This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.
First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.
We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”
“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”
Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”
Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.
Okay, so onto the week we had.
I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.
The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.
What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.
So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.
We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.
In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.
I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.
This announcement guarantees that last night’s sleep training success will be short-lived, but it feels so monumental that I cannot pretend it didn’t happen, even if it the victory is fleeting.
The Toddler slept from 7:45 p.m. to 5:55 a.m. With no wakings, no nursing, no tears.
This is huge.
Sleep has been our family’s battleground for the past 15 months. Yes, breastfeeding was rough at first, but since we figured that out, sleep has been my white whale, my Sisyphean boulder, my biggest source of frustration and guilt and (of course) exhaustion as a parent. Ever since that little balogna loaf decided he wouldn’t sleep unless we were armpit to shoulder and boob to face at a week old, I’ve been daydreaming about the day I could put him in his crib with a, “See you in the morning!” and have it come true.
First it was months and months of first terrifying (thanks, unhelpful public health campaigns!) then resigned, then generally tolerable but still quite limiting and often uncomfortable bedsharing, then a month or two of his crib “side-carred” to our bed, then that fourth wall up and the crib in our room, then the big jump of the crib back to his room, and there we stalled for about the past five months.
We hit wave after wave of colds or teething in between brief but delicious spells where he’d drift off to sleep peacefully, waking once at about 3 a.m. for a quick nursing session before easily going back to bed. The fact he could do that made me start believing I might be able to convince him he could make it a few more hours.
Well, I couldn’t… not by myself. It’s just been too easy to nurse him back to sleep when I’m still 60% asleep during his night wakings.
So we waited until The Husband was on spring break from work and didn’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. and enlisted him to be the night time hammer for the week. Usually, The Toddler screams in frustration if The Dad shows up during a night waking and points at the door until I relent, relieving The Dad of his duty, administering the night nursing. Not this week.
It was rough. The first four nights were hard going for The Dad and The Toddler. Lying in bed across the hall, I didn’t get much sleep, either, between the loud crying and the guilt. But we stuck it out. Even on the fourth night, when at 3 a.m. I decided to give The Husband a break and went in, I managed to refuse to nurse. The Toddler was enraged, but he eventually fell asleep. The Husband slept in a little in the mornings, and The Toddler took 3.5 hour naps every day this week (admittedly a bit of a silver lining through all this.)
Then last night, because I suspected he wasn’t really getting that much milk at his pre-bedtime nursing session, leading to that 3 a.m. wake up, and because I was hopeful for some success, I gave The Toddler a bottle of cow’s milk with his bedtime stories. He finished that off, then nursed, then gave me a hug and kiss good night (Oh my God, the best feeling ever, this new habit), and I left the room saying, “See you in the morning.”
And it worked! At least this once!
(I still slept fitfully, dreaming for the second night in a row about forgetting to take care of The Toddler the next day, and getting repeatedly awoken by our jerk cat who wants me to walk him to his full food bowl a few times a night because he likes the company?! But still, the potential for a full night’s sleep is closer than it has been since my second trimester.)
So. Here’s hoping this isn’t a fleeting taste of the rested life. The Toddler is just about done cutting his last canine, and we’re almost through cold season (though I know that’s a bit of a misnomer/pipe dream for someone who still licks food off the floor), so maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally start getting some sleep.
It’s the third and final installment of my Ask A Mom series with Melissa from I Crashed the web. If you missed the first two parts, find them here and here. (You can also read the corresponding blog posts where I answer many of the same questions over at Melissa’s blog: Part 1 and Part 2).
I started watching a third friend’s baby on Wednesdays, sometimes at my house and sometimes at her house. This friend had her baby 10 days after mine, and she is a former neighbor, so it’s been nice to get out of the house and back to my old neighborhood once every other week, even if it means I’m soaked with sweat and almost literally juggling two babies. Parents of twins–hell, parents of more than one kid–I don’t know how you do it, and I don’t know how I’ll do it if we end up there. I adore my small charge, and it’s so fun to see the two boys interacting, but I am practically comatose after the day with the two of them. I’m not sure how people do it day in and day out.
What does this have to do with Melissa, you ask?
Well, friends, Melissa is a downtown Clevelander and has met me twice now to walk the babies around the Ohio City neighborhood after she shops the West Side Market. I’ve taken to scheduling a long walk during morning naps (The Baby usually naps twice, briefly, on babysitting days). I hold The Baby in the carrier and push the stroller with The Friend’s Baby. I get an hour and a half’s walk in the city and they get a good snooze. See why I get so sweaty?
Really, though, it’s been amazing to get catch up time with Melissa. Her baby is getting so big and squishy, and we get to talk about life and motherhood and exchange war stories and advice. For this third and final installment of Ask A New Mom with Melissa, we’re getting deep. Enjoy!
Part Three: Parenting philosophy and self reflection
How would you describe your approach to parenthood so far? Do you think it parallels your approach to life pre-baby, or has it been a major shift for you?
My approach to parenthood so far has been as follows: Flexibility. I’m a semi-type A person and not in that I plan every detail – but more that I love having my to-do list and checking things off of it. I thrive on productivity and am not content just sitting still. (Just ask my husband – I’m the worst Netflix binge watcher and get antsy after 1-2 episodes) This has changed since becoming pregnant and now with the baby. I’ve had to realize that I probably won’t get everything done on my daily to-do list, because frankly, it’s out of my control. Fussy baby from 3-7 pm? The chances of me making dinner goes down significantly. Cluster feeding baby from 6 pm till midnight? The chances of me leaving the couch and writing a blog post (I’m still getting used to breastfeeding and haven’t quite mastered the one-handed feed) are slim to none. And that’s okay. So how is a to-do list person supposed to adapt? I still make my lists, but now I have a weekly list and prioritize one thing in a day. And these are small tasks, like “do laundry,” “buy stamps,” “write thank you card for X,” etc. This way if I have one of those days where I end up having to binge watch Sex & The City for 3 hours while FW feasts (Seasons 4 and 5 are too relatable now for me), at least I know I have the next day to get something done.
What is something you’re super proud of about your approach to parenthood so far?
I’m really proud that I haven’t let FW change too much of my “normal” life and change me. Since we brought him home, while of course our lives have changed a lot, there is still have sense of normalcy. I still bake (somewhat). I still blog. I’m back running (somewhat). I’m still showering daily (but kudos to you moms who don’t shower daily – I’ve always been a person that HAS to shower…I took 2 today!). I also haven’t let him keep me homebound – within the first week or so we took him to Coastal Taco for our first lunch out. Nearly every Friday night, B and I go out for a happy hour beer to celebrate the weekend. We went out for beers and dinner tonight on E 4th to celebrate B’s brother’s birthday. He’s really been all around downtown. These are all things that keep me sane – they make me, me. I’m not saying that all moms should make sure to leave the house daily, go for runs, go out to restaurants, etc. Do what you’re comfortable doing – but do what makes you feel like YOU.
I haven’t lost my identity since becoming a mom – I’m still me, just me as FW’s mom.
A mindset I’ve adopted that I’m proud of is giving myself ONE thing to do each day to help me feel like me. Whether that’s making sure I shower, telling myself we’re going to go for a walk, or just having one sit down meal, I try to do one thing to help me feel sane.
Confess without shame: What’s one thing you’ve screwed up as a mom so far?
Not letting the baby sleep! The first few weeks I did not realize that FW should be sleeping nearly all day. Honestly, I thought he was just cranky and not tired. So, I mistakenly overstimulated him. We went for 2-3 walks/day, played with his playmat, read books, etc. By 3 or 4 pm, he was super cranky and I didn’t know why. Well, now I know – he was tired and couldn’t get himself to sleep! Now I make sure or at least try to get him swaddled and in his crib 1-2 times a day for a nap. It’s not nearly enough, but he’s much happier when he has slept.
What is something your husband is really good at, dad-wise?
Honestly? Nearly everything. B has excelled at bottle feeding FW, carrying him, bathing him (something I still haven’t done…whoops!), and being my support system. I’m so lucky – he is much more of a natural than I ever could have imagined and I’m so grateful that he is around. He was off for two weeks when I gave birth and it definitely made the transition that much easier.
Have you read any parenting books? Any recommendations? Any discussion about how they make you feel like drinking because you’re clearly failing?
I have two books that go through infant development the first few years- does that count? And unfortunately I haven’t read much of them. I haven’t gotten the hang of reading while holding or feeding a baby yet … maybe that’s a good thing so I can just drink and not feel like I’m failing?
You had a bunch of friends have babies right before you did. How do you think this affected your own experience/approach to pregnancy and early motherhood?
I am so so so so so so so so (etc) lucky to have friends have babies right before me. I have been able to learn from them about pregnancy and childbirth and now motherhood and it has been so great to have people to talk to and know what I’m going through. I didn’t know much about pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum life (breastfeeding, raising babies, healing your body, sleepless nights, etc.). I feel like we don’t talk much about it as a society and I was clueless – until I had friends going through the same thing. Yes, we’re all different and experience everything differently, but it’s nice not to feel alone or too surprised by anything!