Category Archives: Post Pregnancy

Wrapping up the Year

Its that time of the year when I look back at the goals I set for myself last year and see how I did and also set new goals for the new year.

 Well…here’s a look at the goals I feel comfortable sharing for 2013

1.)    Deliver a healthy baby

2.)    Provide breastmilk for the first 12 months of her life

3.)    Run a fall marathon

4.)    Break 17 mins in a 5K

5.)    Get back to pre-pregnancy weight

 Of those goals, I hit 1 so far although I’m still working on #2.  Am I disappointed in myself for not hitting the others?  Not really.  I set these goals long before knowing what it would be like to have a new born baby.  Sure, I had read blogs of other moms and even seen what some of my friends were able to do, but I didn’t realize how much of a different experience was possible with different babies/scenarios.

 I’m not making excuses for myself.  Here are the reasons I didn’t make my other goals in 2013, along with what I’m going to do to hit my goals in 2014.

 1.)    Deliver a healthy baby.  This goal is one I’m happy to say was met, and priority wise, it’s really the only one that matters.  Now, that’s not to say that the delivery went smoothly or as I anticipated at all.  The only thing I didn’t want in my birth plan was a c-section, and that’s exactly what I had.  I had heard so much about the recovery time and all of this horrible stuff.  I’m pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised.  Now, in all honesty I will very much be trying for a VBAC when we decide to go for the 2nd, but really the recovery time was not anything like I thought it would be.  The same day as the surgery I was walking around, a week later I was out walking the dog, 3 weeks out I was running again.  Not to say it was all easy peasy, my abs were actually cut and had to grow back together so I had some pain with running for the first few months but compared with labor and mastitis it was NOTHING to complain about.

2.)    I realize now that some of hitting your fitness goals with a new baby is just pure luck.  Some of the mom’s I compared myself to had babies that we sleeping through the night, or at least sleeping for longer stretches by about 4 months.  My baby hit a huge regression at 12 weeks and it didn’t get better until we did sleep training at 6 months.  For over 3 months I was surviving on as little as 3 broken hours of sleep a night while working full time.  Some nights I got 3 different 20 minute intervals.  Other nights I was thrilled to get 3 consecutive hours.  I was a walking zombie.  That doesn’t even begin to describe everything else.  I was also emotional, had no patience and feel like I just wasn’t even the same person I was before or am now.  If I lashed out at anyone during that time, I’m so sorry.

3.)    Time was a HUGE factor!  I was so used to running in the mornings before work and figured that was what I would continue to do after having a baby but didn’t anticipate 1. The insane lack of sleep, and 2. The wrench that breastfeeding throws into this plan.  More on that later.  I found I didn’t WANT to run after work because I didn’t want to miss any time with my daughter since it was hard enough being away from her all day.  That left my 1 hour lunch break and when meetings and projects happened I used my lunch hour to get those done a lot so as not to take work home on the evenings or weekends because I didn’t want to miss any time with my daughter. 

4.)    Breastfeeding, my #2 goal made things a lot more challenging.  Once my daughter did start sleeping better after the sleep training at 6 months, you would think I would jump right back into my pre-dawn routine.  Well…the mornings were when my breasts were the absolute fullest (if you don’t know what this feels like imagine 2 rocks bouncing up and down in a sports bra) and it would be too uncomfortable to run without pumping at least a little bit.  Well…that just adds another 15 minutes into the morning, even if I were to only pump a little bit.  Plus, since I was giving my daughter bottles the rest of the day the morning was her only chance to take any extra milk she needed for a growth spurt or whatever.  So, I decided it just wasn’t worth the hassle.  Also, I believe the breastfeeding was a huge contributing factor to my low iron.

5.)    A stressful event.  When a very close co-worker of mine passed away this summer, which I wrote about a few months ago, I had a hard time dealing with it.  It was a huge slap of perspective. It just broke my heart because he had 3 little ones and I constantly thought about how I would feel and I went through this phase where I just tried to savor every moment with my loved ones so much that I kind of pushed everything else out.  Its hard to explain but I just felt like running was not important anymore.  I kind of lived every day like it could be my last, which you would think is a good thing, but it wasn’t.  When you constantly try to live in the moment and don’t plan for the future there is nothing to look forward to.  Its good to appreciate the now but its also good to believe in the things that you do that make you happy.  Running is important.  I know that now, but it took me a couple months to get there again.  

6.)    The unplanned and the unknown.  When you have a baby in day care they are going to get sick.  When they do and you’re a first time mom its incredibly scary…especially when someone close to you recently passed away.  I missed a lot of work and running in the early fall when my daughter had various different viruses.  It was an incredibly stressful time. 

 So there’s my perspective on trying to set goals in the first year of your first baby!  Everyone will have an experience that is different.  I truly believe I’ve come out a much stronger person because of everything.  My priorities were right on.  I used to worry when I was pregnant if I would be a good enough mother.  I felt like I was pretty selfish and didn’t know if I’d be like those mom’s who instinctively always put their baby’s needs first.  After admitting that truth, you will understand why I’m so happy to find out that I always did and I did it without a second thought or regret.  When my baby was sick and needed me, I held her day and night and slept on the floor in her room.  I went days without running or even showering and it didn’t bother me one bit.  I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.

 There has never been anything more humbling to me than raising my baby.  Oh there were so many times I found myself sobbing, frustrated, scared, and praying harder than I’ve ever prayed in my life.  I think its given me a great perspective.  Today, I can savor in every moment with my family and also look ahead into the future.  I can set goals of doing things for me (because that IS important too). 

 Its still hard.  Fear is a this horrible enemy that is the hardest to fight (which is why it’s the perfect weapon for terrorists) and the more you love, the more you have to lose.  I still haven’t conquered it, but I can honestly say I’m much happier today.  

 I still try to run on my lunch, and never bring work home.  If you call me when I’m spending time with my child, I won’t answer.  In the 9 months since my daughter’s birth I have seen her smile for the very first time, hold her head up, start grabbing things with her hands, start babbling, sit unsupported, eat solids with a spoon, roll over, say her first words, crawl, pull herself up to a stand, eat finger foods, stand unsupported all the way up to watching her take her first solo steps this past weekend.  That is a heck of a lot to accomplish in 9 months.  Never again in a lifetime will anyone develop at that rate again.  I don’t want to miss a thing. 

 So, I guess I’m trying to say that even though I didn’t hit all any of my running goals this year, I met the most important goal that I didn’t even know I had.  To be the best mother I could possibly be to my little girl.  Seeing her face light up, hearing her laugh, all those moments are so much better than any PR or running goal I’ve ever had.  She’s changed me for the better.  I’ve learned how to be unselfish, and you know what its made me a better wife too.  And I love my husband now more than I ever did before. 

 I have set running goals for 2014, and I will work hard to hit them.  Anything you do that makes you feel good and makes you happy IS worth it.  Just because its not THE most important thing in your life (and it never should be) that doesn’t mean its insignificant.  Taking care of yourself makes you a better mom, better wife, better friend, etc.  And its OK to be happy!  That’s another thing that I guess I was struggling with a little bit.  I don’t know how to explain it but I definitely know there were times I felt guilty being happy with all the pain going on in the world.  That’s the opposite of how we should feel, I see that now. 

 So there you have it.  My explanation of the last several months in a nutshell.  

 Moving forward, I’ve already started my marathon training plan for 2014.  I’ll talk more about that in another post.  So far there have been a couple wrenches thrown in, but I’m not worried about them this time!  I’m looking very forward to going after my goals and can’t wait to start talking about workouts!!

Guilt

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/living/irpt-parents-erin-hill-mommy-guilt/index.html?iref=allsearch

I woke up before my alarm this morning and decided to read some news stories while lying in bed. The one above caught my eye so I read it and it sure set a poor tone for my mood on an otherwise lovely Friday morning.

In case you don’t want to read the full article, I’ll summarize.

Wah. Wah. Wah.

Ok, I’ll be nice(er).

The author goes through lengthy descriptions of why she’s a bad mom. These include such offenses as giving her kids granola bars for breakfast, and digging out toys from the back seat for show and tell because she forgot to pack one.

She then goes on to explain how her aspirations of being a stay at home mom stemmed from her college degree in human development and the horrors she witnessed working in day care centers; runny noses and tired eyes.

She then states her own opinion of mothers who work full time “Why have kids if you don’t want to raise them?”

Then she goes on to explain how she was living her dream life at first. All except no SUV or Gymboree membership (Wah. Wah.) Then things started looking up as soon as her husband started making more money. Benefits of his increased income included highly elevated social status for her which included hanging out with other stay at home moms and buying organic groceries together for dinners that were made from scratch!

Then the bottom of her perfect mommy life falls out when her husband decides he wants a divorce. Suddenly she was forced to become one of those working mom’s that she so judged.

Here’s where I gave her a benefit of the doubt and thought she would next go into how much she changed her tune, but that’s not at all what she did. Instead, she throws herself a pity party and goes into complete martyrdom explaining what a bad mom she is because she doesn’t serve eggs and toast for breakfast her poor son puts in a 9 hour day at daycare. Seriously, where is CPS?!

It doesn’t end there for this poor mom. The guilt just keeps coming. Gone is her dream of her kids coming home to a daddy that wrestles them or walking home from school to a mom that has snacks ready and waiting on the counter. Oh the therapy they’ll surely need later on!

I don’t mean to bash this writer. I’m sure she is a good mom and really loves her children. I’m sure she didn’t write the article intending to be offensive. I don’t think she’s a terrible person. I do think she has her nose in the air and that her new situation hasn’t really humbled her as much as it should have.

Her good “mommy life” she wrote about is very privileged parenting. I’m not saying that its “bad” or “wrong” at all. For the record, I have nothing against Stay at Home Moms, or even those with Gymboree memberships (though I’ll admit I have absolutely no idea what a Gymboree membership even is!). I think if it works for their families and makes them happy, then it truly is best for them and their children. I don’t envy them and I don’t have anything against them. Happy moms=happy kids and everyone wins.

To say that this is the “only” acceptable way to parent is horribly ignorant.

There is no point to debating “which is better” either. Being a working parent, or a SAHP both have their challenges and benefits and I strongly believe in whatever works best for you and your family.

I’m sorry that her marriage didn’t work out, I truly am. I’m sure it was an emotional couple years while everyone adjusted to a new way of life. Since her dream was to be the SUV drivin’, organic shopping mom she described and reality didn’t turn out that way, I’m sure it must have been hard to adjust to a completely different reality. Still, the challenges she describes with such drama tell me she misses her own image of a perfect life more than anything else. That, and she blatantly puts down other moms who don’t live by her own ideals.

Here’s what struck a cord with me. She stated that she judgmentally wondered “why people would have kids to have someone else raise them?”

So apparently, unless you’re lucky enough to marry a man with enough wealth and status that you don’t have to work, you shouldn’t have kids. What about women that do have the means to stay home, but still choose to have careers after kids? They must be completely selfish in her mind.

Her statement goes far beyond offending just dual income families. What about our soldiers? Men and women that make the ultimate sacrifice for us, yet because they’re gone for long periods, they don’t deserve the chance to know the love of a child? What about police, firemen, nurses and doctors that pull long shifts? I think you get where I’m going.

The way she describes the perils of a 9 hour day at daycare are almost laughable to me. My daughter actually puts in a 10 hour day at daycare, I better start saving now for all the therapy she’ll need. Her days consist of eating breakfast, getting a diaper change every hour, napping when she’s tired, reading books, exploring toys and socializing with adults and babies. Not just some cold worker making minimum wage, but someone who really does care for her. I’ve seen the bond they have first-hand.

I’m so sick of this nonsense guilt ridden, judgment that society and other moms put on mothers! And I know the dagger points both ways. SAHM’s are criticized just as much for their choices.

Being a good mom has nothing to do with driving a certain car, buying the right clothes, going on the right play dates and serving up organic foods. It also has nothing to do with life going exactly the way you intended it to go. I know a very young widow that’s now raising 3 kids under 2 all by herself. That was never part of her plan. Does she struggle every single day? Yes. Does that make her a bad mom because her priorities have shifted and she’s living in a perpetual state of managed chaos? No. She’s a great mom.

Is the mom who lives pay check to pay check that often goes hungry a few nights a week so her kids can eat dinner a bad mom? Is she less deserving of the kids she has because of her status in life?

My best memories from my childhood have nothing to do with the things I had or the clothes I wore. They are all about the things I did…yes, even with two working parents. That’s the beauty of children. We should all take a lesson from them. They don’t care if you’re rich or poor, about your race or orientation, if you’re fat or skinny. All they know is if they feel loved. In the summers my dad used to play tag with us every evening when he came home from work. I’ll never forget that. My mom used to show us how to do things with crayons and scrap paper. I couldn’t even tell you what kind of car we had back then. My parents never had a lot of money but I had a very happy childhood, nonetheless.

I think that raising a child is the best gift there is in this world. I feel strongly that every person who desires should be able to experience it. It shouldn’t matter what their lifestyle choices are.

I hope for Erin’s sake that she remarries a rich man so she can live her ideal life again. For the meantime, I think she should humble herself and stop judging other’s parenting choices and deciding that she’s a bad mom because she’s not privileged anymore. Hopefully she is raising her children to be grateful for what they do have, not what they don’t.

I’ll close with a positive message that a friend of mine sent me after we were discussing briefly how we sometimes felt like we couldn’t keep up with it all and felt like it was “never enough”.

http://www.lifewithjack.com/2012/05/1st-corinthians-13-for-moms.html

Ear Infections, Floods and Chicken Pox, Oh My! 10/5/13

Wow! Wow. I’m kind of shaking my head laughing at everything that happened in the last few weeks. I am very grateful. Every single day. Its harder to explain that because its easier sometimes to complain about things than run around saying “I feel so blessed!” but I promise, I start every day being thankful and there’s never a moment that I forget that.

So here’s my confession. I never thought it would be THIS hard. If you’re reading this going “geez Jen get it together, its not really that hard” move along my friend, just move along and get back to living your dream life and smile knowing that you’ve got it way more together than me. If you’re reading the above confession and nodding your head and saying “Yes, me too!” this post is for you too.

I’ll explain in a nutshell what happened the last few weeks.

We finally got her to start sleeping better!!! Hooray!! My husband and I started talking more and joking with each other again and we were all generally feeling pretty good. She was also getting to be so much fun! I remember thinking “Finally! This is what I had always imagined having a baby would be like!!!”

Then at 3:30 am on Labor Day, she woke up crying in the night. Since we had taught her how to self soothe, we let her cry for a bit but when she was still crying after 20 minutes, we decided to check on her. Tim went in there and picked her up and she felt warm. He took her temperature, 102.6. That was her highest fever ever.

She had a cold the week before so my first thought was an ear infection. We gave her some Tylenol and brought her into our room. I held her on my chest and she fell asleep. Tim and I were up the remainder of the morning. Even though I kept telling myself it was probably as harmless as an ear infection, I was worried that it could be something more serious and didn’t want to miss anything. After 8 am we called the after-hours hotline for her pediatrician. We explained everything and they said to keep doing the Tylenol and she could come in next day (since it was a holiday) or we could bring her to urgent care. We brought her to urgent care.

The doctor looked in her ears, diagnosed her with an ear infection and wrote a script for an anti-biotic. We picked it up on the way home and started her on it. She hated it, but we held her down and forced it into her mouth as she screamed. I felt awful but told myself it would make her better. They told us she should start to improve after 24 hours. We watched our happy, active, alert little baby become a fussy, tired little punkin that just wanted to sleep on our chest and do nothing else.

She stopped eating/drinking completely. By the late evening she still hadn’t had anything to eat or drink and had not had a wet diaper since that morning. Once again, I was getting terribly worried. She’s so small and I know they can get dehydrated so quickly. By 8 pm she had developed a rash and was starting to breath very rapidly. Fearing that she was having a reaction to the antibiotic we took her to the ER.

The ER doctor looked at her and took samples of her blood and urine (via a catheter) to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. I asked very pointed questions like “Are you positive its not anything more serious.” I know these doctors see sick kids all the time and just didn’t want him to assume it was something minor. I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I had answers. He said she was old enough for ibuprofen now and gave her a dose while we were there. An hour after he gave her the ibuprofin, she showed signs of her old self. I still couldn’t get her to feed, but she smiled at us for the first time since she was sick.

We took her home and had another sleepless night. She would only sleep on our chest and even then was waking up every couple minutes or so. I also kept trying to feed her every couple hours but she still refused. It was a long, fearful night and they said if she still wasn’t eating by the next morning to bring her to the ER again. Finally, at 4:30 am I got her to take 2 oz of pumped milk from a bottle. She absolutely refused to breastfeed. I started crying tears of relief/happiness! A few minutes she wet her diaper for the first time in almost 24 hours!!!

Tim and I both stayed home from work to take care of her. We would have been useless at work anyway. We hadn’t really slept hardly at all in two nights and I don’t think either of us felt comfortable leaving her until she started to come around. I hadn’t run or anything. Tim and I both realized we hadn’t even showered since Sunday morning and it was Tuesday! Even though she was starting to eat small amounts again, I still was really worried. 24 hours on the antibiotic came and went and she didn’t seem to be feeling better.

Its hard to explain in words how I was feeling. I knew that there wasn’t much I could do but keep watching her, so I watched her obsessively. Any slightly different cry or moan, or different thing that she did I was on like a hawk with my phone and google, which is REALLY not a good thing. I prayed a lot. When the worry would start to take over, I would find myself praying. I really wanted to just let it all go and realize that it wasn’t up to me, but I thought maybe I was designed to worry for a purpose.

It was during this time that I realized how much more I need her than she needs me.

Another long day and night came and went with me getting maybe a couple 15 minute sections of sleep. She still wasn’t getting better. Why wasn’t she getting better? The questions and the fears were taking over in my state of adrenaline run, sleep deprived brain. My husband told me I should go for a run. I told him I would run when she was feeling better. She must have twitched or something while my husband was holding her and I must have freaked out because he said something to me. I don’t remember exactly what it was but probably along the lines of “chill out.” It was then that I broke down into tears and told him that I knew I was a basket case, that I was sorry and didn’t want to be but I didn’t know how to turn it off. The truth is that if someone told me they could guarantee her to get better by amputating both my legs right then and there I would have said “where’s the saw”.

Logical? Not really. That’s love. Luckily for me I have a husband that loves me and made sure I knew it after my “basket case” breakdown. He loves our little girl too and told me that I’m a great mama. At a time when I was feeling like I didn’t have any answers or know what to do; he at least made me feel like I was doing something right.

Later that night she threw up twice. Another symptom! Once again, we called the after hour line. Why the scary stuff always seems to happen after regular office hours is beyond me. Anyway, we were given instructions on how to keep her hydrated through the night (another sleepless night) and I brought her into the doctor finally in the morning. According to her pediatrician she had a virus. You can get an ear infection from bacteria or a virus. The antibiotics were doing nothing to help her (which is why she wasn’t getting better after 24 hours) but since we had started them, we had to finish the course or else end up giving her resistant bacteria. Viruses are nasty, but they have to pretty much run their course. Finally that afternoon she started feeling better.

When she started to drink more fluid and play with her toys again, I cried tears of happiness. It was such a huge relief. I know that all kids get sick, but she just really wasn’t herself and it was scary.

Then 6 days later our basement flooded. This is our basement that flooded this spring. This is the basement that my husband spent months fixing and had just finished a couple months ago. 4 days after our basement flooded she came home from daycare with a really bad “rash.” Looking back, a few nights before the rash she started not sleeping very well again. She woke up about every hour, cried for 10 minutes or so and got back to sleep. Again, we were sleep deprived after having maybe a week of getting caught up. Notice, I’m not complaining, I’m really just stating the facts as they were.

She had chicken pox. Yes, seriously.

Oddly enough, the chicken pox ended up being less difficult to deal with than the virus…well, after we learned what it was. At first, it was frightening when she got fussy, ran a fever and developed this pimply looking rash that kept spreading! I couldn’t believe we were dealing with something again and I just kept thinking “Why is this so hard?!” After the first couple days with the chicken pox though she no longer had a fever and it didn’t seem to bother her very much. She couldn’t go to daycare so Tim and I rotated staying home with her. Since it wasn’t like before, it really just felt like extra days home with her and we actually had fun.

The bottom line that I’m taking away from all of this is that having kids is pretty much millions of times harder than you ever expect. Or, at least to me anyway. Like I said, for some maybe not. Its also millions of times better than you ever expect too. When she smiles and laughs it’s a happiness for me unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Take your best accomplishment: getting your dream job, marrying the love of your life, running your PR, whatever it may be…think about that feeling you have when it all comes together and you’re in that moment and there’s no where else you would rather be and you just feel incredible. Yeah, that’s what its like for me every time she laughs.

Thus far in life, I’ve learned that all of these best moments always come after a long, hard season of trials. Maybe you spent years working nights and weekends on some project that no one seemed to care about. Maybe you went through heart break after heart break and doubted you would ever find that person that makes you feel whole. Maybe you busted your ass through rain, wind and snow, sometimes waking up at 4:45 am on a Saturday to get that fricken run in and wondered to yourself “why am I DOING THIS?!”. And then in one instant when it all comes together, you’re feeling like it was all worth it for this one moment to feel the way you’re feeling. That’s parenting. That’s what its like. If I had to describe it to anyone, that’s how I would do it. The worry/fear and pain that comes from loving someone so much it hurts is also what drives those moments of such happiness that no words can even describe. So to all the parents out there that are with me saying “this is SOOO hard!”—I hear ya. Sit back, buckle in and enjoy the ride. Its going to be bumpy! 😉

Everything Changes 9/14/13

Its been a whole month since my co-worker passed away and the last time I started a post. Everything has changed since then. My perspective. My attitude. It just hasn’t been as easy to write about the other things my family has been navigating through since they seem so small in comparison.

Alexandra went through her first ear infection/possible flu/viral infection and I’ve again been inspired to write about it.

A lot was going on before that though, so it wouldn’t be right to leave all of that out.

Many of my blog posts were about how much we were struggling with sleep, or rather the lack of it. It had started to improve on its own and we were beyond hopeful and thankful. And then…well, basically it all blew up again.

It was hard. It was really, fricking hard. On the large scale of things, its easy to say “its just sleep” and think its not that big of a deal and know that eventually it will get better. When you’re actually going through it, its ok to say that its really fricking hard. No matter how blessed and thankful you are, its really, really hard.

So, here’s how we got through it. Some people will not like this. Some people are adamantly against it. Before we did it, I did thorough research and came across many blogs, articles, and books both for and against it. I read through comments online and saw things as horrible and nasty as mothers calling other mothers selfish. Yep, you guessed it. We finally got her to sleep better once we did “cry it out”. It sucked. I hated it. I felt like the meanest, worst, most selfish person in the world, but it did work.

I’ll set the stage for where we were before, just so you get an idea of the desperation. For a couple weeks she had been only getting up once or twice a night—hooray! We were more than elated by this and would have happily continued along this path without doing anything different. During this time, we would feed her once and the other time my husband would rock her back to sleep. We were getting a good 6 hours (though broken) of sleep most nights (some nights we couldn’t fall back to sleep after her wake up around 3 or 4 am). Life was good!

And then it all changed. First it started just taking a really long time to get her back to sleep. She would fall asleep nicely in our arms and then as soon as we would set her back in her crib, BAM, eyes open, crying! Process started all over again. Now it was taking a good 40-60 minutes to get her to go back to sleep. Then she would be up again in another 2-3 hours. Ugh. We kept slugging through it, hoping it was just a phase or a few nights. But the few nights turned into a week, turned into 2 weeks, then 3 with no end in sight and not even a slight improvement. So we were back to getting about 3 hours of sleep at night. We were back to waking up every morning feeling like Lindsay Lohan. Headaches, body aches, generally feeling crappy and like the worst hangover of your life. Every. Single. Day.

I received so many nice messages from friends telling me they had been through it and that it does get better. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It was so helpful to hear that.

She would wake up after a sleep cycle (like we all do) and just couldn’t get herself back to sleep and relied on us to do it for her. Once we realized that this was the issue, it was clear what we had to do. It just took us this long to realize that was what was going on. She can’t tell us, so we just didn’t know and were pulling our hair out trying to find the magic code.

Besides just waking up and going to work feeling like crap, it was also affecting us on a much deeper level. We were both crabasses. We weren’t really at each other’s throats, but we were pretty snappy with each other and neither of us had a lot of patience. We both were just putting so much energy into our Peanut and there was just very little energy left for each other. We were both starting to feel kind of lonely and isolated.

All that being said, here’s how we finally got her to get herself to sleep. We had tried cry it out after our doctor suggested it at her 4 month appointment and it was an epic fail. I didn’t think we would try it again. And then it happened…

Tim had to go out of town for work overnight. I knew I would have to handle the night by myself and I knew it would be awful. It was a Thursday, and I had already been surviving on 3 hours of sleep a night for the past several weeks and months before that. After I put her to bed about 9 pm and spent the next hour cleaning up, washing her bottles, making her bottles for daycare the next day, pumping, cleaning my pump equipment, it was 10:30. I could have gone right to bed but instead I ate a huge molten chocolate cake. It was sort of a pre-award for the night I knew I was going to have.

I went to bed at 11, and was actually pleasantly surprised that she made it until 2:08 am before the first wake up! I thought “maybe this won’t be such a bad night after all!” I went in there, fed her and spent the next 35 minutes rocking her to sleep. I had to make sure she was all the way into the deep sleep because I knew if I tried to set her down before then she would wake up and start crying and we would have to start all over. So I moved ever so slowly, cautiously to the crib and sloooowly, geeeently set her down, trying not to even have the slightest twitch. Success! She didn’t wake up! I crept sloooowly out of her room, and back into mine and got back into bed sometime around 2:45 am. I fell asleep quickly and then shot awake again when she started crying. I looked at the clock, 3:10 am!

NO! You’ve got to be fricking kidding me! I knew she didn’t NEED anything—she just woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep on her own. It was in that moment that I decided to give cry it out another shot. The next 45 minutes were torture. I had to switch off the sound on the baby monitor because I could hear her loud and clear from her bedroom anyway. I watched her on the monitor since the last time we attempted cry it out she vomited and that was when I decided I couldn’t go through with it. After 10 minutes, I kept getting up and starting to go to her…then something inside me would tell me to stop. Wait. After the first 10 minutes the anger settled down and she was just crying. After 20 minutes the crying turned into more of a moaning and that continued until a full 45 minutes had passed. After 45 minutes she stopped the fussing altogether and I watched her just sort of lay there awake, tossing and turning for another 10 minutes. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep!

I tried going back to sleep myself, but watching and hearing your baby like that for 45 minutes is stressful enough that I was unsuccessful. She woke up again about 4:45 and did the moaning for 8 minutes and then went right back to sleep and stayed asleep until I woke her up for daycare at 7.

That night when I picked her up from daycare she was crabby to say the least. I was crabby and exhausted too. I tried playing with her, tried giving her oatmeal cereal for dinner and she wanted nothing to do with any of it. Tim was still not home from his trip and I was too tired and crabby to deal with her being this crabby so I skipped the whole night time routine we do and put her to bed around 7 pm (2 hours earlier than her normal bedtime). I sat down in a chair and dozed off until Tim got home around 8 pm. We were totally prepared for another sleepless night of her crying and it didn’t happen! She slept from 7 pm, till 9:30 am. I didn’t quite sleep that much as I went in and checked on her about every couple hours to make sure she was still breathing since she just didn’t ever sleep like that! Wow! The next day she was a happy, fun little girl and the next night, she slept for 12 hours! Was it possible that this “sleep training” worked so quickly and so well that my little girl went from getting up every 1-3 hours to actually sleeping a whopping 12 hours straight after just one night?!? I didn’t believe it and was hesitant to even think it. After a whole week of wonderful sleep for everyone, I finally realized it did work.

Its not for everyone, and I realize that. Some parents end up brining their kids into their beds and letting their children sleep on them instead of doing any kind of cry it out method. If that works for you and your family, then great. I find I can’t sleep when my baby is on top of me, so it just wouldn’t work for us. She greeted me with the same big smiles the next morning that I always get. Additionally, after the two days that she slept for 13 and 12 hours straight, she seemed much more pleasant during the day, and also took better naps. I started to wonder if my baby has been just as sleep deprived as we were all these months. I’ll never know for sure, but I know I’m glad we tried it again.

Why do I think it worked this time and not before? Well, before we were actually doing the Ferber method. In this method you go in at different intervals and show the baby you are there, maybe pat their belly, say some reassuring words and then leave. You go back in at longer and longer intervals until they stop crying completely. This has worked for some people, so I’m not going to say its wrong. It just didn’t work for us. Every time we went back in there she seemed to get MORE upset that we were there and weren’t helping her. We would hear her crying and it would start to get less, but she was still crying so we would go in there and she would up the tempo considerably. This was STRESSFUL to us and I’m sure she picked up on that and it stressed her out more. When I didn’t go in there at all, at some point she realized that “mommy wasn’t coming”—and yes, it breaks your heart to think about them thinking that. She had to rely on herself to get back to sleep. So, I recommend that if you do try the cry it out method, just let them cry. You’ll feel really shitty about it, but I think you’ll see they back off sooner than you think. How long would I have gone? I don’t actually know. I never thought I’d be able to go 45 minutes, but I didn’t go into it with a plan, it was all using my instinct. I knew she was not in pain, hungry or anything like that. I knew her cries were starting to taper off. If she had continued at the same intensity, I know I wouldn’t have made 45 minutes. You know your child, and by the time they are 5-6 months, you know their cries.

That was partly why, when a week later she woke up at 3:30 am crying, Tim and I knew something was different. This ended up being longer than I expected so I’ll probably write Part II about her being sick and how we navigated that.

A Great Workout and Our Worst Night Yet (7/16)

I’ve basically taken the whole training calendar I created for myself during my pregnancy (when I needed to think positively about the future to be ok with just running for fitness) and said “screw it!” I have to admit it felt pretty good. I love my training calendars. They help to keep me focused and stay on track. Plus I’m one of those people that loves checking off the box every day once I completed something. There are plenty of runners out there that just run whatever they feel like on a particular day and are perfectly happy. When I’ve tried that “plan” before the end result was that I didn’t run very much and got increasingly out of shape. For me the training calendars that I make for myself hold me accountable and motivate me to work hard towards a goal. I also HATE not hitting my goals.

Lately, I had been dealing with so little sleep, and a very demanding baby and you would think I would look forward to completing my runs/workouts everyday but I wasn’t. It just felt like another thing that I HAD to do. Sure, I always felt good after I was done but summoning the motivation to go out and do it day after day was starting to feel like dread. Its also summer in Michigan, which means HOT and HUMID weather. I don’t complain about the weather because it doesn’t really change anything but I really would rather run/workout in freezing temps and snow covered roads than 90 degrees and 80% humidity. Since I’m not about to move to Alaska, I normally deal with the heat/humidity by running early in the morning before work. When you’re getting 3-4 hours of sleep as it is, skimping further to get a run in just doesn’t even seem healthy. So, I’m left to either run on my lunch hour or in the evening when I get home. Since I actually want to spend a lot of time with my baby girl before putting her to bed at night the latter option doesn’t work for me most of the time.

So I’ve been running on my lunch hour. I kept scheduling mid week 8 mile runs on my training calendar thinking that at this point she’d be sleeping mostly through the night and that getting up and running in the morning would be ok. So every week I’ve been cutting it to 7 miles because I just don’t have enough time on my lunch to run more than that. Even doing 7 miles in the heat of the day was getting harder and harder. I was running the same route, all alone with my headphones sweating like a pig just wishing for it to all be over. Does that sound like a fun, stress relieving activity? No. It was adding more stress. At least I recognized this, probably not as soon as I should have. Monday I was supposed to do an 8 mile tempo run—HA! Hilarious! In 90 degree weather with a heat index of 106 according to Tim (who did a crazy impressive workout in that weather on his lunch break—who is this guy?!). So instead I got on the treadmill to do a 5 mile run and since it was boring decided to throw in a speed workout. Mile repeats. 3 of them. First one at 6 minutes, the second one at 5:21 and the last one at 6:00. It was not anything from any training plan I ever read, I just made it up on the spot and it was fun. I know that the treadmill makes workouts feel easier so if I had done it outside I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the same results. Still, hitting the 5:21 mile seemed like it would be a really big challenge for me. Especially after running one at 6 minutes. I had a half mile jog in between and when I first cranked the treadmill up to that pace it felt like I was sprinting. I just told myself to do as much of it as I could and once I took the pressure off I got into a good rhythm and ran the whole mile at that pace. When I started the last mile at 6 minute pace it actually felt really easy compared with the second mile. I think the workout served a few good purposes. First, it allowed me to have fun with running again. Second, it helped me re-learn what it feels like to run hard on tired legs. I haven’t run that pace for a mile in almost 2 years. Then I made myself finish strong with another 6 minute mile. Lately in 5K’s I’ve been fading in the last mile so it was a good workout for trying to practice finishing strong when you’re tired.

That Night I think Tim and I had the worst night yet. Our evening went really well. Peanut came home from daycare and they said she was fussy/tired and sad all day but we had a great evening with her. She was happy and in a great mood and she was just all smiles through her whole bed time routine. She went to bed about 8:45 without too much of a fight. Tim and I even watched a little tv before going to bed. Then at 1:40 she woke up. I went in, fed her and tried to put her back to bed for 40 minutes. Tim took a turn. He tried for 30 minutes before I went in and tried again. We tried EVERYTHING! It was so frustrating. We watched 2 hours come and go with no improvement. By 4 am I realized that any hope of getting anymore sleep for the rest of the night was gone. I thought about how I would have to get up for work at 5:45 and it was 4 am and she still showed no signs of sleeping. I thought about how I am so sick of the lack of sleep and got really angry that we are going through this. Earlier at work one of my co-workers was telling me her grandson (who is two weeks older than Alex) slept 12 hours straight the last night. He’s formula fed and already eats solids. I try to follow the “rules” outlined by my doctor and based on the latest research. I breastfeed her and am not starting solids until she’s 6 months (except for cereal which the doctors say is ok to start between 4-6 months). So I was utterly frustrated and started questioning everything I had been doing by the book. In my head I was almost screaming “Its NOT FAIR!” and I’d hear my own internal voice chirping “Life’s not fair” right back at me. I struggled with the anger and guilt having wars in my head. “Why do WE have to go through this when we try so hard to do everything right and people who break all the rules get to have babies that sleep 12 hours?!” Followed by “You are so lucky! You have a HEALTHY baby that you love more than anything, its just SLEEP after all. You will survive this, quit being such a whiner!” I realize I’m making myself sound pretty crazy but I’m being totally honest and I’ll admit I was feeling pretty crazy.

Tim was rocking her for the umpteenth time and she was just crying, not settling down. I looked at her, those beautiful eyes wide open and she smiled at me like it was time to play. Even at 4 am, that smile is adorable. At that point, I figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and turned on the lights and started talking to her like it was day time. She gave me a look like I was crazy (again, probably pretty accurate at this point) and then started crying. So I turned the lights back off, rocked her, fed her and she closed her eyes and went to sleep. It was 4:20 am. Tim and I tried but never really got back to sleep except for maybe a quick 20 minutes. I had looked at the clock at 5:20 and woke up at 5:40 after having a dream that I fell asleep at the wheel and started to go off the road.

Nights like that are incredibly hard for so many reasons. There’s the obvious reason that you got less than 3 hours of sleep. For us that’s been the norm for the last 9 weeks but its been that she wakes up every 1-2 hours but would fall back to sleep after you fed/rocked her. You at least get to lay down in bed and TRY to fall asleep again right away before she wakes up again. She just would not/could not go back to sleep and we had no idea why. Its scary. We took her temperature and she didn’t have a fever. She would fuss but then settle down when picked up. You start to worry that its the START of a totally new issue. You worry that you will endure days and weeks and months of this before it gets better. You worry that you are actually going to lose your mind. Maybe not everyone would respond this way but I immediately started going into crisis mode. Since I didn’t know how to fix the problem (get her to sleep more and get her to go back to sleep) I focused on what I could control (how to cope with it). So that morning Tim and I talked about what we would do. We decided that if this pattern continued, we would need to take turns. We decided on every other night. We made a plan that included us sleeping in separate rooms because he and I had been taking turns during the night (every other time she wakes up the other one attends to her) but we were both waking up whenever she woke up and I know that I was staying awake the entire time he attended to her because I could hear her crying/and or I worried that he wouldn’t be able to get her back to sleep. I even went to the doctor and got a prescription for a sleep aid that was safe for breastfeeding so that on my night off I would really get some good sleep.

I’ll admit that this plan was not ideal for so many reasons but we were so desperate. I guess part of it was that I just kept feeling like I had to do/try something. I also felt bad for her because she was not getting the amount of sleep that she needed. I thought about giving her a bottle of formula, just at night since it takes longer to digest and I keep hearing how all these formula fed babies sleep better. I know that formula is not poison and I’m not one of those judgey, everyone has to breastfeed mommas. I think that everyone has to do what works for their family. Breastfeeding has had its ups and downs but in general had been going well lately. I’ll admit part of the reason I was reluctant to supplement with formula was because of all the trials I went through in the beginning only to feel like I was “giving up” now. It seems sort of silly when you think about it since we’re really only talking about 1 bottle a day. I talked to my sister who has worked in daycares and she told me that formula fed babies in general (not ALL) tend to have more digestive issues. Alexandra has had enough to deal with in terms of reflux and I just eventually came to the decision that it wasn’t worth it (for us). PLUS there was no science to back up the claim that it helps them to sleep longer. Finally, to seal the deal I really felt that her wakefulness was not due to hunger anyway.

So, we were all set to roll out said plan but my sister was in town and staying at our house (and taking the guest room) so we figured we would wait until the person “on duty” could use that room. That night, she only got up twice and didn’t have as much of an issue falling back to sleep. What a relief. We were still up a large portion of the night but it wasn’t as stressful because she at least went back to sleep ok. What a relief, for one night anyway!

High Needs VS. Difficult Babies 7/8/13

Yes, I am still behind on my posts…but here’s my latest revelations….

Well, we tried and failed miserably at the whole “sleep training” that I wrote about in my last post. We came to realize at the end of it all that Alex is just not a baby that conventional methods will work on. She will not be controlled.

Tim and I couldn’t follow through with it. I felt like we were failures until I talked to my sister in law and she agreed that you just can’t let reflux babies cry it out. We let her cry for less than 5 minutes and she vomited and after that all bets were off. I couldn’t do it. Tim couldn’t do it. It took us a good 15 minutes just to get her to calm down after that and I felt like the most horrible person in the world. So instead of us trying to be controlling of her and the situation and feeling guilty for not being “tough enough” for it, we started adjusting our methods and did what our hearts told us.

During this time, I came upon an interesting article from Ask Dr. Sears.com on “High Needs Babies”. It changed my whole perspective…on everything. Their theory (A pediatrician and a nurse) is that there are certain babies that are very unique in that they really do NEED MORE than most babies to thrive. This also goes along with something my friend Carol told me she was learning in some of her psychology classes: babies that demand more attention and receive it end up much more well-adjusted later in life than those that didn’t receive it. In reading the descriptions of high needs babies, our wonderful little girl has almost all of the traits/qualities. When I read it, I was relieved. All this time, Tim and I had been trying to figure out what we were doing wrong and felt like we were failing because she just didn’t behave like most of the other babies we had been around or our friends/family had. Now I’ve come to accept that she really is just unique, or different, and that’s not such a bad thing. There will be parts of parenting her that will be more challenging than it is for most parents, but there will also be plenty of rewarding parts too.

Its so hard to begin to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it what exactly makes these babies so much more challenging at times. I believe that ALL babies go through challenging times or have certain behaviors that are difficult to deal with. Eventually you can to pick out other parents that have high needs babies; sometimes just from one conversation. Those that don’t know may think that we exaggerate…or we’re just not handling the situation very well. We thought that too. For so long I felt so guilty because I felt like I was just complaining all the time. I knew that I loved her more than life itself, no matter how hard it was. I just felt like I couldn’t get control or get it together. I was happy. I knew I didn’t have PPD (Post-Partum Depression) because I wasn’t unhappy, didn’t find myself crying or letting myself go. I was actually keeping it all together quite well, I just felt like I was failing her.

I wanted to write about this because someone else out there is feeling the same way. They are feeling like a failure and I want them to know they are not. If you’re reading what I wrote above and already feeling relieved that’s probably enough to know that you probably do have a high needs baby. Still, I’ve included a list directly from their website of the qualities.

“12 Qualities of High Needs Babies:” Source: http://www.askdrsears.com/

1.) Intense- The cry of a high need baby is not a mere request, it’s an urgent demand. These babies put more energy into everything they do. They cry loudly, feed voraciously, laugh with gusto, and protest more forcefully if their needs are not met to their satisfaction. Because they feel so deeply, they react more powerfully if their feelings are disturbed. “If I don’t feed him as soon as he fusses, he falls apart” is a common statement from the mother of such a baby.
Intense babies become the intense toddlers, characterized by one word — “driven.” They seem in high gear all the time. Their drive to explore and experiment with everything in reach leaves no household item safe. As older children and adults this can be a great characteristic!

2.) Hyperactive- This feature of high need babies, and its cousin hypertonic, are directly related to the quality of intensity. Hypertonic refers to muscles that are frequently tensed and ready to go, tight and waiting to explode into action. The muscles and mind of high need children are seldom relaxed or still. These motor traits are part of the baby’s personality. They may be hard to live with at times, but this restlessness is not necessarily a negative trait. Some highly creative, world-changing people were at one time or another labeled hyperactive as a child.

3.) Draining- High need babies extract every bit of energy from tired parents — and then want more. The seemingly constant holding, nursing, and comforting leave little energy left over for your needs. But just when you feel you can’t cope with another day of giving, you get a second wind, and suddenly you can relax and enjoy your baby’s unique personality blooming. It’s as if baby senses mother’s breaking point and backs off a bit. There probably won’t be any days off, but some days will be less difficult than others.

4.) Feeds Frequently- feeding is not only a source of nutrition, it’s an easy tool for comforting. Studies show that babies who are fed frequently, as needed, cry less than infants who are fed on a more rigid parent-controlled schedule. So how often should you breastfeed your high need baby? As frequently as baby needs, yet not to the extent of wearing out the feeder. There are other ways to comfort high need babies, and it’s important to learn some of these alternatives. Not only do high need babies breastfeed more frequently, the need for breastfeeding lasts longer. These babies are notoriously slow to wean.

5.) Demanding- High need babies don’t just merely request feeding and holding, they demand it — loudly. This feature more than any of the others pushes parents’ buttons, causing them to feel manipulated and controlled. Mothers of high need babies often say, “I just can’t get to him fast enough.” These babies convey a sense of urgency in their signals; they do not like waiting, and they do not readily accept alternatives. Woe to the parent who offers baby the rattle when he is expecting a breast. He will let you know quickly and loudly that you’ve misread his cues. With parents who both respond to and wisely channel her demands, the high need child develops into a person with determination, one who will fight for her rights. The child becomes a leader instead of a follower, one who does not just follow the path of least resistance and do what everyone else is doing

6.) Awakens Frequently- “Why do high need babies need more of everything but sleep?” groaned a tired mother. You would think that high need babies would need more sleep; certainly their tired parents do. I have gradually come to realize that she just doesn’t need to sleep, and I can’t force her to do so. The best thing I can do is to continue to provide a nurturing environment conducive to sleep and realize that she will eventually sleep more and so will I.

7.) Unsatisfied- Not being able to satisfy a baby’s needs is very frustrating for parents of high need babies. It seems like a direct attack on your abilities. After all, isn’t a contented baby the hallmark of effective mothering? Wrong! There will be days when you nurse, rock, walk, drive, wear, and try every comforting technique known to man or woman, and nothing will work. Don’t take this as a sign of failure. You do the best you can, and the rest is up to the baby. You have not failed as a mother even if your baby is miserable much of the time. This is simply part of his personality. Meanwhile, keep experimenting with one comforting tool after another, and you will eventually discover one that works – – at least for that day.

8.) Unpredictable- It’s frustrating to realize that what worked yesterday doesn’t work today. “Just as I think I have the game won, he ups the ante,” a baffled mother confided. High need babies are inconsistently appeased. You will need lots of variety in your bag of comforting tricks. Some of these things worked some of the time, nothing worked all the time. This is very frustrating and it makes you constantly wonder what you are doing wrong. Along with their unpredictability, these children show extremes of mood swings. When happy, they are a joy to be around; they are master charmers and people pleasers. When angry, they let everyone around them feel the heat. The child’s unpredictability makes your day unpredictable. Do you take him shopping and risk a mega tantrum when his first grocery grabs are thwarted, or will this be a day when he is the model shopping cart baby, charming everyone at the checkout counter?

9.) Super Sensitive- High need babies are keenly aware of the goings-on in their environment. “Easily bothered,” “quickly stimulated,” “like walking on eggshells” is how parents describe their sensitive babies. High need babies prefer a secure and known environment, and they are quick to protest when their equilibrium is upset. This acute sensitivity to their environment can become a rewarding asset as a high need child grows. They become kids who care. They are bothered by another child’s hurts. They develop empathy, a quality that is lacking in many of today’s teens and adults. Because these children are so sensitive, they develop great discernment and are able to consider the effects of their behavior on the feelings of others.

10.) Can’t Put Baby Down- High need babies crave touch: skin-to-skin contact in your arms, at your breasts, in your bed. They extract whatever physical contact they can from their caregivers. They also crave motion. Holding is not enough; the holder must keep moving. If the holder wants to sit down, it had better be on something that rocks, glides, or swings. Most high need babies choose to upgrade their accommodations from the crib or playpen to the baby sling. They like to be worn many hours a day because they like the physical contact and they like to be up where the action is. Smart babies.

11.) Not a Self Soother- Another unrealistic expectation new parents often have is that babies will soothe themselves to sleep with the help of a pacifier, a music box, or some baby-calming gadget. High need babies are smarter than that. They want to interact with people, not things. High need babies need help to fall asleep. They must learn to trust their parents to help them. This will help them learn to relax on their own, a skill that has value for a lifetime. Crying oneself off to sleep is not a good way to learn to relax. The best way for a baby to learn to relax and fall asleep is to have his behavior shaped for him by a parent. Once a child learns to relax on his own, he’ll have no trouble falling asleep, when he’s tired, on his own. The quality of wanting people instead of things as pacifiers, while initially exhausting, will eventually work to the child’s advantage. The child will have a better grasp on interpersonal relationships, especially being comfortable with the quality of intimacy.
12.) Separation Sensitive- The song “Only You,” could be the theme of most high need babies. These infants do not readily accept substitute care and are notoriously slow to warm up to strangers. Your baby’s quality of being very selective about who cares for her shows that she has great discernment. High need babies know which situations and which persons they can trust to meet their needs, and they protest if these expectations are not met. Loud separation protests also reveal that these babies have a capacity for forming deep attachments — if they didn’t care deeply, they wouldn’t fuss so loudly when separated.”

Those are the descriptions I took directly from the website. Like I said, probably all babies will have some of these characteristics or even all of them some of the time. Alexandra has had all of these characteristics except for the last one about separation. She has always been really good with people. So how do you tell then if you truly have a high needs baby? For me it’s the consistency of it.

I think a lot of how you can tell is by gaging the parents. When you love your baby more than you ever could imagine yet you just feel like no matter what you’re doing, it’s the wrong thing. On the other hand when you do get it right and have success, you feel incredible, on top of the world…until the next thing happens. If you find yourself going into Monday mornings already feeling completely drained. Sure, all parents have weekends like that or maybe even feel like that a lot of the time. For these parents though, its all of the time. They find themselves hesitating to make plans because they just don’t know how things are going to go. Sometimes it feels like walking on eggshells around your little one and feeling like you have to do everything just right and one missed cue or incorrect interpretation will send everyone over the edge. Some great trick you discovered yesterday no longer works today.

Ironically, she does really well at daycare. I had serious fears that they were going to call me after a couple days and tell me that they couldn’t handle her…that they didn’t have the staff to give her the attention she needs. While I was incredibly relieved this didn’t happen, it also added to my own feelings of inadequacy. What was I doing wrong?? I’ve observed her at daycare though now enough times that I really think she does so well there because there is always so much going on. She also does well when Tim and I bring her to races. She will just look around and take everything in. She probably wouldn’t do as well in a smaller setting. Even my parents who have always said “Oh she’s so good.” Have witnessed some of her incredible temper. And we have now started to get reports from daycare that some days she does have a difficult time or she’s sad and needs more attention from her providers. She’s is highly unpredictable.

We’ve tried to do schedules with her to help with so much of this and we’ve come to realize she just does her own thing no matter what. For a while we were putting her to bed at 8:30. We did a whole nighttime routine and she went down great and we could at least count on that. Then we’d find that she would just get really fussy around 7:30 and start the inconsolable crying so we would try all these things and finally just put her to bed at 8 pm and she went right to sleep. So we would try the next night to put her to bed at 8 again and she would fight us until 9:15. She’s not any more consistent at daycare either. Sometimes she naps at 9 am, sometimes not until 11. Sometimes she naps for 20 minutes 3 times a day and other times she naps for 2-3 hours! Our daycare sends her home with a report every day and we have been saving them and for the last 2 months no two days have looked the same with her!

So there it is. I’ve accepted that Alexandra just has more needs than most babies and that is fine. She is who she is and I love her. The article goes on to say that if you can give these babies enough of what they need they can go on to be highly successful adults. Some of these qualities that can be challenging to deal with in babies can in fact turn into great characteristics. She’s got a stubbornness/determination that is fierce. It is my goal, as she grows to help her develop these traits she already possesses so that she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, or chase after her dreams in life.

When I think about the years ahead of us, I can just tell that she’s going to grow into a child that can figure out pretty quickly just how to push our buttons. She will probably challenge our authority and we may have some passionate discussions ahead of us. I also have a feeling that she will blow us away with her tenacity and will follow through on any and all talents she may possess to the absolute best of her abilities. And I look forward to all of that.

Sometimes Tim and I compare what we’re going through (especially with the lack of sleep) to that of others and feel frustrated. At the same time she brings me so much absolute joy and I take so much delight in all the wonderful new things we’re able to do with her every single day. Its not a completely one-sided give-give-give. She gives us priceless gifts every single day and I love her exactly the way she is. Sure, the day I’m able to get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep I will probably get up and do a happy dance. Until then, I’m just going to have to find new ways to cope instead of trying to force my unique daughter into some mold that she never was meant to fit into.

I want to do it all, and do it all really well and I just can’t. Being a parent is something that I have to do well and absolutely will not compromise on that. At work I have to give my best too in hopes that the rewards my family receives make it more than worth it. My running? That may be one of the things I’m going to have to let go into “maintenance mode” for a while. I don’t like it, yet I can’t keep burning myself out like this. So what if I don’t do a marathon this fall? I can still do a half marathon! So what if I run 25-30 miles a week instead of 50? I’ll still maintain my current fitness level and it won’t take too much time to get it back up again when I actually have the energy to do so.

Alexandra has taught me there is really only so much I can control in life. And I am a total control freak.

Reeds Lake Recap and Project Get More Sleep (7/2)

Ok, I’m really behind in publishing my posts! I like to edit them obsessively before posting so I save them and then pubish when I find the time, which has been a real challenge lately! So this was from 7/2!

The Reeds Lake 5K did not go as I had envisioned it would. I went out fast enough (maybe too fast?) 5:52 for the first mile. After that first mile I was already really struggling. Just a couple weeks ago I went out in 6:06 and felt great so I wasn’t sure what to think. Doubt had already started to creep in but I willed myself to just get through mile 2 on pace and focused on achieving that. So mile 2 I was right around 6 minutes. Perfect. Still ahead of goal.

That’s pretty much when it all fell apart. I started my last mile at 7:33 pace! Oh no! I pulled out ALL my mental tricks at this point. I started focusing on the runners ahead and trying to just pull myself towards them. I started finding landmarks and telling myself to push just until that tree, then the light post, etc. It worked. My pace dropped to 6:45. Still WAY off my goal! I knew I had less than a mile and I thought about my Peanut and her struggling to crawl and I kept pushing and got my pace down to 6:20, then 6:19, 6:18 with a half mile to go. I was still off pace, but was happy that I hadn’t given up yet.

At some point during the last half mile a woman that I used to run against in college passed me. I had seen her name in local 5K results lately and she was running in the mid to high 18’s. I told myself that if I just went with her I might still make my goal. I focused on her and watched her slowly get further away. Finally I saw the finish line and knew I was almost done. I started to give it one last push and then…ugh. I made the mistake of looking at my watch. 19 minutes. There was no point in working so hard anymore. I found myself jogging through the finish line. Mad. Defeated. Disappointed that I did actually give up.

I found Tim and wasn’t actually surprised to hear him say that he didn’t run very well either. With my mother in law watching our baby, we went for a little cool down together. Even the cool down felt hard and we only went 2 miles at about 8:30 pace. In talking to Tim he felt very similar to the way I did. His second mile was 6 minutes (he usually runs close to 5:30 pace).

Here’s where I finally could admit that maybe it was too much. I said “We haven’t had even a decent night’s sleep in about 6 weeks.” I hate making excuses. I hate feeling like I’m making excuses. Sometimes you really have to just face reality.

It had been about 6 weeks since we’d even had longer than a 4 hour stretch of sleep. Most nights we were probably getting 3 broken hours with a few “good” nights where we would get one solid stretch of 4. When I say a “few” I mean probably about 3 in the last 6 weeks. The truth is that when I wake up in the morning my head hurts, my body hurts, my eyes hurt. We had finally overcome the 3+ weeks where she was up every 1-2 hours so getting up 3-4 times a night seemed like such relief at first. We go to work, we run, we come home and work until we go to bed and then have a night full of interrupted sleep. She actually slept for longer stretches at night as a newborn. Even at just a few days old she would sleep for a couple 4 hour stretches. The weekends come and we hope to at least be able to sleep in and find ourselves up earlier than we are during the week. You just never get into that deep sleep where your body actually recovers. You CAN survive on very little sleep (we are proof of that) but you certainly don’t THRIVE on it and maybe you can’t expect to continue to improve your athletic performance. Professional runners even take naps during the day…this after getting a solid 8-9 hours of sleep at night. At this point, I would be thrilled to even just get a solid 6 for a few nights in a row!

So that brings me to the next part of this post. We had her to the doctor yesterday for her 4 month check up. It was rewarding to hear that she’s doing very well. Its frustrating to hear that most babies her age that are healthy are only waking up once in the night to eat. She’s up at least 3-4 times. We’ve got a bedtime routine and we’ve been more consistent with a bedtime. Our doctor told us at this point its ok to start letting her cry for 20-30 minutes. Eeek!

So I started doing my research because so many things are controversial and there are so many different opinions. I also started talking to friends with babies and finding out what they’ve done. So Tim and I are going to try some version of the Ferber Method, and it will be soon.

I remember after her 2 month shots she got really fussy and woke a lot during the night for a couple nights so I figured it was best to wait a couple days after her shots before starting this. We have a 4 day weekend coming up, so I guess its as good a time as any to start. We just have to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for what’s ahead.

Letting her cry for 20-30 minutes is not something I am comfortable with. At all. This will be the hardest part for me, no doubt. That and the part where Tim and I will have to be up in the night while we’re doing this. Obviously you don’t start there and I really hope that we don’t actually have to ever wait that long. So the first night you put them down in their crib awake and leave them alone and let them cry or fuss for 3 minutes before going back in. Once you do, you gently soothe them and leave them awake again and this time wait 5 minutes before going in. You can progress with the waiting time however you’re comfortable with in increasing increments and according to the plan after 7 days they should be able to soothe themselves.

Ick. Alexandra has no problem going to sleep at night, it’s the waking up so many times that is our issue. Which means we will be doing this at midnight, and 2 am, and 4 am and 5 am. So we should just plan to be miserable for about a week and then the hope is that she can go 6+ hours without needing us in the night.

Why did our doctor recommend this? Well, first of all because she did used to sleep for 7-9 hour stretches so he knows she can go that long without food. When babies hit the 4 month mark (or for our little A it was right around 12 weeks) their sleep changes forever. They go from infant sleep cycles to adult cycles and so they wake several times in the night and some can’t get themselves back to sleep so they rely on you to do it for them. Secondly, she has been growing at an incredible rate so she shouldn’t need the night feeds for nutritional purposes.

Why am I ok with this? I do believe it is best for Alexandra in the long run. I have never been a great sleeper. If I wake up in the night I have a hard time falling back to sleep, especially if its within a couple hours of my morning wake up time. I’m hoping if I can teach Alexandra how to get herself to fall back to sleep at a young age it will stick with her throughout her life.

I hope so badly that the sleep training works well without prolonged periods of crying. I don’t believe that any parent can stomach leaving their baby alone to cry like that as it goes completely against our instincts.

I’m NOT looking forward to this. I will keep track of how it goes though.