Awkward Toddler Bedsharing

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“Hey Monk-Monk, how’s weaning going?” a well meaning friend asked me recently.

“Um. Uh. Yeah. Um…it’s not,” I replied

Because, I’m too damn tired. And the kid has stopped biting, and has been going to sleep after nursing (though he’s not milk drunk anymore…EVER, but he’s stopped freaking out when I unlatch and tell him no more, and that it’s time to go to sleep. And when I say he’s stopped freaking out, I mean, he only cries for like…5 heart-wrenching minutes, as he snuggles down. To help with weaning  (at least in my mind), I’ve started having him sleep in our bed when he wakes up around midnight. And he’s not been wanting to nurse in the middle of the night, since he’s snuggled in to my armpit. For the most part, it’s been pretty sweet…

But can we talk about the AWKWARDNESS of sleeping with a toddler? Like waking up with a leg on your neck? Or having to pee in the middle of the night, which causes a FREAKOUT by Mr. Toddler-Crabby-Pants. Or, even more awkward, is when he climbed on my back (like a baby gorilla), and fell asleep. Which lasted 30 minutes, until he PEED ON MY BACK! Wha??!??!

I mean, we’ve managed to bumble through toddler peeing in our bed, but peeing on my back? Yeah, that’s what’s up in our house, folks. Awesomesauce!

because this looks like a comfy way to sleep...

because this looks like a comfy way to sleep…

So, how’s the sleep in your house?

Insomnia Reframe

apparently my chubby chin is very comforting...

apparently my chubby chin is very comforting…

Was it the 5 cups of coffee I drank at noon while out to lunch with a friend? The 3 beers or spicy pasta while out to dinner with my mom friends? The ab pain from all the workouts I’ve been doing lately? The lifetime of anxiety that flares up at the WORST POSSIBLE TIMES (like days I know I’ll be home with Potamus for 15-16 hours solo). A husband who can’t stop coughing at night so I’m unable to even drift to sleep. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those, but man, the other night…yeah…I fell asleep at 5am. Whoa. That meant I got a whopping 1.5 hours total, half of which was spent spooning a sweaty toddler.

But somehow I was able to grasp this thought, I can be a good mom, even though I didn’t get any sleep.

Revolutionary.

Sure, I’ve managed to limp along while being tired, but there is this storyline that I have been saying in my head since…before time (certainly before I had kids) that a good night’s sleep = me being happy/adjusted/able to do xyz. Sleep is very important to me. While I’ve managed to dial back me “I need 10 hours asleep a night” storyline, I still had this going on and was believing it. A good night sleep with Potamus meant a good mama the next day. And a bad night sleep meant CERTAIN grumpypants mama.

So there I was, with 16 hours stretching ahead of me, solo, with a toddler who hates naps. I didn’t have the energy to go out and do fun things, so we stayed home, doing quiet activities, and even rested together a little bit in the afternoon. I managed to hold myself together, even finding the energy to have a conversation with a good friend, do some gardening, and read. I’m not sure where the insomnia-anxiety came from, but I didn’t let it get the best of me. And, it felt really good.

Now, wouldn’t it be fabulous if I was able to remember this all the time? Now THAT would be revolutionary! Or, a good night’s sleep would be pretty revolutionary, too. Ammiright?

 

Baby Sleep?

While this article isn’t written by me, it does feature my photo with Potamus!  I read all the major books on baby sleep — here is what I learned Which, is why I love Offbeat Families..it feels like I am really a part of the parenting community. Go read the funny article..stat!

Rain splattered epiphanies

The soggy morning commute was good for reflection. There was this niggling conversation happening in the back of my brain, since last night’s bedtime meltdown (for Potamus, I kept my cool), which ended in one tired kiddo finally falling asleep after fighting it for almost an hour. This conversation is a mulling over of how my instincts knew what to do to help him calm down, which might seem obvious to other moms, but I am sometimes still surprised by the instinctual nature and intuitive way I have with my son (when I’m not letting myself freak out).

I don’t know where I got this idea, but two or so weeks ago, when Potamus was sitting up and bouncing on his butt waving his hands in the air, crying (which seems outwardly like a mini tantrum), I laid him on his side and played a little game. I grabbed his foot firmly and said, “Is your foot tired?” And then I grabbed his ankle and said, “is your ankle tired?” I moved on up his leg, with firm pressure saying “Is your calf tired? Is your knee tired? Is your thigh tired?” when I got to his waist I moved on to his arms (because he giggled when I asked if his ribs were tired, cause it seemed ticklish). Firm pressure on his wrist, then arm, then elbow and up to his shoulder. And then I did the other side.

Last night, after two repetitions, he was asleep. And, we put the rice pack, that we used to use instead of a swaddle in our bed, on his belly, and he stayed there sleeping peacefully. A far cry from the crazy energy from 10 minutes earlier.

“Good job mama bear,” Boof said as the ordeal was over. Exhausted, I slinked off to bed while he went to get himself some dinner. 9:00 pm.

I found it hard to fall asleep, though.

I kept wondering and brooding about about how I knew that that’s what he needed. How did I, two weeks ago, come up with that ‘game’ to play to get him to fall asleep?

Part of my brain said, “well, maybe he’s growing. And your legs used to hurt when you were growing. And your adoptive dad used to rub your legs to help you fall asleep after growing pains or nightmares.”

Yes….but…

That answer just didn’t resonate with me. The motion that I used, the pressure going up one side and down the other, seemed…intuitive almost. As if it was something that MY body was craving.

I think the hardest part about being an adoptee, is the second-guessing of myself and all of the relationships around me. I walk through life often feeling misunderstood, first by my adoptive family, but often by others, as well. My facial expressions and posture when I’m tired or thinking were often criticized and pestered with “are you upset? are you angry? what’s wrong?” by my adoptive parents. But for all of this feeling misunderstood, that my moods and way of being in the world is abnormal, I have adapted by watching and experiencing how others are in the world. I can anticipate my adoptive mother’s moods like a pro navigator. I sense and feel and craft my words carefully to have the maximum impact on the family around me. I have adapted.

But, I look at Potamus, and am surprised at how I navigate the process of figuring out his needs. While I write a lot, here, about our interactions, a lot of it is simply happening in my head and body. When I say he whines and I don’t pick him up, I really mean that he whines and I pick him up but inside I wrestle with that decision and think about what it’d be like to not pick him up. But this distance and brain calucalations is exhausting and not very mindful. Because when I turn of the analysis part, which is what I’ve used to survive in an unfamiliar world to me, I just know what he needs. There’s this body or soul sense inside me that tells me what to do. It’s only when my mind is screaming “stop whining!” or “I can’t do this!” that I start to freak out.

When I was examining that thought process, this morning, it crossed my mind that I think that way in an attempt to distance myself from Potamus. I don’t want to pick him up because I think “he needs to get used to doing things without me. I’m not always going to be around.” Talk about adoption issues coming to play in my interactions with him. This idea that I’m not going to be in his life, someday, sometime, I’m trying to protect him by stepping back (even just internally), but how much is that for his protection…or my own?

I’m often overwhelmed by the intensity of the bond and love I feel for him, that I almost wonder if I pull back to save…myself? That if I phrase it “someday I won’t be here for you,” to mean, “someday you will no longer be my baby,” and I’m not yet prepared for that reality to happen. Though, my rational mind knows that I will always be his mama, he will always be my son.

So this intuition, this deep knowing of what he needed in that moment last night, to help him fall asleep. Because it’s what I would have wanted. Or, rather, it’s what I would have needed or do need. Why I enjoy a massage touch with a specific pressure and why progression muscle relaxation and body scanning helps me calm my senses at the end of the day. I don’t always know, but when I do, it’s like this deep internal knowing that can’t be explained by words. It’s beyond thinking, if that makes any sense at all? He couldn’t calm the energy inside him, it was escaping and zinging all over and causing distress. When he was brought back into his body, feeling grounded, he was asleep within minutes.