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”

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Mama-Baby Marketing

So if you are anything like me you’re likely filled once with disgust at the way that companies market to pregnant women, and again by the sheer volume of “essential” baby products there are in the parenting market. You may also be a little disappointed at how susceptible your pregnant woman (or expectant man, for that matter) can be to the influence of anything “for baby,” but I guess those two kinda go hand-in-hand. You can’t have parasitic marketing without a vulnerable population to eat it all up.

Continue reading “Mama-Baby Marketing”

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”

Our Little Angel’s Seventh Month

For a slight and welcome change of pace, this post will actually have gloriously few words. Instead, enjoy this photo of our baby girl, Wren Marí. She recently passed another monthly benchmark and wants you all to know about it.  Continue reading “Our Little Angel’s Seventh Month”

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/

The Birth of our Baby Bird

I think I should preface this one with a disclaimer: I’m not one for a lot of build-up and back-story. The experience of seeing my baby girl come barreling into the world does not begin with ultrasounds, lab work, and weeks upon weeks upon months of agonizing over preparations and plans. All of that stuff occupies a separate compartment in my mind. Our baby girl wasn’t quite a little human to me until the morning she was born. I had tried my hardest, having been through a miscarriage in the past, not to become a father to my daughter until she was in my arms, breathing and crying and squealing. Of course I have a grasp on reality, but I am also firmly rooted in the pragmatic and I am really cautious and reserved when it comes to investing emotion into anything. I like to remain in control of myself, regardless of the circumstances… Continue reading “The Birth of our Baby Bird”

Wren’s Birth Story, Part 2

Once the doctor broke my bag of waters, my cervix closed back up a little bit on one side. After being fully dilated at 10cm, I was now 9.5cm, and it was no longer safe to push. We spent the next 2.5 or so hours trying to get that part of my cervix to open back up but had no such luck. I was in an incredible amount of pain and had no break between contractions. They were just on top of each other and I was starting to get really desperate. The nurses kept being sure I’d progressed to 10cm again & were constantly checking my cervix to see if we were ready.

Aaron was so great during all of this and was doing whatever he could to help me. They had me laying on my side in bed for a while to see if gravity would help the cervical lip & let me tell you, contractions while laying down were a bitch (pardon my language). When a contraction would come, I would just grab whatever part of Aaron my hand landed on and squeeze until it was over. At one point, I grabbed his shirt and accidentally yanked a handful of chest hair. Whoopsie! Poor guy.

We tried so many positions and nothing was doing the trick to get me fully dilated again. I was starting to feel very pushy but they were telling me I could NOT push until I was 10cm (obviously). I truly did not know what to do and was struggling to fight against what my body was telling me to do. I was having a really hard time not pushing, so I opted for the smallest dose of phentanyl to try to help me catch my breath. I was hoping to get ahead so that I’d be ready when it was time to push. However, it didn’t help at all with the pain & ended up making me just fall asleep between contractions.

Finally, one of the nurses decided to try to force my cervix the rest of the way. She kept her hand on my cervix trying to push it to 10cm through several contractions. HOLY hell, this was AWFUL. After what felt like an eternity, it finally gave way. That was probably (definitely) the most uncomfortable part of the entire labor. I remember actually asking the nurse to take her hand out of me for just one contraction because I couldn’t stand it any longer.

Anyway, they decided I was ready to start pushing. My doc said to go ahead and start and she was going to run to check on someone else and would be back in a few minutes. So we start some “practice” pushes. On the second (I think?) contraction, I pushed Wren into the birth canal and her head was starting to crown. The doc was not back yet because again, they had assumed I’d be pushing for a long while since I’m a first time mom. I remember thinking Wren was half way out already from the way it felt, but they told me she wasn’t.

So, with the baby in the birth canal and her head crowning, they were telling me “DON’T PUSH! Breathe like this!”. So I was trying as hard as I could to breathe and not push, but the next big contraction came and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It’s incredible how your body just takes over. I remember saying, “I’m sorry but I can’t help it!”. Aaron said I had the most apologetic look on my face. So with that contraction, my baby girl flew out all at once! My husband videoed it and it really is amazing to see her fly out from head to toe in a half of a second. One nurse, who I later found out was on orientation, just barely caught her and the second nurse was still running over putting her gloves on.

Wren was crying right away and they set her on my tummy. The cord was around her neck, so I unwrapped it. You can hear them in the video saying, “Mom coming in clutch unwrapping the cord.” I guess they had paged the doc in the midst of all of that insanity, so she came in and started washing up and said “Ok, are we ready to have a baby?!” and the nurses were like, “Uh, she’s already here.” Wren was doing perfectly, so they let us continue skin-to-skin.

Once the doctor was washed up, she asked me to push once and she tugged on the cord (we will come back to this later) and my placenta came right out. At this point, I was bleeding pretty profusely. I was still pretty out of it from the pure exhaustion of labor and increasing blood loss, so I didn’t really know what was going on. They said they were going to give me more phentanyl & some local anesthetic and work on cleaning me up. They worked on me for what seemed to be about 30 minutes, but was apparently about 2 hours.

I don’t remember much from this part but I do remember that I got to keep Wren the whole time. I just looked & looked at her perfect little self. I also remember the doc counting how many gauze pads she was putting in and taking out of me and saying a few times that we might have to go to surgery. I didn’t have a clue what was going on but was honestly too tired and mesmerized to care. They finally got things under control and then explained to me what had happened. I’d had a partial uterine inversion… AKA: My uterus had tried to come out with the baby. I just barely escaped having to have a hysterectomy & I lost a lot of blood. The doctor was finally able to slow the bleeding and push my uterus back into place. Due to my blood loss, I was right on the edge of needing a blood transfusion however, the doctor said I could supplement with iron if I preferred, which is what we chose to do.

I had to stay flat on my back for the following 24 hours to ensure that my uterus wouldn’t try to come out again. I had to be spoon fed by Aaron or a nurse, use a bedpan, and breastfeed all while laying completely flat on my back. Thankfully, my amazing baby girl has been a champion nurser from day 1, so we were still able to establish a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. I also had the most amazing nurse who went way above and beyond. She stayed with me and chatted and helped with the baby when Aaron had to go home to take care of our dogs and get the house ready. She even brought me a more comfortable hospital bed from a different part of the hospital that had better beds. I am so thankful for this. Being flat on your back for 24 straight hours after labor & delivery is pretty miserable. Funny side note- she had noticed my nail polish color & liked it, so the next morning she came in to check on me and showed me that she’d gone and gotten hers done that color, too. We were instantly buds (I guess that happens when someone is literally dealing with your shit) & she truly made a huge difference in my experience.

My doctor came later that day & told us that we had been in a “true obstetric emergency”. I guess this isn’t something that had happened at this particular hospital before and she said that the OBGYN’s at the hospital had been talking about how to handle inversions in future situations. She also said that she was thankful to have previously worked at a hospital that dealt with high risk pregnancies, so she’d experienced an inversion before and knew how to handle it.

That day I also received a visit from the hospital CEO. He said that he visits different units in the hospital every day to see how things are going & that this was just routine, but I’m a little suspicious that it had something to do with our emergency situation.

The rest of our story is pretty simple… we went home that Friday, November 20th, 2 days after Wren came into the world. She was as healthy as could be from day 1 and was already at her birth weight again after only 3 days. I healed relatively quickly & my blood levels were normalized after about 3 weeks. My uterus has stayed put and I shouldn’t have any problems getting pregnant again (well not anymore than we already have).

The doctor did said say that I will likely not be able to have anymore natural labors. She said that a second uterine inversion is likely and since my first labor was so fast, I would probably have to have a “very controlled” induction at 38 weeks where they pull the baby out with forceps while someone holds my uterus inside me. This seems a little extreme to me and after further research, I’m not sure I’ll be taking her advice here.

So that’s our long, crazy, beautiful story of how we got our little baby bird, Wren Marí.

A few thoughts after my birth experience…

First, I think that the uterine inversion was likely caused by my doctor pulling on the placenta. That is a HUGE no-no & a known cause of inversions. Doctors KNOW this, so I’m not sure if she was just in a hurry or didn’t believe that it could really happen. I think she knew she messed up & I think this is also why I was visited by the hospital CEO. They are all very lucky that I healed well & won’t have any lasting repercussions from her actions.

I’d made a birth plan and given a copy to my doctor, but I wish I had made sure to go over each part of it with her. There are a lot of things that I wish we had done differently that I think would have made a difference in our labor & delivery experience. I think we could have avoided a lot of the drama.

Things that were in my birth plan that didn’t happen:

-I had a lot of things I was going to tell myself during labor that I knew would help me get through it. For example, “don’t fight against the contraction” and even something as simple and obvious as, “this is temporary & your baby girl is just hours (or less!) away.” I could NOT think anything at all during labor & I should have made sure Aaron knew these.

-I did not want my water broken. There is NO reason the waters need to be broken before the baby is born and I wish I’d just let my body do its job.

-I did not want to be told when to start pushing. I wanted to wait until my body started pushing on its own and push as my body directed me, rather than pushing as the doctors counted & instructed.

-I wanted to allow my placenta to come on it’s own. The body will contract again to expel the placenta without any direction from a doctor, and I feel pretty strongly that if this had happened naturally, I wouldn’t have had the inversion.

In the end though, we got a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She didn’t have any health problems as a result of our experience & for that I am SO grateful. I am hopeful that we will get pregnant again and that I’ll be able to use Wren’s birth experience to help us have a more drama-free labor & delivery.

If you’ve had a baby, do you have things you wish you’d done differently? If you’ve had more than one, do you feel like your experience with the first helped for the second or third babies? If you haven’t had kids yet, have you thought about how you’d like your labor & delivery experience to go? Share with us, we’d love to hear from you!

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!

When the Music Stops

We are all connected in some shape or form, of that much I am fairly certain. Even if we are connected in ways no more evident or profound than that fleeting moment we lock eyes with a total stranger in line at the grocery store and feel that sudden, subtle “click,” we are still an influence on and are affected by the people around us.

I compare this feeling of connectivity to the way in which gears work and fit together in an old grandfather clock – a finely tuned piece of very precise workmanship that you can rely on to function exactly as it should. Although, at times it may be more appropriate to compare this connectedness to the way two cars fuse together in a fiery collision, or get tangled in a shared knot of metal and glass in a miles-long pile up, but the point remains: we do not live isolated and independent lives the way we think we do.

I am by no means insisting that there is some deep cosmic or spiritual bond uniting us with our fellow humans that we are powerless to escape, but sometimes it’s just undeniable that people can affect those around them simply by being present. People give off a sort of tune, a note in an ever-changing symphony. Just being there, playing your notes in a volume too quiet for the ear to hear, is enough to affect someone else’s rhythm.

In our home of three humans and three dogs, we usually play our notes in harmony. I would compare the connectedness at home to the relationship between the keys on a piano or strings on a guitar. On most days, we play our song well and we complement each other with our tunes in a sweet, flowing harmony.

But a few days ago, in a break from the norm, we played an awful noise – like nails on a chalkboard. I forgot the basics of which musical steps create a dissonant sound, but it is safe to write that we were not playing the soundtrack to a Broadway musical. We were all over whatever frequencies create that agonizing, dizzying, and wavering tremor that we hear when notes are played out of harmony… like when you’re driving with the car windows down just enough to distort the pressure in a way that makes it seem like the air is boxing your ears over and over again.

Well that day our ears were getting boxed in, over and over and over…

My wife started the day stressed and emotional, on the verge of crying and screaming for no apparent reason. It’s easy to chalk this up to “lady problems,” but you do so at your own peril. I woke up from a really rough night of sleep feeling that I had only gotten about a 20-minute nap, depressed and lethargic.

And to cap it all off, our little baby girl refused to nap at all until after 5pm that day, and by then she was a horrible cranky mess who chose not to share with anyone her precious smiling eyes.

There was no external stimulus that pushed us all toward this funk, and there was nothing on which to put the blame for it, at least not that we could identify.

We went through the day like this, basically just going through the motions trying to keep ourselves together. That night, while in bed, our little girl was finally contentedly nestled up against her mom’s chest. I leaned over her and smiled, trying to get her to laugh, but instead she winced, puckered, and started crying.

This actually hurt my feelings.

Rather than being an adult, though, and taking this snub for exactly what it was (just a baby being a baby), I took it personally. I knew I was reacting inappropriately, but the little voice that was telling me to grow the hell up! was fighting against the droning, raucous shrill of our off-kilter home vibes. Instead of kissing my girl goodnight and leaving her be in her mommy’s arms, I flopped over onto my side, my back to the daughter who had just so coldly shunned me, and scooted as far away as the edge of the bed would allow.

I actually had a tantrum, staying like this until I fell asleep.

Just as suddenly as this funk had come over our home, it departed. We woke up the next morning feeling remarkably okay. Everything was normal. Nothing was slightly left or right of center. The air stopped boxing our ears and the chaos of the discordant chords subsided, the harmony returning to our home.

We do not know what tipped that first domino that knocked the rest of us over. We may never understand what makes this sort of thing happen. I guess, when all is said and done, we don’t really need to understand why we are sometimes all a little “off,” it just matters how we react.

I, of course, failed miserably in my reaction. You don’t take it personally when your 4 month-old baby cries instead of laughs. That’s ridiculous. You act like an adult and bitch about it on Facebook.

That’s where that stuff goes, right? Facebook?

Anyway. If there is a moral to this story, it’s this: try to remember that everyone around you has a head full of dreams and ideas just like you do, and all of them are be-bopping along to their own subsonic music of the soul. If you feel like you’re playing out of tune, fix yourself before you bring the whole orchestra down with you.

And if you see someone out of tune, give them a pitch to match. Smile. Say “good morning,” or “god bless you,” or something to that effect. Be a conductor, don’t be a critic.

If you don’t know how to fix yourself or find it hard to smile, then in the very least don’t throw a fit when your infant daughter hurts your feelings. You’re better than that.

image lifted from THIS ARTICLE written by Paul Philips. Not sure where he got it…

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!