Motherhood Problem #1: Sleep

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I had a friend send me a meme/message today about the “sleep when baby sleeps” saying that you get fed as a new parent. I responded with the question of “what do I do if the baby is sleeping and I want to sleep but the preschooler is still awake and crazy?” Because that was my real life situation.

Truth is sleep is the holy grail of parenting, the key to happiness and success often teeters on the scale of how rested you are. The more kids you have the more you adapt to interrupted and fewer overall hours of your eyes being closed.

Not going to lie, some days I roll my eyes at this whole scene about becoming parents and losing sleep but is it because I was lazy or I’m now just so used to it that, as long as someone isn’t sick throughout the night, I actually think that I am sleeping like a normal human being?!

And let me just warn any not-quite-parents-yet out there that motherhood does start at pregnancy because I remember losing sleep when I was pregnant with Harper and other moms telling me “oh you should sleep now while you can!” What a bunch of shit advice that was. How can anyone forget the immense uncomfortableness of a baby moving inside you, punching your cervix, kicking your ribs, spreading your hips apart mixed in there with the having to pee every 2 hours. From now on I’m just going to tell newlyweds “sleep now while you can because the from the moment you know your pregnant  you’re screwed until they all learn how to get themselves breakfast and turn on netflix themselves.” That’s real advice.

So now to my main point. Sleeping with babies. Everyone has their own journey. With baby 1 we had a crib and bassinet/pack n play combo. I was so paranoid about him breathing I couldn’t put him in another room where the crib was, he hated the bassinet so he slept next to me. Perfectly safely. But then again I never fully slept pretty sure I didn’t enter any form of REM sleep until he was 1. Baby 2, we bought a king size bed because baby 1 kept coming into our bed here and there. It worked alright but now we have 4 people in 1 bed 3 nights a week. Somehow, baby 3 happens and I’m at a loss. I felt that I couldn’t safely sleep with a baby in our bed as long as there was the potential for the other 2 to come in (usually they would sneak in). Also, I was far more sleep deprived now as a mother of 2 already that I didn’t feel my state of sleep was as reliable as it was when 1 was born- basically, I could no longer trust myself to sleep lightly around a newborn.

I started researching (shopping) around for ideas on how to keep this new baby safe and I found the Halo bassinest. Once I found it I felt it was the answers to my prayers from the beginning because it was easy to get baby in and out of, literally could by baby right next to me without them being in the bed and best of all it swiveled so I could get up in the night without scooting down to the edge of my bed. Plus it had a sweet nightlight and vibration and other stuff that I didn’t really use. Overall best baby sleeper ever, I slept thoroughly and safely next to Iver every night, even when he was waking up every 2 hours straight for 3 weeks….we used this until he could sit up on his own, around 5-6 months.

Second purchase I made towards sleep was the dockatot. Originally I made fun of the “baby raft” but in the end it was my best friend and the hardest baby item I’ve ever had to say goodbye to. I’d put Iver in the dockatot and he would put himself to sleep. That baby pillow hugged them just right so they felt safe and secure and I felt safe and secure with him in it because I knew it was snug and it was breathable. Add in the fact that it was his bed when we traveled and it was well worth it’s price tag. I used it all the way until he was 10 months old.

Third thing toward a decent night sleep with baby 3 doesn’t work with all babies but a good swaddle. I was grateful that a friend lent me her Ollie wrap, it was the best swaddle I had ever used because you could really wrap those suckers (babies) in there and it had enough give that they could squirm but it never un-hugged them. Iver was golden in it. We used it until he grew out of it and could wiggle out, probably at around 4 months, which is a pretty long time in the swaddling world.

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the holy trinity of sleeping babies

Ollie wrap+dockatot+bassinest= at least 4 hours of sleep at one time even with a colicky baby that you haven’t figured out is actually dairy sensitive yet.

And now that I no longer have any of these but don’t have to worry as much about anyone rolling onto my baby? I was planning on buying another dockatot (there’s a bigger one) but couldn’t swallow the price on it ($260) so I did a little more research and ended up buying Iver  a sheepskin to sleep on. It is amazing, transfers (what we parents call moving a sleeping baby out of our arms) onto it are very easy and he stays asleep. Though it doesn’t snuggle him as well as the dockatot did it is SO much cheaper and now everyone in my family wants their own because they are so cuddly and comfortable to sit, stand and sleep on.

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dreaming of sheep(skin)

On one final note. I heard the statistic yesterday that the quality and amount of sleep only lessens for women and not for men.  Haven’t these babies heard of feminism?! (as my husband sleeps on the couch just fine right now…. but surrounded by 2 out of 3 children).

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Harper is Turning 5!

Today starts Harper’s last week as a 4 year old! Four has been the most challenging age so far mostly because he has truly started testing limits with blatant defiance, luckily it’s all a normal part of growing up and his big heart is always underneath the layers of naughtiness.
Without getting sappy and remembering the last year, the last 5 years and how much my boy has grown I’ll get to the point. I asked Harper some his annual birthday questions, the answers where as to be expected.

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Did God Make Poop?

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Harper is just about to turn 5 and his brain is working full speed. He’s picking up social cues, learning the alphabet and digging into theology.

Harper has been asking a lot of questions about God. This is good, we want him to question, to learn and to put things together. This is also insanely annoying at times:

Mom did God make that bathtub? Why?

Mom did God make me? Why?

Mom did God make dirt? Why?

Mom did God glass? Why?

I try to treat each question with respect both to Harper wanting to learn and to God, not wanting to dismiss the importance nor the message that yes, God made everything or at least gave man the knowledge to make it.

Last night I asked Harper if he wanted to pray at bedtime. He said yes and continued on:

Dear Jesus. Mom did God make the sky?

Yes

Why?

To put something above us

Where does God live?

He is everywhere

No, like what city does God live in

Oh, He lives in heaven

Where is heaven?

It’s a special city that we go to live in when we die. Now Harper lets say prayers.

Okay. Does God make poop?

God gives us food and we eat the food and our bodies turn it to poop so kind of.

Does God make pee?

God gives us drinks and our bodies turn them into pee.

But, does God make potties?

Yes God makes potties.

This is the point where I’m not annoyed and pray for Harper over his questions because we just need to go to bed. I was able to stop the questions but only temporarily because the next morning he started asking more:

Mom why do we have to die?

Because we aren’t made to live on Earth forever in our bodies, that’s why we grow and get older.

But everyone has to die?

Yes eventually

Why?

Because God wants us to come live with Him in heaven.

Like your old grandpa? He’s in heaven with God?

(We stopped at my grandparents grave sight around Christmas and I had explained to Harper that they had died and what that meant)

Yes like my grandpa.

So when is that boy going to heaven?

What boy Harper?

That boy, my older cousin?

I don’t know. (and I don’t know what or who he was talking about, it’s slightly creepy but to be fair he’s had a lot of confusion about what exactly cousins are- he asked if a girl we walked by at target was his cousin… so who knows who or what he was referring to).

This has continued. I stopped writing this yesterday and of course at bed time there were more “did God make…” questions that I tried to have grace in answering but again told him it was time to be quiet. Even in playing he asks me if God or Santa made each toy. I’m hoping this “phase” (oh how I’ve loved that word as a parent) is almost over but if you have and quips to deal with 5 year old theology, please, please share it with me.

 

 

 

Boys Will Be Boys, Expecting Boy #3

When I was pregnant with Harper I had a dream early on that I was having a baby girl, at 18 weeks we found out he was indeed a boy. While pregnant with Willem I had one single dream about the baby in me and in my dream it was a girl, again it was a boy as we found out at his birth. Waiting for our ultrasound this time felt like torture, I counted weeks, days and I welcomed any dream about this baby figuring whatever I dreamt would again be the opposite of who this baby was but no such dream came.

The days up to the scan I did not feel drawn either way towards a boy or girl. I felt excited over the possibility of another boy for many reasons: I adore the boys I have, they adore me, I felt another boy would fit in well with our life, my boys wanted a brother, boys really are easier to me because I know them already, I find changing girl diapers more difficult, I could reuse many of the adorable boy clothes that I did keep, I don’t like pink, I had a couple boy names that I LOVED (and no girl names that I was overly excited about) and mostly it seems that the coolest moms out there have only boys- Gwen Stefanie, Julie Bowen (from Modern Family, the most relatable TV mom ever) and a mom here I know personally that I look up to (Danielle) has the 3 cutest sons that made me excited over possibly having a third and joining the club of cool moms.

I wanted a girl too though: I wanted that mother/daughter bond (that usually comes later in life), I wanted to buy adorable tights and wade through the sea of headbands, I wanted someone on my side, girls names do sound prettier, I wanted the experience of having and raising a girl would be like and lastly I felt like most everyone around me wanted me to have a girl because I already had boys and disappointment would be felt especially because for some weird reason females seem to celebrate girls more.

Going into our scan, the first thing the tech looked at was between babies legs. I held my breath while the picture cleared and there it was. An obvious spade, another boy. No mistaking it.

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I smiled but I’m not sure if it was forced or not. I was relieved to finally know and I was relieved that I knew what I was in for but I was a little sad that I felt like I knew the rest of the story. While preparing to be happy and looking at the good sides of both outcomes I forgot that I’d be sad either way as well.

I absolutely despise the idea of gender disappointment, I don’t judge those who experience it and I understand where it comes from but I do not set expectations that would set myself up for disappointment. Maybe in knowing that God knows what he is doing makes what is given to me so acceptable. No matter which way I view it I was never disappointed in having another boy. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience some form of mourning the experience of never having a daughter.

I did mourn the loss of browsing through headbands and tights, sad that I will be spending more money of food (boys really do eat a ton) than I would be clothes and both Chad and I regret that we will never know what a girl with our genes would look like. Some evenings when I have one son talking about penises and another telling me about power tools I do feel gender isolation but it is fleeting. To this day though I have actually felt no loss of a mother-daughter relationship but instead fully embraced the “mother of boys” title although my mind sometimes says “mother of dragons” instead.

Last week I finally had a dream about this baby. I can not bring up the picture my mind gave me of this boys face but I can still feel that overwhelming love and adoration and thinking that even despite my mothers eye he was the most gorgeous baby. Since that dream not only has my sadness over the lack of mini mary jane shoes disappeared but it has been replaced with a pure joy and  love over a boy and gratefulness that this is my calling.

 

 

(Adding to the end only because I tend to be curious in other peoples situations, that no, we will not try for a girl. Neither of us has any real desire for a girl or another baby.)

Playing Favorites With My Kids

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Sometimes one of my kids does something amazingly cute, or says something amazingly cute, or simply just walks in a cute way and I think to myself “Oh my, he is the best, he’s my favorite of the little people I live with.” I relish the moment and begin to think about the other kid. Honestly there is always something equally as cute and I think “How can I ever pick a favorite, look how amazing he is as well!” It’s a vicious circle of not being able to pick one, though thankfully, one does not need to be picked.

Before we had Willem we wondered if we could ever love him as much as we did Harper, obviously we did and still do. It’s crazy how that really does work.

Example 1: Tonight after Willem fell asleep Harper got out of bed and chatted with me. He was super sweet, asking about the new baby, we talked about feeding babies with bottles and discussed his diaper changing duties (he’s to grab diapers and wipes as needed but I will do the actually changing). Eventually I forced our chat to an end and walked him back to bed thinking about how much I loved that time with him and he is definitely my favorite, when I saw Willem fast asleep in bed in the pajamas he picked out and put on himself my heart melted fully- no way could I pick one kid over the other.

Example 2: When I leave the house to do errands, I always offer to take a kid, one kid is always easier than 2 when leaving the house. Willem is very easy to take out and behaves wonderfully in public so I feel like I would favor him. Harper is not nearly as well-behaved and can tend to be crazy in public but he’s fun! I love talking to him and I love when he says “hi” to random people, even conversations in the car can be highly entertaining so I love taking him as well.

Chad on the other hand has an easy time picking favorites, just yesterday he blatently claimed one of them as his favorite (I can’t tell you here incase the boys read this when they are older) and he had a valid reason for it. He didn’t say he loved this kid more, he just preferred spending time with him more that day.

I also know my parents played favorites, sure they loved us equally, but there is/was some definite favoritism as there is in most families. Any seasoned parent (one whose kids are grown) will inform you that some kids just make it easier on you, then you tend to “favor” them as the others see it. I’m waiting to see if this is true for me because as of now I have a somewhat sickening preference for both of my kids. Maybe their young age and innocence just makes them equally endearing to me? I’ll let you know in another 5 years if it’s turning true or not.

little things with little people

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Last night I took a beer out of the fridge looking to my chance at drinking a beer on my back patio and possilby enjoying some fine chocolates (potty training m&m’s) while my kids were in bed. Instead Willem came to the top of the stairs with the over tired cry of “mommmmaa.” Asking me to put him to sleep.

I was annoyed, I didn’t want to lay down with him, I wanted to enjoy our warm weather and my cold beer but I had no choice and I scooped him up and took him to bed.

As we laid down he took my face into his hands whispering into my cheek, his eyes giving me butterfly kisses and in that moment I knew there was nothing I would rather be doing.

In 20 years this is how I want to remember his toddlerhood.

Weaning Willem

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Nothing makes you feel like a new parent like new stages in development or having a different kid. All children are different, we are constantly dealing with new situations as parents. While we may have been here (weaning in this case) we have never weaned this exact child so we have no clue what we are doing. This tells me that we do.not.have.all.the.answers. We have experiences and we share those however our experience will not work for every parent nor child.

Anyway, off the pedestal.

I started weaning Willem last Friday. It hasn’t even been a week. I have no clue how to approach this and what I did with Harper. That’s not entirely true, I remember holding and singing and rocking Harper when he would want to nurse at night. Willem doesn’t respond to that, if I hold him it makes him more angry and he just gets out of bed and sleep walks screaming and crying into the hallway.

I’m at square one yet there is something strong natural instinct. Yes our kids are different and this is a new experience but for some reason it is going smoothly. It could be because I’m not really pushing any one thing, it could be he was sick last night so I was too scared to nurse him for fear of more puke, or maybe he’s just easier. I don’t know, but he’s asleep in his own bed (first time ever) without nursing and it wasn’t sad and he wasn’t scared. As of right now he basically gets fed when I get full, it’s working well and isn’t cutting ties too fast. I resist sleep nursing him, as of now he wakes up 2-4 times but each night has fought less and less with me. I was amazed that when I laid down with him the other night to put him to sleep he just required me to cuddle him without a single attempt at nursing. I’m sad that he’s growing up but of course, like every mother who has nursed past a few months- I am ready to have my body back (although that doesn’t really happen until well after the weaning process is over, boob holds are a trademark of a nursed baby after all, and I’ll pretty much hold and carry him until he goes to college).

After asking for advise and searching for answers on how to approach weaning a somewhat demanding 19 month old it turns out we just needed to be ready, I need to be patient, gentle and willing to listen to my own instinct and it is working out just fine for us.

Now off to teach those preschoolers some deep-sea yoga.