Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Never Wake A Sleeping Baby

Babies are perceptive creatures.

They seem to know exactly how much their beleaguered, sleep-deprived parents can take. Will went to sleep at 8 PM and slept through until 6 AM. Did we do anything different yesterday? Not. a. thing. Which only goes to show that there isn't much that you can do when it comes to sleep, other than hope it gets better and not take it for granted when it does.

So, my title today, about never waking a sleeping baby. Yeah, I never really had to wake Will for meals (he faithfully woke to eat every two hours) and since he never had a gaining issue, if he didn't wake on his own, I let him sleep. Later on, sleep became one of the most precious commodities in our house, and I didn't care if he was "napping" at 6 PM. I let him sleep.

Yesterday, for the first time in his life, I woke Will up.

You see, I found this blog, with this miraculous and heartbreaking story. And after I read every single entry, crying through most of it, I went into my son's room, where he was peacefully napping. I stood over his crib and sobbed some more, thanking God for the precious gift that we have been given and praying for this family so in need of another miracle.

Eventually, my tears woke him. He looked around for a minute, then looked right at me and smiled a sleepy "Hello, Mommy" smile. I scooped him up from his crib, hugging him tightly, sat in his rocking chair and rocked him, the tears still streaming down my face. Life just doesn't seem fair sometimes. There is so much sadness in the world and yet I have so much to be grateful for.

Please, if you haven't been to his blog yet, add your prayers for Stellan.

Monday, March 30, 2009

No Finish Line

Parenthood is all very misleading.

What is pretty much the number one question you will be asked when you are with a newborn at the grocery store, a restaurant, your inlaws, or anywhere in public you might happen to be? Is the baby sleeping through the night yet?

When you are asked this question, your answer may vary depending on the day. You might have been up only once the night before or so many times that you lost count. You might not even have the strength to put a coherent string of words together, depending on how much (or little) sleep you got.

But the thing is, you have your bloodshot eye on the prize. You believe that if you can just get your little one to sleep through the night, you will have achieved The Full Night Of Sleep and you will get that from then on out. So, you do whatever you can to get this to happen. You blog. You read. You read some more. You ask parents of other babies (and then wish you hadn't, especially if their little one is already sleeping through). You google. You read some more. You blog some more, pleading for some secret trick that you might not yet have uncovered.

What is so very misleading is that getting your baby to sleep through the night is not a one shot deal. It's not like they magically sleep through one night and then every night that follows until they turn 18. No. Nope. Nada. Absolutely not. They might sleep through many nights, but then they will teethe, or get a cold, or the sky is blue, and bam! You are right back to those nights of multiple wakeups wondering what the heck is going on.

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, we are going through more sleep issues with Will. His napping during the day has remained relatively untouched (for which I am very grateful), but his nighttime sleep has become very unpredictable.

He goes to his bed every night around 8 PM, drowsy but awake, and usually settles for the night without so much as a whimper. Then, about an hour later, he is up for the first time, and every hour until about midnight, when he usually settles for about five hours until 5 AM, when nothing but a bit of milk will settle him back until 7 AM. He doesn't have a binky that needs replacing or a mobile that he can't turn on himself as a sleep association. We don't rock him to sleep. We have a great bedtime routine. He takes regular naps. All of the things that the books will tell you need to change if your baby isn't STTN. He was sleeping through the night just fine for about six weeks and now this.

Like I said, once you achieve the magic that is STTN, you think you've got it down. And then, buckle up, because you ain't seen nothing yet!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thoughts of A "Former Infertile"

So now that I have Will, infertile isn't a label that really applies.

And yet...

it. so. does.

We are starting to think about #2. It's a thought that really makes my stomach turn. Not the baby itself, mind you, but rather the idea of all that went into the making and sustaining of #1 which would also apply to the making and sustaining of #2. Shots, drugs, ultrasounds. . . I get tired just thinking about it all.

If you are in to the planning of #2 . . . #3 . . . #whatever. . . how do you feel infertility has affected those thoughts?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Yin and Yang

I have now officially been a SAHM for a month. It has been an interesting transition.

I have always worked, always been thinking of a way to make money. When I was six years old, my dad filled my red wagon up with vegetables from his garden for me to go give the neighbors. Somewhere between my parents house and my first stop, I got the idea of charging 10 cents a veggie. My neighbors paid without hesitation. I even gave a "volume discount" - if you bought five tomatoes, I threw in an ear of corn!

Our neighborhood was small and we knew everyone, it was a different time, so my parents were only occasionally glancing out the window to make sure I was okay. They weren't really paying much attention to the transactions going on. When I arrived home, minus the vegetables and $5 richer, they were horrified that I had extorted the neighbors for what they had intended to be a nice gesture. They made me go back to all of the houses and give back the money, this time at my side with an apology. Strangely enough, no one really wanted their money back. They all thought it was "cute" that a six year old showed such early business acumen and wanted to reward that with some spare change out of their pockets.

This goes to show that even from my youngest days, I was always thinking how I could make money. I was a hard worker, too, and the combination of ingenuity and work ethic served me well. I used my determination to get through college with less than $5000 in debt, which I paid off in the year after graduation. I worked two, sometimes three, jobs all while maintaining a 3.91 GPA. I applied for scholarships, fellowships, grants, and essay contests, anything I could think of. When graduation loomed, I started interviewing for jobs, even while I was still studying for finals. I had two weeks "off" after graduating from college at the age of 20. While most of my friends backpacked through Europe or hung around the pool for the summer, I was flying cross-country for sales training. I had a company car and a decent salary right out of college when I started my first job working for the Camp.bell Sales (Soup) Company.

A few years later, when I got an opportunity to interview with Jans.sen Pharmaceuticals, a division of John.son & John.son, I jumped at it. I had wanted to get into the medical sales field for awhile, but it is competitive field and not easy to break in to. Working for John.son & John.son was an incredible experience. It is an amazing company, with phenomenal opportunities, and I really felt as if I was always able to do the right thing by customers. It is a company that stand behind its products and I was proud to tell people what company I worked for and the products that I represented. I represented several products in my tenure with the company, but I was most passionate about the life-saving antibiotics that were in my bag. When I was promoted to the hospital sales force and starting working in the ICU, I felt as if I was truly helping people. And I was good at what I did.

The other side of me, however, was the part that wanted to meet Mr. Right, settle down, raise 2.5 kids with the white picket fence. I am an interesting dichotomy of wanting to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and blow through that glass ceiling, all the while dreaming of a simple life with my babies. I think infertility threw an extra wrench in this whole split personality thing, too, because when my body kept failing me, at least I could feel as if I still had some purpose in life.

I did meet M, we did get married, we bought our home (no picket fence, though) and we had miscarriages. All the while, I threw myself into work, trying to distract myself from the sadness and feelings of futility that infertility brings. I had to grapple with the very real possibility that parenthood would always elude me and I started realizing that my career might come to mean more to me than I ever expected.

So when it came time to give up my job, I truly felt as if a part of my identity was being ripped away. This is a feeling that I never expected, but looking back, I was incredibly naive. When you do something that you love, something that you are passionate about, of course it is going to become ingrained in you.

The truth is that life is about making choices. Right now, my choice has been to nurture the homemaker in me. I ignored that half of me for a long time and now it's her turn. I am not complaining, but rather just looking around me in a sort of half-daze, wondering when it is that I am going to wake up and have to go back to work, not quite realizing that for the foreseeable future, that isn't going to happen.

And my days are very full. I spend a lot of time with Will, I take time for cleaning and laundry that used to have to be crammed into the weekends. When M is home, I try to focus on family time. I am getting involved in some Mothers Groups and enrolling Will in swim classes. I don't find that I miss work so much as the sense of "getting the job done." With motherhood, there are very few times when you really feel as if you have truly accomplished something. We're now in an 18 year (plus) marathon rather than the sprints that I used to find myself in corporate America. But when I see how happy Will is, or when I get to focus on him rather than running around trying to get out the door for work, I am sure that I am nurturing the right part of myself right now. More importantly, it's not about me anymore, it's about him and giving him the best care that we can. I do feel fortunate that we can make this work for our family, so I don't want this post to sound whiny. I imagine most people feel this way, whether they choose to stay home or go back to their careers. The push and shove, the yin and yang. It's what's life, and parenthood, is all about.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Never Came A Bit Early

There are so many things that I said I would never do as a parent that I have already done. Here are a few examples:

1) I said that I would not co-sleep. Yet, I have brought Will into our bed. . . many, many times. Although I would say that he generally sleeps through the night in his own crib, we still take the occasional nap together and there was a night ;ess than a week ago where I didn't know what else to do with him at 2 AM and he got to come into bed for a couple of hours.

2) I laughed (not out loud, but on the inside) at people that made their own baby-food. Will has not had a premade baby food (outside of teething biscuits and baby oatmeal) in weeks. I don't do it because I am "too good" for baby food, I do it because I enjoy it and it saves money. The kid loves to eat.

3) I vowed to clean up my fowl language and that my baby's first word would not be of the four-letter variety. And just today, when I dropped a glass plate that I loved and it broke into three gazillion pieces, I let out a string of extremely inappropriate such words. Will just laughed at me, but I could see his little mind storing each little nugget for future use. No doubt in public.

These are just a few examples and Will is a mere seven months old. I can only imagine how many times I will be eating my own words in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. What have you done that you swore you wouldn't since becoming a parent? Or if you are still waiting on your miracle, what is it that you swear you won't do? Go on, I won't say I told you so. . . because I probably have already done it or will very soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Get Off the Fence. . .

I worked in the medical field before I became an official SAHM. While I was pregnant, I came in daily contact with a variety of medical professionals, mostly doctors.

And one resounding thing that kept coming up in those interactions was the constant reproach as they regarded my growing belly: "Don't you let that baby watch any t.v." Since I had, indeed, been planning on allowing the baby to watch t.v. (Ba.by Ein.stein and such), I was a little confused.

It turns out that there has been a lot of research showing that television watching in the young infant set causes learning delays and socialization issues later on. Apparently, the tender synapses in the young baby brain are developing at such a rapid pace that all of the stimulation from the flashing boob tube can cause a disruption of the neural pathways. These "disconnected" pathways can cause problems that some researchers believe leads to learning disabilities, aggression, and even Alzheimers.

That being said, I really don't think television is evil. I watched t.v. as a kid, and I turned out literate and (pat self on shoulder) a productive member of society. However, as doctor after doctor (and our own pediatrician) recommended "NO television," I did some research and discovered that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television viewing prior to age 2.

To that end, my husband and I came to the conclusion that we would not introduce Will to t.v. prior to his second birthday. We aren't t.v.-Nazis or anything. If he sees a glimpse of television in a restaurant or at a friend's home, we don't shield his eyes in terror, lest the synapses start shooting fireworks off in his brain. We just leave the t.v. off when he is in the room with us and don't own any "kidvids."

I am not a huge t.v.-watcher myself during the day, so this has been no great sacrifice. Sure, there have been days when it would have been nice to pop a video in and get some much needed minutes to wash dishes, run a load of laundry, or even take a shower. But after my research, I just feel as if this is the right decision for Will. I have no judgment over people that allow their infants to watch t.v. I think there are probably benefits to that path, too. My good friend has her two boys watching t.v. constantly, and they are smart little boys who know their ABCs and 123s. My best friend's son watches a video or two every day and seems perfectly well-adjusted and very intelligent. I have seen the amazing results from that infomercial "Your Baby Can Read," and I sometimes wonder if we aren't making a mistake. But, ultimately, our choice has been to follow the recommendations and have no t.v. for Will.

The reaction from friends and family is mixed. My mother, who feels as if she let my 15-year-old brother watch too much t.v., is definitely on our side of this matter. Other reactions have been the occasional eye-roll or even the "We'll see how long that lasts. . . " When I go to a friend's house with young children, invariably, the t.v. is on with a kid-friendly video. I don't say anything, I just situate Will with a toy or in an activity where he can't see the screen. I don't judge those parents for popping in a DVD, but I sure get a lot of judgment back for choosing to refrain.

I guess it's just my early training that not everyone will agree with your parenting decisions. Some things are more controversial that others. I just feel as if I am defending myself a lot. Now that Will is six months old, I get a lot of strange looks in public when I breastfeed. I have had several strangers ask me how long I intend to keeping feeding "that baby." When we tell people that I am staying home with Will, we also get a lot of judgment. I thought it was bad when I was pregnant, but it's just gotten worse. And this parenting thing is difficult enough without everyone else putting in an opinion - usually the one that is opposite of what you have chosen to do.

How do you handle it when people judge you for your parenting decisions? What do you say? I know this is only the beginning. . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taking the Statistical Bulletpoints

I seem to be very uninspired when it comes to my blog lately. Here are some points of note:

  • Will's ear infection is much, much better. And I am feeling better about having missed some of the signs and symptoms. Thank you for your supportive comments.
  • Will is really starting to skooch around. But he still likes being on his back much better. I am surprised that with his ability to roll, he hasn't rolled over in his crib yet, but he stays on his back.
  • He loves his jumparoo, but when he had his ear infection, it must have made him sore, because he didn't love it for about a week there. Now, he is back in love. My husband thinks it's funny to watch him, because his little legs flail like he's doing an Irish Jig.
  • All of my work stuff is gone. G-O-N-E. I cried when they took the car away, but I was pretty darn giddy when they took the computer.
  • I still have 10 lbs. of IVF/cycling weight to lose. My baby weight has been gone for months, but I seem stuck at the weight I am now. I really haven't done much to lose weight, so I can't complain, but it's just kind of there.
  • I am finally fitting in my prepregancy jeans, though certainly not in the jeans that I wore before all of the ART cycles. Again, can't complain, as I go to the gym infrequently.
  • I think I o'd this last weekend. I had some crazy EWCM. I felt twinges of babylust again, which really took my by surprise. But we didn't do anything about it and I am still on the mini-pill (although I thought that was supposed to keep me from having EWCM, but whatever).

I guess those are some points for now. . . I will hopefully be more inspired soon!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rookie Mom

Do you ever feel like a bad mother?

I feel like a colossal jerk today.

M and I took Will in for his six month well baby check last night. He was his usual happy little self, flirting with a lady in the waiting room, laughing at the fish in the big tank, and charming the doctor with his winsome smile. She started to examine him and. . .

No, wait. I must first back up to last week, when Will started poking and tugging at his ear. He didn't seem overly bothered, more like he was just exploring it. Oh, and he had one really terrible night of sleep, when I was convinced that something was wrong. Other than that, there was no fever, no redness to the ear, no incessant crying. I did call the doctor's office the day that he was messing with his ear and they attributed it to teething.

Okay, back to the story.

So Dr. S asked how things were going, was impressed by his social skills, continued "stellar" growth chart (the little Monkey weighed in at 18 lbs, 6 oz), and asked him to call her four month old son to give him the news that sleeping through the night is a good thing (I love it when a pediatrician admits that her baby isn't SSTN at four months!). We mentioned the ear tugging and pulling and as she looked in his left ear, she started explaining how teething can cause ear pain, and blah, blah, blah. . . ear looks great. . . then she looked in the right and. . .

Major. Ear. Infection. Including a middle and inner ear infection and a possibly already-ruptured eardrum. His little ear had so much fluid and debris she had to clear it out before she could see the drum itself and it was still hard to see because of all the junk in there. She seemed really surprised that he was so happy and peaceful with such a raging infection.

As a result, Will is taking his first antibiotics (yeah, it's not good when they prescribe antibiotics for an ear infection) both orally and in the ear. He gets a little extra Ty.lenol for the pain and we have to go back in two weeks.

So much for Mother's Intuition, although even Dr. S said that based on his disposition earlier in the exam, she would not have thought she'd find that ear in such awful shape. It doesn't make much difference, though, I still feel bad that he's been in pain this whole time.

In addition to the whole ear drama (including having to hold him down while they cleaned out all of the wax), he had his normal 6 month vaccines plus a flu shot. Lucky, lucky little guy! He was having a good time at the doctor until all that started. Once we were done with all of the torture, I went to lay him back down on the table (where all of the "fun" had happened) and he was not pleased. He started crying again and I had to quickly finish dressing him before I gave him what he really wanted . . . boob. Luckily, that still solves everything.

We got him home after a quick stop at the pharmacy and I expected a real bedtime struggle. Nope. He barely stayed awake as I gave him his first dose of the pink stuff, some Ty.lenol, and put his sleep sack on him. He went into bed without a peep and stayed there until this morning.

He seems fine this morning, no fever, no fussiness. He hasn't had breakfast yet, and I had noticed he wasn't eating as much the past couple of days, so that will be the final test to see how he is doing after all that.

But I still feel like a moron.