Time = romance in this house

Here are a few of my thoughts as of late:

  1. I used to be a co-sleep-believing-no-cry-let-your-kids-lead type of mom, which I thought was the right way to be for my family.  And for some families, it works and that’s all that matters.  But it didn’t for my family … or I should say, it did work, until my daughter came along.  Her team of medical experts told us what they recommended and (my stars!) they were right!  My two and half year old daughter’s night-tantrums (aka parasomnias) have almost completely ceased since we sleep “trained” her.  That’s right.  I fought the law and the law one.  It completely worked; I guess these world-reknown experts really know something!
  2. Not only have her parasomnias decreased dramatically (almost completely), her daily tantrums have too.  Why?  Mostly because she’s more rested during the day.  Also, she’s getting the help she needs: two days per week of speech therapy and OT.  My family has gained the tools and the skills to work with her to keep her calm and focused and happy.  It’s truly amazing.  Just a side note for anyone struggling with this issue; she is not autistic, she just has minor sensory sensitivity in addition to the parasomnia diagnosis and sleep-attachment.
  3. Since my family is getting a bit more sleep these days, my husband and I have enjoyed more time to ourselves.  Still not quite the quantity for which we’re aiming, but an hour or two here and there is still more than we’ve had in two and a half years.  Here’s some of the things we’re doing with all of our “new” time:
  • Leave the dinner dishes all over the kitchen (wait, we’ve always done that).
  • Watch a show on TV that will really help us learn more about humanity and the world around us:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, American Idol or Wicked Tuna.
  • GET MORE SLEEP (no, we haven’t gotten to that yet)!
  • Sit side by side on the couch, he on his laptop, me on mine; we’re super romantic.
  • Fold laundry (oops, no, that doesn’t happen).
  • Pick up toys and organize the house for the next day (no, that actually doesn’t happen either).

So as you can see, we’ve really been using our new-found time wisely and productively.  We’re sure to make 2013 a blockbuster year of firsts for our family, or just more of the same, we’re not quite sure yet.

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Para-whatta-whatta aka “no sleep for moms and dads”

Yep, none.  So here it is: we’re changing the way we sleep in my family and we’ve been busy focusing on that for the past two weeks (which is why I have scarcely written).  The subject of sleep is a constant in our lives; as adults, we’re told to get at least eight hours a night to maintain optimal health.  As parents, we’re told everything from let your baby cry alone in a crib (at most any age), training them how to sleep on their own to co-sleeping with your baby in your bed to comfort them, nurse them, whatever they want until they’re ready for their own bed.

I’ve had VERY strong opinions on these theories at different times in past and have surprisingly, tried both.  Desperate?  Absolutely?  In the end, I never felt like letting my child cry was the right thing to do, so we co-slept because it was the only way we could get a smidge of sleep.  Now what?  For most of us, that is the big debacle that only you and your partner can answer.

My six year old son sleeps well enough, but we’re still laying with him after reading books, until he’s just about asleep.  We’re ready to end this cycle.  We’ve been ready for a long time.

Our two year old has some significant sleep issues causing her to co-sleep until a week and a half ego.

Why now?  Because our family is falling apart.  My husband and I have no time together; we’ve forgotten why we love each other and more importantly, why we like each other.  If he’s putting our son to bed, laying with him, he falls asleep for the night and is off to work before we wake in the morning.  So we’ll see each other for an hour or so in the evening.

If I put our son to sleep, I fall asleep with him too.  If we put our daughter to sleep in our comfy bed, we’ll fall asleep with her for the night.  We don’t see each other or spend any kind of quality time together and it’s making not only our lives tense and uncomfortable, but it’s seeping into our children too, who have become quiet, sometimes angry and snappy, just like mom and dad.

A week and a half ago, our daughter was diagnosed with parasomnia, as well as significant sleep attachments, which any co-sleeping child will have.  At the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston, parasomnia symptoms have been discovered to be:*

  • confusion arousals and sleep terrors (incomplete waking, crying or screaming, thrashing, looking upset or frightened)
  • sleepwalking and sleep talking (while only partly awake)
  • teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis)
  • periodic limb movements in sleep (leg or arm jerks every 20 to 60 seconds while asleep)

She can have severe episodes between 2-15 times a night.  Most nights she averages around 5-10.  It usually takes 30-60 minutes to calm her enough to get back to sleep.  It’s torture for my husband and I to see her so dramatically  upset, thrashing, hitting and punching us.  We were so thankful and relieved to find out that she doesn’t remember these episodes and has no emotional memory of them.  Put this all together, including our son waking either from sister’s crying or his own bad dream and you have a mom and dad who are completely, utterly, miserably sleep-deprived and not functioning well (or at all) in their daily lives.

Two and a half years.  It’s been that long that we’ve gotten any kind of respectable sleep.  It’s been that long that things have been falling apart.  It’s been that long that we haven’t been the parents to our children that we should and want to be.

Controversial tecnhniques to stop the maddness abound and we decided to use an updated Ferber plan.  The doctors have found that when the children go to sleep easy, by themselves, without their sleep attachments (me, in my daughter’s case), they have less parasomnia episodes throughout the night and become more rested, happier children.  I hit the jackpot; that’s what we needed … you know what happens to kids when they’re not rested, even worse, when they’re exhausted.  Let’s just say, we’ve been dealing with major tantrums for over a year now and we were ready for them to end on day two.

I’ve always considered myself an attachment parent, based on not only the theory of attachment by John Bowlby and later Mary Ainsworth, but also by Dr. William Sears.  I thought letting my child be in distress, or having them cry for me when I’m not holding them (but maybe just in the next room) for an instant, would hurt them psychologically.  I still stand by much of my previous thinking, but I am immensely proud of myself and my family for listening to professionals who have spent their lives studying sleep for infants, toddlers, children.  Out of desperation, obvious exhaustion and depletion of every other resource, we did something we had never believed in before.  We chose the technique we had completely disagreed with days prior.  And it’s saved us.

Really.  We’re saved.  Day five our girl was a sleep champ, going to sleep on her own, sleeping a few hours here and there (we’ll take it!) and having less parasomnia episodes than she’s ever had.  My husband and I have finished watching Season 7 of Dexter, we’ve chatted and had dinner together.  We remember why we love each other and why we like each other.  Our family is back.  Now getting that six year old boy to sleep on his own …

*www.childrenshospital.org

Resolution solution

Happy 2013 peeps.  I wish you all good health, because really, that’s all that matters.

In addition to stellar health, I’m hoping for a few more things for me and my most favorite loved ones, because with resolutions, you can be as greedy as you wanna be. Not in order of importance, they are:

1. This is the year of no more diapers. Ever.  Well at least until old, old age, or major emergencies.

2. De-clutter, which means donating most of my children’s toys, my pots and pans and maybe even an appliance or four.

3. Of course, the obligatory exercise resolution.  I resolve to lose 30 pounds and win a gold medal in the olympic sport of laundry folding.

4. Mop the floors, all of them.

And lastly (until I think of a few more) …

5. SLEEP, but since I saw a news story on falling asleep behind the wheel on GMA this morning, I will vow not to do it there anymore.  Turns out, not the safest place to catch some z’s!  Who knew.