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Monday, September 24, 2012
It was a grueling, yet successful, weekend of Ferberizing/sleep training at our house, which I’ll write more about later.
It was also one of those weekends full of emotions. Do you know what I mean? Do you have times when you are raw, fragile, and things feel more real than they should?
It was a year ago that I got my first ever positive pregnancy test. I remember it so well. The quiet, dark bedroom early in the morning. I woke up my husband to look at the test.
We were supposed to clean out the garage that day, but my husband cut his hand open on some glass. We abandoned the garage project and raced to Walgreen’s for first aid supplies.
I was so excited to buy some brand-name tests so I could see if I was imagining it.
One year ago. I tend to overreact to these sorts of anniversaries. I become very reflective. Couple this tendency with a weekend where I move my son to his crib and pack away his bassinet, and it was all just a little much.
The beast of infertility robs me of the confidence that I’ll ever pull that bassinet out again. I wish I could fold it up and think “until the next baby”, but instead I have a heavy heart. A broken piece of me whispers “what if there’s never another?”
One year later, and the baby I worked so hard for is here. Am I a bad mom for already wanting another? When part of me screams “not enough!”, am I ungrateful?
One year later, and that faint second line is a person.
One year later, and we still need to clean out the garage.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
First, the good things. Alex weighs 12 pounds, 15 ounces! He has more than doubled his birth weight of 6lb, 3oz. Go little peanut, go! He is healthy in every way and has such good upper body strength that she cleared us for stomach sleeping even though he’s not rolling over. She felt around in his mouth and exclaimed that he’s getting a tooth! I can’t really feel it, but she was confident.
Then we talked about sleep. This appointment was perfectly timed because this has been our worst week ever with sleep; as in, he’s been waking up every hour or hour and a half consistently all week. We explained what’s been going on and here were her points:
- He obviously can’t get back to sleep without us. That needs to change.
- Every night that he gets a bad night’s sleep (so, every night of his life so far), he is more tired the next day and a bit more sleep-deprived than before.
- Thus, “waiting it out” is not an option because he’s going to start sleeping less and less, not more and more. We know this is true because he used to sleep 7-11 like clockwork and for a good 5 weeks it’s been 7-9:30 or 7-10. It’s not getting better on its own.
- She was adamant that teething is not causing this sleep disruption.
- She was also adamant that giving him solids or formula will not help. I knew that, but I get this advice so often that it was nice to be validated. He is not waking up because he’s hungry. He’s waking up at the end of every sleep cycle. It’s different.
- She was 100% confident that if we used the Ferber method and stuck with it, followed it exactly, it would work. She said he is capable of sleeping at the VERY MINIMUM, 8 hours a night, if not 10-12.
This, about a child who has slept MAYBE five hours ONCE.
I read Ferber last night. It’s so much gentler than I thought it would be. And maybe I’m just drinking the kool-aid here, but it makes sense to me. Here’s where my brain is now:
- His crying has changed in the past couple of weeks. He no longer has a newborn cry. He whines to be picked up, etc. He knows how to get a response from me. That’s fine, I’m happy to respond to his needs…during the day. NOT every 75 minutes all night long. To me, this change in crying signals he’s ready for CIO.
- I wanted to wait till 6 months, anyway. The pediatrician urged us not to do that. She said he’s ready now. I believe her.
- I still don’t like the idea of letting him cry, but at this point I truly have no choice and I do think it’s the right thing for us to do.
- I cannot function like this. In the past month, a two-hour stretch of sleep has become something to celebrate. I make stupid mistakes while I’m driving. I’m worthless at work. I feel sick to my stomach most of the time from sleep deprivation. I’m getting sick (which very rarely happens, usually). My marriage is suffering.
- Maybe there are moms out there who could live this way without letting their child CIO. I am not one of them.
- I’m really effing tired of everyone telling me their baby doesn’t sleep well either. Then you find out, maybe they don’t sleep well THAT WEEK, or maybe they “only” sleep three hours at a time, or maybe they’ve slept 8 hours a night since they were 6 weeks old and are now having a sleep regression. None of that is our case. My baby has never learned to sleep without me. I have gotten no breaks and it feels, at night, like I am still caring for a newborn.
- I’m also tired of issuing the standard disclaimer. I DO love my son. I love him more than anything in this world. I have never once gotten angry with him for waking me up (I direct the anger at my husband, though, which is also bad). I’d rather deal with this than with infertility. But, I shouldn’t have to keep saying this. No matter how much you love someone, being woken up every 75 minutes for multiple days in a row is a slow form of torture.
One more night of constant night nursing, and then Friday night we start Ferber.
I’m going to be so flipping engorged.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
One year ago today, my sweet baby was a tiny embryo, and I was high on valium. He, and another embryo we'll never get to meet, came home to my uterus via a catheter in a doctor's office in another state.
I spent the drive home from that appointment repeating a positive mantra in my head. "We want you, we love you, we can't wait to meet you." I concentrated all of my energy on getting those little ones to implant.
Modern medicine is such a marvel. You take a young woman with PCOS and terrible eggs, who doesn't even ovulate - with a bajillion injections, tears, and sleepless nights: she's pregnant.
Alex and I have come so far in one year! From a nerve-wracking two week wait, to an anxiety-riddled pregnancy, an early delivery, and now a healthy, happy, gorgeous four-month-old.
I carried and delivered him; he made me a mom. It's hard to know who gave whom the more precious gift.
Friday, September 14, 2012
My, oh my, you are four months old! You have learned so many things in the past month - it’s hard to choose my favorite.
First of all, you started giggling! Your first giggle was a few weeks ago, when I was tickling your face with my hair during a diaper change. Then you made us go weeks with no more laughter until recently, when you started doing it more often. It’s still pretty unpredictable what will make you laugh, but it fills my heart with joy every time you do.
Now that you push with your feet, you are sososososoclose to rolling over. We let you practice every night on your back, and you will be rolling within a week, I bet.
You’ve also gotten more coordinated with your hands. The first time I realized you had total control over your hands, you were rubbing your eyes because you were tired. It was adorable. You can grasp objects, although not intentionally, and you reach out and bat at toys now. You love to suck on your fingers, when last month you had just started bringing your fists to your mouth.
With fun “firsts” also come some less exciting milestones. This month, you had your first cold, and I’m learning how hard it is for babies to shake that nasal congestion, as your stuffiness lingers and lingers. We had our first out-of-town trip, for a sad reason, when we went to my hometown to say goodbye to your great-grandpa. You had your first dip in a swimming pool in the hotel, which you absolutely hated (hey, that water was frigid and I really can’t blame you).
You are a happy baby. You get fussy when you’re tired, and you still have the occasional reflux flare up. Every month when I write this letter I think “maybe next month I’ll be able to report that he’s started sleeping well at night!” Not the case for month four. : ) But I have hope, and we’ll keep working on it.
I think this past month has been the absolute CUTEST month of your life. We’ve gotten so many smiles, and you’ve become so much more alert and eager to look around at your surroundings. You like to sit in your high chair while your dad and I eat dinner, and you like to go on walks and stare at the sky and the leaves on the trees. You have such a gorgeous face that I get choked up sometimes, watching you take in the world around you. You’re perfect.
In a thousand tiny ways, you are growing more independent each day. It makes me so proud, and also a little sad. I love you to the moon and back.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
It’s been a year, today, since the worst day of my life, aka the retrieval that led to my son, the other embryo we transferred along with him, and the frozen embryo we will use someday.
I’m emotional on the anniversary of this day, knowing that my Alex, the bouncing almost-four-month-old I dropped off at daycare this morning, was conceived right about this time, one year ago, in a different state, in a lab.
Until that moment, there was no Alexander. He was one of 17 eggs and one lucky sperm of millions. It’s blowing my mind to think about it, even now.
When I think about that awful day, I remember some things with crystal clarity:
1) the pain. The pain was so intense. It was far worse than anything I experienced with my c-section.
2) waking up in my husband’s arms on the floor of my parents’ house, feeling weaker and sicker than I’d ever felt
3) squeezing the nurse’s hand and crying “I just want to have a baby” over and over
4) the feeling of lightness I finally experienced, after hours in the ER, when they gave me some pain medicine that actually worked (I think it was toradol?)
It was a horrible day, but it was so worth it. My little boy is the most yearned for sort of miracle.
No matter how much he cries, how little he sleeps, or how much I have to sacrifice for him, I will never forget the longing I felt in my bones before I got to meet him.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
My son still doesn’t sleep well at night. He’s 4 months on Saturday and everything I’ve read on the subject says he should be sleeping at least six hours at a time by now. We celebrate when we get three.
I have tried everything. I have changed his reflux medicine. His mattress is on an incline. There is a humidifier. There is swaddling. There is white noise. There is darkness. There is frequent nursing.
I’m out of ideas.
He goes to bed around 7. We do our bedtime routine and I put him down in his bassinet, awake, and he puts himself to sleep. It’s just that he doesn’t stay asleep very long, and he can’t put himself back to sleep.
Maybe 5% of the time I can get him back to sleep with a re-swaddle and a pacifier, but 95% of the time I have to nurse him.
An important distinction: he does not “nurse to sleep”. He’s awake when I put him back down. It’s just that nursing is the only thing that relaxes him enough to get back to sleep.
I’m so torn on what to do next. His four month appointment is next week and I know the pediatrician will encourage me to do CIO or controlled crying.
I go back and forth on this. Do I think my son will suffer long-term damage from CIO? Most likely, no. Do I think I can be there, hearing him scream for his mommy, and just ignore him? Absolutely not.
Do I think that the parents who are super judgmental about CIO are probably getting more sleep than I am, not waking up 5x a night (as if with a newborn), while still needing to appear professional and coherent the next day? Yes.
Part of me thinks that he will figure it out on his own if I’m just patient enough. Part of me thinks that I am seriously going to have a mental breakdown soon and in order for us all to be happier during the day, we need to do something drastic.
Lately I have been doing a dream feeding between 9:30-10:30, and after that he may sleep till 12:30-1 ish. Then he is awake in another two hours. Once we hit 3am, all hell breaks loose. He always wakes up at 3, 4, and 5, and somewhere in there I always give up and bring him into bed with me. My alarm goes off at 6.
He’s still in his bassinet, because I can’t imagine having to actually walk into another room all of those times in the night. That’s another thing – do I need to get him used to the crib before we start serious sleep training? It seems heartless to plunk him down somewhere totally alien and then let him scream.
Everything inside me rejects the idea of CIO. But I also can’t keep functioning like this. And really, neither can he. He needs more rest than he’s getting.
I don’t know what my next step is.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I’m in a predicament, because I am so damn stubborn.
When I felt like breastfeeding was established, I set myself a goal of 6 months. We booked a vacation for March, when Alexander will be 10 months old. Perfect, I thought, he’ll be weaned by then.
Now I cringe.
I can’t wean him at six months. That’s only two and a half months away! The thought of weaning makes me hurt inside. I’ve been given this gift – of breastfeeding going relatively smoothly – and I just can’t stop doing it without a good reason.
So now I’m in a predicament. Our vacation is four nights and we’ll be away from Alex for about seven days total. The internet indicates a 10 month old needs 20-25 ounces of breast milk each day. I’m being generous and estimating he’ll need 30 ounces a day.
This means, if I want to keep him on exclusively breast milk while I’m on vacation, I need 210 ounces in the freezer.
Right now I have 120 ounces. If I don’t use any of it (yeah right), and if I can pump 4 oz every weekend and freeze it, then I can do it. But those are big Ifs.
Another big issue: I’m already adding a fourth pumping session in the evenings at home just to get what I feel he needs for the day, because I come up .75 oz total short at work. (I should stop, right? A quarter of an ounce less in each bottle isn’t going to leave him hungry, RIGHT?)
My plan for vacation means I literally won’t be able to go a day without pumping between now and March (gahhh). It also leaves no flexibility for me to have extra breast milk to mix with oatmeal, etc.
I know what you’re thinking. GIVE HIM FORMULA WHILE YOU’RE GONE. It does seem simple. But I’m so stubborn that if there’s a way to keep him exclusively on breast milk, then I’m going to do it, damnit.
I could use some input. Feel free to tell me I’m crazy.