Friday, June 19, 2015

What the Heck Am I Going to Tell My Daughter?!?

When my daughter thinks about her career some day, I'm so proud that she'll have some awesome role models.  Her Aunt Jess is an engineer.  Her Aunt April is a surgeon.  Her Aunt Meredith works in fashion.  Her mom works for a pro sports team.

Sadly, while I would like to tell her that she can be and do anything that she wants to I know there is a catch.

You can do anything you want, but if you want to be a mommy too, you'll have to make sacrifices.

This has nothing to do with the "Mommy Wars" debate between stay at home and working moms. Neither option is without flaws.

If you work, you may have a paycheck, benefits, a source of pride and self worth, an opportunity for adult conversation, and the chance to pee in peace.  Still, you will have to pay for childcare, which is expensive, and deal with the heart-wrenching feeling of leaving your perfect, tiny little child in someone else's care. You may worry that you will be replaced--that your child will call someone else Mama, that you will miss major milestones, and that you won't have the opportunity to comfort your little one when he or she needs it the most.
Your child will inevitably get sick, and when that happens you will have to leave work. You may have to consciously make sacrifices in your career or you may not be given that choice. Opportunities may not be offered to you because it is just understood that you won't want to stay late or work weekends or --gasp-- that you may go on maternity leave again in the future.

There is the guilt. So much guilt.

And then there is the stress of trying to make up for lost time on the weekends--running errands, doing  laundry, trying to have time as a couple and quality time with your child. How can you possibly get it all done?

On the reverse side, am I supposed to tell my daughter to try to marry a guy who makes lots of money so that she has the option to stay home? That all of her education, that whatever career she chooses may only be necessary for 5 or so years, at which point she can quit and start popping out kids? That by the time she has finished getting coffee for people, or finished law school, or chosen a medical school, there might be little time for her real "career" before her biological clock starts ticking? Am I supposed to tell her that just being a mom should be enough? That there is no point in having your own dreams, or that if you do, they have to wait until your kids graduate? That even if you can get a career off the ground before kids, you'll inevitably have to take a hiatus until all of your kids are at least 6 if not 16? (Let's not forget, there is no school supervision from June-Sept.)

Yes, being home is amazing. There is no more wonderful experience than snuggling up with your toddler for a little extra sleep or getting to witness the pride in her eyes when she learns a new word. Having the ability to take your child to the playground  or storytime on a weekday is an incredible blessing. That said, being a stay at home mom is non-stop with no offdays. You can't call in sick. There are no gold stars, promotions, or raises. There are no nights and weekends to yourself, and when your tired partner comes home from work, they won't magically take over so you can finally get something done.

There is the guilt. So much guilt.

Perhaps most frighteningly, there is no guarantee that once you leave the working world you'll be invited back in. If you get bored, or need money, or lose your spouse you may have to start all over again--if you're fortunate enough to be hired at all.

Do I tell my daughter the lie that my generation was told? That she can have it all? That she can find balance? That she can be a star mom and a star employee?

Or do I tell her that as a part-time worker or stay at home employee she'll probably end up doing the same amount of work for less money? That she'll never get the same respect as her male full-time employees? That she can only hope to tread water while swinging a full-time parenting job with a full-time career? That finding time for any of her previous interests will be nearly impossible?

Do I tell her that she can have it all, but will be logging into her computer during nap time and after bedtime, juggling schedules with in-laws or a nanny, or a spouse? Do I tell her that her eye may be twitching and she may be constantly misplacing her keys, or her phone, or her wallet and that her teeth may be in constant pain because she can't stop clenching them, but that she's supposed to just power through for the next 18 years? 

Then there is the guilt. So much guilt. Guilt that you're not working when you're playing with your child. Guilt that you're not playing with your child when you're working. Guilt that you're at home but haven't managed to make dinner, clean the house, or change out of your pajamas.

Where can any of these mamas find time to remember to order new diapers, or to write a thank you note to a neighbor, or to try a new recipe to take to a family barbecue? How are we supposed to keep an eye on our child's development, schedule every doctor's appointment under the sun, and remember when the sheets were last washed? Are we having fun yet?!?!? Am I missing something here?

I know we are so fortunate to have opportunities in the working world, and I would fight tooth and nail to make sure my daughter has those options, but did we shoot ourselves in the foot by trying to have those options while still trying to complete every craft and cooking project on our Pinterest boards? While carting children around to every overly-expensive sport and art class within 10 miles so they don't have to miss out on anything? While making sure that our toddlers don't accidentally watch TV, or play with our phones, or fall out windows, or choke on small objects; while keeping school-aged children from having lunches with potential allergens, using sunblock with oxybenzone, eating anything that isn't organic or has saturated fats, or talking to strangers; while keeping our teenager from posting inappropriate selfies, or meeting creepy people online, or getting in car accidents, or doing poorly on their ACTs, or not applying to a good safety school? 

We've set ourselves up to fail at things we can't possibly afford to fail at. I have no solution. I have no side. I just want better for my daughter. I don't want to have to lie to her too.

A Love Story

We met on a Monday night in December at 11:52 p.m. I'd like to say it was love at first sight, but mostly I remember an overwhelming feeling of relief, followed by contented acceptance. "OK," I thought. "This is what my life will be now."

We moved in together two days later. At first, we didn't get out much. While snow fell all around our cozy little home we wrapped our bodies in cotton and fleece and got to know each other. Often we sat in silence, letting the ...quiet wash over us like a warm bath. We stared at the lights on the Christmas tree while the rest of the world slept, until our vision became blurry and all of the lights started to blend into one.

Our long nights faded into short mornings. As light piped through the windows I watched her fight sleep until she finally surrendered to her heavy eyelids. When she fell asleep on me it was heaven, like being trusted by an angel. I basked in the warm hum of her body, the softness of her breath, the quiet rattle of her heartbeat.

When I held her at night she would run her fingers through my hair, absentmindedly brushing her hands against me like a blind woman determined to commit each ridge and wrinkle into her deepest memory. I marveled at the way her head fit so perfectly under my chin, like we were cut years before from the same slab of concrete.

When she cried out in the darkness I stumbled to rescue her. Sometimes I cried too. I had never had to feel so much. I was overwhelmed with love and frustration and exhaustion.

I knew I loved her the same way that you know you have a heart and lungs and kidneys. You will never see them, but they are a part of you. You couldn't survive with out them.

We know each other now. She cries out less for me at night. I can only expect that as the years pass she'll be slower to let me hold her and quicker to let go. That I will be old and worn out, with no novelty left. That I will be what is expected, not what is exciting. That she'll no longer greet me at the door and insist that I hug her immediately.

Someday she'll leave me. Our happy moments, our stolen kisses, the nights that we slept so close to each other that her breath echoed in my ear will just be memories to me that she won't remember at all. To me it will be the greatest love story ever known, to her it will be lost time in the blind blur of childhood.

Still, I wouldn't trade her for anything. My beautiful daughter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What No One Told Me About Being a Parent

When I was pregnant, I heard everything imaginable about pregnancy, labor, and being a new parent. I grilled everyone I knew and read weekly pregnancy updates from bloggers so I could compare their symptoms to my own.
I knew I would be tired. Really, really tired. I knew that there would be times when I would be so overwhelmed that I would break down in tears. I even knew that I would come to love this little person in my stomach more than I ever could imagine, and that that incredible all-encompassing love would make the exhaustion and the overwhelming feelings and the fact that most of my clothes will never fit quite the same way ever again seem not nearly so important.
What I was not prepared for--what no one mentioned to me even once, not even in whispers or on message boards or as a casual remark after a glass or two of wine--was that being a mother would make me FEEL so much more.
It's not just about my beautiful daughter and how overwhelmingly powerful my love is for her. It has nothing to do with the fact that I would literally jump in front of a car for her without hesitation and that now I can say that without a little voice in my head thinking "but would I really??" It doesn't even have to do with how much more love and respect I have for my husband after seeing how much he loves her. It's bigger than that. It's bigger than I am.
I feel everything. When I watch the news my chest hurts so much that I can hardly stand it. I can't help but put myself in the position of every parent and every child in each grisly story. When I hear a story about a selfless act or a hometown hero my eyes tear up with joy. It's like someone attached a faucet to my heart and now my emotions ooze out like squeezable grape jelly.
Often it makes me feel powerless. Utterly impotent. I can't adopt every foster child or every kid who lost their parents to Ebola in Africa. I can't wrap my arms around them and hug them and tell them that they are loved and special and worthy. I can't bury my nose in their necks and smell their sweet scent of Dreft and Baby Shampoo and Cheerios.
I can't pay the bills for every parent who is out of work or underpaid or worrying about how they will buy new shoes for their sons or give lunch money to their daughters.
I can't provide a home for every bleary-eyed dog and cat in the rather manipulative SPCA ads on TV.
I stay up at night thinking about all of this. Not because I'm a good person, not because I'm a bleeding heart, but because something has removed the protective shield that used to allow me to process things from a safe distance.
That's why I'm reaching out to the wonderful and generous people that I know to provide some warm pajamas to some children who really need them. Because thinking about Olivia needing something to sleep in at night, or not having a parent to tuck her in, or being so excited about something as basic as a book makes me feel like my chest can't expand enough for me to breathe.
There are a million worthy causes out there and even more worthy people. I understand that it's a time of year when everyone is asking you for something. I will not pressure you or judge you or force you to listen to Sarah McLachlan songs while scrolling photos of pathetic animals when all you want to do is watch the rest of Gilmore Girls. I will just ask that if you do have a few dollars to spare or a few minutes to go buy a pair of children's pajamas and arrange to get them to me, then it would mean an awful lot. I'll probably cry, because apparently that's what I do now.
Good night and God Bless.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Joys of Nap Time

I'm convinced that 190%of people who get divorced in the year after they have a baby do it because one partner woke the baby up from his or her nap. Seriously. I know everyone says, "Oh, make noise and go about your normal routine when your baby is napping or you will be tiptoeing around for years to come." Yes people, you are correct. But as any parent knows, when you are desperate for a baby to take a nap, and then they FINALLY fall asleep, you will brave hell and high water to keep them that way.  Particularly if your baby had/has colic and you live in a split level house which renders baby monitors totally pointless and you have squeaky hardwood floors that have magically multiplied their volume since you brought your baby home... In this desperate time of trying to keep my baby asleep, I have had the following thoughts:
-I wonder if we can get Clyde shoebooties so that his nails don't click when he walks up and down the steps.
-I should take this bag of pretzels to work because I will never open it at home, it's far too loud.
-Why hasn't anyone invented a silent microwave?
- The baby has been really quiet. Oh God, I hope she's breathing. (Creep in to see baby, who lets out a loud sigh) Oh crap, I woke her up.
- I can't feel my arm/leg/foot but there's no way I'm moving.
- I have had to pee for at least three hours.
-  I seriously need to put stickers on all of the squeaky spots on the floor so I can avoid them.
- I will kill you barking dog/man on loud motorcycle/neighbor blasting Kid Rock.
-  She will totally wake up if I transfer her from her stroller to the car. Maybe I can walk all the way home?  So what if  it is miles and miles... On busy roads...And my car is here...
- Damn you sunlight.  Damn you wind. Damn you strangers having a conversation above a whisper.
- I can't do anything until she goes to sleep because I don't have free hands. Then... I can't do anything until she wakes up or I'll make noise.
- If Clyde scratches himself one more time I'm going to send him back to Alabama.
- I am watching the menu screen on TV because the remote is across the room and there is no way I'm  moving.
- I will never be able to flush a toilet again.
- There is absolutely no reason a laptop should make noise when you turn it on.
-  It is unacceptable for people to post Instagram videos with audio without warning.
- How did I not realize my camera flash was on?!?!!

The End.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Things About Pregnancy I Wish I'd Known Earlier

I was really lucky with my pregnancy for the most part, but there are a few things that I wish I had known earlier, either because they would have kept me from worrying so much, or because they would have helped things go a little more smoothly for me!  Obviously everyone is different, but hopefully some of this information will be helpful to  you as well.

1) You might not start showing (or needing maternity clothes) for a pretty long time!
Everyone is different (and many things including your height, genetics, whether this is your first pregnancy, and dumb luck can determine when you show) but I didn't end up needing to wear maternity clothes until I was towards the end of my second trimester.  Of course a lot of my clothes didn't fit before then, but pants that sat lower on the waist and longer tops and sweaters were mostly fine.  It also took me a pretty long time to really start showing, even though I felt like I was growing a ton.  Don't feel like you automatically need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on maternity clothes the second you get pregnant, or become instantly paranoid that everyone knows you're expecting when you're only 9 weeks and you're not ready to tell people yet!

2) You won't have all of the terrible symptoms you read in What to Expect When You're Expecting.
You might have some, even a lot, but you won't have them all.  I think everything I knew about pregnancy symptoms I learned from chick flicks and sitcoms.  I assumed I would fall asleep under my desk a la Miranda in Sex and the City and throw up on strangers like Kathrine Heigl in Knocked Up.  Coworkers kept telling me that, "My body would do really mean things to me," and that I would soon experience incontinence.  Yes, seriously.  Fortunately, none of those things happened to me... although there were definitely some times that I could have fallen asleep under my desk.

3) Just because you have a symptom one day it doesn't mean that you will have that symptom for the rest of your pregnancy.
I can't tell you how many times I had a pregnancy symptom and immediately panicked that I would have to feel that way for the rest of my pregnancy, whether that be the next 32 weeks or the next 2 weeks.  I had a couple of days when I was so tired I literally passed out on the living room or bedroom floor without any intention of taking a nap.  I was worried that I would be that tired forever.  I started dealing with a lot of pelvic pain (especially when side stepping or getting up after lying down) and was afraid that it would only get worse.  In truth, some days I felt lousy but woke up the next day feeling perfectly fine.

4) A lot of days, you might not feel that different.
Many days when I woke up I'd forget for a split second that I was pregnant.  I could still do most physical things that I could do before, I just felt like I had a big belly doing them.

5) Exercise support belts are awesome (even if they look a little embarrassing).
By the time I was 7 months pregnant, I noticed that a long walk could give me a really achy pelvis and make walking the next day really painful. When I was running I felt like I needed a sports bra for my belly.  This support belt really helped me.  It did make me look like a had a bit of a beer belly, but I often wore it over a tank top and under a t-shirt or sweatshirt so it wasn't visible.

6) You may not need to buy a lot of the maternity clothes out there...
Of course this depends on luck, your frame, and your fashion choices, but sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts, shorts, and pjs may all be fine.  If it has elastic and can go under your bump, you're probably good to go!  Maybe you can save that money for a pedicure or a prenatal massage...

7) Exercise will really make you feel better.
I started having pelvic pain around 7 months and it was awful.  At first I avoided exercise to see if it went away, but I quickly found that stretching and the right exercise seemed to make it much better.  Tracy Anderson's Prenatal Workout DVDs (especially months 7 and 8) and the elliptical made a big difference for me.

8) You really don't need that many more calories.
See here.  I know.  Bummer.  During the first trimester it's barely any more at all, during the second trimester it's around 300 calories, and by the end of your pregnancy it's around 500 calories.  That means an apple would be plenty in month 2, a Greek Yogurt with a tbsp of peanut butter as an afternoon snack would be plenty to fill your extra calorie quota in your 5th month, and in your 8th month you could hit it with a bagel and cream cheese.

9) The things you really miss might not be the things you think you'd miss.
I thought I'd miss coffee and wine.  I was the girl who would save Keurig in a fire long before I'd pull out my shoes or ceramic elephant collection.  A nice glass of wine felt like a reward for a long day or the thing that made a dinner out feel like a special occasion.  In reality, I didn't miss either THAT much.  What I really missed was sleeping on my back and my stomach, having weekly doctors appointments where I was weighed and had to pee in a cup, running without issue, and having my body be my own.

10) It will fly by.
During the first trimester, especially when we were waiting to tell friends and family, it seemed like my pregnancy would take FOREVER.  When my due date came and went, it seemed like my suspicions were confirmed.  Now I'm sitting here with an 11-week old wondering where the time went!

Running Away From Home

I went for a run yesterday.  A year ago, that would be no more out of the ordinary than drinking my morning cup of coffee or having a glass of wine with dinner.  Things have changed.  I entered the track hoping that the two sports bras I had used to strap down my enormous milk-laden boobs would hold and that I could finish a workout without leaking through my shirt.  When I was getting dressed I had to change t-shirts three times because my baggy CREW NECK t-shirts showed too much cleavage.  My throat was scratchy because my adorable daughter has given me her cold... which is not surprising considering that several times a day I use a plastic tube to literally suck the mucus out of her tiny little nose.  My hair was conditioned with a healthy dose of spit up and vitamin D drop drool, so it was slightly crunchy when I pulled it into my requisite ponytail.  Yes, things have changed.

Still, I was so happy to be on the track, and when an upbeat some came onto my iPod I felt like I had a little extra spring in my step.  Enough extra juice to pass the 20-something guy with big muscles and a backward Penn State cap.  I'm sure he was hung over.  I'm sure he was resting between sprints, had just eaten a large breakfast, and ran a marathon the night before.  I'm sure he thought I looked like I was 100 years old.  I still felt proud and spry and like a little piece of the old me was back again.  "Win won for the moms," I thought.

And then I was hit by an overwhelming wave of emotion.  For the first time in my life, I categorized myself as a mom.  For the rest of my life I will categorize myself that way.  What an incredible blessing that is.  It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't care that much about my speed, or my rock-hard boobs, or the fact that my stomach feels a lot like a Jell-O pudding cup.  It didn't matter that then Penn Stater would pass me five times before I finished my 4 miles, that I would need to take walking breaks, or that I would only have an hour of freedom before rushing back to feed my little girl.  It didn't even matter that the guy on the track probably thought of me as an "older" woman, even though I still feel like I'm barely out of college.  I was a mom, and a little girl at home would be happy to see me, even if she couldn't tell me that yet. She showed it every time she stared at my face like it was the most fascinating thing she'd ever seen, every time she buried her face in my shoulder, every time she trusted me enough to fall asleep on my stomach.

When I was pregnant I worried about what my body would look like after pregnancy.  I worried that I would miss my freedom and the routine that my husband and I had gotten into.  I worried about a lot of things that just don't seem to matter that much anymore.  Sure, I'd love for baby and I to be able to get out of the house and go for long walks (and the polar temperatures and massive amounts of snow we've had this winter aren't helping any).  Of course I miss picking out clothes based on what is cute and trendy vs. what is washable and provides easy access to my boobs.  But mostly now I worry about my daughter.  I worry about making the most of the time we have together and how to spend every second possible with her.  I worry about being a good mother and what exactly that means.  I worry about setting a good example for her, because someday she might just be the "older woman" on the track with a little baby at home, and even if she's a little slower, a little sleepier, and a little heavier than she once was, I'll still think she's completely perfect.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coping with Colic

When I was pregnant I was amazed at some of the things people would say to me about parenthood... that I would never be able to go to the bathroom alone again, that I'd never have time to go for a run, and that I should, “Enjoy my sleep now...” (which by the way I think is one of the meanest things you can say to a pregnant woman who has to get up 5 times a night to pee, can’t sleep on her back or stomach, and feels generally huge and uncomfortable).  I was told repeatedly that I would hate my husband, that my body would be unrecognizable, and that it would be really, really hard.

It has been hard at times.  Any parent of a colicky baby would be insane to tell you otherwise.  At the hospital when she was less than a day old our pediatrician told us our daughter was “a fussy baby.”  Around three weeks, our darling daughter started crying around the clock anytime when she wasn’t eating or sleeping.  Without any point of reference, at first Mike and I thought it was normal.  People always tell you being a parent is hard, so we thought this was why.  She would be inconsolable, and no amount of cuddling, bouncing, or love made any kind of a difference.  We tried a swing, we tried a vibrating chair, we tried a pacifier (although I resisted for three weeks because I was worried about nipple confusion). I went to a lactation consultant, eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet, and started putting cabbage in my bra to slow my milk supply.  We swaddled, we rocked, we gave her baths, we changed her diaper, we put on a white noise app, we put her in an outfit warmed in the dryer.  I reread The Happiest Baby on the Block.  I walked laps and laps and laps around the house.  We tried colic tabs, gas drops, probiotic drops, and a Zantac prescription (heartburn medicine, not Xanax the tranquilizer... although at times I might have thought about it).  I Googled and soaked up every word I could read of anything that might possibly work or any parent who had gone through the same thing.

Still she would scream.  Her mouth was wide open, her eyes slammed shut, her face would turn bright red, and her fists clenched tightly and shaking.  She would just wail.  Sometimes we could laugh it off... we called her “our little Mussolini.”  Other times (usually when I was particularly exhausted, like the night she was up screaming from 4 to 7 a.m. and the only thing that finally got her to stop was swaddling her arms down, shoving a pacifier in her mouth, and shh-ing in her ear as loudly as we could) it was just heartbreaking.  I felt like my daughter didn’t love me, and like I was a terrible mother because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.  I just wanted to fix it.  She couldn’t tell me what was wrong and I couldn’t figure it out, and I was so tired.  

I was afraid to leave the house with her because it was winter and we didn’t want her to get germs.  I wasn’t allowed to work out, and it took me more than 6 weeks to stop bleeding after she was born.  My stitches really hurt, and it was hard to sit in certain positions to feed her or get her up or put her down because of them.  She often didn’t want to go to bed before 1 or 2 a.m.  When I was up with her in the middle of the night I felt lonely, and it usually took at least an hour and a half to get her back down.  When I put her back down she would often wake up 2 or 3 times, and then I’d have to start the process all over again to calm her down and put her back again.  Breastfeeding was painful.  I could never tell whether she’d had enough, and sometimes she would have projectile spit up that would cover us both and scare her so much she’d start crying again.  I had a major oversupply issue, and if I dared to change her diaper before I fed her I would leak through my t-shirt and make a giant puddle on the hardwood floor.  I dreaded the nights because I had no idea when she would wake up or how often, or how hard it would be to get her to go back to sleep when she did.  A ride in the car or a walk in the ergobaby would usually knock her out, but sometimes even that was hopeless, plus it was incredibly sad to feel like everytime my daughter woke up, all I was doing was trying to knock her out again.

We had pediatrician appointments at least once a week, if not more often.  On one particularly awful afternoon we waited over an hour for our appointment (which is tough when you’re trying to keep a colicky baby occupied) and then when they suggested I breastfeed her through a vaccine she projectile spit up all over us both, which only made her cry harder.  None of the doctors could help, they just said it was colic and we had to deal with it and that it should go away when she was 3 or 4 months.  That broke my heart even more because I knew it would be right when I would be going back to work.

Writing about it now I realize that I forgot so much already.  She’s 2 months old today and things have gotten so much better.  Maybe it’s a defense mechanism.  You forget the issues of one month so you’re prepared to face the problems that might be lurking right around the corner.  I'm sure that if I'm lucky enough to become a grandmother, the wonderful parts of motherhood will have long since painted over the sleepless nights and the days of screaming.  I honestly have never been happier in my life, and as cliche as it may be, being a mom is the best thing I've ever done.  I love my child more than I ever thought possible and her crying has gotten so much better.

Of course, I wish I'd known during the worst of the colic what I know now.  If you're dealing with it with your child I know there is nothing worse than having strangers make "helpful" suggestions of obvious things that you've probably tried 100 times as if they're new and revolutionary and you're some idiot who didn't think to try burping your child or changing her diaper when she cried.  That said, below are the things that ended up being helpful... some immediately, and some on the 101st try.  Some worked one day and didn't the next, but we'd keep cycling through them during each freakout until she finally snapped out of it.

Things that DID seem to help us:

Breastfeeding in Bed-- For the first few weeks I would scoop the baby up as soon as she made a peep, take her downstairs to feed her, and try to keep her as quiet as possible so that Mike wouldn’t have to wake up.  Then I’d have to take her all the way back upstairs without her waking up, which she often did.  It added stress to the situation and made me feel lonely.  When I realized Mike didn’t mind if I fed her next to him, it helped a lot.

Zantac and Probiotic Drops-- The jury is still out on whether they really made a difference, but they certainly didn’t hurt.  The Probiotic drops (which are made by Gerber and are available without a prescription at most pharmacies) were expensive at $30 a bottle but promised to reduce crying by 50% in two weeks, which felt like a promise of a winning lottery ticket to us at the time.

White Noise App--We downloaded the “sleep4baby” free app on our iPhones and at first it didn’t seem to make a difference.  The sounds (vacuum, hairdryer, and blender) might seem like odd choices, but if you turn it up and put it right next to her ear it would often calm her down, especially with the help of the pacifier, and sometimes would knock her right out.  Now we put her down with my Ipod on “Conch Shell” and she’s been sleeping like a champ.

Halo Sleep Sack-- Our little girl seemed to love her hands and get them out of anything we tried to swaddle her in, but on one particularly bad night Mike swaddled them in tightly and it seems to help her sleep so much more soundly!

The Ergobaby-- Whether I’m walking laps, bouncing in place, vacuuming, or bouncing on an exercise ball, this has calmed her down or knocked her out far more often than not.  It also let me get some exercise and have my hands free, which was a huge gift.  I think the couple nice days we had so I could go on walks really helped me survive those first few weeks.  She also liked to walk without the Ergobaby with her head looking over my shoulder.

Car Rides-- She’d cry at first, but soon she usually feel asleep.  The more bumps the better.

The Zanzibar Bouncer on Vibrate-- This only worked for a couple minutes at a time, but it would often be long enough for me to run to the bathroom or throw a little make up on my face.

Shh-ing-- So loudly with my mouth literally on her ear.

Bouncing--Holding her under her armpits and bouncing her until she fell asleep or my biceps couldn’t handle it anymore.

Hitting the "Reset Button"-- I would hold her under her armpits and slowly lift her over my head as high as I could and then bring her down again.  Sometimes it only worked for a second, but it seemed to break the cycle a little bit. 

Eating-- This was hard at the beginning when breastfeeding was really painful and I was very worried about "overfeeding her" and making her sick, but it often settled her down, even when she wasn't "supposed" to be hungry.  Often she would only eat for a minute or two, but it seemed to comfort her.

Things that DID NOT seem to work for us--

The Swing--If she was already crying (which was always) there was no chance the swing would calm her down.  It has come in handy now that she's a little older.  I often put her in it when I know she's tired and the swaying helps her fall asleep.

A Playmat-- Screaming.  Always.

A Vibrating Chair or Bouncer-- If she was screaming she would keep screaming.

Cuddling-- All of those sweet baby moments that I thought we'd have cuddling, rocking, snuggling didn't do a thing.  If anything, they made her more angry.

Diaper Changes-- My poor little girl didn't seem to care whether her diaper was empty or full, and when people suggested that a change might be all that was needed to stop the tears, it was hard not to scream in frustration.

"Putting Her Down for a Nap"-- I'm not even sure how that is done.  If she wasn't already asleep and you put her down, she'd scream.

Reading to Her-- We would never make it through a book.  Not even Goodnight Moon or Pat the Bunny.

The Dog Howling Along-- Ugh.  Awful.

Singing-- Maybe this was a comment on my vocal abilities?  I hope not.

Rocking-- The rocking chair that we so carefully assembled in the days before our little one arrived?  Not helpful unless you're goal was a rocking, screaming baby instead of a stationary one.

Anything Gentle, Soft, or Quiet

Anything the First, Second, or Third Time-- We just had to keep taking deep breaths and keep trying until she finally wore her little self out.

Hang in there... it WILL get better!  As a friend told me, no 10 year old cries around the clock.  Just be patient and kind to yourself and take a break when you can... even if it's just 10 minutes in the shower when someone else is holding him or her.