Posts Tagged ‘ Ferber ’

Is My Boy More Active Than Yours?

Friday, March 15th, 2013

 Emmett never stops. He is a tank, a brute of boundless energy.  At his 1-year check-up the pediatrician, who has been with him since birth, reiterated again that my dude may need Occupational Therapy to find ways to Slow.Him.Down. He is the most active child she’s seen that’s not on the spectrum or that has any mental or health issues.  Even changing his diaper has been a challenge since he was, oh, 5 months old. Thank god for his amazing temperament or I might consider selling him.

“You are going to have to run him twice a day. For at least an hour each time. He is the kind of kid who will need to be worn out. Every-single-day,” she said.

I pictured a horse let out to pasture. Or a dog during off-leash hours in the park. I then pictured Emmet’s face on both beasts. Yup. That’s my boy. I decided I needed to find an activity for us to do together. One that wasn’t awful.  Or disastrous (like Fia’s ballet class).This time I was smarter. I decided on Toddler Gymnastics. I should have thought of it sooner, since Fia goes to the same gym. I know the coaches, the facility, the drill.

He was the youngest one but kept up with the best of them. He loved the trampoline the most. He giggled incessantly. Of course he wouldn’t sit still and wait his turn. I had to pull him away and run him (yes, my horse) until it was his time. He hated the balance beam. It took both me and the coach to try and hold him upright. He kept doing the “baby flop”–you know, when they go limp. I’m sure because it would take too much concentration to walk slowly. I had no time to stare at the clock or dream about my lunch like I did in other mommy and me classes. But that’s a good thing. I hate being bored.

I took him early and we left late. I really thought I “ran” him good. Then we came home and he slept for 30 minutes. Should I put up my For Sale sign yet? WTF??

Three nights this week he has shrieked off and on for 3 hours. Phil and I have taken turns going in when we can’t take it anymore. He’s not sick. He’s not teething. He just wants to be held. He is one strong-willed little dude. And he knows it. I think in a test of wills he will win. Actually he already has. But man, he’s so damn cute and snuggly at times. He knows just when to turn on the charm to keep that For Sale sign at bay.

You all know I am a sleep training guru, but even I know when to throw in the towel. Since he won in the cry-it-out category, last night we switched tactics. I went in on the first wail around midnight. In less than 20 seconds I put his paci back in and laid him down. I said in a fairly stern voice, “Emmett, it’s night time.” I closed the door. He didn’t peep until around 3 am. I did it again. He slept until 7:15.

I think he just needs reassurance that we are there. Even when he’s running he pauses and looks back to check that I’m still with him. I’m usually a few paces behind, sweating. I am soon going to need a cane. Boys. Men. It’s hard to keep up with them. They are needy little f–kers. But impossible to resist.

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Fia’s Angry Words (Does She Think We Yell at Her?)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

I was in my office this afternoon and Fia came in “to play.” Usually that entails trying to type on my computer, or getting out markers, pulling a Post-It note, and attempting to color on it. You can imagine where that leads: to bright purple all over my desk. I told her I was working and needed a few minutes of quiet if she could find something to do.

She wandered over to this statue thing of a woman and began talking to it. I was thrilled to see her play on her own. She doesn’t do it much and it was so cute. At first.

“Hi baby,” she said. “You need a nap.” She pretended to cover it/her with an imaginary blanket.

“You need a pacifier. I will get you one,” and so on. I was just sitting there smiling, thoroughly enjoying the moment. But then, her tone turned and I must say I was a bit shocked. She began screaming and really railing on the non-baby statue:

“Stop standing up in your crib!” she screamed.

“I am going to shut the door!!!”

“You get a time out!”

“I’m going to zip up the crib tent!”

I got up and went to her. “Fia, you don’t need to shout like that. Why are you doing that?” “Because the baby was bad,” she said. Huh? What?

Okay, what she shouted are all things we say–not shout– to get her to go to sleep. It’s a song and dance like many parents experience. But we never ever yell. Neither does Cleo. I’m around all the time and I hear how it goes.

We are firm, but never mean. I’ll say in a totally regular voice, “Fia, lie down. Fia, I said lie down.” She’ll look at me and grin. Sometimes I get down on her at face level, grin with her, touch noses, and we both laugh. It’s kind of our little “thing.” Then I say, “Okay honey, I’m going to have to take your pacifier away if you don’t go to sleep.” I usually gesture as if I’m about to pull it, then she concedes, lies down and I tickle her forehead.

Sometimes she’ll be standing in her crib and won’t lie down and I walk towards the door, like I’m leaving. “No mama! Tickle my forehead!”

“Then lie down,” I say, sternly. She does and I tickle.

We get about 3 sleep encores a night like this before she really goes down. I’m really never even frustrated by it. I figure this is just par for the course.

Also, in terms of time outs, I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom: Really, she’s only had about 3-5 of them in her life. I’m not a lax parent. She’s just a really good kid. She follows rules, likes order and routine, and is just an affectionate, goofy, fun-loving girl. She doesn’t misbehave much. Rarely tantrums. Something like the nighttime routine described above would never warrant a time out. She has to do something really wrong to get one. And she just doesn’t.

So what is up with her imitating us in such an angry way? It broke my heart to hear her shout like that. Is this a normal toddler thing or does she think we really yell? What is her perception of us? Of herself? That she’s a bad girl? Or am I overthinking all this? Please parents, help me on this one. I don’t want to lose sleep over it. It’s weighing on me.

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Why I Can’t Sleep With My Toddler

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The other night Phil was out of town. I was having one of those cravings for Fia… you know, like the kind when you want to eat your child, yet you know you’ll never have enough of them to get full? It’s that insatiable feeling of mom-love. I decided to have her sleep in bed with me. I envisioned spooning her all night and getting some sort of tangible fullness. Uh-huh.

9:30 pm–in bed reading my book. Fia lifting legs in the air. “What are you doing honey?” “Making shadows Mama. Look!”

“It is two hours past your bedtime. That’s it.”

Book closed. Lights out. Fia puts hands in air. She swings her arms back and forth. I bark, “No more shadows!” I’m officially annoyed at my decision to have her sleep with me. Plus, I had to shut off my Kindle during a riveting reading moment.

11:00 p.m.—a foot is in my mouth.

12:30 a.m.—I am eating Big Bird.

1:00 a.m.—Emmett starts to cry. I hear him through the monitor. I sneak into his room to pacify. Pitter-patter. In come little feet. “Fia, go back to bed,” I whisper.

This is important for two reasons. First—it’s one o’clock in the f-cking morning. But second, Em is so sensitive to noise that if she starts talking, he’ll jerk up and start giggling. Yes, my baby laughs too much. I realize there are worse problems to have…but in the middle of the night, all issues seem insurmountable.

I get Em back in his crib, Fia back in my bed. I threaten that I’m putting her back in her crib. But I know she’ll wail. I can’t take the “you get to sleep with mommy tonight” back.  I can feel Ferber shaking his head…

3:00 a.m.—an ankle on my ear. A thigh on my stomach. I am in a bad game of Twister and I’m losing.

4:00 a.m.–Wayne pounces on the bed and yowls. I curse myself.  How did I forget about the stupid cat? Fia bolts up in bed. “Mama, Wayne is here!” Yep, didn’t know that. Thanks.

I get up, grab the 18-pound load of fur and sequester him downstairs.

5:30 a.m.—Em wakes up. This time he’s hungry. I sneak in again. Put him on the boob. Pretty soon her little shadow appears, then her little body. I have to whisper again, “Get back in bed. Shhh. Shhh.” Emmett pulls off the boob to look. It’s his big sister! Cue the giggling. I tell her to just lie quietly on the carpet in front of me so Em can’t see her.  She does. And puts her legs in the air. Yep, the shadow game is back.

6:00 a.m.—Em is sleeping. So is Fia. I am wide-awake. The sun is rising and I can feel the bags pulling down on my face.

I didn’t get one cuddle. I am not full. But at this point, I don’t care. I just want my bed back.

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Milestone Monday: NO FREE PASS FOR MOMS

Monday, September 24th, 2012

There is no free pass in motherhood. A while back I wrote about why the boob rocks and how I would get extra sleep every morning because Phil had to get up with Fia. I would lie in bed with Emmett, he’d nurse and we’d both fall asleep for at least an extra hour. I was so thrilled–almost giddy–about this scenario.

Anytime I needed a break from the chaos or wanted to relax, Emmett and I would just disappear under the guise of nursing. Don’t get me wrong: I did put him on the boob. But it went beyond survival for us/him. It was more like the perfect excuse to escape when the going got rough.

Wow, kid #2 is easier on the mom, I thought with glee.

Well, I should have known better than to brag. Or get too far ahead of myself. Because when it comes to babies, they really love to f-ck with you. Just when you think you’ve got it down….

Emmett is now 8 months old and I’m more exhausted than ever. Granted, it could be because I listened to my friend Cassandra’s advice to “Mom-Up” and sleep train him, thus getting rid of my night village. (Damn you C!) So now, he sort of sleeps through the night. You know, the usual–consistently inconsistent. (That should be the slogan for babies, btw).

The mornings though are when I really get screwed. He is so excited about moving (almost crawling), not to mention he is an incredibly active baby, that now when he wakes up, there is no sleeping. He nurses and is ready to M-O-V-E. This boy waits for no one.

What sucks even more is he and Fia have swapped time zones. Em wakes up at 5 or 5:30 and she sleeps until 7. So I’m up before the sun, done nursing in 20 minutes, and attempting to think about the day ahead while Fia and Phil snooze away.  Phil has very little sympathy. Why should he? He bore the brunt of early mornings for months while I smugly enjoyed what I thought was mother nature’s free mom pass. Ha.

Cassandra, I now hate your term Mom-Up. I want to Mom-Down. Somehow though it just doesn’t have the same ring.

Emmett–be glad you are so damn cute and happy. If you weren’t, your mom would ignore your early morning wake-up call.

I know this is one of many examples of the tables getting turned on moms, so please feel free to share your own sad tale. I may as well brace myself for more.

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Why Do Co-Sleepers Use the Past As Their Argument?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Here’s what really gets to me when I talk about sleep training. So many of the co-sleepers defend their position by comparing what people did in the dark ages with babies. Here is an example from last week’s post:

“In tribal times, you would have never made your baby cry all alone in a crib. And we wonder what’s wrong with society!!…Until the 1920′s, babies have slept with their parents for centuries. It’s still the norm in all other cultures other than in America.”

I’m not singling out this particular person. I appreciate she read my blog and took the time to comment. But this is the type of thing I generally see when discussing sleep training.

First of all, let’s get the facts straight. America is not the only country to put babies in a crib. Most of the developed world doesn’t co-sleep. That includes Europe and Asia too, which encompasses, oh, a few countries here and there. Let’s not forget Canada. You think crib makers only sell to the United States? Seriously?

But my real annoyance is the comparison of current day to that of tribal and biblical times and what those in third world countries do. I’m pretty sure a villager in Africa would be thrilled with a crib. I am guessing that is the least of their worries though.

Has anyone ever toured the Tenement Museum in NYC? It’s an amazing place. They have reconstructed a real tenement to show how families used to live. This is before housing and labor–including child labor–laws were enacted.  It was commonplace for a family of 8-10 to live in a 300-square foot space with no running water or electricity. No indoor plumbing. There was no room for cribs or separate bedrooms. Infants routinely died from diarrhea. Sanitation was completely lacking. To use those times as a barometer for what is good for today seems completely ludicrous to me.

Also, you think none of these people from past generations let their babies cry? Think again. Whether you were working all day in the fields or in the sweatshops of New York, don’t you imagine that parents were completely exhausted and just collapsed at night? They probably slept through a crying baby. If they did wake up, sure, mom put the baby on the boob so they could both sleep. I get it. It’s called survival.

Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, one in four babies under the age of 5 dies. Who wants to compare those statistics to what we have?

I know what you’re going to say: infant mortality rates have nothing to do with co-sleeping (unless you suffocate your baby, which does happen and thus why the AAP recommends against it).

But what irks me is this instant assumption that if something was practiced “for centuries” and still exists in villages in Africa, that we should use that as an argument for practices today. I spoke before about this in my case against homebirth.

There was a time when pregnant women were routinely drugged into a “Twilight Sleep” and strapped down unconscious to give birth. They were also given a pill to prevent their milk from coming in. Hard to fathom right? Seems completely insane. Inhumane even. But just because I believe in hospital births, epidurals and the beauty of modern medicine and vaccines doesn’t mean that I concur with the major and egregious practices of the past.

So sure, come up with why co-sleeping works for you: that you love having your baby snuggled tight next to you; that it’s a way for everyone to get more sleep; that it is your bonding time. Those reasons make sense. I did it too. Still do for weekend naps. Put Em on the boob and we drift off. It is heaven. It didn’t work for me at night because I was too paranoid of rolling on him. I was up constantly checking myself.  Now he’s in his crib and doing really well. So whatever works.

But for those of us who want to sleep train and have our babies in their cribs getting an uninterrupted 12-hour stretch of one of the most basic human needs, please don’t point to history and lambast us for our decision. And for the record, here is a recent study that backs up why sleep (and thus, sleep training for those babies who don’t just fall into it naturally) is so crucial. I’m just saying…..

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

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