This is a long OVERDUE post that isn’t pregnancy related.

Don’t faint.

I have neglected the blog because, well, it’s not my priority. I don’t monetize my blog. I’ve never gotten anything free or made any money blogging. My blog is not my job. It is something I do for ME. My kids and my house are my my job and they are FULL TIME.

 

I find myself seeking balance. Looking for pause and reflection. This seems to be happening more and more and I suspect it has to do with growing new life. I’m past the mid point of pregnancy (I guess unless Max decides to cook to 43 weeks. Unlikely.) I can’t forget I’m pregnant for the huge belly but if it weren’t for that and the kicks I’d probably have to be reminded. Life with four kids is so incredibly busy. Like super super busy.

Busy.

 

Ella has been teething and sick and sick and teething. And not sleeping. But also: Walking. Running. Talking. Demanding my CONSTANT attention.

I find myself asking my 13 year old multiple times a day either 1. Who he is texting or 2. Who he is on the phone with. This is both maddening and exhausting. And a little bit exciting seeing him come into his own. Also he has straight A’s so there’s that.

Raising a 16 year old daughter challenges me unlike I’d ever expected. I thought she was a hard baby. Yeah. I’d rather do that again. I mean the head shaking. The sighing. The plugging of ears. God I love that kid. I do. No REALLY I DO. She’s trying to grow up. And sometimes trying to make me a little crazy.

My 11 year old is thankfully the one kid who doesn’t want to talk back, bicker, snot mouth, ignore etc. He does his chores quietly and with little nudging. Now if only I could get him to stop leaving underwear on the floor. Next year he’ll be in junior high. And that makes me a little weak in the knees.

In any case you can see how this would get a little, eh hectic, on a day to day type basis. If I blog I can’t sew and if I sew I can’t blog and if I crochet or knit I can’t blog or sew and if I clean and cook and bake I can’t crochet or blog or knit OR sew. And if I manage to get all the laundry done I probably can’t do any of those things.  Oh and there’s all my twitter friends, which are almost my only friends. And I’m finding that those lines are being crossed too where my twitter friends are becoming my REAL friends or vice versa so I don’t ever want to ignore these relationships either. And somewhere in there I have to mother these people and be a wife-y type person too and  do it while my husband is gone half the week. So you know.

Busy.

I’ve found, for my own PERSONAL brand of sanity, that I *really* need to do a little of all of those things. I NEED a clean house but I also NEED to sew and I NEED to knit ANd crochet AND cook and I am happiest when I am successful at all of that PLUS being a decent mother and wife. Or trying anyway.
And then there are days (weeks, MONTHS even) where people are sick or teething or just needy and I go days without ever spending time on MY sanity. And I start to feel a little, well, insane. And I usually cry. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I clean. And most of the time I need Matt to say HEY YOU NEED TO SLEEP (or do something for yourself).

SO I try to eat healthy.

I take time to do some creative things that nourish me… like sewing:

Making curtains I’ve wanted for a year and a half (also a clean space and clean sheets helps).

Or crocheting with some NICE yarn (because I’m WORTH nice yarn).

Or make something for someone (in this case a hat for Max).

It’s easy to become very preoccupied with SURVIVING as a mother of one or two or four or five. And I have to remind myself that MY cup needs filling. I need fulfillment and sometimes I need nurturing too. Trying to do it all and be everything to everyone is a bad idea sometimes. Sometimes admitting the things you aren’t capable of makes you, in fact, capable. These are the lessons of womanhood and of motherhood. And I’m learning them. Daily.

 

(nearly) wordless wednesday , crochet , knit , knitting , mothering , sewing , teenagers , thankful

This post will start out looking like a sleep post but I’ll get to the point. The last two nights (not coincidentally the two nights I’ve been solo getting up with her) Ella has ended up in the sidecarred twin (‘her’ bed) in our room. It’s hard to think coherently at 1 am but for some reason I felt like moving her in our room was a night weaning failure. At some point real recently (when I was a little less exhausted maybe?) I came to the realization that having her in our room wasn’t a fail if it WORKED. Because she’s been up hourly pretty much for the last almost two weeks.Presumably this is a symptom of teething (PLEASE) because she had been sleeping ok the first few nights in her room.  Anyway in standard night, by the time I get up, soothe her back to sleep, go pee and then get myself back to sleep (which takes a while), I’m only getting 3 or 3.5 hours of sleep. This really helps explain the multiple hysterical breakdowns last week.  Anyway, she has been in there because it WORKS.

And while we’re talking about what works, let me get to the point. I know people blog about this alllll the flipping time but I’m not going to zip my blabbity lip just because I’ve read it 713 times on some other “mom” blog.

RANT COMMENCE: I call myself an attached parent because I meet the definition of attached parenting (you know, according to API). Hmpf. Whatever THAT means. We EC. We do baby led weaning (solid introduction). We co-sleep. I nurse exclusively for an extended period and do child lean weaning. We won’t circumcise. We cloth diaper. I discipline gently. BLAHBLAHBLABBITYBLAH.

But goshdammit if ANY of that should define who I AM as a parent. Because how do I REALLY parent? I parent from my gut. I parent how I feel. I parent to cope. Sometimes I parent to SURVIVE. I don’t feel like I have to constantly talk about how I parent because I’ve been parenting for 17 years and I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt I AM AWESOME constantly screw up. No. REALLY.

You know what the secret of being a good, dare I say it, GREAT, mother is? Oh. No, you say? Well let me TELL you. The secret of being a really kick ass amazing mom is knowing that YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT. I have four kids with a fifth on the way. I helped my stepfather raise my sister after my dingbat mother walked out on her. And what have I learned in 19 years? Well I’ve learned that just about the time you think you have it allllll figured out one of your kids will throw you a curveball and you’ll be like this… SHIT WHAT NOW?!?!

Your sweet little toddler who says please and thank you and shares her toys and never has a tantrum, will one day be 16 and she may very well tell you TO SHUT UP. No, really. It could happen. You may want to strangle her but you’ll recognize that being a teen is hard and you’ll take her phone and then you’ll make up. Likewise, your son who as a toddler threw a tantrum at the drop of a hat and made grocery shopping impossible and made you feel like you WANTED TO DIE? He may just very well kiss you square on the mouth right in front of his group of 13 year old hooligan friends and say, “Mom, I love you. You’re AWESOME.”  It could happen. Really. It happened to me.

Believe it or not, mothering, the most basic and encompassing of all jobs EVER, has CHANGED a lot in the last 19 years. Not the act itself but ALL the stuff attached to it. And why? I’ll tell you why. Lots of reasons but mostly…THE INTERNET. When I had my first baby there were no “mom” blogs or forums or Facebook or *gasp* TWITTER. The only way you could possibly compare yourself to any other mom was to sit face to face with her. FACE. TO. FACE.  And let me tell you, it is infinitely more difficult to feel like you’re doing a better job than someone else when you SEE the 2 hours of sleep bags under their eyes. When you know their husband is having an affair. When you know they have postpartum depression. When you know they can’t pay their bills. When you know thier son is smoking dope or their teenage daughter is pregnant. You could not feel like you were a better parent than them because the filter of the internet did not exist. And you wouldn’t say the things you can say on the internet if you had to look in their eyes when you said it.

I love all the new an awesome ways we can interact with our babies. I love baby led weaning and ec’ing and I loved babywearing and co-sleeping before they were really a “thing” but what I hate is that in SO many ways we are now made to feel guilty for doing or not doing or doing but not doing well enough all of these ‘things’. I MEAN REALLY? Shit.

Example: I EC. Well that is to say I EC by my own standards. We put Ella on the potty when she wakes (but not always) and if she needs to poop (most of the time). Otherwise she wears a (cloth, because I love the environment and I’m BETTER than all of you who don’t. Uh NOT.) DIAPER. I’d EC fulltime if I HAD time. But you know what I have 4 kids. I’m in my car two hours a day. Sometimes more. I’m at jazz festivals and football games and the store. Daily. Sometimes Ella just has to pee in her diaper. She just does. And she’s GOING TO BE FINE. The hardcore EC people would have you to think that I’m not doing well enough. Well they are welcome to come here, be 5 months pregnant, herd my chickens, feed my three dogs and two cats and fish, water the garden, do my laundry, mop my floors, help with homework and take care of my kids while I’m ALONE half the week because my husband works out of town. While they’re at it, they can rub my feet. Oh and kiss my snowy white backside.

I REFUSE to feel like I’m not doing enough. I am doing my BEST. The same thing goes for BLW. I don’t feed Ella purees but if I did, SO WHAT. She’s not going to be permanently damaged. I know this because I gave my first three kids homemade purees, with a SPOON, and they are FINE. And same goes with babywearing. I wore Ella constantly for 5 months. At five months of age she weighed more than 20 pounds. I STILL wore her because it was easier, even though it killed my back. Now I’m pregnant, she weighs 25 pounds. I have a HUGE belly. Am I going to drag her around the mall on my back just because I don’t want to look like I’m not an ATTACHED PARENT. OH.MY.GAWD. I have a STROLLER. And I USE IT.

I was talking with my friend Staci last week (and Staci has one 16 year old child, no babies anymore) and she made this astute observation. She said something like this (totally not quoting) … the thing I see the most with this whole AP attitude isn’t that more people necessarily DO those things for their kids but that there is the competition between moms *to* do those things. How right is that? What kills me is that someone OUTSIDE our community can so easily see what’s happening inside our community. As mothers we are doing the most difficult work, wouldn’t it make sense that we should be lifting each other up? And yet we belittle, berate, judge? Even in ‘friendly’ conversation there is the tone my kid is obviously better than yours or I am clearly better than you. It’s disguised sometimes as ‘information’ and ‘sharing’ but often it’s most  blatantly just mean.

I worked in a busy hospital labor and delivery unit for several years. I left because ultimately policy conflicted too much with my personal beliefs (too much intervention, too little education) but while I was there I noticed one overwhelming thing. Motherhood is universal. Be she white, black, Asian; poor, rich, middle class; intelligent, functionally illiterate; educated in every aspect of birth, not even aware where the baby comes from; the feeling is the same. ALL mothers love their babies (Ok there are some exceptions to this rule but you get what I’m saying). The one universal thing is LOVE. And I believe that while some mothers don’t mother how I mother (and sometimes that hurts my heart) I believe that they are probably usually TRYING. Probably. Usually.

Can we just accept, even if may not be true, that most mothers (at least the ones in our social circles) are TRYING? That they are mostly doing their best?That they love their children and want a good life for them? That maybe their idea of what makes you a good mother isn’t the same as your idea? Can we then take that one step further and use this amazing thing social media to uplift and encourage, to hug and support, to be THERE without being judgmental? Can we accept that even if they don’t parent at all like we do or if they parent like we do but not the same WAY we do that it doesn’t mean their kids are ruined. It just means they are different.

 

Can we? Ok great.

Because one of the other things I’ve learned in 19 years? Competitive mothering doesn’t end up doing anything positive for the kids involved. Nope. All it does is divide us when we need desperately to be united. We need each other now more than ever because this mothering thing? It’s HARD dude. Hard.

 

attached parenting , attachment parenting , mothering , OVERACHIEVERITIS , parenting

Well it’s Monday and I took the weekend away from the computer to enjoy my visiting sister and take a long bike ride with my hubby and Ella. But here I am ready to update you on how the last three nights have gone. If I can remember.

DAY SIX (Friday): Daddy came home from being away. My relief had arrived (I think for whatever reason I ended up doing most of the get ups anyway, probably because I was just awake first). It’s a bit of a blur now that’s Monday. She went to bed around 9 because we had been at a football game. I know she didn’t nurse all night. I know there were two periods she was up every 10-15 minutes for an hour or so. We did do cheese and meds before bed and at 1 am I changed her soppy diaper in case that was the issue. Also I repeated ibuprofen at 2:30 because I was getting frustrated with the every 10-15 minutes business. The diapers don’t seem to be an issue but she is drinking so much water than she is wetting a TON at night so I’m trying all configurations of nighttime diapers trying to keep her asleep without being saturated. Trial and error. Also trying to not give her a bunch of water but sometimes that’s the only thing that will calm her.

DAY SEVEN (Saturday): Saturday was better than Friday. Bedtime was 8 ish. I made her two eggs to eat at 6:30 because Matt and I were eating late. So she had eggs, cheese, applesauce, some yogurt and some banana for dinner. Quite a bit of food. Neither of us picked her up at all during the night. Just patting was sufficient to get her back to sleep and she didn’t have any real long periods of wakefulness so that was a bonus. She was up at 1 and 3 and 5 and couple of times in between. You can see a real every two hour pattern forming here. Definitely in her light sleep state she wakes and looks for help. We go and give it to her. I guess the next leap is for her to realize she doesn’t need help. From 5 she slept until 6:45 when dad got up with her and I got to sleep until 8. I definitely think how she eats during the day impacts the night sleep. Protein before bed is helpful.

DAY EIGHT (Sunday): Ella went to bed around 8:30. This was the first time dad has put her to bed alone. She had no booby just some rocking and patting. Note: She did NOT eat an awesome dinner. At all. She had some beans, some mandarin oranges and part of a peanut butter sandwich. I may just start feeding her eggs before bed I swear. Anyway… she slept until 10:30 but was able to get back to sleep on her own that time. At 11:30 when she woke dad went in but again was able to get to sleep with just some patting and a little water. Less than a minute. This would pretty much be the theme until 12:30. Up every 10-15. One minute of patting. Back to sleep. At this point I suggested we turn off the monitor. I absolutely cannot sleep laying there waiting to hear her cry. About every other time she is able to get herself back to sleep anyway after a few whimpers. So turning off the monitor (which comes on at every little peep, including every.flippin.train. that passes all night long) was a good call. She slept until around 4. At that point I went in and patted and gave her water (I’m not automatically offering her water. I try to pat first and if she sits back up then I offer the water. Because of aforementioned TON OF PEE). We did that a few times between 4-5:15. From 5:15 she slept until 6:50. Unheard of for her to be in bed that late (though we did have one 7:20 day last week). YAY.

 

So it’s been a week. How far have we come? A week ago Ella was in our bed from 12 or so on then kicking pinching and biting me from 2 or 3 am until we finally would get up a 5. I was sleeping very little in those hours of her restlessness and I was having to lug her with me to the bathroom to pee every time I went (so she wouldn’t fall off the bed or scream bloody murder waking up the whole house, while I was gone). Her bedtime and night routine is consistent except we’ve adding our teething regime and made sure she’s getting food before bed. She isn’t nursing at ALL anymore (at night) and last night she even went to bed without nursing (first time ever, except for once when Staci was babysitting). We went from picking her up and rocking and nursing every time she wakes, to giving her a drink and patting her back to sleep, to finally just patting (with an occasional drink), and sometimes not even having to pat at all just letting her get herself back to sleep. Her naps are consistently 1 or 2 a day (depending on how busy we are) lasting 2 + hours for the first and about 1 for the second (if she gets one). She can fairly easily get herself back to sleep about half the time (even during naps) with only a whimper or little cry out (anything more and I’m in her room in a flash). I am up about a half dozen or so times a night (though dad has done about half the waking the last two nights) but I can’t get myself BACK to sleep once I’ve been up with her so that’s a frustration. We are moving in the right direction though. It’s not HUGE leaps but small steps. The next hurdle would hopefully be just reducing the number of times she is just UP every 10-15 minutes for a couple of hours. I can’t really explain that behavior except to say maybe it’s the teeth. If it is then things should get better soon. If not then I guess we wait it out. There is really no provision in the (Jay Gordon) plan for what to do when kids wake up every 10 minutes. I mean if you’re not crying it out what is your option? You go in. You soothe without picking up and that’s all you’ve got. So that’s what we’ll keep doing.

We are all getting more sleep than we WERE (except dad who used to sleep through most of the night fussing) and moods are improved all around. I certainly miss her being in our bed though so I hope we can get back to that soon. Or maybe we never will. Maybe we will just say ok we did a year and now she’s got her own bed in her own room and the new baby arrives and sleeps in ours. I’m not sure what nighttime logistics would look like with a newborn waking and possibly waking Ella so maybe she is better off in her bed for HER sake. I never set out to co-sleep purely for my own benefit and I have even co-slept to my own detriment but if the presence of a new baby totally disrupts Ella’s sleep then she probably should stay in her own room. We have time to decide.

A month ago I was envisioning this nightmare of me going into labor in the middle of the night with Ella still nursing all night and trying to figure out how I’d nurse her all night and keep her asleep while trying to give birth. Now I know that my body will probably pick nighttime to labor (like it did with Ella) when things are still and the mother part of my brain knows all my kids are here and safe. As I’ve said, as tough as this is, having her at least partly weaned is going to make the transition from one little person monopolizing my time to two much easier. There you have it.

attachment parenting , mothering , night weaning

Here’s a quick bare bones update on last night. This series is about getting a baby to sleep but also about a momma who NEEDS to sleep (as is often the case). So there will be some whining. Apologies.

DAY FIVE (Thursday):

Ella’s grandparents were here last night for a short passing through town visit (my in-laws) so bed time was a bit later than usual which was fine. Around 8:25 we did the routine of ibuprofen (damn the molars), teething tabs, chamomilia and CHEESE. Yes. Cheese. Bedtime took about 6 minutes from diaper to nursing to sleep. She slept from then until 11:30 when she woke fussing but was able to get herself back to sleep without my assistance. She then slept until 1:13. I went in, gave her water, DID NOT PICK HER UP, laid her down, patted her back to sleep. SUCCESS. Note: this is part (I think Step 3) of Jay Gordon’s plan but I accelerated it by a few days. I think it’s important to read your baby’s cues. She didn’t lift her arms up to me. She didn’t cry. She was obviously groggy so I tried laying her down and HOLY COW IT WORKED. At 3:19 she woke again. and I did the Exact. Same. Thing. She fussed a few minutes after I left the room but stayed asleep. I stayed on the the edge of my bed fretting. At 5:26 she woke again and this would be her usual wake time. I went in and gave her her water which she pushed away. I assumed that was because she wanted up and out BUT just in case not, I laid her down, patted her and she fell BACK ASLEEP. This child hasn’t slept past 6 am in MONTHS. Usually she’s up by 5:30 or earlier. It is now 7 am and she’s still asleep. STILL.

It’s an October miracle.

Bad news: I’m EXHAUSTED and I have THREE OTHER KIDS. Well, the kids themselves aren’t the bad news. They are awesome. But as you moms of more than one know (which is probably most of you), even if you are dogshitdeadwantodietired, if you have kids to need to get to school or need to get fed or need to be woken up you have to get up too. The luxury of sleeping when baby sleeps? HA. Yeah, no.

See, I didn’t fare so well last night. This sleep series isn’t about me sleep training though so I won’t go into it too deep. I’ll just say that she was sleeping and I was not and that is stupid. This whole me not being able to sleep thing, for whatever reason I can’t (last night I was genuinely sick) is getting really old. I had plans to go to Fresno today but I’m not going because I haven’t slept and I have a FULL day ahead of me that ends with me taking all of the kids to a high school football game to watch the 13 year old play the national anthem and being there until probably after 10 pm. Anyway. Once we get Ella squared away completely I *hope* that my good sleep will follow. Because I can FUNCTION on 3 hours but it’s not cool. And like I said three other kids and while they WANT me to rest they kind of NEED me to get them to school. So yeah. That.

attachment parenting , co-sleeping , ella , mothering , night weaning

WARNING: There may be horrendous spelling and grammatical errors in here. OH. WELL. I’m tired.

 

Oh the gloriousness of day three. I was so rested and so capable and so NORMAL. I cleaned the bathrooms. I washed ALL the laundry. I knitted. I swept. I dusted. I cleaned up five million pieces of teeny tiny piss foam. And I told you all that I thought I probably just shouldn’t even DISCUSS day three because it was that good. And then yesterday’s morning nap? BRILLIANT. Ella went down about 9:45 and at 10:20 she woke up. I was BUMMMMMED. But holy what the? She put herself BACK TO SLEEP. And then she slept. Clear until 12:15. It. Was. Magical. I had good reason to believe we had indeed turned a corner.

And then last night happened.

DAY FOUR (Wednesday): Ella skipped her afternoon nap which was fine given the length of the morning one. She got fussy around 3:45 and I nursed her.  She dozed and I laid her down but she popped up which was fine with me since I figured potentially earlier bedtime. She had her hand in her mouth most of the afternoon so we were alternatiing teething tablets with lots of ice for that (I suspect molars). I had a RAGING headache that was making me nauseated (and that nothing except massage seems to help) so I kind of limped around all evening asking the big kids to help out with things. I gave Ella her bath and then took one myself while Kelsey kept an eye on her. At 8 pm she wasn’t acting tired but I did our routine of ibuprofen, chamomilia and teething tablets and we went upstairs. Diaper changed. Nursed. Laid down awake. And fast sleep in SIX minutes. I was hopeful. I had dressed her with some pants on (usually she’s just in diaper and t-shirt because she’s such a sweaty sleeper) and was at least a little worried she’d get all sweaty. Not a peep.

At 10:30 ish I went to bed. I read for a few minutes in the Adventures in Tandem Nursing book and laid down about 11 ish. At 11:30 Ella woke crying. I went in but she was able to sooth herself. YES! I went to the bathroom (for whatever reason I had to pee every half hour for the first 3 hours of the night) and she fussed again. Back to her room and she was asleep again. This happened once more before I got back to bed around almost 12. At 12:48 she woke crying and I went in. Gave her a drink of water and tried to lay her down. No dice. Nursed her for one minute. Laid her down. Covered her and went back to my bed (after peeing AGAIN). It was 12:56 ish. Two minutes after I put my head on my pillow she was crying. Back to her room. Pat. Soothe. Leave. This routine happened two more times before I just decided I’d better stay in there. It’s far more cruel to have to climb in and out and in and out of bed. So I sat there. She’d fuss. I’d pat. I’d sit. She’d fuss. Repeat. We did this until 1:30 ish. Or 1:40. I refused to look at the clock. I went back to bed and she fussed a few MORE times but I waited it out to see if she’d get back to sleep and she did.

She slept until 3:38 and woke with a cry. I went in. Water wouldn’t cut it. Nursing wouldn’t cut it. I tried patting. Rubbing. Singing. She just KEPT SITTING UP. Finally at 4 I just took her to my room. Trying to hang my arm over the side of the crib to pat her was a nightmare. Trying to lean into her crib? Also a nightmare. My belly just won’t allow it. I opted to take her to my bed if for nothing else just so I could be horizontal. And there we laid. I patted. She cried and talked to herself. This went on until 4:45 when she finally dozed off. I was clock watching thinking OK I COULD let the kids sleep until 6:30. Well that internal conversation was for naught because she woke BACK up at 5:15. And that was that.

SO. It was bad. What was different than the night before? Well on Tuesday I gave her some cheese before bed. So fail. Maybe she was hungry? Also she had a different than usual water cup. Not that it should matter but shit, hell if I know. Also maybe it’s just the teeth hurting so bad that the ibuprofen can’t touch it. I. DON’T. KNOW.

What I do know? Her mood is clearly effected. She was literally YELLING at me at the table while I made her eggs at 6 am. She threw my phone and hit me in the face. She threw her water and hit me in the face. She fell down and Owen helped her get up and she hit him in the FACE.  My child is barely recognizable as her sweet self. And… not surprisingly, my mood is clearly effected. I am EXHAUSTED and emotional this morning. I talked to Matt this morning and spent most of the 15 minutes on the phone crying. My in-laws are coming for a brief visit today and my house is going to be not clean which I’m not happy about. I am DREADING the day of being exhausted and trying to balance the rest I clearly NEED with the things I also need to DO.

The plan? Well tonight I won’t skip the cheese that’s FOR SURE. And I guess I’ll go ahead and give her ibuprofen as soon as the 6 hour window is up. I don’t like giving kids medication like that but shit what else can I do? Other than that it’s back to pleading.

attachment parenting , ella , mothering , night weaning