Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

the other day i took a moment to read annie over at PhD in Parenting’s post in which she asked crib using parents to tell her what the transition to a bed was like for them and their child. she put the post up out of curiosity, not understanding how the child who needs to be “contained” in their crib to go to sleep ever makes the transition to a bed. seems harmless enough to ask but of course, in the world of parenting, no question about differences is every received as harmless.

she was, in fact, attacked for using the term “parenting to sleep” to describe the method that parents who chose not to sleep train, ferberize, cry it out, etc use. the method of staying with your child and meeting their needs and trusting that in time they will learn to fall asleep on their own safely, comfortably, and without crying alone in their bed. among the parents i know who practice attachment parenting this is a pretty safe term to use and i have used it many times in my talking with local parents to try to explain how i handle bedtime and naptime without being negative. what i mean is that saying “we parent our children to sleep” sounds much nicer to me than “we chose not to sleep train/ferberize” or whatever term i would use. in fact, it seems to me like the less judgmental way to say it between those two. anyway, annie was called out in the comments section of her blog for using the term which offended some parents who do sleep train because it implies that they are not being a parent at bedtime.


i almost want to erase that whole paragraph because it isn’t even my point but it did get me thinking. it primed me to read further through the comments which is where the point of this post cropped up. a few commenters explained that had chosen to stay with their first child while they fell asleep – but that it was a terrible decision that they constantly regretted and so they had chosen to sleep train subsequent children.

having had those nights where i just want the kids to fall asleep so i can get my time to myself i can totally relate to that feeling of, “argh! this sucks!” still, that has not become the defining feeling in the experience for me and i was wondering why. i think i have come up with two reasons.

first of all, i was truly lucky to stumble upon a very support space in the internet when the bean was just a few weeks old. the kellymom forums provided me with amazing breastfeeding support and also tightly moderated boards that were supportive of attachment parenting.

for me, this meant i had experienced parents and other new mama’s like me, reminding me that my child needing me to fall asleep is “normal.” my child not sleeping through the night at six months was “normal.” that parenting is not easy, that all the ap parents out there have moments also where they just want to scream at their child to “FALL ASLEEP!” but, and this is a big but, that doesn’t mean that you are doing the wrong thing. being frustrated, thinking it is hard, thinking it is more than you can handle does not mean it is the wrong decision for you. it means you need support, you need outlets, you need breaks built into your parenting so that you have the fuel to handle the harder moments. for me, in the early formative months of my parenting the support came from the kellymom forums and specifically some women on there who cheered me on daily. some of whom i am still in touch with (thank you michele, cookie, annie, naomi, monique, carol, annie, paula and so many others).

so yes, to survive the tougher moments of parenting we need support. but what else helped me to have a high needs child, and a very high needs sleeper, and still not come away feeling like the women who commented on annie’s post? i think the other thing was the tendency to look inward when i am struggling. if i am having a hard go of parenting it helps me to think that i need to do some work on my self. i see my parenting as my job, my calling, and my journey right now. it sounds a little insane but it is true. i trust that parenting is pushing me to grow in the ways i need to so when the challenge feels huge i try to do the work i need to do to meet it. i don’t mean to say these other women didn’t do what they should have. i am not trying to criticize. i am trying to lay out what worked for me – and maybe it could help some other mama’s out there when they are struggling.

so, what influences my work? how to i look inward? i try to read parenting books that help me learn how i want to parent and learn what baggage i might be bringing to the table (should i offer a list of my favorite books?) i talk to other ap friends about what i might need to feel better about my parenting. i look at my parenting in my time in therapy. i try to read blogs that support and encourage this kind of parenting, and this kind of self work, to help inspire me.

specifically carrie over at that parenting passageway wrote an excellent series 20 days toward being a more mindful mother. i have to tell you, in the spirit of openness, that i did not force myself to “do” every single day that carrie created but i put energy into the pieces that spoke most deeply to me at the time. although one commenter said on day 20 that she intended to print each day out and do the full thing at her own speed and i thought that was a fantastic idea.

right now kris at the natural parenting center blog is running a conscious parenting course. it started with this post and continued on today. good stuff!

so what is my point today? i don’t think parenting is easy stuff and i certainly struggle just as much as the next person. i have been trying to reflect on what i have counted on in the moments and choices that seemed the most difficult for me – based on my children’s personalities, society, more mainstream parenting, and my own weaknesses. the two things that have come to mind is finding support from like minded parents i could trust and my tendency to look at what i can change about myself when i am struggling instead of believing their is something wrong with my children or the choice i made.

gosh, i hope that someday all this rambling is helpful to someone besides me. ha!

happy saturday people.
and any fellow woowoo warriors out there.

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the last few nights the bean has been coming into the bed with me sometime between 11 and 1.  he arrives in the room silently and i only know to wake up and find him because i have heard his door opening on the monitor i still use with him.  i wake up slowly and turn to see him standing silently by my bed.  he only speaks once he sees me open my eyes and turn to face him.

“mama, i need to tinkle.”

i sigh, rise from my cozy bed, and take his hand.  in the bathroom i unzip his pajama’s (he insists on footies because the pea has them) and put him up on the toilet reminding him not to start peeing until he is sure his penis is pointing the right way.  it is rote for me, we do this almost every night.  when he is done i help him get his undies and jammies back on in the darkness.  then i take his hand again and he says to me, “i want to be in your bed.”

sometimes, if the pea isn’t sleeping well, if he is sick and i have the humidifier on in his room, or if i have fallen prey to the “should’s” in my own mind i tell him we need to go back to his bed.  i tell him how cozy it is and i get in with him and lay there while i wait for him to fall asleep.  or i bring the pea’s monitor with me and i fall asleep too.  once i am sure he is sound asleep i get up and tip toe out and back to my own bed.

other times i just nod and rearrange the pillows so he can have the one i like to use, pull back the covers and pat the side i want him to lay on.  then i snuggle in with him and say, “good night beanie.  i love you.  time to sleep.”

of course, there are nights when he fidgets and fusses and generally makes me wish for morning to come so i can stop feeling so cheated.  but recently he just closes his eyes and holds onto my finger with his small warm hand and goes to sleep curled up into me.

then as the night goes on we cosleep in all its beauty.  this is, to me, the bliss of cosleeping.  the bean and i have always slept well together.  like our bodies instinctively know how to snuggle in the most comforting and comfortable ways.  the pea, she likes to sleep draped on top of me.  until she gets tired of that and then with a huff wants to move to her own space.  then back on top of me and so on in a confusing daze of hours spent wondering if she is happy.

but the bean, he slides up into me and turns away in the smoothest movements.  drapes his legs over mine which are curled up around him.  slips his small warm hand under my neck into it’s perfectly fitting spot.  when he sleeps well and sleeps with me it is magical.  it is comfortable and sweet and bonding while we dream.  we move into snuggles and out into our own space without really waking.  in the morning he presses his body tightly into mine and puts his head on my shoulder as he opens his beautiful huge blue eyes and asks me sweetly, “is it morning time?”

and i kiss his forehead which is right there in position to be kissed and enter the day with the same excitement as he has.  “yes my love, it is morning time.”

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at 4 am the other night chickpea was up to nurse and she had a lot of trouble settling back down.  she is cutting about three molars right now and that means a lot of nursing, tossing, turning, whining, and such.  around 5 am she was just nodding off, laying across my belly and latched on still but nodding off.

it was right as i was thinking, “ah, i think she might be sleeping,” that i heard the sound of the bean climbing out of his bed and opening his door.  he came rushing down the hall and into my room where he stopped at the edge of the bed.  (this is his typical 4 or 5 am routine these days.)  i made room for him next to me and patted the bed.  he climbed in.

chickpea looked up at him and smiled.  my heart sank.

i “shhhhhhhhhhhh”ed loudly and they were both quiet.  but there was twitching followed by fidgeting followed by tossing and then turning.  eyes were rubbed.  looks were exchanged.  i am telling you, they were in cahoots.

and my head was exploding with anger.  pop.  pop.  pop goes the blood vessels.  my inner voices were screaming, “this is so unfair!  we need sleep!  why are these kids being so BAD?!”

and then in the midst of all the popping and yelling going on in my head i heard a calm voice pipe up, “what is so bad about being awake early in the morning with two happy children that you grew in your belly, birthed, and love with all your heart?  why spend this hour being angry when you could just accept that you are up and move on into enjoying watching them interact?  why not try to just wake up with the joy that they do, the joy to start a new day?”

i know i read in one of my more waldorfy books recently this idea about being prepared mentally to start the day with warmth and love.  it hit home for me because neither of my kids are the most natural sleepers and i am often up at night or up early in the morning and feeling sorry for myself about it.  when the bean was younger and up a lot i remember i read an essay in which a mom shared her secret to dealing with lack of sleep was truly believing “i am ok like this.”  gosh, that helped me so much.  and now, in the darkness of 5 am in new england, the cold darkness, i am taking it a step farther.

i am deciding to wake up with joy.

on that morning, sunday, it worked out nicely.  and you know what?  this morning they managed to both sleep pressed up next to me and on top of me until 6:20.  so i don’t have to wake up at 4 everyday.

it strikes me that i want to thank all the mama’s out there who share the wisdom of kindness and love.  dang but it is good stuff.

peace people.

woowoo mama.

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trying a theme

my partner in bugdom

my partner in bugdom

we do have a rhythm to our days around here – kind of – a loosey goosey kinda sorta rhythmish thingy.  but, it is not the kind of rhythm i feel super about.  it is more like the kind of rhythm i told myself was ok while i got used to having more than one child in the house and then just never broke out of.  truth be told, i am kind of tired of feeling ashamed of my daily parenting instead of good about it.  it is what i do and it is what i am and it kinda sucks feeling crappy about it.  i think the time has come to stop imagining all the cool things i will do with my kids in the future and instead try to change the shape of our days now.

with that in my mind i have been toying around (in my head only, once it hits paper i’ll feel like i have to do it) with what a new rhythm might include.  more time outside, more time experimenting with crafting and exploring nature and the natural world, more time set aside for daily tasks so that i can encourage the bean to be more involved instead of trying to set him up doing something else so i can do things faster.  also, perhaps, if i can force myself, less time obsessing over making sure the pea get x number of hours napping each day.

side notes important to be aware of:  i have been obsessed with sleep since the bean was very young because he had a hard time sleeping and the way i met his sleep needs (holding him for naps until he was past 2 years old) were not common amongst people i knew.  he also didn’t sleep well at night and so we coslept forever and thought he might never in his life sleep through.  with him i got myself into a sleep obsession (since supposedly sleep begets sleep and we were not begetting any sleep at all) and i find i fell into it again with the pea.  even though she sleeps slightly more easily than the bean did i still am always slightly neurotic about doing anything i can to help her sleep for “at least ninety minutes” which is said to be the minimum time a nap should be by the sleep begets sleep people.  anyway, i got issues.  i know i do.  just sharing.

one other side note: i do plan to get the new rhythm sketched out on paper when i return from our big trip.

which leads to a third side note:  we are leaving for our trip in a few days and gone until the ninth so there is a good chance you won’t hear much from me during that time.  except perhaps an occasional iphone post.  but don’t expect my usual wordiness.  maybe you will all enjoy the vacation from ms. wordy.

ok now, back to the blog post.  where was i?  ah yes, i want to try to change things a little bit.  i feel like i should point out that my inspiration to shift has come from a few different places.  it started when i became a devoted fan of green mamma and was deeply impressed by all the amazing things she does with her daughter. further talks with my as of yet unnamed mama friend (we really must fix that issue) made me think more and more about what i wanted to do. as noted in my post on my vocational development i started thinking about what might inspire me to focus on and connect with parenting children that were no longer nursing, cosleeping, etc. reading over at the parenting passageway has also got me thinking more about how i want to direct and fill our days.

so there is a fair amount percolating in my brain and i am just looking for the opening, space or sudden inspiration to implement it. one day there was a lull in our day which allowed the bean to turn to me and say “will you play with me?” and i could honestly say “yes!” so he countered “what do you want to do?” and i was instantly stumped. in the words of a three year old he has basically just asked me to come up with a good activity and i had nothing to offer. i think it was one of my lamest parenting moments ever. we ended up playing with building blocks but shortly there after i had an ah ha moment. it would be helpful for me to have a “theme” in my mind to help me to steer our time, activities, talk, games, play. i am not saying that i am suddenly trying to teach him things or anything like that. we are still going to be the same laid back folk. but in the moment when we have a lull and i get to think of something fun to do it would help me to have a theme in mind. something simple, and broad, and connected to nature.

i talked this over with my the nameless mama and she agreed that it might be helpful. she happened to mention some recent bug sightings and just like that we had a theme to test out. bugs. for the last week or so i have just sat with what it means to have a bugs theme in our lives. when we saw ants on our floor instead of just dismissing them we got down low to look at them. i asked the bean to tell me if there was anything he liked about them. we talked about what they were doing in our home. when i was cleaning up the kitchen and putting aluminum foil on top of something and he asked me for a piece i made it into a bug shape and gave it to him to play with. (he has proceeded to ask me to do this almost everyday since.) when we had a quiet moment in which he asked me to play i asked him if he felt like gluing and got an excited yes. so i cut out some colored paper and we made bug art. in fact, he had so much fun we decided to take down some professional artwork in the playroom and hang up our bugs (and last weeks glitter glue art fun).

i certainly don’t have things all figured out. and given my recent impressions of the internet i am guessing there are people out there who could argue that having a theme is bad, or that bugs are not the right theme, or that my weird sleep obsession is sick, and so on and so forth. but so what? here i am, in my life, with our bug theme. we are rockin’ it woowoo style. we are liking it. bugs are suddenly cool.

i am totally open to other ideas and resources for daily rhythms and projects, crafts, play for preschoolers. if you have good stuff share the love.

our glued bugs on display

our glued bugs on display

beanie bugs

beanie bugs

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sleeping in

wordless wednesday…sleeping in:


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ever since the pea got sick she has been waking up a lot at night.  she used to sleep for a few hours in her crib when she first went to sleep and then after i went to bed when she woke i’d bring her to our bed for the rest of the night.  but lately she has been up every 10 – 20 minutes after i put her to sleep so i have just been going to sleep early in our bed with her.


last night i nursed her to sleep in the rocker and then put her in her crib.  that was a little before 8.  flash and i stayed on the couch for awhile talking and then decided to go to sleep early.  we brought the monitors up with us and climbed in bed.  we must have fallen asleep while we were talking and i slept deeply.  around midnight i woke up with a start.  i sat straight up in bed feeling around and i said frantically to flash, “where is the baby?!?!?!”  i was already in a sweat.  and my sleepy brain was trying to figure out where i could have left her and what kind of mom loses her baby?


he looked at the monitor right by my head, “isn’t she still in her crib?”  i looked at the monitor.  oh yes, there she is.  she is asleep in her crib.


as a co-sleeper i am always kind of nervous about my kids sleeping all on their own for long stretches.  or i should say, as a co-sleeper and mom to two non-sleeping kids.  so i said to flash, “do you think she is ok?”  he offered to go check on her but i am neurotic at times so i had to do it myself.  i snuck in there and peaked at her and she looked ok.  so i went back to my bed and went back to sleep.  about an hour later she was up and i got her and brought her in.  (is it crazy that i feel better knowing my little bundle is in there with us?)


i still can’t believe she slept in her crib from 8 to 1am.  it is unheard of.  we won’t expect it to happen again.  i am sure it will be a long long time before i wake up again in a panic whisper yelling “where is the baby?!?”

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chickpea eats food

broccoli eating

so yes, the eyes have been a drippin’. i don’t want to alarm anyone and i do appreciate the hugs and well wishes. it is just – so hard – to deal sometimes. i love babies. i love love love them. and i think, to be brutally honest, i love how they need me. need need need. i am the only one who can feed them, who can comfort them, who can get them to fall asleep. i mean, in theory i want the help but i also love feeling needed. and although i can pretty safely say i am lazy that sounds mean so i will say i am all about the path of least resistance. so, if my baby is up in the middle of the night and the fastest way to get her to sleep is to let her lay across me and nurse to her hearts content, that is what i will do. for years.

in fact, the bean still needs me to fall asleep. he will be three in a few months. i have never left him overnight. and flash and i have not been on a date that would go past a time when he would need to be put to sleep. except maybe once, and i got home and he was still up. that is ok. it is. but it would also be ok to not let that happen again.

although i am lazy i also like to be perfect. and for the last three years, almost, i have been so focused on being a mama. on practicing attachment parenting, and i have held myself to very high standards. i. must. do. it.  all.   perfectly.

and i am a stay at home mom. so we were not pushed to make anything else work. bean needed me to fall asleep, no problem.  i was here all day and every night. if he had to be cared for by someone else so i could work we would have been pushed to make him struggle through the transition. but, in my efforts to keep everyone in my family calm i just did it all and never pushed for flexibility. i didn’t mind being home every night, and i still don’t, but that doesn’t mean it can go on like this for three more years.

flash is running short on patience for coming in third place all day every day and every night. his natural parenting style doesn’t involve all this cosleeping, and babywearing, and never ever letting anyone fussing. he wants to make sure that the pea is more independent, more flexible about going to sleep – sooner. so i have got to up the anti and give this all a try.

there is a part of me that has a glimpse of this freedom (i could go to an evening meeting, i could go out for drinks with my girlfriends) and just lights up like a bulb of joy. and another part that simply can’t imagine it could be true. and yet another that does not want to let go.

this is it – my last baby. my very last little being to snuggle through all night nursathon’s. my last chance to smell that milky breath in the deep darkness of midnight, and 2am, and 4am. my last hours spent rocking and nursing to sleep. being needed deeply and fully and in the most natural of ways.

it is wordlessly difficult for me to say goodbye to that. and to feel good about it. and not to feel like i am letting her down. or me down. or babies all across the globe. i want to change. or, i think i might be able to change. and i do not want anything to change. so, really, the best way to deal with this all is to turn into a big weeping puddle. for hours if not days.

because when i commit myself to trying to teach her sleep on her own, fall asleep on her own, and so on it means saying goodbye to a lot of things i love. wearing her twice a day while she naps. and feeling her little body sweat and her breath blow on my collar bone in that funny baby sleep pattern. bringing her to bed with me when i go to sleep and falling asleep myself holding her perfectly solid little body snuggled into me. sitting in the rocker thinking about my day while she peacefully nurses herself into lala land. and then rocking longer just staring at her beautiful nursing sleeping face.

just the other night she stirred in her sleep and i put my hand on her to settle her and she reached out and held my finger and fell back asleep. and i had this surge of feeling like this was such a gift. i actually felt so good i felt a little sorry for parents who don’t (have to or get to) sleep with their babies. just that they never got to feel that thing that was enveloping me at that moment. because i love sleeping with my baby.

it feels to me like it was just a few short moments ago that i was on the bathroom floor (staring longingly at the birth tub about 8 feet from me) listening to my midwife say, “don’t push yet just breathe” and i was thinking “are you insane lets get this over with as soon as possible!” and then, there she was with all her crazy hair and the blue marks around her mouth that no one was worried about but also are not very common. she was so tiny and new and she was breathing. and she looked at me (after they figured out how to get her through my legs and into my arms) and i thought, “hello. here you are. my last baby.”

for weeks she was making this silly clicking sound when she nursed that was driving me insane because that is not how it is supposed to be and i am a kellymom addict so i should have this down pat. plus it was making her so gassy and i wanted her to sleep more and burp less. and all her newborn diapers were too big on her. and her bellybutton got this really funky odor so i had to go at the thing and clean the heck out of it so people didn’t think my baby was rotting.

and then she finally figured out how to deal with my overactive let down and we had the uphill nursing down so fantastically well that we had learned to do it with our eyes closed (well almost closed) and the clicking finally stopped and her baby hair started falling out. soon she was practically bald in the back and had a receding hairline and i thought it was all going to go but no, she decided to keep a big tuft on the top so i can give her a crazy sticky uppy ponytail up there which entertains me to no end. you should see it.

and now we are here. two seconds since she was born (on the floor with the freakin’ birth pool in sight but i couldn’t – could not – move to get in it how unfair is that?!?) and she is getting her first tooth, and chomping on broccoli, and i need to teach her to fall asleep on her own i think. or at least without me. and i just need to pull myself together and say ok i am ready. i am ready to say goodbye to having a baby. i need to do it because it is time and because i am not just a mama i am a wife and flash needs this to happen sooner rather then later and that is ok. he has been patient enough with me and my not mainstream ways.

so it is time to stop dripping. and i wish i wish i wish i knew how.


the crazy pony tail

you just had to see it

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