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.

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.

Sleeplessness bulldozes the funny out

I’ve made it clear we don’t sleep much in my family.  I’ve also made clear my daughter’s funny, cute little quirky habits.  Well, I haven’t written much lately, because some of those habits are not quite as funny and cute and are probably not habits at all.

On January 3rd, we have an appointment at one of the best (maybe THE best) children’s hospitals in the world.  We’re pushing to get a sleep-study for her.  I don’t need to get into the severity of her sleep issues, let’s just say, once again, there isn’t much sleeping going on for her, myself or my husband.

There are other challenges too: frequent, severe tantrums, a speech delay, a few sensory sensitivities together with fierce independence.  AND, she’s two and a half.  So there’s that.  I have done research, we see a family therapist weekly and a speech therapist weekly.  We’re starting occupational therapy soon and with the sleep study, we’re hoping to get a consecutive few hours of sleep each night … someday.

So, my friends, this is why I haven’t written lately.  Things have progressively gotten a bit worse the past few weeks, coupled with us all being sick, so I’ve got myself a recipe for disaster.

There’s nothing funny here … no silly anecdotes to how wine can save all, even it can only do so much.  In my little bubble world this is a lot to handle and I’m anxiously awaiting more professional help from our team of experts.

I hope to have something humorously post-worthy soon … really soon.  Until the funny  strikes, hang in with me while real life happens.

Some things you should know about my two year old daughter

I love reading lists and I love writing lists.  This one is about my two and a half year old daughter and what I think everyone should know about her now because in one way or another, you will know about her when she’s older.

  1. She might be one of the funniest people I know … and she knows it.
  2. A male pediatrician once said “She’s a bit dramatic” right before I grabbed a thumb depressor and stuck it up his nose.  Unfortunately, he knew exactly what he was talking about.
  3. She poses for every photo in a way that makes me out to be the creepiest and most drill-sergeanty stage mom on the planet.
  4. She likes to have her brother check to see if her diaper is “dirty” by sticking her bum in his face and saying “mell.”
  5. Her speech is delayed and she’s in early intervention.  I’m not sure what it’s delayed from, but I do know that she knows everything.  Way more than I do.
  6. She doesn’t like to sleep … EV-ER (following are some of the ways in which she wakes).
  7. When she is sleeping, she might bolt awake, flailing arms and legs if a feather were to gently glide from the ceiling to the floor and lay gently on the carpet.
  8. She awakes in terror no less than 10 times per night, screaming “MOMMY!”
  9. As soon as her eyes open in the morning, she needs to get out of bed and go                 downstairs.
  10. She talks in her sleep.
  11. She likes to sleep with her face on mine, all – night – long and yep, for naps too.
  12. She is having a sleep-study done ASAP.
  13. She hits and yells and accuses.  She’s ready for a commitment.
  14. She drinks too much … water … only water.  NOTHING else.
  15. When I try to take a picture or video of anyone other than her, she jumps into view, screaming “TAH DAH!” or some such exclamation, standing so close to the camera that anything beyond her is completely out of view.  She’s a genius.
  16. She’s just started saying “I love … ” and when she says “I love Mommy, I love brulla (brother) and I love Daddy” my cold heart melts and all of my fears about what a nightmare she will be as a teenager disappear, for about 17 seconds.

Scared out of my nose

OK, this literally just happened.  Husband is working late.  Two children asleep; five year old in his bed, two year old in my (her) bed.  I hear crying … not sure from which miniature body it’s coming.  I wait … it heightens.  I run up the stairs fast, assuming it’s the two year old and I move with the swiftness of a gazelle (I totally did!), so that I can get to her quickly.  If her crying escalates, big brother will be awake too.  And with one of me and two of them, I am down for the count, or at least an hour.  In mid-stride I hear it’s my daughter, I turn into my doorway and bowl over a human body, a small-ish one.  My son.  Standing just inside the doorway of my room in complete darkness.  He falls, I yell something that at this very holy time of year should not be uttered around children.

At this point, I am so freaked, I think my heart comes out my nose, which isn’t entirely that much different from childbirth, I realize now.  In any case, I also strongly say to my son, “What are you doing?”  His response?  “What are YOU doing?”  Hmmm.

Apparently, he was sleep-walking, or wandering around our three upstairs bedrooms in the dark, looking for Santa?  Another nightmare about the Elf on a Shelf?  Whatever the case my be, I now not only have two little bodies in my bed, neither of which are my own or my husband’s, but this completely proves what I always thought to be true: these two are trying to kill their precious, loving, fragile mother.  Serenity now.

Picking the perfect Christmas tree

With wrecking-ball-like demolition, this year I smashed my typical way of selecting the perfect tree.  In previous years, my husband and children have whined and sometimes thrown wreaths at the time it would take me to pick the tree.  But for some reason, maybe it was the lack of sleep (duh!) or the too-close-to-dinner time trip, or me going out in my pajamas (yes, close to dinner time), this time I selected our tree with the concentration and swiftness of a sharpshooter.

Against all that is in my Christmas-loving, perfect-tree requiring soul, I choose a tree still wrapped in string.  Really!  It looked skinny, all bound like some kind of sharp, green topiary missile.  This year, I decided I wanted skinny.  We’re in a new house for us, but an old home, with small, choppy rooms and nothing tall and fat would do, or fit.

I fell asleep early that night, putting one of the kids to sleep, or passing out into a pile of clothes while trying to fold them and never saw the tree untied.  When I heard my son screech like he’d been scalded with hot coals as he made his way down the stairs in the morning, I knew it was definitely something and not the petite tree I anticipated.

Needless to say, I now have a behemoth, evergreen monster in my living room.  It’s so large, we had to move most of our furniture out of the living room and into the dining room that definitely doesn’t need a recliner, side table and two Pottery Barn kids’ armchairs in it.

Our poor angel will need at least the next eleven months to recover from the back and neck pain she’s enduring at the tippity-top.  Come to think of it, if I hear one peep out of another small person in my house, she’ll have more than a few aches and pains to whine about.