Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Newton's Third Law of Crazy

Yesterday's hopeful, optimistic mood has given way to an equal, opposite despair today.  (I frequently see these ups and downs in my moods and worry that some of my mother's bipolar-ness made its way into my DNA... but I'll leave that to ponder another time.)

Last night was awful.  Joel didn't sleep well, as evidenced by the dark circles under his eyes, and he had a fever (which is lower but still present today, as is a chin covered in drool and a shiny bump in his gums), so the night was awful.  I can't put him to sleep.  If he falls asleep in my arms, he can't be put down, and even if I continue to hold him, sleep doesn't last long.

I'm not sure what to do.  I have tried everything I can imagine.  Eventually I know this stage will pass, but since he is going to be suffering until it does, I'm not sure how that is supposed to comfort or encourage me.

[update 11:59 a.m.]: He's asleep!  In his own bed, of all places! He has been so tired all morning, and finally I put him in his crib and just patted (and patted, and patted, and patted some more) until he fell asleep.  At last, something that resembles success for today!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Already there...

When I worry about things, I tend to get tunnel-vision.  If I'm feeling discouraged, I am sometimes so overwhelmed by the negative that I forget even the possibility of the positive!  (Case in point: Last summer, when I was 3 months pregnant and having gall bladder surgery, I was overcome with worry that I would never wake up from anesthesia. Who does that?!)

So last weekend I was thinking and praying about a situation--not even a real situation, mind you, but one that might come my way soon--and worrying about all the little details, and whether it could ever work out all right, and I heard a whisper in my heart.  It said, "Don't worry about it.  I'm already there."

How simple, and yet how comforting. I don't even want to muss it up with my soliloquizing.


Well, okay, I'm not sure at this point what I am and am not willing to call "success," but I do know one thing:
We both survived the night!

I decided I'd have to stop nursing Joel in bed to help him dissociate sleeping and eating, so around 8 o'clock, I nursed him to sleep in the rocking chair, then put him down in his play pen.  He woke about an hour later, and I fed him again and put him back down.  The problem came at 11, just as I was going to bed.  I took him into the living room and rocked, bounced, whispered, patted, and rubbed his back for almost two hours as he screamed, whimpered, rubbed his eyes, pressed his face into me, arched his back and screamed some more.  But eventually he settled down beside me in bed and we slept a while. 

Around 2 this morning, he fussed and I fed him in the rocking chair.  I tried the bottle, but he was Not. Having. It.  So we nursed, and I'm pretty certain he was genuinely hungry.  After that, we slept some more, and at 5:30, I nursed him a bit more and put him down on the living room floor while I grabbed a last few moments of sleep on the couch. 

He's still sleeping in there, and I'm about to go wake Soph (who is having her own sleep issues) now.

One down, an undetermined number more to go!  Wheeee!

Monday, August 22, 2011


I need to make a change.  Joel isn't sleeping (still!), though his naps were better this weekend.  He was still fussy all night last night, though, only happy while he was latched on.  It seems like every time I get him off to sleep, he stirs and realizes that my breast isn't at point blank range, and nothing will satisfy him until it is.

I am miserable at night.  I can't make Joel comfortable, and that's frustrating, and because he's uncomfortable, I don't sleep, and that is exhausting.  I feel useless and incompetent.

The only major thing I haven't tried is to put him on a schedule.  Rising, napping, eating, bathing and sleeping at the same time every day... that's an extreme I haven't tried yet.  Mostly because I am bad at schedules.  But maybe it would benefit him, and the rest of us by proxy.

So I guess I will start that this week.  I had wanted to start it today, but I got called in to work.  I wanted to say no, but I can't afford to reject the paycheck, so here I am.

I joked with Greg yesterday that if we have another baby and that baby won't take a pacifier, we are taking it back to the hospital to be repaired.

I joked, but seriously.  If Joel would take a pacifier peacefully, my life would be much easier!  I can't imagine what I would do with myself if I were getting more than 1-hour stretches of sleep!  Or if he'd take a bottle!  Oh my goodness, the luxury!

But he doesn't, and so looming in my immediate future are several nights of me, exhausted and heartsick and helpless, trying to teach Joel, tiny and sleepy and determined, how to sleep without a nipple in his mouth. 

I shouldn't complain.  My kids are healthy and (usually) happy, and I am immeasurably blessed.  But I am also beyond frustrated with this current situation.  I need help, and there isn't any help to be had.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sometimes Forgiveness Smells Like Coppertone

Yesterday I came into the toy room to investigate a suspicious noise, and I discovered Sophie sitting in my computer chair.

She was moving the mouse around.

With sunscreen smeared all over her arms and hands.

Apparently that's what happens when you empty a tube of sunscreen onto your mom's keyboard.

We try not to spank her too often, but sunscreen-on-the-keyboard is an exception, so I pulled her up out of her chair and swatted her bottom.  She was caught by surprise and completely lost it, so much that I had to pause the discipline moment in order to get her to breathe properly.

I really wanted to freak out.  I was angry.  But I don't want her childhood to be like mine in the negative ways, and Greg and I both want, to the best of our abilities, to teach lessons instead of screaming and spanking.  So as Greg helped Sophie clean up the mess from the desk and chair, I sat down and took a few deep breaths of my own, and I thought.  How can we use this? How do we punish constructively, so that she is chastened but not destroyed?

So after we got the mess cleaned, we talked it over and decided that Sophie needed to buy a new keyboard to replace the ruined one.  She and I emptied her piggy bank into her purse, and we all got in the car and went to Wal-Mart, where she chose the keyboard, carried it to the register, and watched me count out her change to pay for it.

Greg talked to her about what was happening, and she seemed to understand.  I hope she did.  I've posted before about how I worry we're going to screw her up, and I hope that in this situation, we did our best to be firm but also loving, to deliver consequences but also a chance for her to set things right.  I hope our Father is pleased with the way we're treating the baby girl he gave us.

She was so tired from her ordeal (and from having skipped naptime) that she fell asleep in her seat on the way home:
(And, actually, that created a whole other crisis, because she only got to sleep for about 30 minutes, then she had to wake up and eat, and there were many tears and much drama, finally cured by a trip to Cody Park for ice cream and duck-feeding.  Ah, summer in North Platte!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


This post is not about how failure opens new doors, or teaches determination.  It's not about how God can use failure to teach us humility and dependence.

This post is about how failure feels like shit.

About three weeks ago, I decided to make some changes in Joel's schedule to facilitate better sleep for both of us.  He had gotten into a pattern of nursing through the night, latching on just to keep himself asleep.  He was also refusing to sleep in his crib, so I was putting him to bed on the floor sometimes.

Well, three weeks on from those changes, I still haven't been able to find anything to help him sleep better.  Yesterday he cried for two hours as I tried to convince him to nap in his crib.  The only times he stopped were the times I picked him up, only to start up again the moment I put him down.

The only thing I have accomplished in the last few weeks is that his second nursing session doesn't come until 4 p.m., so I won't have to pump this school year.  That is the only positive progress I have made. 

I just don't know what to do with him.  Is he just strong-willed?  Spoiled?  Teething?  Sick?  Something else?  I have no idea.  I'm his mother, and I can't figure out how to help him.