Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
At 7 months, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to my “hired” village, and as my friend and Babble blogger Cassandra Barry likes to say, “Mom-Up.” I had to get rid of my night ladies. Places in Africa needed water wells for god’s sake. I think I could have built/dug 20 so far if I hadn’t employed my gals.
It’s just that with Fia, I was such a wreck from no sleep and no hired help, that I kinda lost my sh-t. We Ferberized her at 4 1/2 months. I became evangelical about the beauty and benefits of sleep training. With Emmett, I’ve done the opposite. I have managed to find all sorts of excuses–some valid, others not–to put it off.
He has reflux. He has gas pains. He’s farting too much. He must be in pain. He’s pooping too much. He must be in pain. He’s not pooping enough. He is constipated. He ate too much. His tummy hurts. He didn’t eat enough. He must be hungry.
This little dude has me weak in the knees with his ridiculously happy temperament that it’s been hard to think about letting him cry.
But the real reason I haven’t done it is I’m not tired! I think in order to go full throttle on sleep training, you have to reach the brink of insanity and misery. Or be falling asleep at red lights. Or have your husband threaten to check you into the psych ward. Instead, with 8 hours of sleep a night, I have bounced happily through his infant stage, feeling pretty damn good as our bank account dwindles.
Phil and I both started talking about sleep training oh, about 4 months ago. Emmett would sleep happily on one of us while we watched every episode of Storage Wars, The Daily Show, and Breaking Bad. I wasn’t frantically going to bed at 8 pm, hoping to get a 3-hour stretch of zzz’s.
“When are we going to sleep train Emmett?” Phil would ask. “Soon,” I’d say, sipping my wine, not taking my eyes off the TV. Neither of us were exactly motivated.
At 10 pm, we’d hear the knock on the door and in came our night help.
Frankly, with that set up, I didn’t want to “Mom-Up.” I mean, no one gets an award for lack of sleep, so for me, this was the right decision. To a point. But then it became a bit ridiculous. A little too easy. And I knew it was also in Emmett’s best interest to learn to put himself to sleep. Not to mention we needed our house back. And to some extent, our freedom. I didn’t want to travel anywhere because I knew I’d be the one losing sleep. Having a night nurse does get limiting–in an upper-class-problem kind of way.
So, with this 3-day weekend, we decided it was time.
This one was pretty bad. We put him down at 8:30 pm. He was up at 10:30. I changed his diaper (was only wet). He was up again at 11. I went in and tickled the back of his perfect neck (god I love that boy). He fell asleep until 1:30. Then started to wail. Fia woke up and started wailing too. Phil was running one way, I the other. It would have been comedic if it weren’t the middle of the night. Phil got Fia back down then came into Emmett’s room. I was sitting there rocking him.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought he pooped,” I said, knowing he hadn’t.
“Look, we are either doing this or not. If you can’t handle it, go down and sleep on the couch, and I’ll do it.”
“No, no, you’re right. Okay.”
I put him down (asleep) and walked out. He slept until 3:25. Then we let him cry for an hour. But before everyone freaks out at my cruelty, it wasn’t like he wailed for an hour. He would calm himself down and have 5-10 minute bouts of sleep. Then gear up again. Neither of us went in.
He slept until 7. The worst night was over.
Much better. He woke up at 10:30. I changed his diaper. He slept until 4 a.m. Cried for 7 minutes. I didn’t go in. He put himself back asleep until 6:30.
Down at 8 pm. A small crying fit at 3:30 for 5 minutes. Not a peep until 6.
I think we are there. And I am feeling this tremendous sense of freedom. I’m already planning our next two trips. As happy as Emmett was, I think he’s even happier now. He too is getting the sleep he needs. I also get to say I’ve “Mom-ed Up.” At least in the nights. No way am I getting rid of my daytime help. I still think Cassandra will be proud.
It also goes to show that there isn’t just one “right” way. This is a good lesson for my judgmental self. I was so sure that Ferbering at 3-4 months was the only way to go. Until I read Bringing Up Bebe. Then I thought I should have done everything differently to have my kids sleeping through at 4 weeks via “The Pause.” I was cursing myself (though by Chapter 6, I was annoyed by the book).
But now I have a baby who is sleeping through the night, who can still take naps on me during the day or sleep on us occasionally while we watch TV. I have flexibility to do what I want when I want. And for me, that’s the true definition of “Mom-ing Up.”
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: baby nurse, cosleeping, cry it out, Ferber, Ferberizing, gas pains, Mom-Up, night nurse, reflux, sleep associations, sleep deprivation, sleep through the night, sleep training
Monday, August 13th, 2012
Last weekend Phil was away. I don’t have help on the weekends. I was by myself with both babies.
Here’s the scene:
Up at 6 a.m. Throw Emmett on the boob. Park Fia in front of Super Why
. Make coffee. Get Fia breakfast. Switch to Sesame Street. Let Emmett roll around on the carpet while I supervise and sip coffee (2 minutes of quality time). Feed cat. Emmett poops. Explosively. Put Fia in her high chair with a coloring book and bathe Emmett. Then feed him again. Fia starts to whine for eggs. Put Emmett in the swing and make eggs. Plop eggs in front of Fia. Emmett starts to fuss. Pick him up. He poops again…a crazy amount. I am covered. In sh-t. I keep Fia locked in her high chair and give Emmett a sink bath. Put him back in swing, go change my clothes. Fia is finished. Begins to throw crayons. I am so happy she earned herself a time out, because for those 2 minutes I take my Lexapro, my Wellbutrin, and debate a shot of tequila.
I look at the clock. It is 7:30. Well f–k me.
At that moment, standing in my kitchen, dripping with sweat and both babies screaming, I had a complete and utter revelation. NO MORE GUILT. Divine Intervention of the Non-Guilty Mom spoke to me.
I’m totally going to “out” myself here. I have full-time help and a part-time job. Not even. I’m a freelancer. I even have a night nurse a few times a week. It was almost every night in the beginning (I’d pump and bring her the bottle.) With Fia, I lost my mind with lack of sleep. It was so stressful for all those around me; I decided with Emmett I would do things differently. I would take my therapist’s advice and throw money at the problem. Lots of it. I could have sustained a village in Africa. Maybe two. Instead, I’ve sustained my mental health. And my marriage.
Up until now I’ve been afraid to fully confess. I’ve been nervous about the backlash from moms who will say I’m indulgent, that I’m not taking care of my kids, or even the “extremists” saying, “Why did you have kids if you’re not going to raise them?” Because here’s the thing: I am raising them and I now know I am doing a far better job with hired help than I could ever do on my own.
I shouldn’t have to justify this, but before I go further here’s why I have a full-time nanny: with Cleo in my life, I can pick and choose which child I want to be with. I can get quality time with both. That is key. But, I can also go to the bank, the grocery store, the nail salon and get a massage, all without carting a kid around. I can pay bills without sticking Fia in front of the TV. And blog. Added bonus: Cleo sometimes cooks for us. I still feel like I have zero time and I practically have a staff. Yet I often battle the demons of guilt. Shouldn’t I just plow through this on my own and be with my kids every hour that I can?
First of all, carting my kids to the store isn’t quality time. But now I think holding down the fort alone with your kids isn’t quality time either. For me, it was about keeping them alive. It was S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L.
Yet, my battle is constant: When I’m not with them, I feel like I should be. When I am with them at my house with the to-do list staring me in the face, I think of everything else I have to do.
While I’m at it, here’s another confession: I don’t love to “play.” As in, sit on the floor and build blocks or have a tea party. I love watching Fia play though. I like to see the creative way she invents characters or stacks things. But pretending to pour tea over and over again? Honestly? I get bored.
So what I’ve done is carve out specific mornings and afternoons that Fia and I “do” things. We ride the kiddie train near our house, go on playdates to waterparks, museums, whatever. But usually it’s somewhere outside of the house. To me, that’s where I find my quality time with her.
Granted, throughout my solo-parenting day, we did have 9 more minutes of pure fun at home. Fia and I were watering the lawn and she took the hose and squirted me. A mini water battle ensued. We chased each other around laughing. Emmett was taking one of his 20-minute cat naps (which is about all I ever get). “Ahh, see I’m doing it,” I thought to myself. “This is what the full-time moms get.” But then she fell, screamed for a Band-Aid, Emmett woke up arching his back (ready to release 11 more fart bubbles), and the moment was gone.
So why do I feel guilty for having help? Without it, I wouldn’t have quality time. Or maybe I would for a mere 11 minutes per day. Hardly enough to justify the guilt.
Sometimes I envy the full-time working moms because they can totally justify their nannies or daycare. Other times I envy the SAHMs (Stay-At-Home-Moms) who I picture doing this in an orderly way. I think I fall in this in-between area and perhaps that is where my guilt comes from. Or used to come from.
But ever since my revelation last weekend, I am trying to stop second-guessing how I raise my kids and just feel lucky I have this luxury.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations | Tags: daycare, full time help, guilt, guilty, infant, milestone, milestone monday, milestones, mom guilt, nanny, newborn, night nurse, playdate, quality time, sahm, Sesame Street, Super Why, tv, working moms