Posted in Blogging

Maybe I Should Just Try Benadryl

Usually, Amélie goes down for bed at 7.

Usually, after our short bedtime routine, I just pop her in her crib with a kiss, leave her room, close the door and spend the next 2-3 hours before my own bedtime picking up the house and having some me time.

Sometimes, she’ll be overtired and will start crying as soon as I put her down.  Usually, all she needs is for me to rub her back for about 5 minutes before she falls asleep.

But tonight, oh tonight.

It’s now 9:15 and she’s still not sleeping.  The dada and I have formed a tag team.  None of our strategies have worked.

Not one.

Rocking? Nope.

Walking? Nope.

Nursing? Nope.

Singing? Nope.

Holding? Nope.

Nope. NOPE. NOPE!

I put her down, she cries.

I rub her back, she squirms.

I try to apply a bit of pressure on her hips to stop her from moving, she screams.

I pick her up, she puts her thumb in her mouth and puts her head on my shoulder.  *Yes!*

NOPE!

Ten seconds later she’s squirming, pulling my hair, pinching me, headbutting me.

I seriously tried everything short of giving her Benadryl to make her drowsy.  (I almost seriously considered it)

The last time the dada came up to take over, I all but threw her in his arms.

Then, I went outside, on the balcony and closed the door.

Silence.

The dada managed to put her down, by the way.  It’s now 9:20 and she’s alseep…for now.

Dads are awesome like that.

Posted in Parenting, potty training

The Potty Training Chronicles: Holy Regression Batman!

PT Chronicles finalOh wow.  What a morning.  Seriously, though Little Dude was up and out of his nighttime diaper at 7am, by 9:30am I was this -> <- close to throwing in the piss-soaked diaper.

So, what happened, you ask?  Well, I’m not exactly sure.  I mean, in the first four days, he did wonderfully.  We went from a toddler who didn’t realize that he was peeing to a toddler who was not only able to hold it in long enough to make it to his potty on his own, but managed to stay dry during his nap.

On day 5 (Christmas day) we decided to push the envelope further and keep him out of his diaper as we drove to my parents’ house (a 10 minute drive) for a morning family time.  At my parents’, we brought his potty and the progress continued.  Not only did he stay dry in the car, he even managed to keep his boxers and pants dry all morning and used the potty twice while at his maternal grandparents’ house.

Awesome!

After lunch, we drove to my in-laws’ house for the afternoon and evening.  Then, the plan was to leave the kids with them for the night (their Christmas present to us and them :D).  I was feeling super comfortable with this because Charles had been doing so well with the potty.  The afternoon went well for Charles, but he had his first accident of the day during supper.  Of course, take a new potty (my MIL buys everything for her house so that we don’t have to pack full bags for the kids when we go to her house) and a long refill-filled supper and it was an accident waiting to happen.  I didn’t think much of it though as Charles was only on day 5 of potty training.  I figure that 5 days into potty training, it’s normal for accidents to still happen.  Of course, a second accident happened a short while later, but Charles managed to successfully use the potty before we left for the night.

And then, he came back home on the 26th during the afternoon…

Besides coming back with a diaper, he was super clingy.  No wait, let me rephrase that, he was SUPER clingy all evening.  It was so out of character that my partner and I decided that Charles would go to bed at 6:30 instead of 7:00.  We assumed that he was tired because he had gone to bed too late the previous evening (and, I mean, who can blame the grandparents for keeping him up past his bedtime?).

Fast forward to this morning.  Charles did not want me to take off his diaper when he woke up.  He also wanted to be stuck to me all the time.  Seriously, if he could have physically gotten under my skin to stay with me at all times, he would have.  Then, he had accident on top of accident on top of accident.  Even on day 1 of potty training he didn’t pee as much.  Even on day 1 of potty training, he managed to land a few pees in the potty.  Right now, it’s as though we’re on day -5.  It’s as though he forgot every single thing he knew about potty training and then some.

And it’s so very frustrating, because each time he pees on the floor by accident, he starts crying and gets angry.  And each time, once he’s on the potty, his father or I give him a hug, tell him we love him and that accidents are ok and remind him that pee goes in the potty while we wipe the urine off the ground.

So I know that something must have happened while he was with his grandparents.  I just don’t know what.  I know that when I called yesterday morning, my MIL assured me that everything was ok.  But, when my partner came back from doing the groceries this morning, he told me that he had gotten into a row with his dad who told him that Little Dude wasn’t ready for potty training because he kept peeing everywhere at their house in the morning and he would cry each time they put him on the potty.  I know their not the kind of people to get angry at Charles for accidents.  I know that they didn’t yell at him.  But something happened and it probably seemed insignificant to them.  Charles seems to have connected two dots that weren’t meant to be connected.

Of course, the “something” can simply be the fact that he slept at his grandparents’ instead of sleeping at home.

Towards the end of the morning today, Little Dude was better.  After going through every single pair of boxers (10) he owns, plus two pairs of pants, he finally managed to make it to the potty twice before his nap.

Here’s to hoping things get better.

Did you ever experience regression during potty training?  How did you deal with it?

Posted in Parenting

OMG Ones!

So, I trust that by now, you’ve all heard about the terrible twos and threes, probably even about the f***ing fours.  I’m willing to bet, though, that no one’s ever told you about the OMG ones.

That’s because I just coined the expression.

Just now.

No but seriously… Oh.  Em. Gee.  (*Shudder*, I hate seeing it spelled out like that.)

Focus Sophie, focus.

Ok so, let me start from the start.

You see, my very adorable son is, quite frankly a pretty easygoing little dude.  I mean, besides the fact that he’s been teething for the better half of his life (which, for the record is not cool), he’s cuddly, smiles easily, can play on his own for long periods of time and is a champion pooper.  Wait, ignore that last one, pooping most definitely does not have anything to do with him being easygoing.

But!

For some reason, over the past month or so, the little guy has his (rather predictable) moments where he gets pissy.

Let me make my point by citing a few examples.

#1.  The “I like to be covered in urine” situation

Yesterday morning, Little Dude woke up at 6am screaming.  Seeing as the last times I’ve gotten out of the bed in a rush to see what was wrong I found myself waking up a sleeping baby (seriously, who screams in their sleep?), I decided to try to catch a few more minutes of Zzzzzs before extracting myself from my bed.  About 20 minutes later, I got up and went to see my happily chattering son in his room.

When I picked him up, I immediately realized that he was wet.  I mean, not a little wet.  His pyjamas, sleeping sack, comforter and fitted sheet are soaking wet…with urine…that was also on me.  My first thought was “oh s***, that’s probably why he woke up screaming”.  It was quickly followed by “I should probably change him, it mustn’t be very fun to be covered in urine”.

And so, I started stripping off the items of clothing that were clinging to him and throwing them in the hamper.  Then, I put him down on his changing table.

Holy crap!  He was pissed (no pun intended).  He looked at me with his why-are-you-doing-this-to-me-woman look and screamed and screamed and screamed as I took off his dry diaper (yes, the diaper *was* in fact dry), put a fresh one on him, wiped the urine off of his body with a warm washcloth and put another pyjama on him.

Of course, because his day started off badly, he was in a foul mood the whole day!  And so, I thought to myself ‘I’m so happy he was at daycare today’, when I went to pick him up.

#2.  The “I want to freeze to death” situation

It’s winter in Canada.  You know, 35cm of snow and -35C with windchill winter.  It’s a great season, I love it.  But, dressing a stubborn completely adorable baby in winter gear is the part I don’t particularly love.  When Little Dude sees me take out his coat and boots is laugh and play a game of catch-me-if-you-can.  Because, obviously, there’s no better game when I need to actually get out of the house and get to work.  Then, when I finally catch him, he gets into kicking-Banshee-ragdoll-worm mode.

Here’s how it goes:

Step 1 (rag doll mode): Get all limp when mom wants to put the coat on me.

Step 2 (Banshee mode):  Scream at the top of my lungs while mom gets the coat on me and zipped up.

Step 3 (worm mode): Start wiggling like a worm and attempt to turn on my tummy when I see the boots.

Step 4 (kicking mode):  Kick my legs wildly as mom tries to get my boots on.

Extra-credit step: If mom tries to stand me up to get my feet in my boots properly, revert to step 1.  If mom tries to put on my tuque before my coat, remove it by pulling on the velcro and revert to step 2.

He’s definitely got all of his bases covered…

#3.  The “I won’t take no for an answer” situation

“No” is a word I try to avoid using when interacting with my son.  I usually prefer to redirect his attention and then make use of positive reinforcement when my attempt to do so works.  Most times, though, he can see my attempt coming from a mile away.

I do however use the “n” word in certain situation that require me to act quickly.  Like that time where he wanted to help me with supper and tried to go check out the oven as I was taking out the piece of meat that had been cooking for the past half-hour.  Or the time where he thought it might be a good idea to put his hand in the toaster.  I think you get the picture…  The word also slips out once in a while (hey, what can I say, I’m not perfect! ;)).

My son has two reactions to the word “no”:

1.  He starts crying because he was frightened by the tone used.

2.  He starts whining and whining and whining (it actually sounds like some kind of siren and I have to supress a laugh each time he does it) because he didn’t get what he wanted.

Tough luck, Charles, tough luck.

#4.  The “I prefer wearing a full diaper thankyouverymuch” situation

This is in the same realm as situation 1.  My son does not like to get his diaper changed.  He wiggles and screams the whole way through usually, despite the fact that I try to distract him in a million possible ways.

It’s not that he doesn’t like to be in a clean diaper.  It’s that I need to interrupt his very important play session to do so.

He, of course, reminds me of this almost every time I change him.

#5.  The “I am looking at the tractor right now” situation

My son is in an in-home daycare with four 4 year olds.  Two boys and two girls.  One day, my son was standing and looking at the tractor out of the rather large living room window.  One of the boys, who adores Little Dude, decided to come stand next to him to watch the tractor too (because, y’know, Dudes like big trucks).

Then, it happened.

Mr. Hyde came out of my son.

Not content to share the view, my son decided to take matters into his own hands and yell at the little boy and push him.

Yeah, my then 11 month old son pushed a 4 year old.

*Facepalm*

Of course, the boy wasn’t hurt, merely surprised and the sitter had to suppress a laugh when she sat down in front of my son to tell him it was not ok to push…

#6.  The “This toys isn’t cooperating” situation

When Little Dude isn’t able to do what he wants to do, he throws mini-tantrums.  This usually happens when he’s trying to put some Duplo blocks together but has them facing the wrong way.  He’ll try for a bit and then let out an exasperated scream and throw his toys on the ground before going up to them, picking them up and trying again until it works.

The way I see it, this is akin to hitting a piece of electronic equipment when it doesn’t work.

#7.  The “I think you get the picture” situation… 😛

But seriously, things aren’t that bad.  Charles just has his…moments, moments during which I don’t know whether I should laugh, cry, pull out my hair or do all of the above.

The good thing is that is is definitely expressing himself.

What do you remember about the OMG ones?  What age have you found to be the hardest so far?

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Posted in Friday Photo Recap, Parenting

Friday Photo Recap: The Video Edition

Today, I’m breaking the “rules” and posting a video instead of a few pictures.  It was taken on Tuesday, but I feel it a very accurate representation of our week at home.

This ^ is what happened every time I put my son down on the floor since Monday.  Every.  Single.  Time.  At first, I thought it was separation anxiety, but he doesn’t burst into melodramatic tears when I drop him off at daycare.  Nope, he just does it when he’s at home and it is driving me bonkers!  He seems to find it particularly annoying that I am unable to have him in my arms at all times and he is very good at expressing his annoyance towards me.  It’s actually pretty funny (except when it’s been going on for half an hour), he’ll start by sitting there and looking me as he screams bloody murder.  Then he’ll crawl towards me and hang on to my legs and continue to scream and cry if I don’t pick him up.  I try to distract him, but the distractions are usually short-lived (although 5 minutes of calm are better than none).

Usually, his fussy periods last a week.  We’re on day 5.

I will not survive this.

Posted in Parenting

WTF Charles?

Last night was horrible.

Seriously.  Ho.  Rri.  Ble.  Argh!

Yesterday was a normal day.  My son had two good naps, he ate well at all three meals, had his fill of mommy milk and was out for the night with barely a whimper by 7.

But then, out of the blue, he decides to wake up three hours later.

This is unusual for him.  Granted, he still has 1 (sometimes 2) night wakings these days, but never that early.  When we first heard him, his father and myself did what we usually do, we gave him some time to see if he could sort himself out.  As the minutes passed though, instead of calming down, my son’s cries became more and more intense.

We’re not just talking loud here.  We’re talking a Banshee-like-scream-that-would-make-any-neighbour-wonder-if-we-were-torturing-our-son loud.

Knowing that he couldn’t possibly be hungry, my partner went up to his room to work his magic and calm him down.  As soon as he was out of the crib and in his daddy’s arms, he calmed down…and then proceeded to start squirming wildly around like mad.  So, back down to his crib he went.  Enter Banshee.

Now, I’m all for letting our little ones learn to self-soothe (we put our son through sleep training at 5 months to regain some sanity, after all), but last night seemed off.  After another quarter hour of screaming-his-head-off-for-no-apparent-reason, I caved and decided that I’d nurse him back to sleep.

But here’s the kicker: It Did Not Work!

Damn

Not only did he not fall asleep nursing, he was pinching and prodding and kicking and slapping me and squirming while attached to my breast.

And so, I tried to rock him.  I sang him his lullaby and put him up over my shoulder like I usually do when I want to help myself him fall asleep more quickly.

Guess what?  It Still Did Not Work!

He was still squirming like mad.  Seriously, he could have given a worm a run for his money.

Since he clearly wasn’t hungry, the room temperature was fine, he didn’t feel hot, his diaper passed the sniff test and he wasn’t falling asleep in my arms, I put him back down in his crib.

And then…

The banshee came back…and I left his room, closed the door, settled in my own bed and tried to fall asleep…except I couldn’t because Mr. Banshee just kept screaming and screaming and screaming.

After another 15 minutes or so, I had an epiphany.

TEETHING!

I mean, it had to be that right?  He cried when on his back and stop crying while in our arms.  I asked my partner if he would kindly get the Advil.  He, of course, wanting nothing more than to sleep being the wonderful partner and father that he is, kindly obliged.  I gave Charles the medicine as daddy went back to bed and then let him comfort suck his way back to sleep.

Except he didn’t!

Oh he wasn’t crying anymore.  He was still squirming wildly though.  So I tried rocking him in a different way, by sitting him on my lap.  But he continued to squirm and squirm.  Except, I then realized that this wasn’t random squirming.  No, this was my 8.5 month old trying to turn to face me and climb on me.

The little turd oh-so-wonderful baby was wide awake!  To confirm my suspicion, he even started to chat merrily.

AT 11 EFFING 30 PM!

Well, now that I knew that he wasn’t dying of pain from “teething” – because, obviously Mr. If-You’re-Happy-And-You-Know-It had decided that it was a great idea to be wide awake when you’re supposed to be sleeping – I decided to put him back in his crib and get back in my own bed.

Well, he screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed…while I hoped he’d calm down and the dadster was sleeping blissfully.

After an hour of screaming (yes yes, I know, I am a TERRIBLE mom for letting my son scream like that for so long) I got out of bed again to try to soothe my Banshee baby back to sleep again because I couldn’t take the screaming anymore and wanted to sleep I’m an awesome mom who loves to be awake in the dead of night.

Turns out he just wanted to climb all over me and chatter a storm up with me again.  By this time, it was 1am.  He had been screaming on and off for three hours now and I was pretty much ready to give in and just put him back in his crib, get a pair of earplugs in and go sleep in the shed.  But I decided to try one more thing.

A couple of months ago, I purchased a white noise machine that also had the option of projecting some images on the ceiling.  We never use this for nighttime sleep as it is much too stimulating for the little man.  But I figured that it couldn’t hurt to try given that my son was already wide awake.

It worked!

Oh the joys of being able to sleep!

Of course, Little Dude decided that 5 am was a goo time to wake up this morning, meaning that I got about 3h of sleep last night and he got about 6, but hey, 3 is better than none, right?

And for those of you who may be wondering what kind of mood he is in today, think Jeckyl & Hyde…

Please tell me I will sleep wonderfully tonight!

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Posted in Blogging, Parenting

What’s Your Parenting Method? (CTFD & 8 More)

Apparently, there’s a “new” “revolutionary” parenting method that is rockin’ the Web these days.  Affectionately known as CTFD (Calm the F*** Down), it apparently stemmed from the idea that parents these days are much too competitive when it comes to their children and need to learn to CTFD when they realize that *gasp* their child isn’t doing something that another child of the same age is doing.  Because, apparently, every parent’s child needs to be more advanced than the other parent’s child.

By the way, my 8 month old is already doing algebra whilst standing on one hand.  What is your 8 month old doing? 😛

Anyways, I thought I’d try my hand at this and list some more REVOLUTIONARY parenting methods because, you know, I’m an overachiever and want to push the envelope even further than the inventor of CTFD and give parents an arsenal of methods to use.  I’m even going to leave out cuss words because, y’know, we wouldn’t want our children to develop bad habits, now would we?

Ready?

Mommy Training Wheel’s Ultimate Guide To Stress-Free Parenting

  • 1.  JSAN (Just Smile and Nod)
  • Like when the lady at Walmart decides to harass you and make you feel like you’re a bad father for bringing your son into the store without any socks on.  (Happened to my partner the other day!)
  • 2.  LTYH (Listen to Your Heart)
  • Pretty self-explanatory.
  • 3.  DWWFY (Do What Works For You)
  • You want to nurse?  Great!  Choosing formula?  Awesome!  Half and half?  Super!  Exclusive pumping?  Stellar!  Co-Sleeping? Sure thing!  Baby in his own room?  Sounds good!  Rock/nurse  to sleep?  Excellent!  Put down awake?  Cool!  Cloth diapering?  Disposables?  BLW?  Cereal and purées?  Babywearing?  …  If it works for you, GO FOR IT!
  • 4.  SYAI (Say “Yes” and Ignore)
  • Like when you MIL insists that she is going to be able to spoon feed her grandson when he’s never been spoon fed before.
  • 5.  TYG (Trust Your Gut)
  • You know that something’s not right with you little one, but the pediatrician won’t listen?  Insist, insist, insist!
  • 6.  TADB (Take A Deep Breath)
  • Feel like you’re going to lose it?  Take a deep breath?
  • 7.  PBDAR (Put Baby Down and Regroup)
  • Baby still screaming no matter what you do?  Took a deep breath but still feel like you’re going to lose it?  Put your banshee-like baby down in a safe area and go outside so you can’t hear him/her anymore for a few moments.
  • 8.  DLMO (Don’t Linger, Move On)

Did you screw something up?  Perhaps you yelled at your kid in a fit of sleep-deprived-last-nerve-trampled-splitting-headache rage?  Learn from it and move on.

So, what method do you live by?  Do you have anything to add to the list?

Posted in Infant, Parenting

How To Stump A Pediatrician

For those of you not following my blog on BLW, here’s a small recap of what has gone on so far.

We started BLW when my son turned 6 months old – nearly 3 weeks ago.  Seeing as neither my partner or I have any food allergies, we dove right in and avoided only foods that had a high risk of triggering an allergic reaction like nuts.  Things were going really well until I noticed one day that my son had a pretty gnarly rash on his lower face and forearms.  At first, I brushed it off as being an eczema flare-up, a decent assumption given that I only noticed the redness the following day after an overnight change of temperature from cold to hot.

The thing is, though, the next time I gave my son some yogurt, I wiped him down, sat him on his playmat and, when I turned around to start cleaning the table, he started screaming.  I looked at him and immediately noticed this his lower face, cheeks and the inside of his arms were bright red with little white bumps all over.  Enter Benadryl…  Eventually, I put two and two together and realized that my son was reacting to dairy, or, at the very least, yogurt.  Reading up on it, I found that it wasn’t uncommon for babies to have trouble processing lactose and that this reaction could just be the result of his system not being mature enough to handle it.  ‘No matter’, I thought, we’ll just wait a few months before reintroducing dairy.

Then, he had a reaction to tomato – the second time he ate it only.  I thought that it might be because the second time around it had been in contact with an acidic dressing, but I still decided to err on the side of caution.  Henceforth, I would only introduce one new food at a time.  I made some fishcakes.  New ingredient: panko bread crumbs.  I did not want to use the other breadcrumbs because I read in the ingredients that it had been produced in a plant where they also use milk ingredients (yeah, you can say that I was overcautious…).  The first time he ate some, he was fine.  The second time he ate some, he was fine.  The third time…the third time he had an allergic reaction.  His lower face was bright red again and some bright red patches with little white bumps had crept on his back as well.

Damn.

So…where did that leave me?  I had (read: have) no idea what my son can eat.  I mean, seriously, why is he fine one day and not the next?  So, I rang up my pediatrician’s office this morning to see if I could get an appointment and perhaps a referral to an allergist.  Her office was very accommodating and found a spot for me today!

Well, after spending about a quarter hour in her office, she was stumped.  At first, she thought I might be mistaking an allergic reaction with eczema.  I suppose, however, that after asking me the same question about five different ways and getting the same answer from me, she realized that I actually was able to distinguish the two (don’t fault her for asking in so many ways though, she was being thorough!).  What also confused her was that I hadn’t changed my diet since giving birth.  She told me that, according to what she knew, my son shouldn’t be reacting to food because he hadn’t had any reactions to the proteins that were in my milk.

Eventually, she took out her prescription booklet and a post it and told me that she would be referring us to an allergist at a children’s hospital.  I’m calling tomorrow to get an appointment.

In the mean time, we are going to continue solids and I will be jotting everything down.  That way, I will have a mine of information by the time we are able to see the specialist.

Posted in Parenting

Note To Self

1.  You are not perfect, but you are perfectly capable of taking care of your son.

2.  Parenting life is like a bouncy ball: what goes up, must come down…and back up again!

3.  You are allowed to cry.  In fact, you will cry.  Embrace the tears when they come instead of holding them back.

4.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

5.  Life would be boring if your son was happy 24/7 😛

6.  If you’re tired, TAKE A NAP if your son is napping.  Screw the chores!

7.  Parenting can be the most thankless job in the world.  Thankfully, it can also be the best job in the world.

8.  Get out of the house.

9.  Just because you can’t see the sun on a rainy day, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

10.  By all means read up on parenting, but keep listening to your heart.

11.  You love your son, unconditionally and he loves you in the same way.  That’s all that matters.

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Posted in Infant, Parenting

What Do You Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed?

Because that’s how I’m feeling right now.

I don’t know how to go about writing this.  I don’t want this post to seem like I’m wallowing in self-pity, but something needs to come out and this is one of the only ways I know how.

I just got off the phone with my partner who announced that he’d be home around 7.  I wasn’t even able to finish the conversation in a civilized manner; I hung up quickly and burst into tears.  I don’t remember ever being so emotional, but these past few days (or weeks, or months – honestly, I don’t know) have been trying.

I feel as though I can’t catch a break.  When my son was a newborn, I was nursing for hours at a time, then he hit a growth spurt, then we started having problems with gas, after that we entered the “wonderful” world of wonder weeks.  Then came sleep deprivation due to prop dependency (where I was getting up 10+ times a night for a month just to put the pacifier back in) followed by sleep training, a tendonitis for me, teething, a growth spurt/wonder week combo and now, teething again.

I feel like all I do all day is try to function.  My son has taken to screaming at different moments; I never know when it’s going to happen.  Sometimes it’ll be for naps, or at bedtime or when he wakes up in the middle of the night.  Other times it’ll be when I sit him down on the floor or when I change his diaper.  It’s maddening because it just goes on and on and on.  And then, I have people around me asking me how are things.  All I can say is “good” (that *is* the correct answer, right?).  What do you want me to say?  I have no idea what an easy baby and what a difficult baby are like.

I’ve never had so many headaches in my life.  I’ve never cried so much in so few days.  My home is a mess – even by my standards – and I feel so alone – and feel guilty about it.

I’m lucky enough to be on paid maternity leave, I gave birth in November and am only going back to work in August.  My partner tries to help with a lot of things, but I think he’s feeling a little overwhelmed with how to manage work (he’s been having to put in extra hours), house chores, and this little human that’s taking up so much room in our lives.  I go out because otherwise I’d go crazy, but while I’m going out, I’m not taking care of the house and I’m not resting.  I love my son to death and I wouldn’t go back to my pre-baby life; he brings too much joy in my life.  But sometimes, like right now, I just feel like I’m losing it.

How do you stay at home moms/dads do it?  How do you working moms/dads do it?  How do you single parents do it?  Please tell me that I am not the only one.

I never thought that becoming would be easy.  But I also never thought that 6 months in, I would become an emotional mess at times.

There.  I said it.  I feel somewhat better.  I think.

Posted in Infant, Parenting

Ditching the Paci and Swaddle: “Cold Turkey” Style!

It is time.

Today is the day.

Batten down the hatches!

Today, we get rid of the pacifier AND the swaddle. (Today, being three days ago when I started writing this post, by the way)

Bear with me folks.  This ain’t for the faint of heart.

Think I’m crazy?  Stick with me as I make my case.

Exhibit A : The Pacifier

It may well look inoffensive and all with its small size and cute patterns, but in our household this little thing has become the weapon of all weapons in my son’s fight against sleep (mine, not his).  You see, around here, these nipple replacements have become what are known as ‘props’.

In the world of parenting, a prop is defined as an action or object that a baby is dependent upon to fall asleep AND cannot control.  For instance, for a baby who can only fall asleep in his swing, the swing would be a prop because he doesn’t know how to fall asleep any other way and he is unable to control the swing.  In the case of my son, the pacifier had become a prop because though he needed to comfort suck in order to fall asleep, the only way he was able to do that was with a pacifier.  And since he was unable to put the pacifier back in when it fell out or he pulled it out accidentally, it had become a prop as either his father or myself (or any other caregiver for that matter) had to stick the thing (back) in.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know of my initial internal battle with regards to introducing the pacifier.  Then, once it became a problem, you were able to read about my use of Pantley’s gentle removal as described in her book The No-Cry Sleep Solution.  To be fair, the no-cry method actually did work in reducing night wakings (NW) due to my son waking up without the pacifier in his mouth and he went from 15 NW to 3 in a manner of days.  However, he still needed someone to initially stick the pacifier in and then stay with him to pull it out before he fell asleep and so, he still wasn’t learning to fall asleep on his own.  There was also the fact that we had only managed to use the gentle removal for bedtime sleep because using it for naps cut into his daytime sleep too much.

In sum, the paci had to go.  But this little thing was not my only problem.

Exhibit B: The Swaddle

Swaddling is an art that every parent should learn.  In the weeks following birth, swaddling really helps in providing a feeling of security in a newborn by allowing them to feel the snugness they felt in the womb as well as containing their limbs when the moro reflex (also known as the startle reflex) kicks in while they sleep.  Now swaddling really saved us when Charles was about 6 weeks old.  But as time went by, it too became a prop.  When he outgrew his receiving blankets, I bought a “swaddle me” blanket (and was in awe over the awesomeness of the velcro).  When he outgrew that, I started using a bedsheet and experimented with various swaddling techniques.  The problem is that as time went by, he managed to break out of every swaddle, no matter how tight.  I would change my way of swaddling and he would do great for a couple of days – until he worked out how to break out of the new method.  And so, not only was I getting up at night (and going in during early wakings from naps) to replug the pacifier, I was also having to reswaddle.  This is generally a surefire sign that it is time to wean off the swaddle.

Then, my son started to figure out that he could probably roll – both ways.  Though he’s not quite there yet, I know it’s just a matter of time.  Once a baby is able to roll from back to tummy, it becomes dangerous to swaddle, because they could end up on their tummy and not be able to clear their face from the mattress.  Not good!  Just the thought of this happening got me worked up enough to not allow me to sleep peacefully because I started becoming worried that he would figure out how to roll when he was sleeping.  (Perhaps I shouldn’t have worried, but I did and since I already have problems with insomnia, I figured I would remove one of the aspects that could cause my hyperactive brain to go into overdrive).

And so, the swaddle had to go.

Oh but wait a minute!  I bet you’re wondering why I didn’t just ditch the swaddle but keep the pacifier, right?  I mean, it sounds so cruel to get rid of both at the same time AND do it cold turkey (I know, I know, I should change my blog to “meanie mommy” right?).  But you see, what you don’t know is that when my son is not swaddled, or when my son is partially swaddled (because we actually DID try to wean from the swaddle progressively) he grabs on to the ring of his pacifier and pulls it out of his mouth and then throws it because he’s unable to stick it back in.  Those of you who know what it’s like to frantically search for the pacifier that was thrown on the ground in a pitch dark room in the middle of the night while trying to calm down your screaming baby know why the pacifier had to go as well.

Am I sounding defensive?  Perhaps I am.  But I know that despite the fact that I took away my son’s two comfort items-that-had-become-props and have done it cold turkey I am still a good mom.  My son is not a “poor baby” because mommy took his pacifier away.  My son is developmentally ready to learn the skills necessary to help him SELF-soothe.  ‘Tis the first step in his independence which, ultimately is the goal of each parent, right?  Allowing their children to develop the skills to become independent.

The method

So, do you want to know how I’m going about this cold turkey weaning?  Of course you do!  I’m using Tracy Hogg’s Pick Up Put Down (PUPD) method as described in her last book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.  Below is an “in the nutshell” description of the method for a baby in the 4-6 month age range.

Step 1: You put your baby down without his props after a proper wind-down routine.

Step 2: When he starts to cry, you try to soothe him from his crib by speaking to him in a calm and reassuring manner and by using any other appropriate method (I usually rub his tummy or tap on his thigh).

Step 3: If and when his cry becomes distressed, you pick him up and hold him upright as though you were burping him.  You don’t jiggle around, just stand there and continue to reassure him with words and touch (for instance, rubbing his back).

Step 4: You put your baby back down in his crib:

-As soon as he calms down, or;

-After 2-3 minutes, or;

-If he fights you (arches his back, burrows his head…).

Rinse and repeat until your baby is asleep.

Tips:

– It’s important to try to soothe from the crib first.  Eventually, you’ll want to get yourself out of sight and reassure only with your voice.
– If your baby starts to cry on the way back down to his crib, you still put him all the way down on in his crib and try to soothe from there before picking him back up.
– If your baby still isn’t asleep after 40 minutes, take him out of the room for a change of scenery for 5-10 minutes and try again for another 40 minutes after that.
– Start with the first nap of the day so that you baby will have had some practice before bedtime.
– GET SOME SUPPORT!  I made sure my partner was on board with me before starting this.  We are doing it together.  Support is crucial.  To give you an idea, just imagine how hard it is going to be, how loudly your baby is going to cry, how long it will take before your baby finally falls asleep the first few times and tell yourself it is going to be worse than what you can imagine.  To be honest, I could NOT have done this without support from both my partner and the wonderful ladies from the PUPD board at the baby whisperer website.
– Know that there will be a regression at about 8 days when your baby will try for one last time (can last a couple of days) to go back to the old ways.

Progress (the word we all want to hear)!

We are on day 4 right now.  The first time we tried this method, it took 1.5h of continued crying, soothing and PUPD before my son fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion and he only slept for 25 minutes.  This morning, he was down for his nap in about 10 minutes and I only had to soothe him with my voice.  I was also able to extend his nap (after a diaper/bed sheet/pyjama change because he was very wet after I failed to put the thing on properly) for the first time in four days!

Key points

A couple of key points that stuck out for me while reading Hogg’s book.  This (and progress, and support) is what is allowing me to keep on going:

  • Start as you mean to go – don’t start this method if you’re not 100% committed to seeing it through.  Give it about 2 weeks.  You don’t want to go back to your old ways after starting this on account of it being too hard.  It’s not fair to put your baby through so much crying (even despite the fact that you’re there to reassure him) for nothing.

I rest my case.

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