Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lordy mercy, our week in review

You know how sometimes you'll look back on a week and think, man that went by quickly!; whereas other times you'll reflect on the events of a day and find it almost impossible to believe that it occurred within the last 7 days?
This week has been one of the latter...I swear Tuesday feels like it happens in another lifetime and on Thursday I was an emotional wreck, but now I'm just my usual self (ha ha - whatever that means!)
It does indeed seem that there has been a lot going on in our little household the past couple of weeks, what with the potty training, the pacifier withdrawal project, my increasing anxiety about returning to work, combined with the general January blah's that many people probably feel. It was very exciting this week to realize that the days are getting longer and it's staying a little lighter in the afternoons, if only by a little bit. Progress is what matters.
On that note, we have been making progress with Noah's sleep. The beginning of the week didn't start well, and I think I last reported that we were replacing the pacifier/dummy with a bottle, and I was worried that was a step in the wrong direction. On Wednesday night into Thursday morning, I had a pretty big "wobble": Noah had woken at about 12:45 and I'd given him a bottle. After he had that he went back down in his cot to sleep, but then when he woke again around 4:45 I tried this shushing and rocking technique that just failed massively. After about half an hour I was exhausted, and Matt came downstairs to find me making another bottle. Something about standing in the dark kitchen, and doing something which I knew probably wasn't the resolution to the issue, made me feel so utterly defeated, and after we got Noah back to sleep, I just had to have a little cry. Having gone through this all before with Blake, I guess I just somehow wanted to be the one, this time around, to crack the sleep mystery. I wanted to fix the problem, solve the puzzle, pat myself on the back after doing a victory lap around the playgroup (no scratch that, being smug about sleep to other mothers is a definite no-no in my books). And at 5:00 on Thursday morning, none of that was going to be happening at the rate we were going.
Later that day, I decided I was going to start to do something which Lin had me do with Blake, which was to institute a proper naptime routine. After an early lunch I gave Noah some milk, put him in his sleepsack in his cot, and let him do some crying and yelling before he did finally nod off to sleep on his own. He slept for 45 minutes, then woke up. That was good, but I thought he could do better. I went and shushed him and he went back for another 45. That made me pleased. I've been doing this naptime thing now for the past four days, and it does seem to be working. If Noah is tired and the nap is timed right, he will pretty much go off to sleep without too little fuss.
There is a theory that if you get the daytime sleep sorted out, the nighttime sleep will follow. I don't know how true it is, but we have had a few decent nights since my waterworks. On Thursday night Matt was out and Noah went down for the night around 7:15 pm. He then woke at 11:30, and I knew that was much too early for him to be hungry. I held him in my arms, and then he fell back asleep until 4:45, at which point I decided he had gone without milk for about 9 hours, and I felt justified in giving him a bottle. He then went back for another hour and a half or so. Friday and Saturday nights have been pretty similar, and I guess if it carried on like this, I would be ok with it. As long as it's predictable, and doesn't really involve me doing much in that middle of the night wake, I think it would be ok. We'll see what tonight holds.

I am sometimes amazed at what a difference a day can make, and on Thursday morning when I felt so frustrated and tired, I did try to take a deep breath and put things in perspective. Back in December, I was walking along the South Bank and walked past a smartly-dressed young mother pushing a red Bugaboo. She looked like so many mothers enjoying a walk with her baby that there was nothing remarkable about her. Except for, I noticed as we walked past each other, she had only one arm. I spent much of the rest of that day - and every now and then since - thinking to myself what an incredibly challenging, incredibly courageous, incredibly exhausting, incredibly incredible life she and her baby must have. Think about changing an 8-month-old's diaper with one hand, or managing 10 sets of snaps on a sleepsuit or trying to have a cup of tea while getting lunch ready when the baby is cranky. That's got to be hard. My sleep issues don't seem so hard in comparison. I also read of a family in Wales who were in a car accident returning from holiday last week; a 20-year-old father and 23-year-old mother died, leaving their 6-month-old baby boy an orphan. I still basically can't think of that without shedding a tear and thinking how unfair and cruel a story like that can make life seem. My sleep issues...not unfair really.
On Friday I awoke with a better perspective. I am tired, yes. I will be less tired, eventually. Progress is good, but backward steps are also probably inevitable. Noah's 4th tooth has still not make its full appearance yet, and there will be 16 more after that one. So it could take a while for this sleeping-through-the-night concept to materialize. For now, I'm going to focus on the achievements: a few daytime naps, the ability to go to sleep without sucking a pacifier, some longer stretches in the night. It's been a pretty emotional and intense time, but I'm thankful for each and every day. Tomorrow Noah spends an hour at the nursery for the first of his settling-in days. I will stay with him, so it won't be too hard on either of us hopefully. But it is the start of my letting go, and ultimately that is hard. My vow this week is to take more pictures; I somehow haven't really had the camera out much of January. Hopefully I'll have a little more light each day, and that does brighten the spirits.

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