A Turning Point?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Si Si is tucked into her Moses basket, completely conked out from a day of short insufficient naps.  Oh well, at least she's been sleeping AWESOME at night (we're talking 11 1/2 hours last night, y'all!) 

Last night was a turning point for me I think.  I"m sure there will be plenty more dips in the road, but after going totally hysterical yesterday, Joe and I prayed and talked over Peet's coffee (Joe had a 5 shot espresso!) while my mom held down the fort. We decided things needed to change.  Here's what we came up with.

#1: We're hiring a sleep consultant.  Don't hate, please!  I know sleep trainers get a bad rap sometimes.  I never ever thought I would need one. But then again, I never thought I'd need an in-home dog trainer, or a lactation consultant, a doula, or a gardener. We tend to be a pretty "do-it-yourself" family.  But some things are better left to the pros! 

Anyway, here's how I see it.  Sleep is ESSENTIAL for infants.  Many infants are sleep deprived, which means they can't enjoy life to the fullest. They can't take in all the new sights and sounds without becoming overstimulated.   Think about it, it's annoying to be tired all the time . Well, to babies that annoying tired feeling is actually highly disturbing, hence the fussiness and crying when they are overtired.  I was shocked to find out that babies Siena's age can only be awake for 90 minutes at a time.  That means for every 90 minutes of wakefulness, they need to sleep.  And like clockwork, every 90 minutes Siena gets fussy and starts divebombing for my chest.  Wanting to "feed on demand", I always interpreted this to mean Siena was hungry, yet again.  Hence, feeding her every 1 1/2 hours --> absolute gordo baby.  She's the size of a 6 month old! Turns out she was tired and was searching out the booby to help her get to sleep.  A true "aha!" moment.

We're not hiring a sleep trainer for purely selfish reasons (although I can't deny the benefits to us!).  I really don't mind cuddling Siena for all her naps. When she was a newborn, I could watch netflix or search the net while she slept on my lap. Or just stare at her and pet her head. But now, she's so aware of the environment that she ends up waking consistently 30 or 45 minutes into the nap, drowsy and crying, unable to get herself back to sleep. I have to nap with her in the rocking chair in her pitch black room, and even then can rarely squeeze more than 45 minute naps out of her. By the end of the day she is totally zoned out and cranky. I am depressed from being locked in a dark room all day.  Joe is concerned that his wife is going nuts.  It's just a bad situation.

  We're hoping that we can break Siena of some habits (I'm not even going to call them "bad" habits, they are just habits) like nursing, rocking, patting to sleep.  They used to help her get shuteye as a newborn, and now I feel they are actually hindering her from getting the rest she deserves.  I cannot hold her forever, even if I wanted to.  Yes she might grow out of this phase on her own, but she might not.  It will be easier on all of us to nip this in the bud before her sleep deficit accumulates. 

Since she's just about 10 weeks, we will be using very gentle methods.  I know she is capable of sleeping through the night, as she has since 3 weeks, but will not push the night sleeping issue until later.  My goal is to help her learn to soothe herself to sleep, and stay asleep if she wakes up briefly between sleep cycles, especially during naps.  If all goes well, this may eliminate the need to "train" her later on, saving us all some tears. 

#2:  A new perspective:  I need to enjoy my baby girl, whether she's in a "hard" stage or "easy" stage (is there such a thing?).  I need to show her grace and patience, just as God shows me every day.  Jesus showed such tender care to infants, and I long to do the same. I need to stop using her crying or fussiness as a measure of my mommy skills.  I need to stop thinking of motherhood as an ego-booster or buster.   I need to snap out of denial and accept, no, embrace, that I'm a mommy now and always will be.  Because God gave her to me for a reason. I think that reason was to knock me to my knees.  It's working!

That's all!  Just thought I'd share.  I'll blog soon about our sleep training and let you know if we see improvements!

And thank you all for reading and commenting on my last post.  I have read the comments over and over, they gave me such comfort. 


Motherhood Slaps Me Upside the Head

Monday, March 21, 2011

I've been absent, I know!  Just as I thought motherhood was getting easier at around the 3 or 4 week mark, week 6 marked a change in her sleeping habits and a return of the "baby blues".

Supposedly 70% or so of first time moms experience the baby blues, or a mild form of postpartum depression.  It usually begins a few days after the birth, and tapers off around week 2 or 3.  That's exactly what happened to me.  It is so hard to explain what I was feeling those first few weeks.  Let's just say, at one point I wanted to give my baby away.  I wept every single night as soon as the sun went down, just knowing the night would be soooo long.  I cried as I breastfed, not just because it hurt, but because I thought I was doing it all wrong and that we'd never get the hang of it.  My back and shoulders ached because they were so tense.  And you don't even want to know the things I told myself in my head- that I was a horrible mother, that I would never get used to this, that Siena was so unlucky to have me, that this was the end of my life. 

Suddenly at 10 days the anxiety began to lift a bit, and by 2 weeks I felt happy to be a mom.  I was taking long walks with her in the sling, meeting friends for lunch, and sweet little Siena was usually happy to come along for the ride, zoning out in the sling or carrier.

Then 6 weeks hit, and Siena became more aware of the world.  Other moms assured me that 6 weeks would be a positive turning point for me, when she might give me a big grin and connect to me more.  Yes, she started smiling and showing interest in her toys, which was so much fun for me.  But at the same time, this began the "I won't nap for longer than 30 minutes even though I'm so tired that my eyes are bloodshot and I'm fussy as all heck!" stage.  She emerged from her newborn daze, and now it's nearly impossible to get her to nap when she's clearly tired.  It's like I have this magic window of 5 minutes to rock her to sleep, and if I miss it, then she's already caught a second wind, only she's grumpy and miserable from being tired.  It's been hard, y'all! 

I've read maybe 5 or 6 sleep books, and all of them make me feel like the most cruel mom for not being able to make my daughter get the daytime sleep she needs.  Remind me to stop reading books!  I've asked advice from many friends, and they all have different strategies.  Some say I need a concrete bedtime and nap schedule.  Some say she's just a small baby and there is no way to form a schedule yet, just read her cues and do what she says.  Some say this whole catnap business is just a phase that will pass, and some say it is the beginning of bad habits and sleep problems if I don't do something about it right now!  Talk about pressure, right?

All this has led to a reemergence of the baby blues, and I've got it bad.  Like clockwork, at 6:30 pm I'm a weepy mess. That happens to be the time when Joe comes home from a long day of work.  Instead of a happy wife and baby, he comes home to me crying and a very tired, somewhat fussy baby.  She still sleeps pretty well at night, thank goodness!  Usually giving me a 6-8 hour stretch of sleep, and going back to sleep pretty quickly after her night waking.  Yes, I know I'm blessed! 

So I'm begging my friends and family, please take it easy on me the next few weeks/months/however long this phase lasts.  Please understand if I haven't called you back.  Please understand if I need to cancel plans with you because I'm rocking my daughter to sleep, praying for her nap to last longer than 30 minutes.  Please understand if I need to leave the restaurant early to try to get Siena to sleep at a decent hour, since she's not as on-the-go as I hoped she would be, and getting her the rest she needs is my #1 priority.  Please understand if I burst out into tears randomly, or if I don't seem grateful enough for this beautiful, sweet, lovely infant God has given me.  I'm really trying!

Some things that have helped me feel a little better each day:

  • reminding myself that there is no perfect baby, no perfect mom, and no perfect childrearing strategy
  • reminding myself that babies go through lots of phases, and the one I'm in will not last forever.  (ie, I remember when breastfeeding was such a huge issue for me, and now it's not so bad at all.)
  • taking a shower every day with my favorite shampoo and body wash (simple pleasures, right?)
  • praying in the rocking chair while I let Siena sleep on me (I can get her to sleep a little longer if I'm holding her.)
  • talking to other moms who assure me what I'm going through is normal
  • listening to a lullaby cd while I rock Siena to sleep- the music is really cheesy, but the songs are all about how God created this perfect tiny being and made me a steward of her.  It's a wonderful reminder! 
  • my husband, who talks me off the cliff every night, cooks dinner, and makes sure I'm taking my vitamins.  
  • reminding myself that as long as she's still breathing at the end of the day, I haven't failed. Actually, I do have to admit she's thriving in every way, besides the occasional overtired  fussy periods.  And she's entitled to some fussiness I guess!  She rarely cries, and is pretty mello for the most part. 
Here are some recent pics of my beautiful baby girl, at exactly 2 months.  It's crazy how huge and pudgy she's gotten!  Already doubled her birth weight, and wearing 3-6 month clothes!  I guess my milk is quite nourishing, and that's good to know!  I think she looks like a mix of me and Joe now, she's not a mini-me anymore. 

A few questions to all you mommies, did you ever experience the baby blues?  Also, when did you feel like motherhood was getting easier?  Ever?  Lastly, did your baby ever go through a catnap stage where they couldn't get themselves back to sleep after 30 minutes? 


I Miss Flowers!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

This post is long overdue, since The Treasured Petal doesn't exactly exist anymore :( and this wedding was featured on Wedding Chicks over 6 weeks ago... but I can't resist posting some of my favorite images.  It's weddings like this one that make me miss flowers so much!   I haven't even touched a flower in so long.  I ordered special rose bushes from England a year ago to plant along my garden arbor this Winter.  When they arrived just weeks after Siena's birth, I didn't even have the energy to plant them.  They still sit unopened in the box, probably dead.  The arbor hasn't been assembled either.  Double fail! 

Sarah and Steve are a sweet and stylish couple who were married at the Pasadena City Hall last Spring. 
Spring is almost here again, and their sunshiney palette and quirky carefree florals are gearing me up for daffodil season.  Can't wait!   

A gorgeous bout, crafted by my assistant.  I seriously had the best designers, hands down. 

The two types of centerpieces were a perfect compromise between Sarah's taste for short, compact arrangements, and her mom's liking for grandiose sprays of flowers.
Chunks of driftwood adorned with clusters of flowers lined the head table. 

Floral Design: The Treasured Petal
Wedding Planner:  Events of Love and Splendor
Photographer: Jerry Yoon Photographers
Venue: Pasadena City Hall
Makeup: Kelly Zhang
Hair: Kelly Zhang
Cake/Desserts: Cake Sensations
Caterer: The Kitchen for Exploring Foods
DJ: Ian Gotler – Red Shoe LA
Shoe Designer: www.christianlouboutin.com 


In Theory...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A church friend of mine recently told me something that really resonated with me- you are a parenting expert before you have kids.  After that, you admit you have no clue. 

In theory, I would exclusively breastfeed.  I didn't even want to pump bottles of breastmilk for Siena unless it was a dire emergency.  I was a lacto-nazi, you might say.
In reality, because of their teeny tiny tummies, newborns sometimes want to feed every 45 minutes to an hour, meaning you have maybe 20 minutes to recoup before she's ready for the breast again.  Sometimes your breasts need a rest, and it's not a crime to have dad or grandma feed baby with an occasional bottle.

In theory, I would wear my baby all the time in the moby wrap/ergo carrier/ring sling I bought.  We would be bosom buddies all day long. 

In reality, baby sometimes overheats in them, even when she's stripped down to her diaper.  In reality, it's still really hard to cook, eat, do your makeup with a baby strapped to your chest.  And the other day I bonked her head with the hairbrush I was using and she cried and cried.  I do have to say that outings with the moby wrap have been really successful.  We've done the mall, parks, and walks around the neighborhood and she is lulled right to sleep, and we don't need to lug around a stroller. 

In theory, I would forgo swings, bouncers, and all those baby gadgets that our grandmothers didn't need to raise their babies.
In reality, just 20 minutes in the swing in the morning would give me time to hose the spit up off of me, make the bed, and put on a real outfit.  All tasks that make me feel more sane   (Too bad Siena doesn't like the swing I got her.  She is more content laying in her bassinet staring at the ceiling than swinging.  I just ordered the baby bjorn babysitter bouncer off ebay though, and we'll see if she takes to it!)

In theory, breastfeeding is a natural, enjoyable process that would come easily. 
In reality, it's hard work!  It's didn't come naturally to me or Siena, and we needed lots of assistance from a lactation consultant.  We're making great progress though, and it no longer seems like such a big deal.

In theory, baby would sleep in our room or even co- sleep in our bed for the first few months.  Then I'd be able to nurse her in bed, and we'd both get more sleep this way.
In reality, our gassy baby Siena makes crazy gremlin sounds at night.  Grunting, groaning, moaning like she's in labor.  So much for sleeping in our room!  We all get more sleep if she's tucked into her Moses basket in the nursery.  Also, nursing in bed sounds great, except when baby spits up all over your comforter or you wake up in a puddle of your own milk. Not so cozy, right?
In theory, we would already be potty training our baby using this book. Sounds crazy, but I personally know someone who's successfully potty trained their 6 month old  Also, the chick who played Blossom (Mayim Balik) did it with her kids :)
In reality, I'm just trying to survive all the diaper blowouts and leaks I experience each day!  Who has time to read? I did start the book though, and I think it's totally doable.  I'm eager to get out of diapers, especially since the ones that work best for us happen to be the most expensive/"green"/organic diapers.  Go figure! 

In theory, I was anti-pacifier. Not sure why, I just was. I guess some people made them out to be a horrible habit or a crutch for lazy parents.  So lame!
In reality, Siena has been binkified.  At this point, our little sleep deprived baby needs some help getting to sleep when all other methods (bouncing on the yoga ball, swaying in our arms, shhhuusssshhhiingg in her ear) don't seem to be working, or when Siena is fussy in the car or restaurant and I obviously can't give her the booby pacifier right that moment. 

In Sum, I stand corrected!  I admit I know nothing, which means I'm starting to know something :)