International Women’s Day, Smashed Dreams, and Healing Years of Abuse…Against My Kitchen

I obviously started this post a while ago, when it was International Women’s Day.  And wouldn’t you know it, I procrastinated and waited and waited and waited and now it’s a month later.  It’s all still relevant, though, so I’m just going to go with it.

As the title implies, I’ve got a couple of non-sequitur topics about which I want to write something at the moment.  I want to update you on the progress of floor removal in our kitchen, but first I’d like to address the elephant in the room about which everyone is suddenly talking: the place of women in our society.

This past International Women’s Day drew more attention than any other in recent memory.  Well, serious attention, that is; seems everyone figured out last year that wearing comically large genitalia on your head was not exactly a precursor to serious discussion.  There has been so much positive traction and momentum in the advancement of civil rights and equality as of late, and I am ecstatic.  Sexual misconduct is not so readily brushed aside, people are talking about disparities in income and opportunities, and women are rising to new professional heights.

And I am excited not because I can look forward to an improvement in my own station; I am a white man.  I am already doing all right on that front.  I am ecstatic because just two years ago I was afraid of the world into which I brought a daughter.  I thought I was going to have to teach her to be ever-aware of her surroundings, skeptical of friendly faces and careful of those less-friendly, and always on guard for the next person who would take advantage of her or make her feel small, ugly, or worthless.  Now, it seems optimism is winning over apprehension.  I don’t think I will have to focus only on teaching her about toughness and fortitude anymore, but will need to prepare her to take the reins.  The stage is being set for our daughters to rise to new heights and flex their beautiful muscles in ways that were, just yesterday, little more than dreams.

Now, boys will still be boys (and I vividly remember what it was like to be the sum total of amped-up hormones and endless nervous energy as a teen), and scum will still gather and float all over society, so she will definitely still learn how to take care of herself (there’s a local MMA place that will pick kids up from school and take them to train… WAY better than daycare!).  Don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t suddenly been baptized in a wellspring of faith in humanity, so it’s not like I’ll send her off blind into the mosh-pit of life.  People are still sketchy, and I am still acutely aware of their sketchiness.

I am just allowing myself a greater degree of optimism as it pertains to the places she might fly when she leaves the nest one day… one day in the very, very distant future.   Like, maybe even thirty or forty years in the future.  Eventually, if she leaves the nest, something she should feel absolutely no pressure to do whatsoever, but if she does, she can go higher and further than ever before possible.  I think that is awesome.

The Renovations

Our first weeks of really getting after the improvements have been going well.  As it turns out, it really isn’t that difficult to tear up linoleum from cement.  People just complain a lot about it.  The top layer of the flooring peels up pretty easily, leaving its paper contact layer and adhesive underneath.  The adhesive left on the concrete can then be removed with really hot water and a scraper.  Easy peasy.

At least, that is what I really wanted to be able to write at this juncture.

In actuality, the adhesive is a tremendous ass pain to get up from the concrete, particularly when the concrete is not exactly a smooth plane to begin with.  The glue holding the linoleum in place basically pooled in the grooves left behind by whatever float, comb, scraper, or jagged ragged stick that was used when the foundation was poured.  Seriously.  Underneath the linoleum it looks like whomever poured it then sat on his heiny and scooted across the floor to level it out like a dog wiping its ass on carpet.  #lessthanstellarjob.

It takes some time and effort, but time and effort don’t cost a dime.  Well, at least effort doesn’t cost a dime.  Time is free-ish, but it does not come in abundance to a small family with two little people, a 24/7 on-call civilian job, a part-time military obligation that sometimes ends up being slightly more than part-time, university, and a start-up side hustle.  We try and make the most of the time we’ve got.

And as it happens, we don’t have much time at all.  Here it is one month (maaaaaayyyybe a little more than a month) after I started writing this post, and I’ve got maybe 30% of the floor scraped and prepped for some sealant.  In my defense I also had arthroscopic surgery in one shoulder at the end of March… an event that deserves its own post when considering how in-tune little kids are to us parents when we are in pain.

Currently:

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We decided on no stain for the bare concrete.  It’s easy enough to go back and add some color later on, but it would be a nightmare to try and re-stain concrete if we wind up not happy with the color.  We’d likely have to lay down an epoxy finish or just do all-new flooring, so we will begin with a little caution and take baby steps toward the end product.

Now, I know just one week ago (plus one month, sheesh) I conceded, in writing, to using an all-in-one counter-top refinishing kit… but hear me out.  I had to at least try on my own, you know what I mean? Of course you do!

I took one corner of the counter and vacated it of all devices.  I then applied several coats of white patio/garage floor paint.  It is supposed to cure into a very durable surface that is not as prone to chipping or cracking, but I guess we will see.

In retrospect I should have peeled up the rough black paint left by the previous owners to restore a mostly-smooth finish.  On the other hand, I spared myself from having to see whatever it was they were trying to hide in the first place.

In the interest of total disclosure… I actually started this when we first moved in back in January, I just never finished it.  By now, I imagine the paint is probably completely cured.  This is important if you are going to apply a finish with solvents that could wreak havoc on uncured paint, like lacquer.  On the other hand, if you like the texture of alligator skin then have at it.  Slap on some lacquer and let it do its thing.  You’ll have a non-slip counter in no time.

I opted for my favorite finish.  I applied several coats of full-gloss polyurethane over the paint to form a filmy protective layer that would add some sheen, but not before researching the potential for contamination by the toxic chemicals found in polyurethane.  Even though it might actually help them to last for quite a while longer and protect them from the elements, no one actually wants polyurethane in their peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, right?

Well, I was glad to learn that most of the toxins are actually contained in the solvents used to maintain polyurethane’s liquid form during application.  After these solvents evaporate, the polyurethane starts to cure by cross-linking molecules and forming a nearly-solid blanket of plastic.  Now, I would not recommend preparing foods directly on the counters to begin with, regardless of the finish, but should someone do so, and also happen to peel up the polyurethane finish and embed a slice of it deeply into a chicken leg, I am confident that it will only kill the taste of the poultry and not the person doing the tasting.

If it cures well, looks good, and will stand as an acceptable interim counter-top finish, then I will do the rest of the counters identically and save about $190.

Why waste a ton of cash on cheap paper cabinets?  A polished-up doodie, after all, is still just a doodie.  That’s my two cents.

ONE MONTH LATER: polyurethane was a bad idea.  It yellows predictably when it gets too much sun, but it yellows disgustingly so on white countertops.  It looks like my counters are glazed with plastic urine. My mistake.  At least now I know that the all-in-one stuff is worth a try.

So much more has changed in the past month that I will need to do a follow-up relatively soon.  Like, within the week.  That is my intent, even if it never materializes.

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Racist Parenting

One of my only memories that ring crystal-clearly in my head is one of total intolerance.  It actually comprises two separate events, but they are so closely related that I cannot think about one without thinking also about the other.  The details are foggy.  I can’t recall if it was my birthday, or some such other special occasion, but I had a group of classmates over to my home in Virginia.  I was in early grade school, but cannot remember which grade, either.  None of that really matters.  The point is, one of my friends was a black kid named Jared. Continue reading “Racist Parenting”

The Story of Jude Coming Earthside- Part 1

The Story of Jude Coming Earthside

December 31, 2016 — 5:47am

Quick preface: For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wren’s birth story, she joined us at 38 weeks and 5 days after a quick 6 hour labor. Without going into too much detail (you can read the whole story here and here), I will tell you that the delivery was a bit complicated and left me recovering physically and emotionally for quite a while. I experienced a partial uterine inversion (my uterus started to come out of my cervix after the baby) and hemorrhaged, losing about 1 liter of blood. We suspect that this happened because the OB who delivered Wren yanked on the umbilical cord to try to speed up the process of birthing the placenta. When we found out we were pregnant again, I immediately worried about how the next delivery would go and spent a lot of time over the following months trying to find peace and allowing myself to trust our new medical team.

So, now to Jude’s story!

Continue reading “The Story of Jude Coming Earthside- Part 1”

Baby Items: THE NURSERY

I’d started out with the first column of this list titled “Need”, but then decided that that was a very loose use of that word. I mean, really, we don’t need almost anything to take care of and raise a baby. I think our culture and the marketing industry does a stellar job of making us feel like we truly must have all of the best things in order for our children to have happy, healthy lives, but the large majority of what we purchase when we have a baby is fluff. Nice fluff. Very convenient fluff. But still… fluff. That being said, our family also has PLENTY of it. This post, and the following posts, are in no way casting judgement on what parents choose to purchase/register for for their kiddos. It is merely my personal point of view on which items you should get, which ones are nice to have but not necessary, and which ones you can definitely live without. After doing endless research pre-baby, thinking I’d found all the best and most necessary items, I still found that we ended up with a lot of things that were barely/not used and a lot of things we ended up wishing we’d had on hand.
Continue reading “Baby Items: THE NURSERY”

Sleep Regression: UPDATE

It’s been about 3 months since I wrote about The Dreaded 4-Month Sleep Regression, so I thought it would be appropriate to update on how our sleep is going and what we’ve learned since then. When I wrote that post, I was so exhausted and so emotional. I was, quite literally, crying on my keyboard. I spent a great deal of my time consumed with worry about her sleep and so unsure of myself about how I was handling it.

Something I read time and time again when scouring websites and blogs regarding sleep regressions was to be careful to NOT create a new bad habit or sleep crutch during regressions. It’s easy to do when you’re desperate and feel out of options, but it’s a really easy way to make a temporary sleep regression turn into a permanent problem. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s exactly what we we did.

Continue reading “Sleep Regression: UPDATE”

The Moral Uprightness Imperative, or Why We Spend Sundays in Church Instead of Bed

I’ve only got the one little baby at the moment, just turned 7 months-old a few days ago, but that doesn’t stop me from looking far into the future. Today, my little girl is a mewling, helpless mess. She is as sweet as peach pie, but without us she would be lost. Tomorrow, she will grow into a completely unique and independent person.

I am not fooling myself into believing that I have control over how she turns out, that I can somehow shape and mold her into my idea of a perfect little human. She will fight, she will rebel, and she will eventually come into her own. Best case scenario: it all goes off without a hitch and she catapults to the top of the moral order like Mother Theresa. (Almost) extreme worse case scenario: she figures out who she really is while serving some time in prison for patricide. Either way, that day will come.

I don’t need to explicitly state which route I prefer that she takes. Continue reading “The Moral Uprightness Imperative, or Why We Spend Sundays in Church Instead of Bed”

Postpartum Anxiety & Depression

Before I start this post, I just want to preface with this:

My intention here is to show postpartum depression and anxiety in a way that can be real to you & for anyone out there struggling with it (or any baby or non-baby-related mood disorders) to not feel ashamed or alone. Please do not feel sorry for me! I am the luckiest mama, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, & friend on the planet and I’m so privileged to have the love and support of such awesome people!

So here we go.

It’s funny, we’ve been talking about starting this blog for a while, so I’ve been keeping a list in my notes on my phone of topics to write about for months, even before Wren was born. On this list was “postpartum anxiety”. I put it on the list before I even had Wren, because I knew it was going to become a reality for me.

There are a few different types of “mood disorders” that can occur postpartum. According to americanpregnancy.org, the “baby blues” is considered the least severe of the forms of postpartum depression and typically subsides within 2 weeks of delivery. This affects nearly 80% of women, which isn’t incredibly surprising considering the rapid shift in hormones that occurs after the baby is born and the mother is no longer pregnant. Postpartum depression is more severe & longer lasting than the baby blues. It includes more intense symptoms & postpartum anxiety is often umbrella’d under it. “Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after birth, but may begin later — up to 6 months after birth.” The rarest and most severe form of postpartum depression is postpartum psychosis. “This can lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.”

General anxiety is something I’ve struggled with for years. I think it’s probably been hanging around for most of my life, but it’s just always kind of been my normal. In an effort to be totally transparent- I will share that I was on anxiety meds for about a year (while Aaron was deployed- way too much for me to handle without some help) & I have gone through two rounds, for lack of a better term, of counseling. At the time, the meds were the right choice for me and really helped take the panicky edge off of my feelings. Both times I went to counseling were incredibly helpful & I definitely learned great skills to help manage my anxiety and keep it mostly at bay. At any rate, I knew my anxiety would be fueled by the hormones, exhaustion, & fears as a first-time-mom.

After Wren was born, I was definitely hormonal and emotional. Like most new moms, I was overwhelmed & exhausted. We’d had a complicated delivery (you can read that story *here, here, & here*) and were about to embark on a cross country move with a newborn and 3 dogs. I felt like most of my feelings were totally in the normal realm of the baby blues, especially considering the huge changes we had coming. After the big move and once things settled down, I felt pretty okay for a little while. I had some (what I could consider) normal-first-time-mom-anxiety about if Wren Marí was eating enough, if I was doing things right, etc., but it didn’t feel out of control. I was able to let these things pass and generally enjoy my days and my time with little girl & my husband.

Then, about two months ago (about 3.5 months postpartum), it started to get worse. What had worked for me in the past to keep my anxiety in check was no longer sufficient. I definitely did not realize it at the time and can only now look back and see when the change happened. It didn’t occur to me that I could be having postpartum anxiety & depression so long after her birth. I was generally not enjoying my days and I was spending a lot of time preoccupied in fear, which made me depressed. I’ve been asked what it is that I worry about, but truly, that part is unimportant. It’s the irrational, overwhelming feeling that can allow what was once a “normal” concern to snowball into 480 worst case scenarios that play on repeat in my mind. It’s the fact that feeling this way interferes with my life & my relationships — preventing me from being the best mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc., that I can be. The best way I can think to describe it is as if I’ve somehow ended up stranded in rough surf, fighting to stay above water, but exhausted from the struggle. I won’t give up, but I’m so tired.

So anyway, let me tell you a story. This is embarrassing for me to admit, but it’s just part of my truth. A Friday morning, about two weeks ago, Aaron was out running errands. He’d seen an ad for the local roller derby that had a game (is that what they’re called?) that evening. We’d been talking about going to one of these for seriously years, so he excitedly texted me about it & suggested we go that night. I responded that yes, that sounded fun & we should check it out, but I immediately started to worry. What if we got into a car accident? What if someone flew off the roller rink (?) and smashed into us? What if Wren picked up some kind of awful illness while we were out? What if? What if? What if? I spent the entire day silently worrying about all the possible awful things that could happen on our way to, & at, the event. I couldn’t focus on anything. Thankfully, some tiny, rational piece of my mind stopped me in my tracks. “Do you realize you’re avoiding going out in public because you’re afraid?” Woah. How did I get here? This is not who I am or who I want to be. I was so overwhelmed with fear and guilt. I knew something had to change.

So I told Aaron. I’m sure he could tell that I’d been off for a while, but probably didn’t realize (just as I hadn’t) how far away I’d gotten. Just sharing my feelings lifted such a huge weight off me. It can feel so very isolating to be so lost in your own head. We talked about it and I decided I wanted to go to the roller derby. It was really fun & I’m so glad we went. In a way, I’m so thankful that my anxiety reached this extreme because it helped me to see just enough through the fog to help me find my way out of it. I also found out that a previous hairdresser of mine is apparently a roller derby champ. Maybe I should go see her instead of getting my hair cut at Great Clips again… (hashtag mom probs).

Since then, I’ve been very intentional about being aware of my thoughts and trying to stop myself when I begin to stumble. Some of the things that I’ve found that help me are:

  • Exercise
  • Spending time outside with my family
  • Working on projects/hobbies
  • Reading
  • Staying in frequent communication with family & friends
  • Church
  • Ice cream & cookies (let’s be real)

Sometimes these things work & sometimes they don’t. This is a process that I know I’ll be working on for a long time to come, probably forever.

In doing some of the research for this post, I came across something that said  “This isn’t about positive thinking — it’s about being rational,” and that really says it perfectly for me. This isn’t about being glass-half-full or empty. This is about staying conscious of when my fears and worries “overshoot reality.” I certainly don’t have the answers, but I know that with the support of my family & friends, I will continue to push & grow through this.

I hope that if you are experiencing depression or anxiety, you know that you aren’t alone! Finding your happy again looks different for everyone, so don’t give up until you find the thing(s) that works for you.

~~~

http://www.parents.com/parenting/moms/healthy-mom/the-other-postpartum-problem-anxiety/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130

http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues/

Wrens Birth Story, Part 1

Wren Marí Clifford

November 18, 2015

08:48

6 lbs 14.1 oz, 18 inches long

I think labor really started for me on Monday, November 16th. I had been having non-stress tests (NST’s) once a week since I was 36 weeks pregnant because we found an echogenic intracardiac focus (bright spot on the heart) at our 20 week anatomy scan. Sometimes these bright spots can be  markers for other problems with the baby, so we went on to have a detailed ultrasound performed by a perinatologist as well as noninvasive prenatal testing to look for possible chromosomal abnormalities. Our testing and ultrasound came back normal and we were cleared. Although the EIF was ruled an “incidental finding” and nothing of concern, my OBGYN wanted us to have the NST’s just to be on the extra safe side. An NST is a simple way to confirm that the baby is still doing well in utero & is tolerating everything well as they near the end of their time in mommy’s tummy. I was to have a NST once a week from 36 weeks until I had the baby.

I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions (during activity) since I was about 20 weeks pregnant and started getting them throughout the day around 36 or 37 weeks. There was no pain or pattern with them, just periodic tightening. At my 37 week NST, the Braxton Hicks were picked up on the contraction monitor and we could see that they were regularly about 8-10 minutes apart, but I was only 1/2cm dilated (same as the previous week), so they sent me home. The contractions continued but never developed any kind of pattern. At my 38 week NST (11/16) I was again having pretty regular Braxton Hicks and they were picked up on the monitor at about 3 minutes apart for the full 30 minutes I was there. I also had my first painful contraction while I was there, but it was only that one. Because I was having such frequent contractions, they almost didn’t let me leave the hospital! They called my OBGYN, who came to check my cervix, and I was still only 1/2 cm dilated. Since I hadn’t made any progress, they sent me on my way and told me that since I was full term, I was welcome to come back and have the baby any time after that. Oh, thanks. I’ll get right on that!

Most of my pregnancy, my doctor and I had been sure that I was going to have the baby early, but I was starting to think that maybe I would go the full 40 weeks (I wasn’t even willing to entertain the idea that I could possibly go longer than 40). I was scheduled to finish work that Friday, November 20th, at 39 weeks. Since I wasn’t due until November 27th & this was my first baby, I figured I was ahead of the game and would have plenty of time once I finished work to get the house and everything ready. I continued my work week as usual and spent most of my days rolling and bouncing on the yoga ball as I worked. My hips and back were incredibly sore and the ball was far more comfortable than a desk chair.

Wednesday, the 17th, was a normal day… nothing out of the ordinary. I came home from work, we got take-out for dinner, and I lazed around on the couch until bedtime. I didn’t have any inkling of an idea of what was about to happen. At 1:40am, I woke up to a weird pain and thought it might have been because I had to pee, so I got up and went to the bathroom. As I laid back down, I had another strange pain. This time, I thought I must have just moved funny while I was laying down. Being that pregnant and huge, pretty much every movement caused some type of discomfort, so I didn’t think too much about it. These pains felt NOTHING like what I expected contractions to feel like. I laid in bed and a few minutes later, another pain. This third one made me a tiny bit suspicious that something might be up. A few more minutes passed & I had yet another pain. I decided to just stand up and see if anything changed if I switched positions. I was leaning over our dresser for a few minutes and had two more contractions. Aaron woke up and said “Are you having a baby?” which made me laugh and I told him I wasn’t sure but that I was going to head out to the living room for a bit so I didn’t keep him awake. He said he was going to try to sleep incase it was labor so that he’d have the energy he needed when the time came.

Out in the living room, I got out my contraction timer app and started timing the pains. They were consistently 3 minutes apart and each lasting about 45 seconds to a minute. I was a little bit confused because I had kind of expected to ease into labor. Most of what I’d read about labor went over scenarios where the mom starts having contractions about 10-12 minutes apart that slowly grow closer and closer together over the course of several hours. These books said to go to the hospital when contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting one minute each, for one hour. However, these were coming pretty fast (already closer together than 5 minutes) and increasing rapidly in intensity. I think I only went through about 30 minutes of contractions before I went and woke Aaron up. To be honest, I think he definitely thought I was being dramatic.

I decided to call the hospital because I wasn’t sure what to do. I had only been in labor for like 45 minutes but the contractions were already getting pretty serious. The nurse that answered told me that since I’m a first time mom, I have a long while to go and I should drink some water and take a bath and stay at home for as long as possible. She said that if I came to the hospital now, I would probably end up with a bunch of interventions that I didn’t want. Hm. So I decided I would try and wait. Probably 20-30 more minutes passed and the contractions were getting more & more painful and closer together. I was panicking at the thought of having to sit in the car during contractions to get to the hospital. Despite what the nurse told me, I told Aaron it was time to go so we packed up and off we went. Even then, I think he thought we would probably get to the hospital and they would just check me and send me home.

The car ride sucked as much as I thought it would. Once we got to the hospital, they took us into a room and the same nurse I spoke to on the phone came in. She said that I didn’t need to change into the gown to be checked since they would probably be sending us home (seriously?! I don’t know why she was so convinced I wasn’t in labor). They checked me and I was 4cm dilated, the baby was engaged, and contractions were very clear on the monitor. Much to everyones surprise (well, except mine), they confirmed that I was in active labor & admitted me. This was at about 4am, give or take. At this point, the contractions were pretty rough and I was having to concentrate to get through them.

The following two hours were such a blur. Labor was hard and fast and I really didn’t feel like I was getting much of a break to get ahead of the next contraction. I spent most of the time leaning over a yoga ball that was on the bed while Aaron rubbed my lower back. I just zoned out and don’t think I talked almost at all during this time. I would just moan and get into position and that way Aaron knew it was time to rub my back. Later, we would realize that I’d had him rub my back so hard that there were big blistered spots on both sides of my back. Whoops!

Throughout this time, the heart rate monitor for the baby wouldn’t stay in place, so we kept losing her heartbeat. I knew she was okay, but they had to be able to keep a consistent heartbeat to know that the baby wasn’t in distress. So during contractions, a nurse would wrap herself around me to hold the monitor in place. It was really difficult to labor comfortably with a nurse all up in my space, but I knew they were trying to help me avoid an unnecessary intervention.

At about 6am, my doctor arrived and they checked me again and I was complete (fully dilated). I’d dilated 6cm in two hours… that certainly explains the level of intensity! I was so thrilled to be almost done. My water still hadn’t broken so my doc wanted to break it to get the pushing process started. I had put in my birth plan that I did NOT want my water broken, but I hadn’t thought about what I would do if I was fully dilated and it hadn’t broken, so I let her do it. I was desperate to meet my baby girl. She said it was a very tough bag and she had a hard time breaking it and I often wonder if Wren would have been born en caul (in the bag of waters) if the doc hadn’t broken it.

From here, things started to go downhill.

Keep an eye out for the rest of Wrens birth story in Part 2! Subscribe to our blog to be notified when it’s posted!

The Dreaded 4-Month Sleep Regression

As I sit on the floor of my daughters room, letting her cry a little bit while she tries to learn to put herself to sleep, I can’t even think about writing anything else this week other than this. The 4-month sleep regression, or as I like to call it “death by sleep deprivation”. I may or may not also be crying.

Before we had our sweet little lady, if you’d asked me how I hoped to approach sleep with her, I would have told you that I definitely wanted to sleep train. I was all judgy about people who didn’t have a strict schedule and let their babies “run shit” for lack of a better term. I’d clearly never had a baby, because I didn’t realize that they kind of run shit, anyway. I’m very type A and I like things to be a certain way, organized, and predictable. Ha! I had another thing coming. 

The moment we had Wren Marí, everything changed. I became this incredibly lax mom that has followed a very baby-led lifestyle for the last 4 months. I immediately ditched  all the research I’d done in preparation of becoming the “perfect mom” and just did what felt natural and right for our family and little girl. For us, “right” has been nursing on demand, napping generally whenever she seemed tired (usually 1-1.5 hours wake time between naps), and bed sharing. Both my husband and I have been in total agreement that this is what’s best for our daughter and for us. It’s actually been going swimmingly and she’s been a very joyful & easy baby. 

Until about a week ago. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a happy girl & the light of our lives, but mom life has gotten real. Real fast. Nursing her to sleep and then laying her in her crib for a nap have become a thing of the past. She suddenly started popping right up the moment I tried to lay her down. She started fighting nap time, taking sometimes an hour or more to soothe to sleep. She’s only napping for about 10-15 minutes at a time and sleeping in hour-long increments throughout the night. This makes for a sleep-deprived mom & baby. I think the only decent naps we’ve had have been during walks when I wear her in our Tula baby carrier. It’s truly crossed my mind to go for an hour long walk every single time she needs a nap. See? I’m clearly losing it from lack of sleep.

Mind you, this has only been going on for a few days… But it has made me question everything I’ve been doing as a mom. Did I make a mistake following my baby’s lead? Should I have been sleep training and letting her cry it out? Should I have had her on a clear schedule? Would this all be easier if I had done things differently? 

By nature, I’m a researcher, so I’ve read all about both sides of the spectrum on sleep training and everything in between. To (over) simplify it, many proponents of the “no-cry” method suggest that letting your baby cry it out is teaching them that mom and dad will not come if they need them and will lead to attachment problems later in life. The sleep-training model suggests that letting them cry will teach them to soothe themselves to sleep and that letting them cry during this time is not ignoring a need, it’s ignoring a want. Research aside, my natural inclination is in support of no-cry. I want Wren to know that we will come anytime she needs us and feel that we should respond when she cries (real cries, not just fusses) regardless of the cause.

In the last couple of days, I’ve also been reading a lot about this huge change that happens for babies around 4 months. They make huge developmental leaps and their sleeping abilities change as well. I won’t go in depth, but I thought *this* site had great information if you’d like to read more. Basically, around 4 months- babies stop sleeping like babies. They can no longer fall asleep anywhere at anytime. They stop sleeping in a constant deep sleep and start cycling through light and deep sleep and are easily awoken. Often, they will wake up just because they are in the “light” part of their sleep cycle and don’t know how to put themselves back to sleep. Hence the 10-15 minute naps we’ve been having. 

It’s incredibly comforting to just know that this is a normal developmental stage for our little nugget and even exciting to know that she’s meeting her milestones like a rockstar, but it also means that we have to make some adjustments that account for her current developmental stage. This “sleep-regression” is not a short phase that will pass on its own, rather it is a permanent change in sleep as our baby girls brain matures. We need to find the best way to help her learn how to sleep again in a way that is appropriate for her age while still following our maternal and paternal instincts as to what’s best for our girl. I think some experimenting is in order.

I wish I was ending this post with some miraculous solution for other moms and dads out there. But I’m not. I’m ending this post after picking my daughter up out of her crib because I couldn’t stand to let her cry & letting her nurse and nap in my lap while I typed this on my phone. I haven’t gotten anything done, haven’t showered or had lunch, have a to-do list that’s growing faster than I can check things off, but my mommy heart is happy. I hope that I’m able to separate my motherly instincts from MY emotional wants & find the right way to move forward for Wren. This is just one of many hurdles we will face and I honestly don’t know how we’ll decide to handle this. But I do know that we’ll only grow stronger as a family for moving through it and that literally everything we do is out of the deepest love for our baby bird. 

Have you dealt with the 4 month sleep regression? How did you get through it? What worked and didn’t work for you? We would love to hear your experiences!