Why Does My Child Hate Me? (and other things I wonder when the baby won’t go to sleep)

It’s been one of those days. You know, the kind where – no matter what you do, how hard you try, how many prayers you say and cuddles you give – your baby just Won’t. Go. To. Sleep. And if you do miraculously somehow get her to sleep, she won’t stay asleep. Rock, cuddle, tear hear out, repeat.

Here’s a fun insight into my stream of consciousness during rocking sessions on days like those:

Why does my child hate me? Was it something I did/didn’t do today? Maybe they are all more like Stewie Griffin than we thought. Secretly trying knock us off the only way they know how.

I wonder how many flies have landed on my dinner? …that I didn’t get to finish cooking…because the baby wouldn’t stop fussing…because she barely slept at all today…because she hates me.

Did I just feel a spider crawl across my shoulder?! My usual reaction would be to fully freak out, jump up out of my chair, and do the “oh, my god there’s something on me” dance until I could calm down and realize it was nothing. But, I’m almost positive that would wake the baby that I’m currently holding and rocking.

What’s that husband? You have to pee? Welp, go in the back yard. No, I’m not kidding. Our one and only bathroom is located next to the nursery, and if you wake her up I will be forced to do terrible things to you in your sleep.

Oh well, at least I have my phone to keep me occupied.

10 percent

 

 

 

FML.

 

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Digital Mom Therapy – Session 1

First, it was the baby lounger. Then, a passel of bodysuits and pajamas that no longer fit. Now, the bouncy chair. The rate at which I’m putting clothes and gear away for storage is alarming, if not a little nauseating.

What I’ve come to discover is that, as a parent, I think I become just as accustomed to the baby’s routines as she does, if not more so. The major difference being that when she outgrows a piece of equipment or a certain activity, she’s on to a new adventure – a different view of her day-to-day life, complete with excitement and wonder. Whereas for me, it’s a time filled with panic as I try to adapt to a new way of caring for her.

My personality is one which loves routine and consistency. Having a baby wages war on that way of thinking on a daily basis. And it’s winning.

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Little Girl, Big Changes

Chelsea turned six months old last week. SIX MONTHS. [Insert curse word of choice here]

So many things have started happening for her – seemingly all at once. She’s rolling over, trying to crawl, working on her first teeth, sitting up (with very little help anymore), growing hair and eating cereal. All in the span of two weeks. It’s mind-blowing. Watching the human development that just unfolds naturally, with barely any influence from me, is just astounding.

And the changes aren’t going to stop any time soon. Coming sooner than later: crawling, sitting up unassisted, teeth, “real” food, two meals a day, and sleep training.

It’s that last one that has me desperately dragging my feet. Up until about three weeks ago, Chelsea was a great sleeper. She had slept through the night, with only minor disturbances, since she was about eight weeks old. Now, her separation anxiety has fully developed and she realizes that she’s not with us when she’s in her crib at night. Which has spelled complete disaster for our peaceful nights.

So, along with introducing vegetables to her this week (Fun!), we’ll also begin the process of re-teaching her to sleep by herself (Suck!). It’s a task that I very much dread – mostly because I cherish my sleep. I am ZERO percent fun to be around when I’m tired. For those who are curious, we are using progressive-waiting sleep training, a.k.a. The Ferber Method. I think it may work very well for her, but we shall see. I do have a Plan B ready in case life is no longer worth living by Wednesday or Thursday.

If no one hears from us by the end of the week….send help.

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If you’ve ever had an infant, you’ve been there. You spend an hour (or more) getting your child to stop fighting and go to sleep, lay her gently down in her crib and slowly begin to ease out of her room. Then, it happens. You knee pops or you step on a squeak in the floor. It’s all over. All of your hard work has been undone. You look down at your previously angelic-faced, peacefully sleeping baby and she’s now looking at you in a manner something like this:

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“What the hell, Mom? You’re just gonna lay me in here by myself and leave me?!”

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“I will remember this when I turn 13 and make your life a living hell for 10 years.”

 

We live in a house that was built in 1930. It’s so charming and exactly what we wanted – including the hard wood floors throughout the house. Clearly we didn’t already have a baby when we thought that was so super. Trying to navigate through our house without hitting all the creeks and squeaks in the floor is like playing a game of Minesweeper. You hit one and the whole game blows up in your face. You lose. Start over.

Once you finally get her to sleep, it’s not over. Not even close. You then have to tiptoe about your chores/work/life so as not to arouse her again. It’s at this point that your spouse inevitable makes some sort of ridiculously loud noise. Accidental or not, you give them a glare that says, “If you just woke our baby up so help me I’m going to kill you and chop your body into little pieces.”

Dramatic? Yes. But don’t act like it’s never popped into your head.

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Time Bending

Lately I’ve been struck by the paradox of being both proud and sad momma. A close friend of ours warned us right before we had her, “Get ready for life to hit the fast forward button on you.”

Liar.

Chelsea is growing up at warp speed.

She’s all at once trying to roll over, get up on her hands and knees to posture for crawling, sit up, cut teeth, and talk. And she’s getting damn close to accomplishing all of those things.

What happened to my cute little kewpie doll that just hung out and snuggled with me all day?

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Don’t get me wrong – I love how well she’s developing. My ears feel like they smile when I listen to her coo and babble. Every new milestone or achievement makes my heart swell with pride and joy for her.

I just wish it would all happen a little slower, or at least feel like it’s happening in normal time.

Note: Before you go feeling too sorry for me, as soon as I finished writing this the two of us laid down and took a nap together. Win.

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Karaoke to Baby: Five Years and Counting

Five years ago this evening I headed out to a local dive bar called The Red Rooster for a first date with a totally random guy that I met at a karaoke bar several weeks earlier.

We never should have met, except that we’re soul mates. Neither of us was supposed to be at Cookie’s that night in late February, 2008. Yet, we both found ourselves there anyway. It was a regular haunt for Matt back then, but it was my first time there. I vividly remember the entire evening – up to and including the seriously awkward departure where I both did and did not want him to ask for my number.

(For the record, he didn’t. Good thing I had given him my business card earlier in the evening.)

Everything about that night was weird. I wasn’t supposed to be there. He wasn’t supposed to be there. Conversations weren’t supposed to be that deep and philosophical at a karaoke bar. Mostly, I couldn’t quite figure him out. I was intrigued but confused by him. One month (ish) later he finally called to ask me out. If my memory is correct, we spent a considerable amount of time talking about halloween costumes during that telephone call. That did not assist in my confusion.

So, out we went on our first date. He got there before me (the first and last time that would ever happen) but I didn’t recognize him when I saw his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. In my defense, it had been over a month since I had seen him in a poorly lit, smoke-filled bar. Also in my defense, he had grown a mustache.

In spite of his newly acquired facial hair, we had an amazing time. We talked about the most wonderfully random things. Still do, I guess. Only now our conversations have much more substance.

In the five years since our initial meeting we:

Dated, lived together, adopted a dog, went back to school, got engaged, bought a house, adopted a cat, got married, and had a baby girl. We’ve lost a grandmother, a dear family friend and two incredible pets. We have celebrated new jobs, personal successes, and the great achievements of those we love. Our families have grown and thrived.

It’s been a jam-packed five years. And there’s not another soul in the universe that I would rather have spent them with.

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What’s A Name, Anyway?

Today I went to the courthouse. It’s my third trip there in the last 12 months. I think that’s two more times than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Fortunately, all of my visits this year have been for happy occasions. This third visit was to complete the process of legally changing my first name.

What? You didn’t know that the name I introduce myself as and go by in general is not my legally-given birth name? Yeah. Most people don’t. Hell, my best friend didn’t even know that for a few years. That’s pretty much the reason why I decided to go through the trouble of changing it at all.

My birth name is a perfectly fine name…for anyone else. I just never connected with it.

So today I stood before a scary judge all by myself in the middle of a giant courtroom. I’m not an attorney, but I’ve seen one played on TV, so I was ready for whatever would be thrown at me.  There was a large family there at the same time – about 10 of them, I think. I was certain they were there to object to my name change. I’d never seen them before, so naturally I assumed they were all government spies. It was terrifying.

Ok, not really. I actually just went to the judge’s chambers and had a perfectly delightful and pleasant conversation. The whole process took a grand total of three minutes.

Now I have a list as long as my arm of places where I need to change my information. Social Security, Department of Public Safety, mortgage company, bank, credit cards, insurance (health), insurance (home), insurance (auto), etc. You can see this is going to take a while.

It all has me feeling a lot like I did when I traded in my last car. The car I had driven for 10 years. It was falling apart and I hated the thing, but when it came time to walk away from it I found myself surprisingly sad. I no longer wanted it and was excited for the change, but there were a lot of good times had in that car.

It’s the same thing with my name. Though I’ve never particularly liked it – as anyone who has ever tried to call me by it can attest – it’s the name I’ve had for more than 33 years. It’s the name my parents chose for me, the name that’s on my diploma, the name I got married with. But it’s not ME. So I changed it.

Until today I have been writing my life in the pages of The Book of Michelle. Today, I start a new book. The Book of Shelley.

As a parent of six whole weeks now, I thought I would share with you what I’ve learned:

  • I’m still a rookie (and will be for a VERY long time) – six weeks does not a  veteran parent make.
  • You can re-fall-in-love with your child. I fall in love with her every. single. day. Usually more than once.
  • Breastfeeding is hard – harder than I could have imagined. I want to quit almost every day. But my daughter is happy, healthy, growing like a weed and I am comforted knowing that she is getting all the good stuff she needs to develop. Besides, have you seen the cost of formula? It’s shameful.
  • It is not possible to drink enough water. Drink, drink, drink. Pee. Repeat.
  • You get used to the lack of sleep. Sort of. I mean, you’re always tired, but it starts to suck less. I’ve become pretty well adapted to operating functionally on only 4-6 hours of fragmented sleep a night.
  • It takes 30 min – 1 hour longer to get out the door and go anywhere.
  • Babies can be dead-to-the-world asleep until they smell your dinner. Then, they’re wide awake and NEED you. Usually to eat, themselves.
  • Family is indispensable.
  • Diapers really aren’t that gross. Not yet, anyway. You’ll curse when they don’t hold up to blowouts, but otherwise you just cheer your kid on.
  • Any number of silly nicknames begin to assert themselves, generally stemming from the aforementioned diapers. “Toots” is making regular appearances at our house.
  • It is physically impossible to warm a bottle fast enough.
  • The day your baby loses her “nubbin” (umbilical cord), you will feel an overwhelming sense of pride. You may also be inclined to take pictures of her perfect little belly.
  • Speaking of pictures, every single photo on your phone will now be of your baby.
  • Pretty much every aspect of your life will be infiltrated by baby-ness – conversations with absolutely anyone, what you talk about on social media, how you approach making a decision about anything at all. But, you’re pretty damn ok with that, because your baby is the shit.

Everything I Know About Parenting, Vol. 1

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The Arrival of Baby Lev

For those who have known me during the last nine months, you know that my pregnancy with little Baby Lev was basically uneventful and entirely too easy. Sure, there were bouts of nausea, sleepless nights and some discomfort here and there. But, overall, when compared with many other pregnancies that I’ve been witness to, it was really pretty mellow.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when the last weeks of the pregnancy started to get a little hairy. Not so much with the baby, more so with every other aspect of our lives. Everything just started getting really tricky and we were faced with some major challenges that we were in no way expecting. Homeowners insurance issues, Matt’s car going kaput, the decision to delay Matt’s return to school. Then, on the day before our scheduled induction, we had to make the heart wrenching decision to put our cat to sleep.

Poor Charlie wasn’t even two years old and we had just had to put down another cat almost exactly one year ago. (Note to anyone adopting a cat from a shelter – be absolutely sure that they have been thoroughly tested for things like feline leukemia. Don’t just trust the shelter who said they took care of that. Have it done for yourself with a vet you trust.)

To say we were ready to get off the crazy whirlwind roller coaster ride that life had thrown us on for that couple of weeks is the understatement of the century. With everything that had gone wrong, we walked into the hospital with a sense of cautious optimism for what the day would hold. Little Miss Thing was already a week late and we were so anxious to see her sweet face.

Sleep the night before was elusive, so dragging myself out of bed at 7 a.m. after only a couple of hours of not-at-all-restful sleep was a bit of a challenge. Couple that with the huge amount of nerves and anxiety I had about what was in store for me that day and I was a bit of a wreck.

But, go to the hospital we did. Bright and early and with nothing but a banana on my stomach, we got checked in and situated in our hospital room and got the show on the road. Doc came in and broke my water, then a short time later we started the Pitocin drip to get my contractions going. I managed to let the contractions go to work for a couple of hours before I called for the epidural. Hey, I’m no martyr and I never held any delusions that I would be able to handle full-on labor contractions. To me a couple of hours felt like all the due diligence I needed to perform to have given myself a “full” birthing experience. I have the utmost respect for any woman who can manage that without any drugs. Seriously. They’re superheroes.

With contractions underway, it seemed like things were progressing fairly well. A bit slow, perhaps, but well. It wasn’t until my dilation stalled out between 5 and 6 centimeters that we began to worry a little. I was already at 4 centimeters when I checked in to the hospital that morning, so the fact that things hadn’t moved along farther than that by late afternoon was discouraging.

At about 4:30 p.m., the doc came back to check on me. When she walked in the room she immediately said that she had a feeling there was a positioning issue. Sure enough, the baby had gotten turned all kinds of crooked and sideways and was basically stuck in the birth canal. My doctor explained it much better than that, but honestly I was too worried to really grasp what she was saying to me. All I knew was that my doctor just told me my baby was stuck and there was no way to correct her position.

About five minutes later we decided to go ahead and get a c-section under way to get our little girl out before she began to feel any distress.

Let me tell you – when you spend your whole pregnancy intending on delivering your baby one way and then have to change plans on a dime to accommodate for a fairly scary situation, it can really rattle you. I was so stunned I wasn’t even able to cry – though I certainly wanted to. All I could think about was my baby girl and that we had to get her. Like, now.

Less than an hour after making the call, she was with us. Sparing you the majority of the gory details I do want to note that it ended up being especially good that we had to have the c-section. Her umbilical cord had wrapped around her three times – one time each around her leg, chest and neck. Luckily, it hadn’t caused any damage, but it would have been a significant complication during a vaginal delivery. It also may explain why she wasn’t dropping during the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy. She just wasn’t able to.

And, with that, all of the drama was finally finished. We spent the next several days with a fair amount of paranoia in the back of our minds that something was still going to go wrong. Much to our relief, that never happened. She’s a perfect little girl with not a thing wrong with her, save for a minor bit of jaundice in her face.

It is with great joy and pride that I introduce to you our daughter, Chelsea Maya. Born January 17 at 5:35 p.m., she weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. and measured 19.5 inches long.

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Pee Better

Shelley: “Ugh. I think I have to pee again.”

Matt: “You need to drink some more water every time you get up to go.”

Shelley: “Why?? So that I’ll have to get up and pee MORE overnight?!”

Matt: “No. So that you’ll pee better in the morning.”

Shelley: “Pee better? Am I peeing badly?”

Matt: “How dark is your pee in the morning?”

Shelley: “Too dark, probably.”

Matt: “Exactly. You need to pee better. You want some of my water?”

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