Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sleep Training: The Seventh Circle of Hell

Well. It's possible there couldn't be anything more dull to read about than how my kid sleeps (or doesn't), and yet this is my blog, and my kid's sleep consumes my Every Waking Hour, so that is all I am capable of writing about at the moment.

Where to begin ...

Possibly with the sleep books. I have read:

  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
  • Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (Ferber)
  • Good Night, Sleep Tight
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution
  • The New Contended Little Baby Book
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I have tried the suggestions in each of these books, to varying degrees, and what I have found is that my child is one of those who will cry hysterically for hours, even if he can see me; even if I am holding him; even if I am patting him gently and murmuring consolingly; even if he is well-fed and has a clean diaper and is sitting prettily in the magic sleep window.

What I know:

- If I let my kid cry, he will eventually fall asleep after many hours. If I let him cry continually for days on end, I am somewhat certain he would eventually get the picture and learn to sleep on his own.
- I cannot let my kid cry for days on end.

Which puts me in a difficult position. And on the receiving end of quite a bit of advice. "He will have to cry." This has been said by my husband; by my pediatrician; by my mother; by many, many friends. Eventually, they say, he will have to cry. If not now, then later. The longer you wait, the harder it gets, etc, etc.

I'd come to accept this, and I chose a method that allowed him to cry but also allowed me to comfort him while he did so (The Good Night Sleep Tight method). This method works, although not as quickly as Ferber's method or the extinction method, which I was OK with because it's supposed to be gentler -- babies tend to not react so terribly when their loving parents are sitting at their crib side. I know many people who have successfully tried this method and none of their children reacted as mine did, which is to say he cried so hard for so long that he began choking and finally choked so badly that he stopped breathing and I nearly called 911. So here's how I now feel about any sort of hysterical crying during sleep training: Hell to the no.

The No Cry book is my last hope, and is, of course, the slowest and most difficult method. Which is fine, except for the fact that in the meantime I am the only person who can currently feed or put this kid to bed without him going totally bonkers. And the nap time and bedtime rituals are very elaborate and time consuming. For example, since the 4-month sleep regression (this is a real thing all parents should fear), I have had to hold Graham for the entire duration of his naps. *insert unamused emoji* For weeks, I tried to continue doing what I'd done previously -- nurse the kid to sleep, then put him in his crib for the remainder of his naps. He wasn't sleeping great, but he was sleeping. Now, whenever I put him down, he immediately wakes and cries.

This is not a child who falls asleep easily, or just anywhere. I see people posting photos of their kids asleep on the floor, in the bathtub, in the high chair, you name it, and I just laugh and laugh. If nothing else, I have learned that what moms all say is true: All kids are different. What works for one will not necessarily work for another. I'd amend that to say: What works for most kids probably doesn't work for mine. And that's OK. He comes from a long line of stubborn buttheads. Stubborn buttheads even marry into the family and produce even more stubborn buttheads. I am certainly a stubborn butthead, but apparently not enough of one to force my kid to cry until this problem is solved. Others in my family have solved this same problem with the cry-it-out method and describe hours of crying and vomiting. Stubborn buttheads for life, I tell you.

All that to say ... I just needed to write this because dealing with this on my own most days is a lot. It's grueling at times. I absolutely understand postpartum depression now. At times I feel very alone and desperate and hopeless. I cling to comments from friends who've been where I am and remind me this isn't forever and there are things that will work and to keep trying and when all else fails, there is wine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My writing process

I'm delighted to be fairly alert and with a laptop perched on my knees this evening. If all goes well, Graham will stay in dreamland and I will finish this post tonight.

Katie of Ettible asked me to answer a few questions about my writing process. I rarely think of myself as having an actual process, but I am a writer of sorts -- I once made a living as a newspaper reporter, and most recently published an e-book on Amazon.

Here are the questions:

1) What are you working on right now?

I've mainly just been focused on keeping up with blogging, because all of my writing was derailed by the birth of my son in late November. I really need to get back to all of my writing, if only for my sanity. I have two more books in the works at the moment. One is science fiction and unlike anything I've written before. The other is the second book in the Nicky Beets series (the first book is called "Bigger."). I can't wait to get back to it!

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I can't honestly say that it does. When I was a reporter I wrote a few clever articles that were entertaining and funny, which can be difficult to do on a deadline. That was always my favorite way to write -- whenever I could editorialize a little -- so it was probably a natural progression to start writing fiction. Although I have to say I must have been one arrogant SOB to just jump into fiction with exactly zero training in fiction writing. Turns out writing novels is not easy! So long story short -- my fiction writing is nothing special, really, although I personally think it's at least entertaining.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I've always wanted to write a novel. I've always loved reading and have always been a daydreamer with a crazy imagination. I wanted to turn my daydreams into a book that I would love to read. I also continue to blog because I want to stay fresh and satisfy my unholy urge to overshare most of the details of my personal life. It's a problem many introverted writers have.

4) How does your writing process work?

Hahaha! "Work" is an overstatement. At least half of "Bigger" was written while I was slightly inebriated. Much of it was written while listening to Chopin (see above re: arrogance). I tended to hem and haw for much of the day before forcing myself to finally sit at my desk and then write write write until something interrupted me or it was suddenly dark and I was hungry. Once I finally had a rough draft, I tore it to shreds in editing. I rewrote, edited, rewrote, edited, rewrote, edited ... The final product only barely resembles what I started out with, and I am still not completely satisfied with it. But if I have to edit that thing again, I might lose my marbles. I'd really love to edit and rewrite this entire post, actually, but I don't have the time.

I haven't asked anyone to answer these same questions, but I think if you're interested, you should! I'd love to read about how you do it!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

the nap pickle


Remember me?! I did fall down the baby hole, just like I swore I wouldn't. The problem, it turns out, is that I suck at training my baby to sleep. It's a very long and boring story about NAPS and how I HOLD my BABY for every nap he takes and at the end of the day I have two hours to converse with my husband, eat dinner, and watch a TV program before I slip into unconsciousness and the night shift begins.

Because my baby also does not sleep through the night. This is shocking, I know.

Anyway I decided I just need to make blogging happen, somehow. It's important to me. It connects me to other people. It helps me express myself creatively and feel like a normal human instead of a walking, baby-talking tit. So I do hope to keep this up a couple times a week, SOMEHOW.

Things that have been happening, in bullet-point form since it's been nearly three months (THE SHAME) since I blogged.

- I cut my hair and now I feel like a very ugly mommy. It's quite a lot shorter than it was, and it needed to happen because my hair was falling out in clumps. Now I'll just let it grow back out, but meanwhile, I totally did that thing where I became a mom and sliced off like 15 inches of hair. STEREOTYPES, I AM IN YOU.

- We put foil up in the baby's window and sealed the cracks with duct tape. So that we can cook meth in his room. Ha! No, it's so this child will sleep. When even the smallest crack of light seeps through, he just stares at it, wide-eyed. I'm sure our neighbors are like: What the hell.

- The boy and I got sick together! It was the best. He had a cold. I had A COLD plus vomiting for whatever reason. I am still getting over it like three weeks later. I hate everyone.

- We are feeding Graham solids now! So his farts smell reaaalllly extra special. He's enjoying it, though, which is a relief because it signals that SOMEDAY I will no longer be his primary food source. I remain an unenthusiastic breastfeeder, which probably means I am a sociopath.

- My husband and I went on TWO DATES! This was amazing. And I ate frozen yogurt, which is the closest I've come to ice cream in six months, and then Graham vomited to confirm that, no, frozen yogurt cannot be on the menu until the aforementioned tits are off his menu.

- G is in the 90th percentile for height, still, but down to 10th percentile for weight, which is concerning. I have no idea if he's just going to be a lanky sort of guy, but I constantly worry he's not getting enough to eat.

- G is still being swaddled and hates it but can't sleep without it and this is a nightmare I'm going to have to train him out of and send hellllllllp........

- I am watching The Bachelorette and I have so many thoughts. 1) Andy is so annoying. 2) The dead guy ... I mean. I just feel like an awful voyeur even watching. 3) That is all I guess. I'd love to be recapping it but see above for REASONS.

- omg BLOGHER is coming! You may not care about this but I do. This is going to be my longest time away from my child *cough*FREEDOM*cough* and it's just overall really fun meeting other bloggers and going to the sessions. I am pretty much a fraud for even attending this conference but thankfully no one cares because I paid my monies and that is all that matters. Tell me if you are going!

- Tell me what book to read next! I just finished The Secret History (while employing aforementioned tits in aforementioned foil-darkened room) and liked it but it's been a couple weeks and I need something new to read. No horror, no historical fiction (unless it's REALLY GOOD DAMMIT).

- Lest I sound like an ungrateful former infertile, my son really is the best kid. He's spirited, happy, laughs a ton, jumps like a maniac in his jumper, and overall just reminds me every day what a miracle he is. My husband and I marvel at his existence constantly.