. And then Boof told me to go back to bed, and I woke up at 2am because Potamus was crying, and I found him out on the couch, asleep in Boof’s arms (who was also asleep).

I don’t remember any of that. Except yelling that 1 time. I don’t remember hitting the wall with my hand or cussing Boof out or the fact that it wasn’t a 30 second ‘grumble grumble’ encounter. Becuase I was asleep.

What’s strange is that I had read several articles yesterday on sleep deprivation in moms (or parents) and the importance of communication. When Boof and I debriefed this morning he was shocked to hear my account of the events. He said that I am ‘an amazing mom 99% of the time, but when I see you like that, it’s time for me to step in, to save you from you,’ which I definitely agreed to. Because I don’t even know I’m doing it. Honestly. I was asleep.

Though I do know that my frustration level is not always that great, and I could work on better coping tools for when I am awake and withit and able to make mindful choices. But what do I do about these other times? I get scared that I might do something to hurt myself or my child in moments like that where I am not totally aware, because in my head I say ‘well, that’s never happened when Boof isn’t there,’ but I guess I can’t 100% be sure of that, you know?

Our son is not a tennis ball or I want my old life or a list of random things

I do it all for this little guy

I do it all for this little guy

Co-parenting is hard. I often feel like we are on a tennis court (or what I imagine it’d be like on a tennis court) and Potamus is the ball bouncing back and forth between us. It’s like “thwack, change his diaper,” and then Boof runs to the line and “thwack, now you feed him, it’s your turn,” and back and forth it goes. The game is exhausting. I sit down to write some emails and hand the kid over to Boof, saying “here, take him for a few, I’ve got to reply to my grandma,” and then he’s like, “I’m going to the store, can you watch him now?” Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Potamus and Monk-Monk. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Potamus and Boof.

I can’t imagine how much harder it would be if we were divorced or separated, especially if we hated each others’ guts. And while I’m happy to not have to parent alone, as a single-kind or as a single-in-a-marriage-where-moms-raise-the-kids-alone-because-she-was-born-with-a-uterus, the game of tennis is exhausting. Very rarely do I find us having moments where we are playing on the same team, or parenting together, doing things together, except, on the rare occasion, eating at a restaurant. And I wonder, is it always like this?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I can’t help but then begin to feel resentful and start imaging greener grass and history through rose-colored glasses. Like life was sooooo amazing before (not). Sigh. And when I’m in these crabby, sleep-deprived, resentful rants, I can only see the negative, like asking Boof for help making the house look nice for company (asking specifically for him to vacuum and clean off the table) and find him folding laundry and re-arranging the garage. Grr. Or how my mother-in-law didn’t even try to put Potamus down for a nap today, even though I asked her to, so I had to halt my day-0ff errands to take him home and put him to sleep. I have tunnel vision and it’s focused in on the negative. I want to see the good, but I’m so…stuck.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

There’s a job posting at work and I feel conflicted in my gut about applying. It’d be a promotion, full-time (35 hours a week) tenure track faculty counseling with a pay raise and the opportunity to teach extra (like over the summer) if I want. It’s literally my dream job. But I’m exhausted. And I’m tired of applying for new jobs every 7-12 months for the past 3 years. It’s like, I want to settle in and get comfortable and start to make some difference. And yet, if I want another baby (yes? maybe?) then this gives me more security and a good pay-raise and still the benefits of what I’m doing now. But the other part of me just wants to stop constantly moving around (even though it’d be right down the hallway) and really get good at something before I move on. The other part of me thinks that that would just make me stuck and resentful down the line. Sigh. Applications aren’t due until the 28th, so I have some time to get over my negative drama…it’s not like they’ve even offered me the job (I could say no).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I had coffee with a lovely friend of a toddler and 6 week old. It was nice to be in an adult environment with someone who gets it…the complexities of marriage and parenting. Bitching about our husbands and then talking them up all in the same hour long span. Whining about lack of sleep and whiny independent kids who won’t mind, and then misting up over how sweet the babes are when they are sleeping, and how quickly it all does go. Those moments feel real. And we talked about how we are up against a tsunami of expectations as a modern-working-mom, with a house to run and a career to mind and children to raise and love. And how we both wanted to just leave our kids with our spouses and rent a Hilton hotel room and sleep. Don’t those fluffy white down comforters sound nice?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am convinced that I am a good mom of a baby.

I am convinced that I am not a good mom of a toddler.

I hope this changes (the latter, not the former, that was awesome). I hope that I really buckle down and learn to enjoy this new stage of development. Because this was my fear all along. That I would look at this little person and think ‘dear God, when will they be 8 and can hold on a conversation and sleep in peace and go play with the neighbor kids.” I don’t want to be so frustrated with his lack of communication skills (the whining is CRAZY right now) or irritated at his pain (those poor teething gums). Where I have empathy for other families and clients, I sometimes have less-than-enough empathy for my own little guy. And my husband. And dog.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Boof passed the 3rd section of his CPA exam! I bought him a smiley face balloon in hopes for celebration and to make up for my shitty attitude in the past 24 hours. I think we’re going to get some beer to celebrate with friends tonight!

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.

 

Montessori Floor Bed Update

Potamus has been sleeping in his floor bed for approximately two weeks. This means that mama monk-monk has been sleeping in Potamus’ floor bed for approximately 1.5 weeks. There are better nights than others, like two nights ago where he slept for 5 hours in a row there (but this was AFTER a 2 hour struggle of crying and moping around carrying his tambourine and banging it on the floor). Last night was rough, to say the least, with an almost 3 hour crying/whining jag from 3-5:45am. Sigh. Sometimes I end up sleeping next to him for blocks of time, and other times I’m able to creep away unnoticed and curl up in our luxurious king-size memory foam heaven. Because, lemme tell ya, a twin mattress from your parents’ old bunk bed, placed on hardwood floor, is…less than comfy.

But these moments, where he’s in dreamland by himself, or curled up next to me, seem SO worth it (the next day, because in the moment where he’s thrashing around crying, I do tend to want to pull my hair out).

230243_945446930003_2047058007_n

Cry it Out

When I was going through my worst bout of post-partum depression, I met with my midwife. She was kind enough to disclose that she, herself, had suffered from post-partum depression that had been made worse by her son’s terrible sleeping habits. She had pushed off the idea of sleep-training until he was 11 months old and then she had gotten into such a state of sleep deprivation, that she did 2 nights of ‘cry it out’ with her son, a total of 20 minutes each night and BOOM he was, overall, a good sleeper after that.

I thought it would never happen to me. Potamus is always held or rocked or comforted back to sleep by patting or bouncing on the exercise ball or nursing. But there has been quite a few nights lately, where he is “awake” in the middle of the night for 3-4 hours, refusing to be bounced, not interested in nursing for very long, but CLEARLY tired. While he motors around the house he rubs his eyes, whines, cries, and rubs his eyes some more.

Last night I had enough.

I have had one five hour stretch of sleep in the last 9 months, and that happened 3 days ago. The rest of the time has been spending my nights with 2-2.5 stretches at a time, because Potamus was reverse cycling. The last few days, he has been up every hour all night long. He is tired. I am tired. But I don’t want to stop bed-sharing just yet, and crying it out doesn’t seem all that conducive when the crying person is in bed with you (let alone, crying it out has triggered ideas¬† of abandoning babies in nurseries while they wait to be put up for adoption and are only left to be cared for by nurses).

But, at 3am this morning, I had had enough. He was clearly tired. Boof was tired, and has been pulling long hours sitting in the living room in the middle of the night so that I can try and sleep. And so, I let him lay there between us. And I patted his back. And he cried. And wailed. And cried. And I thought I was going to die, or punch the wall, or tear my hair out. Most others talk about crying-it-out in similar ways, but their babies are in cribs in other rooms and they can go to the farthest reach of the house and get away from it.

It was the longest 15 minutes. And then he was quiet, with eyes half-open, and then he rolled onto his side and snuggled up to me.

And four hours later he woke up, hungry.

I don’t know if I will keep doing it, but it seemed to work. We all got more sleep. I didn’t abandon my baby or my instincts of bed-sharing, and being right there to comfort him. And I am thankful for the midwife’s story, which somehow gave me permission last night, to be the best mom I could…and let my baby sleep.

 

But I admit, after he fell asleep, a few tears of my own were shed. I guess I had my own cry it out night…