The Tale of the Mom with the Sleepless Daughter

  • written November 28, 2015
  • edited December 30, 2015

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Tonight I spent a whopping hour and a half working on getting my daughter to sleep.  Less than half this time was a part of the regular routine (bath, massage, snuggle with blankets and read books, and nurse) the rest was a not so atypical battle to get my kid to go to sleep.  This girl is one of only a few other children I’ve found (through their mother’s stories) that is so highly sleep challenged.  She’s as stubborn as a rock and since she turned 3.5 months old has chosen to fight sleep with a vengeance every day of her life.  Tonight we did the typical routine and she fell asleep on the breast as planned.  I lay her down in bed and she pops awake like a jack-in-the-box.  I start to coax her into what I hope is the magical sleep position for the evening when she asks for more milk.  Sure, I think, a trip to the other breast won’t screw us up.  Again, I nurse her.  Again, she falls asleep.  Again, I lay her down in bed.  Again, she pops awake.  Again, I’m fumbling in the dark rapidly trying to find the magic sleep position.  Again, I fail.  She starts crying and wears me down for 15 minutes before finally falling asleep.  I go for the door, more silent than a mouse, only to get betrayed by the slight click of the latch that has it out to ruin my life and I’m sent flying back in the room to try and salvage the situation before my daughter wakes up all the way.  This time I position and reposition her for 30 minutes before she finally falls asleep and sneak out holding my breath… only for her to wake some 15 minutes later for another final round of positioning and repositioning and coaxing and commanding.

These moments are my worst.  I mean, I end up yelling at a toddler to “go to sleep!”  There’s not one ounce of sense in that.  Except that it seems my daughter is so in love with me that it’s not until I get explosively pissed that sleep starts to look more desirable than hanging out with me.  On the brink of tears tonight I find myself mumbling in my daughter’s direction, like so many other nights, “why do I have to yell at you in order for you to take me seriously?”

I slink my way downstairs to wander heatedly around the living room, aimlessly, and holler my stream of angry thoughts at my husband.

“I just don’t get it, we’ve been at this for 17 months and it’s still a battle.  I’m so tired of fighting the same battle over and over again!”

“She’s so teachable in every other way I just don’t get why she won’t learn how to go to sleep!”

Here’s the thing.  Maisy’s lack of good sleep habits makes me want to hurt things.  I loathe nap time and bed time.  I’m overflowing with stress every time I go to lay my sleeping girl down and only take another breath if I get out of the room with out waking her with a creaky floor board or a squeak of that bedroom door of hers that has it out for me.  I really would much prefer neither of us slept at all so as to avoid the whole battle.  But, alas, we are only humans and tiny ones have a particularly keen temper when under slept.

I feel like a wimp that infant sleep is my biggest problem and that I handle it like a train wreck.  I am so blessed and I know it! So, at the end of my battles, I’m left to guilt myself into thinking I’m nuts for getting pissed about my situation.

Being a mom is the most awesome, most emotional, and most challenging job I’ve ever had.  Every day is different in it’s own wonderful and heart wrenching way.  It stretches me to be a better person and forces me into the worst version of myself at the same time.  Can’t all of us moms just be cheerleaders for each other and stop playing the comparing game?  I would like to feel like a fellow mom could catch me when I’m falling into my pit of fiery anger.  That I would be safe to passionately explode gnarly word vomit all over you (fellow moms) about my struggles.  I don’t want to feel like my problems are any bigger or smaller than any other mother’s even if they are.  I simply want to feel validated and supported by my other mothers.

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When Your Heart is Yucky, Pray

-Written November 14, 2015

-Edited December 16, 2015

Go on a prayer walk every day.  The summer between high school and college I prayed to God that if He would help me get my feet in my running shoes every day I would talk to him the whole time I ran.  I wanted to be on the college soccer team and knew I needed his help to get there because I needed a ball in front of me to run, I loathed running just to run.  He came through for me even on this menial task as I ended up choosing not to join the soccer team because of my grueling and more-important-to-me course work but did choose to keep my prayer runs.  As a result, I was incredibly grounded all around – emotionally, spiritually, physically, you name it.  A few days ago I was reflecting on this when I realized I could make my daily walk a daily prayer walk.  I was scrolling through what to do about an excess of anger in my heart.  So my first prayer walk was almost entirely spent fervently praying that the Lord would pluck any seeds of anger out of my heart and throw them into the fire.  And he did.  And I will keep walking and praying.

Praying before meals.  As long as I can remember my dad has folded his hands, closed his eyes, and bowed his head before meals.  I’ve always admired this and wanted to do the same.  And yet, I’m 27 and I can’t recall a time when I’ve done this if he wasn’t in the room with me asking me to pray with him.  No more.  I want my daughter to see God all around her and this is very definitely a tangible way I help bring God to life for her.  I also want my daycare girls to see God everywhere and what not a better way than to pray with everyone before we dig into lunch together?  Most importantly, I really do want to thank God before meals because we are abundantly blessed with nutritious, wholesome food everyday and that is a gift!

Pray with Maisy before she nurses to sleep.  I recently went to a MOPS meeting and was staggered by some statistics:  the average child spends 28 hours a week in front of the TV, 32.5 hours a week in school, and up to 4 hours a week in church if they go to Sunday school and a Wednesday night kids program.  The moms that were sharing for the evening challenged those of us in the audience to bring God into our kid’s lives at any opportunity.  One of the ways I want to bring God into sight is by praying before meals, another way I want to bring God into sight is by praying with my daughter before she goes to sleep.  Talk about a good time to pray for my sleepless wonder of a child too!  Again, if only I’d thought of this sooner.

Devos before bed.  Some parents choose to get up before their kids to have alone time.  I’m not sure what “early” looks like to those parents but I am not naturally a morning person and getting up with Maisy around 5:00 is plenty early for me.  I am, however, naturally a night person so I am going to curl up in my cozy bed, maybe even with some tea, and do my devos before turning off the light and rolling over to pray myself to sleep.

Praying myself to sleep.  As a mom I have struggled to find time to do devotionals when I could give God all my attention.  With a difficult sleeper for a baby and toddler I couldn’t even rely on nap time or bed time as options; without fail I would just get settled to do my reading and Maisy would pipe in as if objecting to the idea.  So, at the very least, I knew I could pray.  I could pray myself to sleep.  When I first started I fully intended to stay awake until I said, “amen.”  I felt guilty falling asleep in the middle of my conversation with God.  But sleep deprivation and God had different plans.  Turns out praying to sleep is the most soothing way to go.  I feel like I’m being carried into sleep by the ocean waves and I enter an undisturbed rest unlike any other.  I also used to have a tendency to have unpleasant dreams or nightmares almost nightly, not the case anymore!  My dreams are now only lovely if at all.  God is a good God!

I do not share any of this information to sound like I’ve got it all figured out.  I don’t.  These things I’m going to do are because I don’t.  And I will forget them sometimes and start falling fast.  I will likely get lazy.  They say it takes days and/or weeks to form a new habit.  It takes me forming and reforming every time Josh comes home and every time he leaves again.  That’s one of the biggest challenges about our lifestyle with him on and off road.  He will come home and a devotional routine I was solid on plummets because I’m spending that time with him instead.  He will leave and I’m thrown into so much chaos with juggling it all by myself again that all I can think about is getting it all done so I forget to even pray myself to sleep.

I share all this information for a couple reasons.  One, I am committing to these things and I often find it helps to stick to commitments if you declare them before others.  So, here I am, declaring!  Two, I do hope that maybe some of these thoughts and tid bits will act as inspirations to your life.

There’s Humor in this Ridiculous Day

Sometimes life just downright gets you down!  Today was a rollercoaster of a day with some stinking low lows.  After relaying the facts of the evening to my beloved husband he says. “Wow – quite a day!  And honestly, it sounds like very humorous blog material.”  And I had only told him about the last few paragraphs!  But he’s right.  I used to think, “this would make a great blog story” all the time during life’s less than convenient moments.  When did I loose my sense of humor?  I suppose around Maisy’s 5 month mark when my kid proved to be an unending sleep battle and I proved unfit to function pleasantly with 6 something hours of sleep interrupted every 45 minutes for about a half an hour of wakefulness.  Ah well, now’s the time to steal my humor back – sleep or no sleep.

Let’s hope you can appreciate an honest mom and find the humor in this ridiculous day.

Today we woke at a lovely 7am hour.  I was happily nursing my toddler in bed until I realized I was bleeding through my pants.  Talk about a mood buster!  So I pull my nipple out of her mouth and book it down the stairs to the bathroom leaving her in a confused, but not unpleasant, stupor in the bedroom.  Strike one.

I throw all the kids in the car, my one plus two day care kids, and zoom over to a friends house for a “coffee and conversation” get together.  Lovely.  Got lots of snuggles from my three shy and cuddly kids.  Upon packing them up to leave though, mine decides to erupt because her nap time timer buzzed code red.  Strike two.

We zoom to pick up my fourth day care kid which was on the receiving end of some missed communication.  Her poor mom was left stranded without someone to get her girl so she could go to work because she couldn’t get a hold of her peeps, me included.  Shame on me.  Strike three.

How many strikes do you get again?

By the time I pull into my driveway two kids are passed out, one already passed out then awoke again, and the littlest one that we just picked up is growling about something.  Then onto the task of getting everyone successfully settled and happy.  Step one, don’t wake the Maisy!  Leave her in the car with the windows cracked to sleep or slam your fist into the nearest wall in regretful anger at yourself for attempting to move her at all.  Check.  Step two, bring the two sisters to their prospective beds for them to peaceably roll over and go back to sleep.  Check.  Step three get Emrie some milk and a diaper change.  Check.  Uncheck.  Maisy’s awake. I bring her up to her room hoping beyond a hope she’ll go back to sleep.  Instead I read on my watch a whopping 15 minutes of nap time for my stinker. And this power nap is supposed to last her all day?  Strike four.

Fast forward through an afternoon of regular activities like sending your poorly slept toddler out to play in the backyard so as to spare myself her constant stream of yelled demands.  If she can’t see me, she can’t yell at me. This is a heavenly idea until Maisy decides bird baths are for fun splash time.  Gross!  I strip her down and in the process jam her tooth into her lip thus awakening a sobbing, bleeding toddler.  Strike five.

I give her the rare bubble bath in favor of fun bubble time with Harper on the sidelines to massage those bubbles into Maisy’s bird poop hair.  We had a blast decorating Maisy’s face and hair with bubbles until one moment Maisy looks me square in the face, bubble beard and all, and says “I go poo.”  “Did you go pee pee in the tub?”  No answer.  “Do you need to go poo?”  “Yeah.”  “You want to go on the potty?”  “No.”  I take that as my cue anyways and pull her out of the tub.  I dry her off, set her down, sit her on the potty… nothing.  She stands up, takes one step forward, and pees.  Strike six.

I do love my daily walks and so do the kids.  This much anticipated walk in this wonderfully warm November day was a breath of fresh air. On top of getting a walk in for the dogs and getting fresh air into some little kid lungs I get cardio and weight training in one blow.  Cardio and weight training at the same time? You ask.  Well, I strap one kid on my front, one on my back, push a stubborn double stroller with two well fed toddlers, and tote my two determined dogs alongside.  Vwala, cardio and weight training.  I do love to multitask.

At the walk’s end I get everyone unhooked, get the undies girl to the potty, and get my diapered girl on the potty per her special request.  She sits on the potty for a half a second, walks away to the play room, sits on the kiddie chair and pees two hours worth of pee into a giant puddle dripping from her pants onto the chair onto the floor.  I strip her down and splash her off in the tub and send her on her naked merry way so I can tidy up the puddle.  She promptly bolts to the time out corner and poops right on the time out mat.  Strike seven and eight.

I sit down to get some milk in Emrie’s belly when Maisy spits out pieces of a handmade ornament (yes, I have my Christmas tree up).  Strike nine.

Today it took nine strikes to turn my otherwise outwardly peaceful demeanor into war zone mom.

I pluck my half naked toddler off the ground and stomp her as far away from myself as I can in hopes of minimally hearing her screaming and saving myself from bellowing my war cry at her as I finish filling Emrie’s belly.  Strike ten.

Truth is, motherhood is the best and coolest job I will ever have.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  But man has my girl chosen to mature quickly and cash in her terrible two’s chips at 16 months.  I mean it can’t get worse right?  (Insert wink face here.)

A Working Mom’s Breastfeeding Incident

Have you ever been stranded on an island with water creeping in at you from all sides?  Well I have!

Just over a year ago I found myself smack dab in the middle of the coolest shoot of my life without some key parts to my breast pump and no spare nursing pads.  A couple hours into the full day shoot and I received my first let down, both emotionally and physically.  The milk gushed out of my over enthusiastic breasts, promptly filled my nursing pads, and immediately moved onto invading my shirt.  I bolted to the bathroom, whipped out my cloth breast pads, and squeezed them out in the sink.  I shoved them back in, nodded to myself in the mirror, and turned to exit.  Just as my hand touched the door I thought better of myself as the cold, dampness of the nursing pads reminded me how feebly they would defend the dryness of my shirt upon another breastmilk siege as they pressed into my rock hard, engorged breasts.  I whipped the pads back out, tried wringing them out some more, then stuck them under the hand dryer.  That did exactly nothing.  I left the breast pads out in favor of stuffing my bra with toilet paper.  I calculated myself in the mirror, gave myself a satisfied nod, and left the bathroom.

When I rounded the corner to the main room again I noticed a minuscule sign labeled “Walgreens” through the wall of windows.  I informed my boss of my errand need and sped the few blocks over to the Walgreens.  I scoured the aisles in a hopeful stupor.  I say stupor because I had mommy brain fog bad folks.  After my feeble attempt at locating the item in need I spotted an employee and abandoned my efforts in favor of using an expert.  They directed me to the right aisle and scanned the shelves.  My eyes were bright, shining bulges of anticipation until he turned his regretful expression my way.  Walgreens could not save me today.  I sprinted back to the photo shoot venue, visibly shrugged off my problem and hoped for the best.

In all truth, I only had to endure a couple let downs that day which is a miracle when you’re a new mom with abnormally oversupplying breasts.  I managed to get through the day with no one but my boss knowing I had breastmilk on my dark patterned shirt.

Also, I love breastfeeding.  Coolest thing ever.

Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, the spreads from the published magazine article.  The shoot was featured on the cover and then on several pages within.

September 2014_pg01 September 2014_pg43 September 2014_pg45 September 2014_pg46 September 2014_pg48 September 2014_pg49

The Tale of the Sleepless Mother

 

This morning I awoke after a mostly sleepless night due to the babe’s inability or unwillingness (who knows) to sleep.  I went to bed around midnight (relishing in some quiet, alone time before bed as I do on occasion) and awoke around one to a thrashing child.  I attempted all my tactics to get her so sleep for about an hour and a half when I finally threw in the towel and toted the both of us downstairs and turned my computer on.  I could have gotten all my editing done, but instead I got caught up ordering some needed items for Maisy and got around to a dollop of editing just before the clock struck “you’ve been awake in the middle of the night for 3 hours and you’re baby is suddenly not happy about it.”  First I had some poo poo stench to get rid of and then we were off to what appeared to be a fluffy haven promising sweet dreams.  Promptly upon laying down with Maisy by my side she resumed her thrashing and complaining and I went back to the drawing board to get her to sleep.  Lo and behold we eventually got back to sleep after 3.5 total hours of random wakefulness smack dab in the middle of the night.

In the morning I promptly picked up my phone and read, “Good morning love!  How are you?”  Instead of responding in kind, as I did not have it in me to put forth the pretense of cheerfulness, I texted my husband (who is grandma sitting at my in-laws for the weekend), “As soon as you are finished up at church this morning can you come get the girl?  I’m tapped out.”

“Also, do not utter a word to me today that is not uplifting unless you would like me to bite your face off.”

Long hours later he arrives and leaves toting our 14-month-old night terrorist away from my premises and I move zombie-like forward through some redecorating efforts.  I caught myself just sitting on random pieces of furniture one too many times and decided I would be a much better home-maker after catching up on some sleep.

I immediately came down from the bookshelf I was sitting on and traipsed upstairs, vehemently looking forward to the drug-like stupor I knew I would partake of shortly.  I lay in my empty bed, in my empty house and proceeded to conjure baby’s cries out of thin air.  I lingered in my sleep deprived body’s intoxicatingly half-asleep pleasantries while suffering my mommy body’s waves of tingling chemical readiness to bolt upright without a moment’s notice for my nonexistent baby.  But sleep won out in fairly short order and I blinked out of my rock hard sleep an hour later ready to conquer the world.  I settled for photographing a wedding.