September 24, 2009

The Sleep Solution...for now...

Ahhhh...thank you all so much for your words of support and advice yesterday. I really needed those. I was pretty emotional all day and it helped to hear from all of you. Thank you!

Well. I saw my therapist yesterday and spent a little time with a caring friend. Zane and I both were kind of crabby and sad yesterday - the lack of sleep taking its toll.

So. Our plan for the immediate future (I will develop a longer-term plan as I feel more rested) is that for weeknights we take shifts. Mr. Spicy takes Zane until 10:30 or 11 and I sleep in the guest room. Then I get up and come to bed and take any wakings after that. Then Mr. Spicy is on again from about 5:30am - 7:30am. For the weekend, I am going to get Zane down and then go to bed in the guest room. Then Mr. Spicy will take the whole night while I sleep (possibly with the help of some Benadryl?) . If this works it may be the first night I have slept through the night in 8 months+.

Last night we did the shifts and it worked great. I felt so much better even after just a few hours in a row and both Zane and I seemed to sleep better and be in better moods this morning. Win! I know there is still quite a deficit of sleep I need to replenish, but it feels like a good start and I feel so much better able to manage today with even that little bit of sleep.

I am excited to sleep more this weekend but also kind of dreading it. Even when Mr. Spicy has taken night shifts in the past (he used to do one or two every weekend when Zane was a newborn), I would sleep in the same room and invariably wake at least a little when Zane did. So I was still "there". Not being there when he wakes up, not knowing how he is feeling, not being there to hold him or help Mr. Spicy figure out what he needs feels really scary. But I have to let go. I know he loves his Dada and feels safe with him and I have to let go a little now and take care of me. I know I need to do this. I know. It's just hard.

So that's it. Just wanted to let y'all know that we are working on this and I hope to be doing much better soon. Thanks for saying what I needed to hear.

September 23, 2009

And the payoff....

This morning as I passed my husband and son in the hall on my way to the bathroom, my husband stopped me to give me a hug:

"Zane, lets give Mama a hug to say thank you for taking care of you all night. You woke up a lot last night, it was hard for Mama."

me: "Well, it was hard for baby too...(to Zane) I know you don't want to wake up so much. I'm sorry it was hard for you last night too."

At this point my beautiful boy lifts his head from Daddy's shoulder and leans over to give me a big wet baby kiss.


September 22, 2009

Sleepless in Denver

I am downstairs, taking a break. Taking a break from my beautiful, incredible, sweet little boy. (He is with his Daddy)

My little boy whose lack of sleep is slowly driving me to the point of insanity.

I know he used to sleep. I just can hardly remember when.

I know that many many months ago he would regularly sleep six hours at a stretch, sometimes even nine.

But it's been a long time since that happened round these parts.

It's been a slow gradual decline....first it was a five hour stretch, then four, then three and a half.

Somewhere along the line I picked up "The No-Cry Sleep Solution", I remember that when I read it he was still fitting into the normal expected sleep pattern for his age. So I put it away and decided to just continue with what we had been doing. I comforted my tired self with the hope that this would soon pass and the knowledge that he was already growing up so fast and that I would miss these night times with him when he got older. And I was really ok with it.

But then a few weeks ago it got worse. Much much worse.

It's been many months since I have slept more than 4 hours straight through. It has now been several weeks since I have slept two hours or more in a row. I have a constant headache and I am losing my ability to suck it up and function well during the day.

His napping is erratic. I never know whether I will get a blissful two-hour stretch from him or the more common 30 minute power-naps he has become fond of these days. Regardless, I have lost my own ability to sleep on cue when he sleeps during the day - likely due to the coffee I am drinking each morning just to manage.

I can't help but feel that it is my fault somehow - that I am missing something, that I should be doing something differently. I am very consistent with his bedtime routine. I use several cues to let him know it is time to go to bed. And he falls asleep easily. He just doesn't stay that way very long.

I thought maybe it was his teeth, as he does seem really unhappy and uncomfortable every time he wakes. I have tried herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, massage, and good old-fashioned "baby crack" (aka Tylenol or Advil). I might get one extra hour from this but it doesn't seem to make all that big of a difference.

I have nursed him to sleep. I have not nursed him to sleep. I have rocked, I have bounced, I have begged, I have prayed. I have co-slept. I have not co-slept. I have tried soothing him in his bed without picking him up. I have tried picking him up sooner. Nothing seems to make that big of a difference.

His routine now is that after falling asleep, he sleeps about 2 hours and wakes again. I rock him back to sleep and he sleeps another hour, maybe two if we are super lucky. After that it's pretty much a crap shoot. He wakes roughly every hour, sometimes more often. Often he wants to nurse, but he also just can't seem to get comfortable. Finally, Mr. Spicy takes him about 6am and plays with him, changes him, and feeds him breakfast. After that he might come back to bed with me and sleep another hour to an hour and a half.

I am having a hard time holding it together and remembering that he isn't doing this to me. I know he doesn't want to be waking so often. I know he'd probably love to get a nice full night's sleep. I look into his poor sleepy eyes as he whimpers to me in the middle of the night, and calls out for his "Mama" and I feel terrible that I don't know what to do to help the both of us. I am all out of answers and just too damned tired to find any more.

I know I can't survive like this much longer. I just can't. This is torture.

I know I need to enlist Mr. Spicy to take more night shifts on the weekends. It is painfully obvious to me that I can not do this alone night after night. It's just in the past I haven't been able to sleep when he's stepped in to relieve me. I lie awake wondering if they need me and berating myself for not being able to sleep.

But even with the promise of a "night off" soon....tonight is Tuesday night and the weekend feels so very very far away....

And even a much needed break can't solve the underlying issue: Why can't my baby sleep?

What am I doing wrong here? What am I missing?

and why do I feel so much shame for being the one whose baby doesn't sleep? like it is some mark of mothering ability, to have a child who sleeps soundly through the night?

I feel protective of him. I don't want anyone to think of him as the "bad sleeper", or "difficult". I don't want him to be the subject of others' stories: "Well...I know a baby who still wakes every hour and he's eight months old!"

Sure, when he wakes up for the fourth consecutive time that I try desperately to lay him down and I need to pee and my shoulders are burning - sure, I might have a grumbling thought or two about him - but I don't want that to be what others know of him.

There is just so much else about him that is so much more delightful.

I know I am being somewhat ridiculous. I am not the first to live through this, I will not be the last. I know I am not alone - at least I hope I am not.

So, Mamas out there....please help me out: tell me about your sleepless nights, your exhaustion, your frustration - and maybe even what worked for you.

Maybe I can make it through this season knowing that there are others who are staring and who have stared blearily at the clock praying that their babies will just please go back to sleep and sleep for more than an hour this time. Others who could not imagine getting through one more night, and somehow they did.

In the meantime....back to it for me....

September 14, 2009

Celebrating the Now

Tonight Zane laughed with his entire body as he initiated a game of peek-a-boo with us by crouching down in his co-sleeper and then popping up when we asked "Where's Baby Zane?". He was so thoroughly delighted with himself, his excitement was contagious.

Today Zane sat turning a button around and around on his new overalls, his head cocked to one side as if he was wondering, "What does this do?"

Today Zane drummed a wild rhythm on his high chair with his real grown-up drum sticks. He then proceeded to put each one horizontally across his mouth, make "raspberries" and laugh hysterically at himself.

Today Zane crawled all over the house, the ultimate explorer. He tested each surface, each object. Drumming on them to determine their sound and density, pinching them and stroking them to determine their softness or squeezability, and occasionally putting his mouth to them to taste them or to bellow into them. After each test he would look thoughtfully at the object or surface and then occasionally bounce and squeal with glee as if his careful experimentation had yielded the exact results he had hypothesized.

Today Zane bounced, patted his legs, and actually sang along to music. Well, his version of singing anyway. He delighted my soul with his voice.

Today he was ripe with growth, with development, with possibility.

Today I looked into his eyes, and as he looked back I saw a boy that I cannot wait to know more of.

Gosh I love this little monkey.

All this growing and exploring sure is exhausting!!!!

September 11, 2009

Climbing just out of reach

I'm in a funk.

It all started last night. I was rushing around trying to get presentable to meet a friend for dinner. Mr. Spicy had just arrived home, greeted Zane and I, and had gone upstairs to change out of his work clothes.

Zane crawled across the living room to follow his Daddy. He crawled to the bottom of the stairs. And then? He began CLIMBING them.

He climbed up, stair by stair, all the way to the top, to find his beloved "DaDa".

We clapped and celebrated with him, this massive accomplishment. I sent out a mass text message to friends and family announcing my son's brilliance.

And then I sank into a weird funk.

There is no way around it. He is growing up.

I am left with so many mixed emotions about this that I might twist myself into a pretzel just trying to get a hold on them all.

I am so so proud of this little boy and I am loving exploring with him, playing with him, getting greater glimpses into who he is, what makes him tick, and watching in amazement as he tackles these great big milestones without a hint of hesitation.

But oh my. I miss my baby. I miss the cuddly, squishy, sweet little one who I could hold for hours. I miss the soft cloud of infant hood that seemed to surround our time together, slowing me down - making time irrelevant. I miss him.

Tonight I mentioned to Mr Spicy that Zane may well be walking by Halloween. His face dropped.

"That makes me sad!"

"I know."

I do. I know that even though his budding independence and mobility are these beautiful, strong, incredible parts of the boy he is becoming, even though I want this for him - I know that he is moving quickly out of my reach....away from me.

As he should. As he should.

But still....

I am just not ready.

I am not ready for this at all.

I want to beg someone to give us more time. The days, the weeks, the months have flown by so fast. How can we be here already? On the verge of our baby walking, on the verge of his running, on the verge of Toddlerhood?

It isn't that this season doesn't hold its own treasures.

It's just that it is all happening so fast.

Too fast.

He is already so many steps ahead of us both.

Already we are just barely keeping up.

September 04, 2009

The Z Files: Month Six and Seven

Zane turned seven months old two weeks ago, on the 21st. (The same day I turned 35, actually).

Because I am rarely in the possession of two free hands and time to write, and because I am such a perfectionist and also very wordy - I have not managed to finish a letter here for Zane for month six or seven. So instead, I am hereby switching the "Z-files" formats to a bulleted update / newsletter so I can make sure to get all these milestones recorded. I am writing shorter, more frequent letters to Zane in a private journal. Because I know you were wondering, right?

Since he turned six months old Zane is like a whole new kid. I swear he turned into a "toddler" overnight. I look at him and wonder where my "baby" went. I would be more sad about this except for the fact that he is just so delightfully interactive right now. I have a friend who says about his daughters that every stage was his favorite stage, just as he would think the current "stage" was his favorite, his daughter would enter the next stage and he would find himself newly and equally delighted with this new place. I get this now.

-At his six month check up Zane weighed 18lbs5oz and he was 28.25 inches "tall". He was in the 93rd percentile for height but had dropped to the 50th percentile for weight. Lean and tall. He has definitely grown more in the last month but I haven't measured him. He is fitting mostly 12 month clothing now.

Physical Development / Mobility:
- By six months he was regularly sitting up on his own and actively crawling.
- By seven months he was crawling with speed and he was regularly pulling himself up on any surface available, including our pant legs.
-The last two weeks he has been taking little steps while holding onto something and is standing while supporting himself with one hand.
-He makes his way all over the house this way, crawling, pulling up, stepping along, sitting back down, crawling some more. I am both immensely proud and a little dismayed by all this mobility. My cuddly baby is now constantly on the move and exploring and I miss when I could hold him for hours at a time. It makes me appreciate our cuddle-time before bed all the more though!
-As a result of the constant pulling up and (in the beginning) constant falling, Zane has learned to brace himself and catch himself when he feels he is falling. He went from multiple daily head "bonks" to almost none in just a week's time.
-He is really good with his hands and loves to turn things over and over and try to figure them out. He picks up balls and puts them in the holes of one of his toys, he drums on everything and loves playing his little piano or shaking his tambourine. He loves pushing buttons and pulling on things.
-He is crazy strong and has almost ripped the toys right out of his exersaucer (especially that bee who won't come out of her beehive - what is up with her?!).
-He gives us quite the formidable wrestling matches over changing time and being strapped into his high chair. I have had to come up with songs for his car seat, changing time, getting in the stroller, and sitting in the high chair. Once I sing the song he calms down and becomes more accommodating - otherwise it's pretty much like trying to wrestle a wild greased piglet. :)

Verbal Development:
- In the last two months we have heard the steady progression of Zane's vocal expression. It began with chattering repetitively: "bababababa", "lalalalalalal", "nnnnnnnaaaaaaahhhhh", and has developed into more consistent meaningful sounds: "Dadadada", "Hiiiii!", and "MMMMMaaaaaahhhh Mmmmmaaaaaahhhhh". Oh and then there's the "rasberries" and the high pitched excited scream, and the high pitched happy chattering, and the groaning and mumbling to himself and always the ever present laughter. I think his favorite "word" to say is "Dada" - he repeats it throughout the day, especially when he is happy and playing. And I can ask him "where is Dada?" and he will look for his Daddy. He mostly says "Mmmmmaaaaaahhhhh" for me when he is tired, sad, or hurt. But the other day, about a week ago, he was playing and he turned and smiled at me and clear as a bell pronounced: "MaMa!". I am pretty sure I passed out from sheer delight at that moment.

- He also knows sign language for "all done" and he will shake his head "No" when he doesn't want something (like more food, when Mama is begging him to take "just one more bite"!)

- At five months he began eating rice cereal and while it wasn't a total hit, he happily ate it every night for dinner until he was six months old.
-At six months we began adding "solid foods". We began with banana. And he really seemed to love this new development. Slowly we introduced new foods every 3 days or so and all was well. I have been making all his baby food except for just one or two foods I choose to buy premade. I get so excited to introduce him to a new food, I love that moment when he first tastes it, contemplates it and then opens his mouth for more. Of course there have been a few duds (zucchini is not his favorite) but for the most part he has gladly eaten his way through every new introduction.
- At seven months I increased his meals from two to three daily and began creating more combinations, and adding spices and herbs, while still introducing new foods to his menu.
-So far his favorite single food is peaches, by a landslide. That boy can eat an entire peach (pureed of course) in one meal! Of course, anyone who has tasted Colorado peaches this time of year can understand this.
-His favorite "meal" is sweet potatoes mixed with pear and apple purees, millet, and a touch of nutmeg. I have a hunch he's going to love Thanksgiving time.
-Oh, and sippy cups! He loves drinking water from them. He hasn't taken a bottle willingly in many months, but he loves his sippy cups! Last night Mr. Spicy was even able to put him to bed by giving him breast milk in a sippy cup. Oh the possibilities!!!!
- And we can't forget to mention nursing! He is still breastfeeding with gusto. He loves to nurse and will often crawl over to me and cup one of my breasts with his hands as he burrows his face into it. He also frequently just blatantly tries to latch on through my shirt and bra in public. Good times! :) It is obvious that nursing is so much about comfort for him now. He wants to nurse when he is tired, when he has hurt himself, when he is in pain from gas or teething. I am so proud of us both that we have made it this far and are still going strong. I see his hunger being met more steadily by food and I know we are on the downslope. I can see in the distance a day when we do not connect this way and I can hardly imagine it. I will definitely miss this. He has been a champion nurser since mere hours after his birth. It is so hard to believe some day he just won't need this anymore.

-Ouch. Well, sleeping has been......a challenge for us lately. At six months he was on a pretty steady routine. He would fall asleep quickly at about 8pm and he would wake twice for brief nursing sessions in the middle of the night, and then wake up for good around 6am. This worked ok for me. He was never awake for very long and he usually spent the last stretch of the night in bed with us.
- but then....there was teething, and gas, and god knows what. The last month or so has been a complete crapshoot. He will follow his old routine for a few nights and then randomly mix it up on us for a few nights or a week at a time. Sometimes he falls asleep really early, sometimes he stays up really late, sometimes he has a hard time falling asleep (really unusual for him), sometimes he has a hard time staying asleep (one night he continually woke up each time I would lay him down - seven times in a row, only to immediately fall back to sleep when I picked him up), sometimes he wakes up crazy early. We just never know anymore.
-So initially I fretted, I read and researched, and I berated myself for my failure to get him to sleep with regularity. And I became a miserable grumpy person and felt like I was going to explode any time he didn't sleep according to my plans and efforts. And it sucked. So one day I decided to scrap all my "efforts" and just go with the flow. I accepted that he is still a baby, that before long I won't get these night time cuddles with him, and I will miss them. I began to just understand and expect that he would wake up in the middle of the night. And although there are still those nights where I feel like crawling out of my skin for lack of sleep - for the most part, changing my own perspective on it has helped immensely. I am much more happy to help him fall back asleep when he wakes up and I can find much more tenderness for the both of us when we have had a rough night together. I do think he is about to finally cut a tooth or two and I think that is a large part of his waking, and I also think he is having such a huge spurt of development that it is also making him somewhat restless. I just keep telling myself that this is a stage, it will get better, we will get through this. He will sleep through the night eventually. (right?)

-Zane loves to play. He actually plays now. Pulling out toys from his bin, choosing the ones he wants, exploring and manipulating them. The musical ones seem to be his favorites.
- He has a real sense of music already. He drums on things, slaps his knees to music and bounces along as he "dances". We begin a music class in a week and I am really excited to see how he will respond.
-He loves playing "peek-a-boo" with us, loves when we pretend to "get him", and loves being tickled. He laughs riotously when we dance for him or move around like dinosaurs or robots.
-He LOVES dogs! He screams in delight as they pass us on our daily walks.
- He also loves playing with water, from a hose, in the sink, in the tub - he just is fascinated by it.
-We spend our days going for walks around the park, to the coffee shop, around lakes with friends, going to the zoo, grocery shopping, playing in the grass (Zane loves the grass!) and exploring the house.

And one of my favorite moments in the last month (besides the "Mama" moment of course): He was crawling around the living room and I crawled after him pretending to "get him" by nipping his bottom and legs. He laughed so hard he almost fell over. And then, he began to turn around and crawl after me, opening his mouth and "getting me". It was an amazing moment. My baby was a little boy in that moment. The little boy I look forward to playing with for years and years to come. I caught a glimpse of our future together and it made my whole heart explode. He is my boy, my little boy.

We have so much to look forward to.