The things we do…

Oh, the things we do for our kids.

Things we never expected to do, or say, or think about. Things we would have died laughing if someone else did it, only to find ourselves in the same positions years later.

It’s been a while since I could tell a really funny story on the Mister. He wised up after the first six months or so of our marriage and became very careful about doing things that might end up here on my blog. But last night… last night he messed up.

Roo (who has major congestion, an ear infection and a first tooth coming in) woke up very unhappy around midnight after having been asleep for about three-ish hours. We tried all the normal things – feeding her, rocking her, Motrin for teething pain, etc. – but nothing was really settling her down.

Finally, a little before 2 a.m., I decided to put her down in her crib (a place she has only slept a few times in her whole life) and see what might happen. I rolled her onto her side, which has become a favorite sleeping position, and waited. It took a very, very long time, and I couldn’t walk away from the bed or she would get upset, but she did eventually fall asleep.

She fell asleep!!!

Those who know me or have read my previous posts about her sleeping habits know that this was a major mommy moment for me. After standing beside the crib and rubbing her belly for about half an hour, I was finally able to sneak back across the hall and climb into my own bed.

And that, apparently, is where the Mister stepped in.

(I would like to clarify that I had no knowledge of this event, and if I had, I would have filmed it and sent the footage to America’s Funniest Home Videos. It’s the world’s loss that I was passed out unconscious in a baby-induced coma. But I digress.)

The Mister got up to check the thermostat after I was asleep and heard a very loud, very obnoxious bird singing in the bushes right outside Roo’s nursery window near the crib. Sleep-deprived and not about to potentially endure another two hours of baby crying, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

So, pulling on his heavy-duty work boots (which nicely compliment the T-shirt and gym shorts he sleeps in) and arming himself with a broom, he crept into the backyard and around the side of our garage.

Sneaking up to the nursery window – the wary bird now silent – the Mister took aim and began to beat those bushes mercilessly with the broom.

In our front yard…

In his pajamas…

At 2:30 in the morning.

Apparently, the bird wasn’t in the first bush he attacked, and so he moved on to the second and was quickly rewarded with a completely panicked bird scrambling out of the branches and fleeing for its life.

He then came back inside, calmly put his boots and broom back in their places, and climbed into bed as if he had not just attacked our landscaping like a deranged crazy person in the middle of the night.

I cannot think about this scene without cracking up. I’ve been bursting into seemingly spontaneous fits of tearful laughter all day long. I would have paid good money to have been awake for this.

But, alas, I – and, thankfully, Roo – slept on, completely unaware of the heroic lengths to which our devoted husband and father will go to save us from the horrors of ill-timed birdsong.

(Rest in peace, noisy bird, which I’m sure went off somewhere and had a heart attack shortly after.)

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#momskills

Finding a pacifier lodged behind a shoulder or under a head and removing it without waking the baby.

Finding a tiny mouth and slipping a pacifier into it in a semi-conscious state in the middle of the night without waking the baby.

Eating off a plate balanced precariously over sleeping baby’s head and not dropping food on the baby (or dropping food on the baby and cleaning it off without waking the baby).

Generally doing anything with the baby without waking the baby.

Measuring water, measuring formula powder, connecting all bottle parts with one hand while wiggling baby is balanced in the other.

Finding the elusive, ever-changing, perfect bounce rhythm to put baby to sleep.

Anticipating the cough and catching the pacifier like a pop fly.

Lining up a thousand tiny snaps correctly.

Buttoning buttons on the back of baby’s onesie (obviously put there by someone who has never dressed a baby).

Closing the diaper seconds before the explosion.

What are your #momskills?

 

 

A special kind of stress

I always knew mothers worry naturally; it’s part of what mothers do. But now that I am a mother, I am amazed by the things I can convince myself might happen to my child.

Everything from the entirely plausible (falling off the back deck) to the completely improbable (being accidentally shut inside the dish washer).

I actually see things happening to her all the time. The other day, the Mister and his parents and I were taking Roo for a walk on a trail near a creek, and in my mind I saw the stroller tip down the embankment and land upside down in the shallow water with the baby screaming inside. Then I blinked, and there we all were, walking along happily with the stroller perfectly where it should be.

We know of a family – friends of friends – who recently lost their 19-month-old baby boy because he wandered away from a backyard birthday party and drowned in a decorative water fountain in their front yard. IN THEIR FRONT YARD!!!

So now I’ve become obsessed with a small pond of water created by a drainage culvert at the edge of our yard, and Roo may never go outside unsupervised in her entire life. She may never play around water in her entire life. I might just put her into a bubble and roll her around like a hamster. (At the very least, the bubble would float.)

Also, there is way too much mom guilt in this world, and too many people causing it with their judginess. (WordPress is telling me that’s not a real world, but trust me, it is.)

If you stay home with your children, people make you feel bad for not having a “real career.” If you work, people make you feel bad for leaving your children with someone else. As if you don’t already feel terrible enough about that anyway.

If you exclusively breastfeed, people try to talk you into giving formula in a bottle and convince you that it will make your life easier. Then, if you do bottle feed, people try to make you feel bad about not giving all breastmilk all the time.

And then, heaven forbid you should ever want to be without your child. Even just for a short period of time. Sometimes, when I drop Roo off with her childcare person in the mornings, I breath a small sigh of relief that I now have one less thing to actively try to accomplish. And then I feel HORRIBLE about myself for ever enjoying the moments I am away from her.

I can’t take a personal day from work and enjoy it because if I am with her I am worrying about all the things she needs, and if I’m not with her I’m feeling horrible that I chose to take a day off and not be with her. There is no way to win!

Anyway, long rant cut short is that moms have a LOT of internal struggles with themselves about every. single. decision. they make all day long. Don’t second-guess them. Support them, give advice only when asked for, and offer to clean the house and fold laundry. But don’t make hints that something they are doing might not be absolutely the best thing unless a child’s life is actually, physically in danger.

Just don’t.

FOMO

I think every family with children, especially babies, has their “thing” that is always a problem. For us, it’s sleep. Specifically, getting Roo to sleep anywhere where we are not.

She sleeps just fine at childcare during the day without much adult intervention, but she refuses to sleep in her crib or to fall asleep on her own while at home.

Yes, yes, yes, we’ve heard it all from those who mean well.

“Just put her down and walk away. It worked for my kids.”

“Just let her cry. She’ll get tired.”

and the list goes on.

Now I’m not saying we have an impossible case here. I have yet to meet a 25-year-old whose mother has to rock him/her to sleep, so obviously this is something we grow out of over time. But, we have tried the things mentioned above (yes, more than once. yes, for longer than five minutes), and they simply are not working for our child and for our family at this time. Regardless of what worked well for your children, it is not working well for mine.

Roo has a terrible case of FOMO – “fear of missing out.” She will drift off to sleep on her own, without help, while sitting in her carseat at a noisy restaurant, in church, in the car or in some other place where action is happening. She will fall asleep in someone’s arms while that person is watching TV with the lights on and someone else is vacuuming four feet away. Noise and action and lights do not bother her.

But if you take her into her room with the lights down low and start to rock and soothe her quietly, she goes nuts. She will not fall asleep on her own or sleep in her crib, period, even if she was in a dead sleep when I put her in there. As soon as her back hits the mattress it’s go-time again.

(And for those who keep telling me to just walk away and she will eventually drift off… no. We’ve left her in there for an hour and a half before and she chatters and rolls and eventually cries herself into a hiccuping frenzy and gets hungry again, and by that point it’s been almost two hours and there’s just no more point to it.)

But take her back into the living room and sit on the couch – she’ll be out in five minutes. Stay on the couch and hold her, she’ll nap for three hours. Take her into her room and she’s instantly awake and wired. And actually, if we need her to go ahead and wake up for some reason, we just go put her in her bed. There’s no more sure-fire way to get her moving.

It may not be the book’s best parenting advice, but for whatever unknown reason, it’s working for us.

**Important note: Roo does not and has not ever slept with us. I am not an advocate of co-sleeping. She sleeps in a small rocker next to our bed, which she accepts quite well as long as she is already asleep when you put her in there. It’s specifically the crib that she hates so much.

Stages of Sleep Deprivation

Stage one: denial

“This is fine. It’s late, I’m tired, but I can do this. No big deal. I was a night owl in college. I can handle it.”

Stage two: uncertainty

“I’m really, really, tired. I can push through! When was the last time I slept all night? I think I can! This will pass! I hope…”

Stage three: autopilot

*baby cries*

*swings feet out of bed*

*stumbles into doorframe. weaves across the hall.*

*picks baby up. carries baby to rocking chair and starts to feed. jerks head awake*

*baby cries*

*swings feet out of own bed again a few hours later. Doesn’t remember how she got there*

Stage four: imaginary management

“I think I’m getting used to this. Three hours at a time is great! I’ve adjusted. I am Superwoman!” *falls asleep at work*

Stage five: illusions of grandeur

“I got seven hours of sleep last night! I feel wonderful! I can’t believe this is what sleep feels like!” *has horrible migraine headache because body isn’t used to so much sleep*

Stage six: crazy dreams

Night one: running into ex-boyfriend’s new wife and helping deliver their baby

Night two: husband accused of murder, cannot find enough evidence to prove his innocence

Night three: life as a character on the show ‘Frazier’

Night four: dreamed I was lying awake staring at the baby all night. Might actually have been lying awake staring at the baby all night

 

Ghost Music

I can hear it in my head. Constantly. Looping over and over and over like a bad record. I don’t know if it comes from the musical teddy bear or the plastic aquarium that plays lullabies or the singing cow… but it haunts me.

This tune, this plinking melody that plays when my child hits the buttons on one of her musical toys… it’s everywhere.

I can sit in a quiet room, and I still hear it. I know nothing is turned on and the baby is asleep and there is no music playing… but I still hear it. The notes float in the empty air and swirl around my head until I’m singing the whole thing line by line, even though I have no idea what it is.

It’s the same with the screaming. Any time the Mister takes over baby-duty and lets me go take a nap, I can still hear the screaming. Even when there is no screaming and there hasn’t been any screaming that day and the baby is actually asleep on his chest… I’ll be lying in our room with the door closed, and I can hear her screaming.

It’s all a bit frightening, really. Like a soundtrack I can’t turn off.

It gets especially good when she manages to turn on more than one singing toy at a time and two or three melodies are mixing together all at once in their strangely high-pitched baby-toy voices… that’s a really good way for a person to lose their mind.

We’re gonna miss this

Roo is three and a half months old now, and I am amazed every day by how fast the time has already flown. She’s halfway to trying pureed foods, one fourth of the way to her first birthday, and I’ve already started to picture the day I take her to her kindergarten classroom.

We’ve had some really bad nights of zero sleep and lots of tears shed by everyone, but even in those moments, when I’m trying to doze off in the rocking chair because she refuses to be put in her own bed, I hear that song “You’re gonna miss this” playing in my head.

It goes like this:

She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaining, saying “I can’t wait to turn eighteen”
She said “I’ll make my own money, and I’ll make my own rules”
Momma put the car in park out there in front of the school
She kissed her head and said “I was just like you”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It’s a nice place”
She says “It’ll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Five years later there’s a plumber workin’ on the water heater
Dog’s barkin’, phone’s ringin’
One kid’s cryin’, one kid’s screamin’
She keeps apologizin’
He says “They don’t bother me
I’ve got two babies of my own
One’s thirty six, one’s twenty three
Huh, it’s hard to believe, but
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
(Song by Trace Adkins)
I’ll be sitting there, in that rocking chair I originally, foolishly thought we wouldn’t need, approaching three hours of rocking a baby who refuses to sleep, and I tell myself how much I’m going to miss that warm weight on my shoulder as she snuggles in and clutches my shirt, my hair, my glasses and anything else she can reach. I may be exhausted, but she won’t always be this small.
When I start to think she’s too heavy and my back hurts so badly, I try to tell myself that someday too soon she’ll walk on her own and learn that big girls don’t get carried around by their mommies. I may be in pain, but she won’t always fit in my arms.
This week we got some major snow (for the south, anyway), and my office was closed for four unexpected days while the roads were cleared. I got five days (including the Martin Luther King holiday) with my baby girl that she would have otherwise spent in childcare, and I loved every minute of it. Even those minutes when I was too tired to walk in a straight line, and there were some of those too.
There were things I needed to do that I should have done and things that I wanted to do that I could have done, but I didn’t. Because that warm weight was asleep in my arms, clutching my shirt, and how do you put that down?
Even now, she’s too big to lay comfortably across my lap like she did as a newborn and her head doesn’t fit below my chin the way it used to. I don’t notice the day-to-day growth, but it dawns on me in leaps and bounds sometimes.
I decided the laundry will always need washing and the house will always be dirty, but she won’t always want to sleep on my chest, so we did that instead.
When we first came home from the hospital, I burst into tears because I didn’t feel that instant, overwhelming, all-consuming love at first sight that everyone tells you you should have when your baby is born. I thought that meant I might never love her properly. But you know what? That passes. And boy, does it pass.
(I promise all my posts from now on won’t be this sappy, and this is actually not the original path I intended to take, but it sort of had a mind of its own.)