Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Time to stop and smell the roses

I will be the first to admit that I often use this space to complain about my son's suboptimal sleeping habits and my exhaustion. This past week was a bad one for me as I agonized over how to get him to nap longer and have a more regular 9-month-old schedule.

So when I took him to his doctor for his regularly scheduled checkup yesterday, one of my first questions was "what can I do about his bizarre nap schedule?"

She told me something that made me feel better than I had in a long time: "There's absolutely nothing you can do about it." Some babies, she said, simply have short sleep cycles and there is nothing to be done for it. As long as he's sleeping well at night, if he naps for only 20 minutes at a time, so be it.

At first I was disappointed at not being offered a solution but then I realized the sooner I accept it, the sooner I can enjoy life with my son rather than be frustrated by it.

When my husband came home last night, we talked it over. He pointed out that it seemed like since the baby was born, we were always worried about something - breastfeeding, sleep, teething, colds, etc... All things that are admittedly part of raising a healthy baby and which can be worrying to first-time parents.

But how often do we just take the time to enjoy our happy, fun, lovable little bundle of energy? Not often enough.

We will never get this time back. He will only be a baby once. He will only have one first time doing everything. Before we know it, he'll be a sullen teenager locked in his room.

As the end of my maternity leave looms large, I vow to enjoy the little things, to try not to sweat the small stuff and to stop complaining about the things
I can't change! If he only wants to sleep for 20 minutes, getting frustrated won't solve anything.

So dear readers and friends, I hope you don't have to hear me complain too much more in this blog. And if I do, I will do my best to ensure that it's in the name of a good laugh.

Because if there's one thing there's no shortage of in this house, it's laughter. The good kind - big baby giggles that usually end in squeals of delight. I'll take that any day over meaningless worry and frustration!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Throw me a bone!

One of the universal truths of parenting a baby: it's always something. There's always some kind of phase in progress. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Sometimes they're fun phases, like when baby starts babbling, saying "mamamamama" constantly. Or making a funny face or adorable gesture.

Sometimes they're phases that make you want to tear out your hair, like difficulties nursing, teething, or separation anxiety.

Sometimes there a few things going on at once. Like right now in my house.

After a summer of non-stop teething, the fall was relatively quiet as new teeth arrived unceremoniously, bringing baby's total number of teeth up to a whopping six. He has four teeth on top and two adorable teeth on the bottom (why are those bottom teeth so much cuter, I wonder?)

Suddenly this week, he's biting me at every opportunity (especially when
I'm nursing - ouch! Time to start weaning...). He's bursting into tears for no reason and gnawing on everything within reach. Okay, no problem. It's a rough patch but we've been through this before. Nothing a few teethers and a little Tempra can't help.

Except that he's also fully entrenched in another phase - one which is fun for him but not so fun for me. He's in the "throwing everything on the floor" stage. Ostensibly he's doing this so he watch me pick the objects off the floor and he can throw them back down again. Fine, I can see how this would be fun for a nine-month-old.

Now put the two together and what do you get? Screaming, crying and throwing things on the floor non-stop. The things he's throwing are the ones he's supposed to be using to soothe his sore gums. Oh yeah, and while he's crying he's wailing "Mamamamaaaaaa..." Sigh.

All I can say is thank goodness this doesn't happen all day long. But if you call my house and it sounds like feeding time in the monkey cage at the zoo - well, now you know why.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The wisest words

For the past two weeks, there has been an Occupy movement in my home. As in, the virus that has "occupied" my son's body. Like the protesters, it has refused to leave and persistently championed its cause. Well, the virus has finally grown weary and is on its way out. After 7 days, baby's fever has finally broken and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It seemed like this thing would never end! I took baby's temperature a zillion times, cleaned his runny nose repeatedly, kept a cool compress on his forehead, held him while he slept in my arms for hours, and inevitably ended up letting him sleep in our bed almost every night when I was desperate for some sleep. All the amazing progress we made in sleep training went right out the window.

It was an extremely frustrating situation and it was just dragging on and on and on...

As I've blogged, tweeted and Facebooked my way through this illness, I've gotten a lot of concerned queries and advice from friends and family. One of the best things I heard, though, was a few simple words: "This too shall pass."

In the early days of baby's life, when I was dealing with colic, nasty diaper rashes, and spending hours nursing him, I would repeat those words until they became a mantra of sorts. It gave me comfort to remind myself that nothing lasts forever and that the rough moments would be a distant memory before long. And the words proved to be true. We overcame all of these challenges with time and patience.

I haven't had to give myself that kind of pep talk in a long time. So hearing those words reminded me of the comfort that comes with simply accepting that time changes everything.

The moment when you realize that this, too, has indeed passed, is one of the best feelings. That moment is the proverbial sigh of relief. And it's the moment when, for just a second, I appreciate how nice it is for things to be normal... Until the next storm hits. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy the peace and quiet for as long as it lasts.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The things I did for love

Being a parent makes you do things you probably never expected. As a first-timer I've learned that when it comes to your child, it's not as gross as it may seem from the outside looking in.

Here's my round-up of the things that I used to wrinkle my nose just thinking about...but now they're just part of the job description.

You know it's love when...

1. You sniff your baby's bum and you're happy when it smells like poop (well, not too often....)

2. You carefully scrutinize and analyze said poop for changes in color, texture and odor (Liquid? Solid? Green? Brown? Yellow?)

3. You lube up a thermometer with Vaseline and stick it in baby's butt several times a day when they're sick (and I'd you're lucky, you won't get pooped on in the process like I did last week).

4. You willingly suck the snot out of baby's nose using a torturous-looking contraption known as a nasal aspirator. (Why did no one ever tell me that children aren't capable of blowing their own nose until they're 2 or 3 years old?)

5. Having an audience when you go to the bathroom no longer seems like a big deal (hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go!)

This is a short list but I know there's so much more to be said... Parents, what did you never imagine you'd be doing when you had children? Let's keep this list going!

Monday, 14 November 2011

A few of my favorite things...

It's been a lousy week. Baby boy got sick, got better and is now sick again. He has maintained a cheerful attitude throughout it all but I have not been so happy. I know it's selfish but I'm so tired of being stuck at home and sleep-wise, it's been a nightmare.

So in an attempt to cheer myself up, please allow me to be indulgent. When I'm ready to sell my son to the gypsies I find it helps to focus on the things I love about him. So here's my round-up:

1. I love how every week brings a new skill or move or sound. This week, he started to point and pick up items with his thumb and forefinger. Seemingly tiny and insignificant gestures but they are huge developmental milestones for a 9 month old.

2. The look of intense concentration on his face when he's focused on something. He furrows his brow and purses his lips as he tries to figure out whatever he's playing with. It's as if he's trying to understand the theory of relativity.

3. His giggle, especially when brought on randomly by simple unexpected things, like flicking a light switch.

4. The dimple in his left cheek. Need I say more?

5. Big wet kisses that he only gives to me (sorry Dad!)

6. The way he bops up and down and waves his arm when he hears a song he likes.

7. His favorite "word," which is not really a word at all. He repeats the sound "cot, cot, cot," over and over again, especially when he's happy.

Okay I could go on and on but I'm sure I've bored you already and possibly lost the few readers I had. But I definitely feel better already - I'll try to remember this list the next time he's driving me up the wall!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Fever Pitch

Baby boy is sick. His first fever hit this week like a ton of bricks and it's no fun for anyone. I'd like to say that my mother's intuition kicked in the second I felt his hot little forehead burning up, but I'm not gonna lie. When it comes to my sick baby, I have no idea what I'm doing!

When to see a doctor? Give him Tempra? Cold compresses? Strip him down or cover him up? Use a humidifier in his room? How to get him to sleep when he seems too uncomfortable? How to get him to eat when he's refusing food? And oh my God, he just pooped when I stuck a thermometer up his bum!

The poor thing doesn't seem to know what he wants either - other than to be in my arms. So we're a confused pair this week, just cuddling our way through this illness.

Thank goodness for mommies. And I don't mean myself, but my own mommy, who came to my rescue today to help me out. She took turns holding Mr. I Just Want Hugs, gave me advice, made us lunch and dinner and kept me company. She also diagnosed him with a stomach flu, after he refused to eat, drink and produced a few nasty diapers.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: I have a newfound appreciation for my mother since becoming one myself. Not only is this the hardest job in the world (and yes, the most rewarding) but when I'm taking care of my baby, she's still there to take care of hers - me.

It may not be Mother's Day but today I'm showing mine all my appreciation. And I know that one day I will follow in her footsteps and be there for my babies, no matter how old they are.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Adventures in sleep training

It's been a big week for baby boy! For the first time ever, he finally slept through the night this week. Hurray! He only did it once but that was a good enough for me, for now. It seems in line with his usual pattern. Any time he does something new, it happens once but then isn't repeated until a few days or even weeks later. But then it's constant.

For example, he's been very tentatively working on pulling himself up against furniture. It happened once successfully about two weeks ago and then nothing until this week. The other day I walked into his room to pick him up from a nap and almost had a heart attack when I found him proudly standing up in his crib! Now it's his favorite thing to do.

I know full nights of sleep will soon become the norm. Sleep training has been going really well. He no longer cries when I put him down to sleep and there are few instances where we have to let him cry it out during the night. He sleeps 3 - 4 hour stretches and only wakes to eat once during the night. So I'm a pretty happy Mom these days. My nights are no longer a nightmare.

Daytime sleep, however, is still a challenge. It is my albatross, my Moby Dick, so to speak. Those naps are still short and sweet and they seem to be getting shorter. It is completely frustrating! Thirty minutes is an unacceptable nap time for an 8 month old baby, at least in my opinion.

I know what needs to be done. Sleep training has done wonders for the night. It's time for nap training. In other words, letting him cry it out during the day too. But it seems so much harder than at night when my husband is there to support me and encourage me not to run to him when he cries.

I approach nap training like some people approach a diet. I keep saying "I'll start tomorrow. Or Monday." I keep putting it off because there always seems to be a good reason not to start yet. But I promised myself that once nights were under control, I would tackle days. That time has come.

Plus I am officially returning to work in 3 months, which is really soon (gulp). I need to get him on a normal schedule because I won't be around to coddle him to sleep during the day anymore.

I can do this, right?! If I tamed the wild beast at night, surely I can manage days too. It's time to change! Again.