Here’s why no one told you!

Looking back over my experience with postpartum anxiety, I started to wonder why the hell no one warned me about it.

As first time moms, we’re given loads of advice (some unsolicited), and all kinds of warnings about the new baby AND ourselves. We’re told about the signs and symptoms of the “baby blues” and postpartum depression.

We get the questionnaires at our OB-GYN’s checkups and even at the baby’s well-check visits: “On a scale of 0-3, over the past 2 weeks have you thought about harming yourself or someone else? On a scale of 0-3 have you found the joy in every day life?”

We even see the ads in the magazines they leave in the waiting rooms: “Are you feeling hopeless or empty? Are you experiencing rage? Are you having trouble bonding with your new baby? You may be suffering from Postpartum Depression!”

As with many other women I have talked to, these weren’t the feelings I was experiencing and I didn’t understand what was happening to me.

Because postpartum anxiety is more common if you have a history (or family history) of anxiety or depression, I should have seen it coming but NOBODY TOLD ME!

I’m an anxious person and pretty much everybody in my family has a history of anxiety and/or depression, so I just assumed I’d be an anxious mom BUT I had no clue there was anything other than postpartum depression to worry about.

The anxiety hit me like a Mack truck on steroids.

I felt like I had an itchy, wool sweater on in the middle of summer, and no one could see it but me. I couldn’t get this overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling to go away.

There was a soundtrack to a Stephen King movie playing everywhere I went and no one could hear it but me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen to my baby that I couldn’t control.

So I was recently talking to my therapist who I still see from time to time (not enough) and we were discussing the way I was feeling a couple years ago after having my son. After going through a list of the crazies, she looked at me and asked: “Do you know why you weren’t warned about postpartum anxiety?”

“No, why??”

“BECAUSE SOCIETY TELLS YOU BEING AN ANXIOUS MOM IS BEING A GOOD MOM!!”

Holy lightbulb.

She went on with examples of the way I behaved during my most anxious time with my new baby: holding him constantly, never letting him cry, worrying about every little move he made, checking on him 85,000 times to see if he’s comfortable, breathing ok, and on and on. Then as they get older, anxious moms will hover (“helicopter moms”), and thus instill fear and anxiety in their children by never letting them explore or gain any independence.

Shit.

She’s right.

It’s not our fault that we’re anxious or nervous, but we’re praised for being excessively protective as parents. No wonder there’s no caution tape up warning us about the dangers that lie ahead.

Anxiety is a problem when your decisions are based off of irrational fears.

Checking the temperature in the bathtub before you put the baby in is a rational concern. Avoiding giving the baby a bath because you’re afraid he’ll die (even though you’re standing right there) is irrational. But that’s how I felt.

We need to speak up when we’re feeling unlike ourselves and ask for help. It sounds so cliché but it’s true. Think of it this way: You’re helping your baby (or child/children) by getting yourself help.

I know I can’t be a good mom to my babies if I’m not ok myself.

You don’t have to feel like you’re alone. Your doctor will understand (they’ve heard this once or twice before) and refer you to a mental health professional (if you don’t already have one) who specializes in postpartum care.

Or maybe you have older children and you’re just now understanding that you may need some help. That’s great!

You deserve to feel better.

Sincerely,

The Mom friend you never knew you had.

Girl, don’t go crazy. Go outside.

When I was in the height of my postpartum anxiety, I felt claustrophobic. I often felt like the walls were closing in on me and my very little home was getting smaller by the hour.

I was home alone with my new baby most of the time and afraid to do almost anything.

I didn’t even want to tell my husband just how scared of everything I felt in fear he might make some drastic change like quit his job to watch over me or take me to be evaluated where I would reach my inevitable fate in a padded room somewhere.

I wish someone had just told me to go outside.

Everything indoors is lifeless. The furniture, the decor, the pots and pans, the bedding. Nothing has life, it is spiritless.

Stepping outside, no matter where you are, can instantly change your energy.

Look up at the clouds. They’re moving, they’re alive.

Look at the trees. The flowers. A leaf. Watch them as the breeze makes them move.

Close your eyes and listen. There is life all around you, even if it’s just the sound of cars going by in the distance.

When I’m consumed with my own thoughts and fears and caught up in my mind, something as simple as stepping outside reminds me that there is so much going on outside of just me.

There are people all around me, there is life all around me. What is happening in my head is not as big and overwhelming when I breathe in fresh air, unlike the recycled air of our homes.

If someone had told me to just go outside, I might not have been hiding in my bathroom while my baby napped, sobbing to myself in complete fear and confusion.

So I finally did.

I buckled the baby in his car seat and just drove away.

I was so afraid of even just driving with him, for so many reasons, but I knew I needed to get out.

At first I just drove around aimlessly and then headed in the direction of a neighborhood I love. Up and down streets finding new little neighborhoods and beautiful homes.

I saw people out walking their dogs and people with strollers, people driving by me or pulling into markets. People were going about their days. The world seemed ok and it made me feel ok.

Instead of being a paranoid, anxious, inconsolable new mom, I was just another mom with a new baby driving in her car.

I went through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru and got an iced coffee and just continued going from one area to another. (If anyone is looking for a new home, I can tell you where all the nicest, hidden neighborhoods are and which to avoid.)

The baby slept in his car seat and I listened to Jack Johnson (quietly) and started to breathe normally.

All of a sudden I felt happy!

My irrational thoughts and fears began to subside and new feelings of hope began brewing.

Suddenly I was picturing my life as a new mom with this beautiful new baby boy with actual pride and excitement! Getting to drive around with my iced coffee and baby who wasn’t old enough to ask where we were going suddenly made me happy!

I eventually made my way back home and opened a bunch of windows. Even though it was chilly outside, the fresh air made me feel so much better. So I decided to open them every day, no matter how cold it was, even just to get some fresh air in the house.

Even now, with a toddler and a 9 1/2 month old baby, I get overwhelmed. I lose my patience. I have anxieties. So I always know when I need to just go outside.

The other evening, my son was having a full blown tantrum over the contents of his dinner. He’s in a phase where he’ll eat 3 things: Pizza, French Fries or Pasta. If it’s anything else, he refuses it. Most days I give up and give in, but this day I had had enough and decided it was time to start eating some healthy foods again.

After about 45 minutes of sitting at the table with him (while feeding the baby in her high chair) and trying everything in my power, including patience, bribery and punishment, and being met with tears, whimpers and screams, I decided we all needed a break.

I said “that’s it! We’re going outside!”

I put the baby in her stroller and let my toddler walk next to me (because he refuses to sit in the double stroller and I didn’t need a second meltdown) and just walked through our neighborhood and returned a book to our friend’s mailbox.

We took the long way home and just talked as we walked.

Sometimes you need a change of scenery.

Sometimes you need some fresh air.

Sometimes we all (toddlers and babies included) just need a friggin break.

Girl, don’t go crazy. Go outside.

Last minute (healthy) Turkey Chili

Rainy days make me want to cook all day!

Being a mom of 2 littles, I can’t just drop everything and head out to Whole Foods for an hour gathering unnecessary (and expensive) ingredients like I used to.

But I can still enjoy cooking and make something delicious with just a few yummy ingredients.

Once I’ve decided that no matter how much I bribe him, my toddler isn’t going to eat this, I can actually prepare it the way I want with as many spices as I’d like!

This is one of my favorite things to make last minute during a rainy day, snow day, or day I’m feeling extra puffy and want to eat something healthy AND savory.

Here’s what I use:

  1. Ground turkey
  2. Onion (yellow or purple)
  3. Green pepper
  4. Fresh garlic
  5. Olive oil
  6. Diced tomatoes with green chili
  7. Salsa (any typical red salsa will do)
  8. White chili beans
  9. Kidney beans
  1. Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, chili powder, ground black pepper, a little salt

I start with a big pot and add about 3 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat.

Add chopped onion, green pepper and garlic to sauté and soften.

Add seasonings and allow to simmer.

Add ground turkey, breaking up and allow to begin to brown.

Stir in un-drained tomatoes and chili’s. Mix together.

Add un-drained white chili beans and drained kidney beans. Stir and simmer.

Finally add a little salsa and keep on low heat until turkey is completely cooked through (about 30 min).

*Tip* I had 2 fresh (uncooked) ears of corn that needed to be used up so I cut the corn off the cob and added it to the chili, something I’ve never done before, but will continue doing because it added a nice sweetness to the spice!

Enjoy, Mamas!

I make this look difficult

I was told by an old man in a yellow Polo not to have a 3rd child.

Are you someone who has children and doesn’t walk around looking like she just came in last place in a mud run towing a grocery cart full of unnecessities?

I make this look difficult.

I am forever in awe (and confusion) of those who can manage children, maintain knowledge of the whereabouts of their wallet, carry one bag and possession of their coupons.

This morning I left the house with my children, one with his juice and snack and the other forced to hold her own bottle on a trip to Target because, let’s face it, it’s the one stop shop all mothers rely on.

I made it a mile and a half and had to turn around to get the Similac coupons I left on the table. They’re $5 off!

When we finally arrived, my baby had fallen asleep so I needed to keep her in her baby carrier and stroller and also get a grocery cart (I refuse to say “buggie”) because I needed too many things.

When this happens, I push the stroller with the sleeping baby and trail the cart behind me.

My toddler refuses to sit in the cart, so he walks beside me. You can imagine what a hot mess we look like and the scene we create as we try to navigate the narrow labyrinth of the toddler, baby, and shoe sections.

When we’re finally done and headed to check out, I have a bag of items to return so we make our way to customer service.

I can see the cashiers whispering “Not it” to each other in the distance.

My son decides now is a good time to break away from me and take off towards the door, only laughing when I catch him and bring him back.

There’s a line forming behind me.

I put the new “backpack leash” on him that just came in the mail from Amazon.

He screams and tries to pull the “leash” off while I try to bribe and calm him down with phrases like “but it looks so cool!” “Lightening McQueen is in the backpack!” And “you look like a big boy going to school!”

People are judging.

I make this look difficult.

I have a return, a cart full of groceries, my own recyclable bags and 2 separate transactions.

I realize too late that I have again left my coupons behind (in the car) but instead of saying “just forget it” I decide to leave everything in a heap on the counter, take my baby (whose now awake and using her new found voice to make screaming noises just because she can) and my toddler, with his leash, (whose starting to cry because he thinks we’re leaving his Annie’s Bunny cookies behind) and go to the car to get the coupons.

When we get back, the line has decreased, as they needed to call for backup, and we finish the longest checkout in history. I stuff all the recycled bags full of our goodies, gigantic tower of paper towels and hand my son his cookies.

There’s a woman behind me carrying a newborn on her chest wrapped up so you can just see his little head. We have the same diaper bag backpack (from Target) and she looks at me and says very friendly:

“I like your diaper bag!”

Me: “Thanks, same here! Is he your first baby?”

Friendly: “Yes!”

Me: “This is what happens when you have two!”

Old man in the yellow Polo: “Don’t have a 3rd”

Me: (putting my head down) “I won’t”

Friendly lady with the newborn had on normal clothes, her hair in place and just enough makeup to probably cover the dark circles that come with having a new baby.

That was never me.

Even in college I carried a backpack AND a purse on my shoulder because I could never minimize or prioritize! Who knew how many different shades of pink lipgloss I might need throughout the day?

I couldn’t tell you where a tube of lipgloss is now but I still don’t go anywhere with just one bag of necessities.

I am a hot mess of snacks, diapers, missing coupons and changes of clothes.

The more children in have, the crazier this train gets.

I always picture an apocalypse happening and having to grab JUST one bag, both of my children, and running.

What if I forgot to replenish one of their sizes of diapers or there’s melted chocolate from a Chewy granola bar all over the first aid kit? What if there’s no container of portioned formula or room-temperature water bottle? That’s actually likely!

I usually walk out of Target (or any market, really) with one lingering sentence that I silently mouth to myself:

“I’m an asshole”

Are you getting sick so I don’t go out again?

I may be losing it (debatable), but I swear every time I get to have a girls night, at least one of my 2 children gets sick!

As you may have already discovered from previous posts, I don’t get out much.

We don’t have family close by to watch our babies if we go out and we don’t have much help in the evenings so my husband and I never get date nights (we’ve had 3 in 3 years, literally) which means it’s either one of us or the other who gets to go out (it’s always him).

On the very rare occasion that I get to have a girls night, my babies get sick!

It’s like an intentionally postponed illness to rear it’s ugly head only when Mommy is on her 2nd glass of a mediocre red blend.

Why is this happening??

I get home with the slightest glimpse of a happy buzz, only to be wakened in the night by a fever bearing baby.

They can sense my freedom and they’re not having it.

It’s like stepping outside into a whole new world where shoppers congregate at Target after dinner and drinks to try on the latest romper and buy it only because this is the only time they’re confidence is boosted.

You make new friends with other moms in the dressing room and tell each other “that looks great!” (And you mean it! But it does not!)

The next day you remember your conversation and that hideous floral jumper and you want to find that woman and tell her to return the jumper but we should be friends!

My children don’t like this, they can sense that I’m gone, (even though they’re asleep) and decide to manifest a virus just to spite me.

Then you feel guilty for leaving in the first place and also realize you’re never going to get to go out ever again and you resent your husband who gets to play corn hole on Thursday nights because even though you hate corn hole, you can appreciate an early evening of freedom and a little buzz.

Your future trips to Target will be accompanied by your babies and there will be no half-drunken fashion shows with strangers or random bubble bath purchases. Baby wipes and gold fish are all you’re going to get.

At least they have a wine isle.

Is sleep anxiety a thing?

My husband and I are incompatible sleepers.

I don’t know how we’ve made it this far.

I’m not a napper. Never have been. Even in pre-school and kindergarten, when everyone else was curled up in their sleeping bags on their little cots, I was tossing and turning.

The Barbie world I had created in my bedroom kept my anxiety levels up during “quiet time”. That one Barbie’s hair I hacked off to double as one of the boys had gone all wrong and now she looked like Ellen DeGeneres instead of Ken (I love her, btw).

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you might have learned that I need a dark room, box fan turned up high enough to mask a freight train blowing on my face, a glass of water in arms reach and no one touching me in order to sleep.

I’m so extra.

My husband, on the other hand, likes the t.v. on.

Picture “Bad Boys II” on the flat screen (Will Smith is so sexy), and me, trying to squeeze my face closer and closer to my obnoxiously large box fan so I don’t pay attention to the movie, although my subconscious is straining to hear so I can picture the scenes.

One of us usually ends up in the living room because otherwise when I hear his alarm go off, I think:

“Is that the baby crying? Should I go make her a bottle? What time did she finally fall asleep last night? What’s the temperature supposed to be today? Is there frost on the table on the back deck? Because that means I have to start the car before we go anywhere. Why doesn’t my car starter ever work for me? I have to call about that. Did I remember to buy more sugar? I need light cream for the coffee too, did I get some at the store yesterday? It’s not half and half, is it? It really does taste different. Why is there only one grocery store that sells light cream, anyway? Bad Boys II so funny! Will Smith is so hot. The part where Mike and Marcus interrogate the daughters boyfriend is hysterical. That’s gonna be my husband with our daughter some day! That black Escalade they drive in the movie must burn so much gas! Im glad we have the Pilot. Have I had that thing maintenanced yet? It must need an oil change by now. I need to call Honda. I haven’t even used the car vacuum I got for Christmas! The car is a mess. Maybe I shouldn’t let the kids snack in the car. Those damn Puffs are all over the place. But they keep the kids quiet! Is it even safe to let them eat while I drive? I can’t really watch them, I’m driving! I should put the phone in the trunk while I drive so I’m not tempted to use it. But the kids like the music! It’s the only thing That keeps them quiet! They shouldn’t be using the phone. Too much screen time. They’re too little. Maybe I should get them their own tablets! No, that’s crazy. They need to be happy with books. I’ll get more books.”

Do they prescribe medication for this kind of crazy?

I’m gonna check.

Tonight I looked at her hands.

Every day seems like a race against the clock.

You wake up too early and once your feet hit the floor, it seems like you’re running.

I’m not a morning person, so when we do leave the house, I usually look like Charlize Theron….in Monster.

While other moms take the time to do their hair, makeup and attempt to look presentable, (even just to run errands and go to doctors appointments), I am usually loading the dishwasher and washing bottles because I was too tired to do it after dinner the night before and let’s face it, last night was a shit show of baths, crying, juggling diapers and then we all flopped into our respective beds or cribs one by one.

I’m not great at time management, so even if I have a couple hours to prepare for our exit, I seem to run around the house searching for keys, phone and stuffing our oversized diaper bag with unnecessary portions of formula and snacks until the very last second. And we’re still late.

So it’s of no surprise that by the end of the day I’m using borrowed time to return emails, reply to clients and set up appointments.

More often than not, these last minute responses are done in the dark using one hand to type and the other to balance a bottle and baby in the other.

I try to play catch up during the quiet moments.

But tonight, I just rocked her.

I purposefully left my phone behind so that when the moment came that I remembered to finally answer that text, I couldn’t.

I just fed my baby girl.

I admired her.

Her little chubby hand was holding one side of the bottle while I held the other.

She has little dimples where her knuckles will one day be, and then I started to wonder at what point my sons little finger dimples turned into knuckles.

I watched her drink her Bubba with her eyes closed. She was so peaceful and comfortable.

I could tell she felt safe and warm in my arms as her little head rested in between my elbow and chest.

Her little belly stuck out just a bit and her knees bent, curling into me.

I stroked her silky soft hair with its little cowlick in front (just like her brother and daddy have) and wondered if it would turn more blonde like mine as a baby or dark like my husband’s was (before he started shaving it all off).

If I weren’t such an anxious person, I swear I could’ve slept right there in that rocking chair with her all night long (or until she woke up again at 12:00 or 3:00, depending on her mood).

Those 20 minutes were priceless and they don’t last forever. My toddler requests his daddy at nighttime now, which leaves me free to not load the dishwasher and also feels a little like getting punched in the gut.

I cherish any time to rock my babies, especially when all else is quiet and I can put the recurring list of worries in my mind on hold for a moment.

I’ll have to remember to forget my phone in the living room again tomorrow.

But I’M the one who rocked you for 8 1/2 months!!

Okay, so we carry our babies in our bodies for 9 months or so. We decide where they go and what they do because they’re with us. Then we give birth to them (some of us for 26 hours, but who’s counting) and get to hold them, feed them, change their diapers and take care of them.

I was my son’s everything for the 1st 8 1/2 months of his life.

Maybe it was the postpartum anxiety or maybe he was just a fussy baby. Whatever the case, I held my baby constantly. People would joke all the time “Do you ever put him down?” No. The answer was “no”.

Because I held Chase so much and let him nap on me the majority of the time, he would scream when I put him in his crib to nap (even when I put him down completely asleep, he would instantly wake up and cry: even faking gagging on one special occasion), so I inevitably rocked him for the duration of his naps (even twice a day for sometimes 2 hours at a time) leaving virtually no time for myself, whatsoever.

I’m sure this is all my fault, but it was all well worth it because I hung the moon, in Chase’s eyes. I lit up a room. I was his sunshine on a cloudy day.

Until one day.

One day, when I was pregnant with our daughter and waddling around, after my husband had instilled in me that I needed to back off and allow him more time with our son so they could bond the way I had gotten to with him, Chase saw a lightbulb go off. His daddy was way cooler than his mommy.

His daddy was the one throwing him footballs and tackling him to the ground, setting up hockey nets and “body-checking” him while he wailed with laughter. Teaching him how to swing a bat and throw a cornhole bag. Watching Tom Brady on our flat screen wearing their matching Patriots jerseys and going out to use their leaf blowers together.

His daddy gets to actually WATCH a movie snuggled up to Chase while I might get a few minutes here and there in between laundry changes, diapers changes, bottle-washing and food prep.

When I try to snuggle up to Chase while he’s watching something, he gives me a second and then nudges me off!! Excuse me, kid?! I pushed you out of my body after carrying you inside of me for the better part of a year! I didn’t let your feet touch the ground until I finally put you down, like, yesterday! What the shit? I take you to the children’s museum and the playground, we go wild strawberry picking and collect shells from the beach (some of which I kept for you in a little box, by the way)!

I knew this day was coming. I knew I wouldn’t be the only person who lit up Chase’s life forever, but I thought it would last a little longer than 2 years! He’s still a baby!! Isn’t he supposed to love only ME for a little while longer??

Aren’t I supposed to be the one who makes him laugh all the time and gives the best hugs? Shouldn’t I be the one he comes running to for everything??

Sure, I’m still the one he prefers at bed-time and naps, and I’m still the one he comes to for cookie-making, when he’s hurt or sick or when he wants to do something like get up on his stool and use the sprayer to wash away glitter in the sink (something I do to keep him occupied while I get dinner ready) but I’m not the only ruler of this castle anymore. All of a sudden there’s a king by my side! With an even bigger throne!

Alas, I walked around with a smug look on my face and a false sense of security for too long. This little blue-eyed angel wouldn’t have me up on a pedestal forever.

Damn leaf blower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know I cussed you out last year, but are you accepting preschool applicants?

Anyone who knows me as a parent knows I’m a little crazy. I blame it on a combination of postpartum anxiety, my very Italian family and a short list of childhood disappointments.

After my son was born, my postpartum anxiety subsided, and I began venturing out of the confinements of our home, I found myself feeling a need to get back to the gym. Most of my other mom friends had made that leap much sooner than I had and I felt ready.

The problem wasn’t just leaving my baby for an hour or two (something I had extreme trouble with) it was leaving him in the gym daycare with people he (and I) didn’t know.

Sure, they had windows for me to peak through, the staff all had background checks and a good reputation, and it was a good opportunity for both he and I to be around other people. Apparently other human beings existed, it wasn’t just the two of us, although it seemed that way for a really long time.

I tried dropping him off, I really did. A few times. But he screamed and cried and was so confused. I just knew he thought I was gone forever. Even when the woman holding him tried to shield me from his view and another woman shooed me towards the actually workout area to let me know all was going to be ok, I just couldn’t.

I went back twice after less than 10 minutes and went home. Trying to focus on the stair master or elliptical was impossible when my heart was racing and swear I could hear him cry. I couldn’t get his little face out of my mind and really, who needed to get rid of the mom-gut anyway?

So I waited another couple months and decided to try another branch, the same branch my friend was bringing her twin girls to (who were a few months younger than Chase).

I gave the very friendly (and patient) staff a long list of instructions including not to let him cry and to please come get me or call me if he did. They agreed and were really excited to see me finally walk out.

I left, reluctantly, and tried not to cringe when one of the staff took his teether from me, holding the part he chewed on with her fingers.

I got on the stair master, put my Pandora station on DMX radio (“X Gon Give it to Ya” really gets me going) and made sure I was facing the entrance in case one of them came to get me.

They never did.

After 30 minutes, I decided enough was enough and I had to go see my baby.

As I walked out of the cardio room and down the hall towards the daycare I heard a baby screaming and just knew it was my son. It’s one of those things only a mom can tell from far away. A man would never pick up on that, not any man I know, anyway.

I picked up the pace and ran into the room and sure enough, there was my son, being held by one of the male staff members at the front desk, away from all the other children. He was crying so hard and had been for so long that he couldn’t catch his breath and had that quick, panicky, puffy breathing thing going on. You know the one.

When I grabbed him and held him, I started tearing up, too.

“Dammit. I knew I shouldn’t have done this. Mother _ _ _ _ #$%. Son of…”

Well, you get it. I was pissed.

I looked around and a few staff members were standing close by and I asked why the hell no one had come to get me? Why had no one called? I was stepping away like an idiot thinking my baby was happy and I came back to this. I was infuriated, actually. They had reassured me they would never let him cry more than a few minutes to get adjusted and would absolutely come get me if he didn’t.

Chase had to be removed from the actual play area because he was causing the other children to worry! Maybe I’m overreacting but my blood was boiling, I was so upset, I yelled at everyone, told them how unacceptable this was and stormed out.

They explained that they were LITERALLY about to come get me and he hadn’t been crying like that for very long. I wasn’t buying it.

I demanded to speak to the manager. Not the manager of the daycare, the manager of the whole building.

This woman was going to remember me.

I made such a fuss, was crying, grasping my son and made sure everyone around me heard about it.

I made such a scene that other parents walking in with strollers stopped to listen. I think they thought something catastrophic had happened in the baby room.

I cancelled my membership right then and there and if all of that wasn’t enough, came home and wrote a pretty lengthy email to the CEO. She wrote me back almost immediately and was really understanding and apologetic. Girl was good. You don’t climb the ladder without calming a few bitches down.

Jump to a year and a half later. I’ve had my second baby and my first is getting ready to start thinking about preschool possibilities and I still haven’t worked out more than the 15 squats I did in December and that one Yoga video on YouTube

They have forgotten about the crazy lady (although I’m still pissed) and I hear they have a wonderful facility!

I’m going to take a tour of the preschool next week. I just have a pretty important decision to make before then.

Red Sox hat or the cute blue and white one with the anchor? I think the one with the anchor hides my face a little better.

I’m Being Tortured By My Baby

I have been held captive for 10 months, 21 days, 11 hours and 26 minutes. My captor’s name is Chase and he tortures me with sleep deprivation. There was a period of about 2 weeks where he let me sleep, uninterrupted, through the night and I thought “Could it be? Am I free?” and then on a warm evening in early September, I was startled awake by the soft cries from the monitor next to my bed. They gradually increased in octave and I just knew….it wasn’t over.

SLEEPING! What’s that? For the first 5 months of Chase’s life, I thought I would be the first person to die from sleep deprivation. You literally feel like you’re losing your mind. At one point I wondered if I was really in a padded room somewhere walking around with a baby doll and too crazy to notice. No sleep does things to you.

I constantly called and texted every new mom I know (I say “new” mom because I felt like anyone with older children might be out of touch and I needed some fresh advice…someone who just got through the battlefield and was eager to show me the ropes) and asked if what I was going through was normal and what worked for them.

There were so many different pieces of advice but no one really gives you verbatim direction on what EXACTLY they did (because, who has the time to explain all that or feels like sending a 3 page text, ESPECIALLY a mom) so I am going to tell you EXACTLY what we did (and are currently doing) because I needed someone to do that for me.

Keep in mind every baby is different, but here is what worked for us:

We kept Chase in a Rock N Play next to my side of the bed from the day we brought him home from the hospital. We were determined not to use the battery-operated swing or vibration, (hahaha!!! you will literally do anything to get a baby to sleep) but that didn’t last long! The self-swing option was a life saver. Also, Chase had reflux as an infant so being in the Rock N Play at an incline made everything much easier for all of us. This is the one we used:

rock n play

Because he had reflux, Chase spit up a lot and it would make him cry because it burned, so the pediatrician prescribed Zantac for him. I was reluctant to put my infant on any kind of prescription medicine but let me tell you, if you were in pain every day, you’d take something too. I looked at it like this: My baby is in pain and I have the ability to make him feel better so why wouldn’t I give him something that I know will help?

I was breastfeeding Chase and swaddling him at night. He wouldn’t sleep unless he was swaddled and we continued to do so until he was about 5 months and began to struggle to get out of it, that’s also around the time he started to roll over. He also wouldn’t sleep in anything other than the Rock N Play but it got to the point where his legs were literally dangling off the edge!

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Around 5 1/2 months is when everything changed for us. We were moving into a new house, so we hadn’t set up Chase’s crib yet. We had borrowed a bigger bassinet from a friend, but Chase wouldn’t sleep in it for more than 2 hours (just long enough for me to finally get some sleep and then be awoken by an angry elf). He was also used to being elevated and all nice and snug so laying flat and without some kind of cushioning wasn’t happening.

Then a friend of mine told me about the “Docatot”, which is awesome! (not cheap, but awesome!) It was the perfect transitional tool we needed to get Chase from Rock N Play to crib because it kept him nice and snug and prevented him from rolling over.

docatot

This Docatot (picture is not my child, but it sold me!) was so great, I wish I had heard about it sooner (and no, they’re not endorsing me). I put the Docatot in Chase’s Pack N Play and he slept great! (Well, great for Chase at the time). So, apparently the Docatot is meant to be used as a co-sleeping tool, but Chase would NOT sleep with us. We tried. I even kicked my husband out of our bed so Chase could take his spot and he was still up every 2 hours. No thanks.

The other key for us was putting Chase in his own bedroom to sleep!! I didn’t really feel comfortable with the idea (and neither did my husband) but Chase woke up at the drop of a spoon (that happened the other day). Our bed was squeaky, my husband clears his throat and I roll around in my sleep and EVERYTHING woke Chase up. You can imagine my attitude towards my husband any time he coughed! So at about 5 1/2 months, we bit the bullet and set Chase up in his own room and he slept much better.

I always sleep with a fan, so Chase is used to white noise, which I think helped. We also got him a white noise machine and use it (two of them, actually) to this day.

Once we moved into the new house, we set the crib up and put the Docatot in that until Chase started rolling around on his own. He didn’t seem phased when I removed it, I just kept a close eye on him for a little while until I felt comfortable with him sleeping on his stomach. This all happened around 6-6 1/2 months, I’d say.

Because Chase wasn’t the best sleeper, I did a ton of research and asked my tribe of women what worked for them and the thing that stuck out the most for me was starting a “bedtime routine” where we do the same thing every single night so Chase knows it’s time for bed. Our routine consists of “tubby time” where Chase gets a bath in a quiet environment with dim lights. It’s his time to wind down. I have tried keeping the lights bright and having my husband in there with us, but Chase seems to sleep much better when it’s just the 2 of us in there and it’s quiet. (My need for having things done a particular way is hereditary, apparently.)

Then when he gets out of the tub, I lay him on our bed (he bathes in our bathroom) and I get him dressed for bed. He doesn’t like things on his feet, he tries to pull them off (lately) so I either put him in a feet-less pajama suit or a 2 piece, long sleeves and pants and always put him in a sleep sac.

 

sleep sac

(Again, not my child)

I have a weird OCD thing about temperature and get obsessed with the temp in Chase’s room at night. I am constantly worried that he is either too hot or too cold, so I sneak in there 500 times to make sure it’s just right. I’m convinced the thermometer on his monitor is lying to me. I have found that putting him in cotton pajamas with the lighter sleep sack for warmer nights and the fleece sleep sac when it’s cold works best. I really like them because I feel like he has a blanket wrapped around him all night.

Speaking of blankets, that was another question of mine: When is it ok to give him a blanky?? He sleeps with his lovie (AKA “Moo Cow”) but seeing him all alone in his crib curled up in a ball made me sad so I wanted him to have a blanket. We got the OK from his pediatrician once Chase was rolling all around and at first, the idea scared me so I tried it during nap time so I could watch him with it. I wouldn’t want to sleep without a blanket of some kind! Even just to snuggle it.

During his “tubby time”, Chase’s bottle is being warmed up (I give him a bottle of breast milk that I have pumped because it fills his belly for the night) and his daddy kisses him “Goodnight”. I feed him in his rocking chair in his room with the sound machines on. He also has room-darkening curtains (I highly recommend) so it’s nice and dark in there. After his bottle, he nurse a little (comfort) and usually falls asleep that way and I put him to bed asleep. Sometimes I have to walk him around the room and pat his back (he puts his hand over my mouth if I try to sing to him…if you’ve ever heard me sing, you’d understand..no joke).

I know you’re supposed to put them down “drowsy but awake” to sleep so when they wake in the night they don’t expect to see you there because they understand where they are. BUT…after letting Chase cry it out for nap time (more on that below) he was able to sleep better through the night and was able to soothe himself back to sleep. I have always put him down asleep when it’s his bedtime, I love rocking him to sleep and holding him a little while.

This “bedtime routine” might  a bit excessive but I’m telling you, if you have a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night or doesn’t nap well and you haven’t gotten a break, your eyes look like a raccoon’s and you know your baby isn’t getting the rest he desperately needs, you’ll hag upside down by your toes, if it helps. Trust me.

Nap time has been hell for us. I may have created a monster, but as I have stated before, I had post-partum anxiety and didn’t want to put my baby down very much. I held him a ton as an infant (as I think you should) and let him nap on me all the time. Granted, I didn’t have any other children to take care of so I allowed myself to take advantage of these precious moments and Chase slept on me while I watched t.v. (oh, I miss those days!!) or rocked him in his rocking chair, and sometimes he even slept on me while I wore him in his Baby K’Tan:

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I would actually be a great tour guide after months of driving all around town to get Chase to nap. I can tell you the nicest, most secluded and exclusive areas and the not-so-nice areas to avoid. I can tell you which places have drive-through coffees and which ones to go to if you’re trying to be quiet. Ask for Janet at the mini Starbucks. She makes the best 1/2 decaf skinny vanilla lattes and whispers when she sees you.

As everything else, this came to an end and Chase stopped falling asleep in the car and would only scream his tiny little ass off until we stopped and I took him out.

I’ve never been a fan of the “cry it out” method, but Chase just wouldn’t nap in his crib. I’d get him to sleep and then gently and sloooowwwlllyyyy lay him in his crib and he’d wake right up and scream (or pretend to choke, no lie) until I picked him up. So I was held captive in his room and rocked him to nap every day. It was sweet at first and then he stopped napping that way too! He was getting uncomfortable and wanted to roll around so he’d accidentally wake himself up after about 20-30 minutes.

I finally decided something needed to change after we had family and friends visit us and I was stuck in Chase’s room for most of their time here. I had tried letting him cry it out a couple times in the past but I ended up in the bathroom crying, myself. It hurt me to hear him cry and wonder where I was and why I wasn’t coming to get him. So, at about 8 1/2 months, I decided to do it and not look back because I realized he desperately needed to learn how to nap and it was my responsibility to teach him.

I bought books, watched videos, talked to my pediatrician and friends and decided to try letting Chase cry for 5 minutes then go in and console him. I would be putting him down drowsy but awake so he would get himself to sleep and I KNEW he was going to lose it and I KNEW that I needed to be strong because I wasn’t doing this TO him, I was doing it FOR him.

The 5 minute thing didn’t work. Neither did the 10 minute or even the 20. When I would go back in the room to console him, Chase would scream even louder, cry even harder and it would allllll start over again. SO, there were a couple times where he cried for an hour!! I finally would go in and get him, convinced he’d hate me and never trust me again. Thankfully, he didn’t and I kept up with it until probably the 4th day, he rolled over and went to sleep!!!! What the what?? Yeah, it was crazy. I thought: “No way, this is too good to be true” but the little man took a nap!

Now, I’m not trying to sell you anything so I can be honest and tell you this doesn’t always happen!! Sometimes I put him down and he cries and sometimes I just pick him back up or wait just a few minutes and then try again later. Sometimes he naps for 2 hours and sometimes 30 minutes, but at least he’s napping without any crutch.

Also, when I did this, he started sleeping through the night because he understood where he was, that it was sleep time and he probably didn’t feel like screaming for 20 minutes, it would just be easier to roll over, grab his lovie and go back to sleep.

But again, this doesn’t always happen, like I said in the opening statement, there was a period of about 2 blissful weeks where he was sleeping 11 hours straight per night and then BAM, just as soon as you foolishly tell people your child is sleeping through the night does he wake up every night at 2 AM just to spite you.

What can I say, ladies (and gents?)…we can just try our best…I have accepted the fact that I will probably be exhausted for a long time to come and I will never look like I’m 23 again because that bitch was rested!

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