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Friday, July 20, 2012 Sleep, Sanity, et al

Well, it appears we have fallen into the 14 Month Sleep Regression with Miss Norah. For about 3 weeks now she has been fighting sleep, nearly every single nap and bedtime. She is waking at night and often screaming or fussing for hours. We're back to giving her bottles in the night to get her back to sleep, and she is barely eating solid food some days. I'm afraid what started as some sleep disturbance due to teething molars has morphed into a behavioral pattern that is going to take some serious willpower to break (on our end, which will be a massive feat given the Willpower of this child).

We have tried teething tablets, Tylenol, Motrin. Calms Forte and Rescue Remedy at bedtime and overnight when she wakes.  Lavender oil on her sheets. Noise machine and nightlight on.  We maintain a stable bedtime routine - dinner, bath, lotion/jammies, bottle, stories, bed. But lately, she often barely eats dinner, throwing food off her tray moments after we put it down for her. Screams when we put her in the tub for bath, and refuses to sit down in the water, saying "Hot, Hot" even though of course it isn't too hot. She no longer likes to be rocked to sleep while drinking a bottle and having a story read to her. She just wants to get down and runs to the bedroom door saying "Up, All Done". Child She often finishes her bottle, is still awake, and then we end up letting her scream in her crib for up to an hour and a half, before one of us gives in and heads back in there, usually with a few more ounces of milk and she finally falls asleep by 9:30 or later.

I want to quit the bottles. I know she's getting too much milk on a daily basis - should be between 16-24 oz a day, and I'm quite sure she gets closer to 30 oz or more many days. She won't take water from a bottle, but drinks water out of a straw sippy just fine. She won't take milk from the cup though. I worry about her teeth, but I also worry that she is filling up on milk only and not eating a balanced diet, and then can be at risk for iron deficiency.  But even more, I want the bottles gone because she relies on them to fall asleep, and expects that we will come in with a bottle when she wakes and we eventually give in because hours and hours of screaming until she pukes just isn't cutting it every single night.

She will SCREAM, bloody eff, she will scream, for hours. She will not give in and fall asleep on her own anymore, she will just continue to scream until she makes herself gag and/or throw up. Then, I come in, clean her up, and we start over. I can't do that for hours on end, every night, and in the middle of the night. She is not getting the point that when it's time to lay in her crib, it's bedtime, time to sleep, not scream.

What's so frustrating is that we've already done this, gotten past it, and she was sleeping through the night. For about 3 months, she was going to bed around 8:30 and waking about 6:30 am, and taking 2 reasonable naps a day. So what the Hell?

I feel defeated. I'm exhausted again. I want to cry on a daily basis, frankly most days I do. I don't even like my kid some days (of course I ALWAYS love her, but the liking part? Mmm not so much enjoying this phase, thanks). I feel like I have to be getting something wrong, or this wouldn't be happening. I feel like none of my friends with toddlers have experienced this, so it can't all be due to "just a phase".  Maybe she does have a strong willed personality (OK, we know she does) and some of it is just her trying to express her independence. But I have to be missing something, because I just do not know what else to try to get her to sleep and stay asleep. I just don't know. But I'm slowly losing my mind, my sanity, and my ability to rationally think through a plan for what else to do.

I've turned into a Me-Monster on Facebook and among my work group of friends, turning every conversation into a plea for sympathy and/or approaches to try. I can't answer the question "How is Norah?" from well meaning friends/family/acquaintances without spinning into a spiral about all of the hairy details of this current pattern of awfulness going on.  Not that they really wanted to know. Sometimes I guess I'm looking for others to say "yeah, we had a kiddo like was rough for a while but we got through it, and hey, she turned out OK".  And sometimes, I don't even know why I do it, because I end up sounding like a complete Hot Mess of Failed Mama Sauce and why the hell can I not just get a handle on my toddler, she's only 15 months old for gosh sakes, who's making the rules here?  I don't know. I guess it just comes down to the fact that I'm exhausted, overwhelmed, and really just want someone else to fix it for me. But you never get that Take a Free Pass card when you're the parent, do you?  Dammit (yeah, I know, she'll be saying that one all too soon, too.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sometimes, this gig is just...hard.

I read a parenting column today on phases and moments (that I wish I had written myself), and it's had me thinking a lot about how challenging these phases of raising a toddler can be. While the article made me laugh along with her and tear up towards the end, it also reminded me that when you are smack in the middle of one of the OMGwhen-will-it-end phases, it can be grindingly difficult going. We are rapidly cycling between a few of the choice phases, including the:  
"I'm-going-to-put-everything-in-my-mouth-including-dead-bugs-and-stale-Cheerios-buried-in-my-car seat phase" and the "I'm-going-to-take-away-all-your-"me"-time-by-requiring-your-assistance-for-three-hours-to-go-to-sleep-every-night-for-a-month phase", followed by the "I-will-wake-up-at-6am-demanding-oatmeal-even-though-I-didn't-fall-asleep-until-11pm phase".  Also, the "I-will-beg-you-to-read-the-same-book-to-me-12-times-a-day phase" and a combination of "I-will-run-into-everything-covering-myself-with-bruises-making-you-worry-that-someone-is-going-to-call-Child-Services-on-you phase" and the "I-will-climb-everything phase".
Exhibit A

Norah is a challenge many days lately. She has boundless energy and the willfulness of a bull.  She is curious and physically strong and capable enough of exploring just about anything she sets her mind to. She can also be so charming and gentle and I can already tell that she has the capacity for compassion in the way she treats the dog and her "babies" and each of us (when she wants to).  All of these are characteristics that not only make her unique but will become the foundation of the personality she will develop as she becomes her own person. I want to spend more time capturing the moments and paying attention to the tiniest glimpses of who she is now, while she's still part baby yet rapidly turning into an independent soul. But seriously, in the midst of the above combination of OMGPhase, sometimes it's just really, really hard to stop and appreciate all of the Moments, ya know?

Exhibit B
Matt and I have always tried to be a solid front when it comes to parenting ideals and decisions. We try to take the same stance as often as possible, and if we don't agree we at least try to back the other one up in the midst of decision making and follow-through, and talk about it later.  But what no one in parenting magazines and all the shiny front page articles really seems to tell you, is that it is really, really hard to be the adults in the equation sometimes. Those middle of the night fights over how to soothe a sick and crying baby really don't bring out the best in either of you.  Those teeny silly battles that really aren't the hill to die on, but still hang over your head as you're falling asleep taking stock of the day and make you question if you're the one getting it wrong.  They weigh on me.  They challenge me to be better tomorrow, for her, for him. For me.

There are many, many moments (OK, days, phases even) when I worry that I'm failing her somehow, even in the tiniest ways. I want to be there for her, to provide her with the kind of blissful childhood I think everyone deserves. I don't want my worries to be hers, ever. In short, I want to protect her from adulthood and its realities when they aren't always rosy. And that, I think, is the hardest part about this gig, parenting...that I can't protect her from reality.  Parenting has been the biggest reality check in all my life. And sometimes, the moments are hard to swallow.   And sometimes, they are purely awesome.