Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wherever You Go, There You Are

As I mentioned in my last post, we're having trouble sleeping around here. But I have to say: it's not so much the lack of sleep that is weighing heavily upon me (although that lack is a weight uncomfortably borne), as it is the realization, for the gazillionth time, that I have no idea what I'm doing, as a mother.

This really is the most difficult thing about being a parent, I think: no matter how far you come, how much you learn, you're never fully prepared for what comes next. You can't predict, you can't foresee, you don't know what is around the corner. Sure, your baby sleeps fine now, but will she sleep tomorrow? Next week? Your routine works today, it's worked for months and months, you got past that swaddling issue (sooo last year), your baby goes down nicely in her crib and sleeps through the night and you're so pleased, you've figured it all out, you can sit back and take a deep breath and relax. And even though you know that parenting, that life with a child, is an ever-changing landscape - or, rather, a sea upon which your boat cruises pleasantly until the next change of current, the next phase of the moon, the next perfect storm - even though you know this, you are always surprised when the change comes. You expect it, you know to expect it - so why is it always such a surprise?

WonderBaby is, as I think I might have mentioned before, an active baby. A spirited baby. She gave up voluntarily napping in her crib at about nine months of age, just before she started walking on her own. That surprised me, because she had, for at least five months, napped so well. And I was so dependent upon those naps, upon what I believed to be the accomplishment, all mine, of making the naps happen, because she was so active when awake, because there was no rest when she was awake. So when it all stopped - when she decided, contrary to my wishes, that the lovely, lengthy crib naps should stop - I was thrown. Overboard, without a life preserver.

But I adapted; we changed course. I periodically test the crib-nap waters (because they were so calm, so blissful), but WonderBaby resists that navigation, so we make do in the choppier waters of stroller-naps. Not so bad, I tell myself: at least she sleeps through the night. At night, the sails go down easily. Night-time is usually entirely predictable, excepting the infrequent storms of teething or night-terrors. That is, it was entirely predictable until the chicken-pox hit during our visit to BC, followed by storms of jet-lag and cutting molars and god knows what else.

WonderBaby has only slept through the night twice since Christmas. And she still doesn't go down for a nap during the day without a bitter fight (and then, still, only in the stroller or car-seat.) We're getting pretty tired around here. But as I said above, it's really not so much the tired that's getting to me as it is the discomfort that attends not knowing what to do now, and the frustration that attends facing, unprepared, unpredicted winds and tides. I thought that I had the sleep portion of this voyage all mapped out. It appears that I didn't. And now I feel, well, just fucked.

But I've been here before, more than a few times. And since I've been keeping a log of the voyage, I'm able to go back and see how I coped. Way back in April, when we hit a perfect sleep storm (transitioning WonderBaby into the crib while weaning her from the swaddle, holy hell), I took solace in Socrates...

The ancient Greeks had a word (I said) to describe the condition of being at a loss: aporia, άπορία, from a poros, which means, roughly, to be without a passage or a way. It is to be without direction, without resources, to have no way out. It is ordinarily used in a philosophic context: the Socratic stance is the aporetic stance, the assertion and demonstration that one does not meaningfully know what one thinks one knows; that one is, in fact, at a loss with regards to the thing that she thinks she knows, and so in the condition of aporia. From this, it is hoped, one will be filled with the desire to pursue knowledge of that thing (and, if one is truly philosophic, the desire to pursue knowledge more generally and fully.) Aporia, then, from a Socratic perspective, from the perspective of the philosopher, is a good thing...

This Bad Mother, however, doesn’t have the time or the inclination to savour the philosophical condition of aporia. This Bad Mother has no interest in elenchically interrogating the nature or character of sleep as it pertains to babies. This Bad Mother would very much like to smack hard any character – even if that character is a voice in her own head, which admittedly makes smacking difficult, if not impossible – that tells her that real understanding comes with knowing that she does not know. Because this Bad Mother needs more sleep and she needed it yesterday.

Which is to say: I've spent a great deal of time looking for that elusive knowledge, the Secret Code of Babycare, that wisdom that will light the way out of the cave and out into the sun-drenched world of predictable schedules and consistent and abundant sleep. I've been looking for a Way Out.

I haven't found it. But stay with me.

So we’ve had a few rough nights - very rough nights - recently. The whole sleep thing suddenly, although not entirely unexpectedly, went tits up: WonderBaby outgrew, literally overnight, both her bassinet and her swaddle. And Her Bad Parents,
despite all of the fretting and hand-wringing about whither the swaddle, did not have a plan in place for adapting to these new circumstances. What used to work, and all that we thought we understood about baby sleep, has been revealed as nonsensical, useless crap. Welcome to Mommy Aporia...

(Here I go on to bitch and moan and pontificate about the horrors of the swaddle-bust and the discomforts of bed-sharing and the nightmare that is 'crying-it-out' with a baby that can cry LOUD and HARD for HOURS. I'll spare you; you can review the details in the original post, if you like.)

...It hasn’t been easy, and I expect that the next few days will continue to be challenging. But there is progress. And where there is progress, there is hope.

Again, this is all entirely experimental. We know that we will continue to face challenges, that some of the above strategies may be misguided, that they will fail. We’re totally winging it, going with what works, with what is practicable, with what feels right. It's all that we can do. But by doing so, by following our guts and acting on our well-considered instincts, I feel that we’re gaining something, that we are no longer entirely at a loss. And maybe, just maybe - lack of sleep aside - coming to love this whole messed-up, mapless journey. We're in this together, the three of us: this is family. Blind, fumbling, loving family. I don't know why, but somehow the 'blind' and the 'fumbling' seem to have everything to do with the 'loving' and the 'family.'

So I still have no idea what the fuck we are doing, but I’ve come to understand (however reluctantly) that I cannot simply think my way through the challenges that new motherhood throws at me. Motherhood – parenthood – is, I think, all aporia. And it is not the aporia that can be met by philosophy. This aporia is a condition that can only be met by the gut, and the heart. It's the no-way-out that you come to love because you love - with whatever difficulty - the struggle that defines what's within.

It's taking some time, and some work, but I'm coming to understand it. I think...

I have to take these words to heart, now. Recite them to myself as I lay me down to sleep, as I wish good sleep for WonderBaby, as we navigate together the days and nights of our family life. I have to remind myself that the one thing that I always have, always know, is love. Because love's the only map, the only guidebook, the only means of navigation that I have, on this voyage.

55 Comments:

Anonymous Amy said...

First-time lurker, long-time reader here. Was late on the de-lurking party, I guess...

Oh, Catherine... I am so sorry you are so tired. WonderBaby and my Cat were born just days apart and we have been going through some sleep regressions lately too. The Cat valiantly battles the nap at daycare so we don't have a daily struggle, but weekends are tough! We do the carseat nap and even then it's 40 min. max!

The Husband says that my mothering abilities shouldn't be tied up to how well the Cat naps/sleeps since he is a happy and active boy, so I would say the same to you. WonderBaby looks like a happy little girl and you are doing such a fantastic job with her. So I am sending you lots of love and sleepy thoughts your way!

The Cat's Mom in SoCal

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

Wonderbaby is still little and she's your first. This part is supposed to be a mindfuck. You're not expected to be an expert right now so don't be so hard on yourself. It gets easier when they start talking. Do yourself a favor and let go of the notion that you should know everything by now. There's just no way that you could.

The craziest part of parenting is the fact that it's always changing. That's the only thing you can really count on and the longer you do it, the less shocking those inevitable changes will be to you. Just try to roll with it and take solace in the fact that these phases never last long.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

Also, you may or may not know this but children will frequently backslide in sleeping and other areas right before they are about to make a major developmental leap.

9:02 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

argh. The exhaustion. Don't even get me started. In our journey as a family I have found that once we have something figured out it changes. I wish i had some pithy words of wisdom having been doing this for like EVER. But I don't. We just get through our days and nights one at a time.
They do sleep better as they get older however. And I agree wholeheartedly with Izzy, my girls are their worst in ALL ways prior to a developmental leap. (Of which there are many.)

9:38 PM  
Blogger ephelba said...

Excuse me if someone's already suggested this- but have you checked out The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley?

10:22 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Ephelba - no, but I'll check it out. Thanks.

And, gah, another developmental spurt? At this rate she'll be driving before she's two. And still not sleeping, prolly.

10:32 PM  
Blogger julia said...

I'm on my fourth (yes, I'm crazy) baby and I STILL don't know what the fuck I'm doing sometimes.

It's times like these (no sleep, major crankies, horrible my-god-I-could-sleep-for-England days) when I think of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Don't Panic. It flashes in my brain, blinking its friendly, soothing message: Don't Panic. Don't Panic. Don't Panic. Sometimes it even works, but if nothing else, I'm momentarily distracted by its cheery, winking glow.

10:40 PM  
Blogger MGM said...

The sleep deprivation is the worst! I had moments with both my kids when I thought they would NEVER sleep through the night (he does now...for 12 solid hours). It was the worst when Daughter was 28 months old and Son was newborn and I could no longer "sleep when the baby sleeps" as I had a toddler to tend.

It WILL get better at some point. Afterall, do you know any teenagers that demand parental attention in the middle of the night? (How's THAT for encouragement). Ugh! I've been there...and have made it to the other side, barring any changes for the worst (hope I haven't jinxed the situation now).

Thanks for visiting and commenting at Mommas Gone Mad!

10:49 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

The Poo slept gracefully through the night the first time we put her in her own room, at two months.

Now, having just turned two, she suddenly begs for story after story and cries like a lost soul for an hour before sobbing herself to sleep.

Her daddy and I don't know what to do.

I understand what you are saying here. The only advice I have is that to which I also cling - they won't be this age forever.

Which is also wretchedly sad.

11:24 PM  
Blogger jen said...

damn you, bad. that post is out of this world brilliant. the highs and the lows and everything in between.

while i absolutely feel for you in this moment - the lack of sleep, the bone crushing exhaustion...the can't take it anymore...

it's the only that was most yummy...because yes, good and bad, fucking up or not, we are in this together. that is what it means to be a family.

very nicely done.

11:54 PM  
Blogger m said...

We're in similar territory and what I find hardest next to the exhaustion is the stinging feeling that Atticus's inability to sleep for more than two hours is entirely based in my poor parenting. I know on one level it's not true, but on another...

Good luck and I hope you all sleep well for now and forever.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

What Izzy said.

Especially the bit about sleeping. I think my youngest is about to start spouting Shakespeare sonnets if her disrupted sleep is anything to go by. The elder sleepwalks and sleeptalks sometimes. Allegedly, this is common in "spirited" kids who have brains that never stop.

God help me.

Hey welcome to our yacht, the SS One Step Behind. Lots of good parents on board. Enjoy! ;)

(Does it help you to know pretty much all of us felt this way---and resisted and fought it a bit---too? Now I'm all worn down and accepting of it LOL.)

12:40 AM  
Blogger Kyla said...

I feeeeeel your pain! KayTar had a rough time adujsting between meds and we were both napless and night waking for a while. Thankfully it has passed (please don't let this jinx it), but you are right...its so difficult because you can't see a certain end to it. You could be NOT sleeping for the next two years, or everyone could sleep wonderfully from tonight on. Parenting is uncertain business. I'm sending Mr. Sandman your way, and wishes for sweet dreams for both you and WonderBaby.

12:42 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I think I might have had one of my healthiest nap free days today. I used to treat a nap loss like nuclear brinksmanship. Today due to grandpeople-routine-disregard and the poop-continuum-potty-disregard-by-child we lost it. We missed it.

i took out a box of muffin mix and all was well. bless the casserole.

As you know I am simply in a new place where my family is my sole and profound blessing so I take in anyway it comes.... but when p-man came home I told him I was so completely exhausted of smiles and kindness I had a patience hangover.

zzzzzzzz

1:03 AM  
Blogger KamGurl said...

Hello and thanks for visiting! It is good to hear from you. I have not been blogging very much lately and I am on myspace quite a bit.

I am wanting to get another domain but not while I have dial up. Blogger is alright but I prefer to run wordpress on my own server. Blogger is better than wordpress.com too in my opinion.

I enjoyed the first part of your post. I skimmed through the rest of it...which I don't normally do. But I am busy researching various topics right now.

Again, it was good to hear from you.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Delurking to say I'm sending positive, sleepy vibes your way. You can do it!

2:18 AM  
Blogger the mad momma said...

mine is 20 months and still doesnt sleep well so i have no words of wisdom to offer. just sympathy and empathy!!!

3:07 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Yes, what Izzy said too.

My son was not a sleeper. During the day or the night. I have never felt so inadequate in my life. And that couldn't have been more magnified because I was, of course, also not sleeping.

It is so damn hard. And, really, none of us know what we are doing. You are so right that love is the only map we have. And that map is what makes you a GOOD mother.

The timing of your post kicked me in the gut a little. Just yesterday I sat with tears in my eyes as I faced a challenge with my son that I just couldn't solve. I had some of the same thoughts about just not having mastered this thing ... and it's been 5 1/2 years! But things are always changing and I am sure I'll feel that again plenty. At the end of the day, I know I love him and will just keep trying my best. So will you.

Big hugs.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

The Not Sleeping part of babyhood is so awful, so crazy-making. I spent the first 18 months of my first child's life feeling nearly crazed with exhaustion and anxiety. I do find that it gets MUCH easier the closer you get to that second birthday mark.
Do you have someone who would cheerfully come over for an afternoon to watch your baby while you pass out? Catching up on some sleep will help a little. Also, let me recommend the Daddy Is In Charge Of Bedtime thing that we do - once our baby realized that I'm not going to participate in any middle of the night shenanigans, she cut them out. It might work for you, too.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Thank you for getting my thoughts out there. I can not speak them as eloquently as you, but I feel exactly the same.

It's a wonder people want to do this more than once. I am having a difficult time with one...think about two....oohhh Xanax.

8:11 AM  
Blogger NoodleMonkey said...

"...the realization, for the gazillionth time, that I have no idea what I'm doing, as a mother."
Seriously, thank God it's not just me. I've always wondered if motherhood came more naturally to other mothers--if other mothers just knew organically what was right for their kids. I survived an unhappy childhood only because I knew, without a doubt in my mind, that my father loved me. And this alone gets me through the days when I flat-out just don't know the "right" answer is with my kids. If they know that they are loved, they'll be okay. In therapy maybe, but okay.

8:23 AM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

does it help, at least a smidgen, to know that you are in lots of good company?

i can't tell you the number of times - when bee just would not sleep, when she puked all over the puke we were still cleaning up from the last time she puked, when she slept in my lap until i was ready for bed because i dare not wake her - that me and chris looked at each other and said, 'Am I supposed to know what to do here?'

we often go with 'path-of-least-resistance-parenting,' for the sake of the family. if that means sleeping in the stroller, do it. if that means sleeping in your bed, do it. if it means sleeping, do it. this too shall pass.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Bloor West Mama said...

We had so many problems trying to get our Isa to sleep through the night. We were at our wits end trying to figure out what to do to help her sleep. This led me to read every single book out there about trying to get a baby to sleep and I tried every technique.

I have to say that in the end what worked was what I read in the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Mark Weissbluth. Now she does sleep through the night, maybe the book will provide some tips or suggestions to help Wonderbaby return to her old sleep routine.

Best of luck.

8:48 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

They really do know how to put us moms through the wringer when it comes to sleep 'issues', no? And once you think you've got it all sorted out nicely, they arbitrarily decide to change their routine. Sigh. I think you've encapsulated the highs, middles and lows of the 'please please go to sleep' and 'yes! sleeping at last!'

MF,now 20 months old, has generally been a good sleeper. At some point we had two nice naps a day; then one; and now, I fear, he's trying to phase them out entirely. I shudder at the thought. But it does appear to be random; on Monday, he napped for 3 full hours, unheard of in recent months; but today, nothing. Nada. Zip. And he's done this about once a week for the past 6 weeks or so, and his once a day naps have been getting shorter and shorter, so I know the writing is on the wall...

I think you know as much as anyone else trying to figure our wee ones out... everything and nothing, all rolled into one. ;-)

Oh, and BTW, I really like the title to this blog entry....verrrry familiar. ;-)

9:13 AM  
Anonymous AdventureDad said...

Fuck, I had this long comment that got eaten. Read the book Ephelba recommended, it has worked great for us. both for our son and now for our 5-month old daughter. She sleeps mostly form 8-4 am when she needs some McBoobie.

Your abilities as a mother has nothing to do with sleeping well or not. Funny you mention feeling uncertain. I always got the impression that you were confident and knew exactly what to do. Perhaps it's just a phase you're going though?

Lack of sleep can be very tough but think positive, it could be a lot worse. You'll snap out of it before you know it.

AD

9:20 AM  
Blogger Mamalooper said...

Sometimes I feel like all those "other" mothers know what to do and I am totally adrift. Okay, a lot of the time I feel that!

No one has the magic bullet or one size fits all solution. All we can do is try this or try that and like you said, once it "works", our babes change again and it starts all over.

Wonderbaby is so ahead of the game developmentally in so many ways that I would be surprised if her sleep wasn't disrupted. Not that that will make you feel any better!

So how could we know what to do if we haven't done it all before? And if and when the second one arrives, it'll be a whole new ballgame.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hi there! People have been already giving you some great advice and books to read. My thoughts are to try any and all til you find something that works. We are on our third baby. I like Weissbluth info on when your kid should sleep, keeping the wake window short is the best advice I ever got- we were blessed to have non-cryers (they fussed and fussed, but didn't vomit, ya know?). We don't take him as seriously as he takes himself - like I know he says "never wake a sleeping baby", but what's the general policy on just leaving your 7 yr old at the school pick-up cause your baby is sleeping? so yeah, we break those rules.

all have given it up when they realized that only dad would get in the mix with them. (Sorry dad, it's just not worth it). "Spirited" or just insanely strong willed and active would describe my 2 1/2 yr old boy and my only thought is to run 'em like their puppies, swimming is particularly exhausting for them, so I shell out big bucks to the YMCA - I have three boys and two are under three, so my sanity is worth something to everyone at my house!

Mostly, we don't sign our name in blood at the front or back of any baby book, we try it, see if we like it and then move on when it doesn't work. You're right, the only consistent thing you have that "works" is that you love her and make every decision with your love for her right at the center.

9:59 AM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

No sleep is the worst thing EVER! And this time I'm not exaggerating. It's brutal. I'm a wee bit glad, though, that someone as intelligent and in control as you seem to be also feels as lost as I do. I'm pretty much winging it (and not doing a very good job at that), hence the moniker "nomotherearth". It's been my private shame that I really have no idea what I'm doing.

The Boy napped in the stroller for the whole first year of his life. We swaddled at night till six months, and stopped only because I was afraid he would swelter in the heat of the summer. I was deathly afraid of losing the swaddle.

Independent naps have gotten much better since The Boy has been in daycare.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

I wish I had some words of advice for you, I do, because without sleep everything seems hard. Is hard. And this mothering gig is hard already without adding fuel to the fire. Strength, my friend, to you.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

WHADDAYA MEAN I CAN'T THINK MY WAY THROUGH IT!?! Okay. Calming down. Miss Baby is also busting out of her swaddle, and jet-lagged, and generally f*'ed up, sleepwise.

The upside, as I imagine it, is that the sleep-deprivation will ensure that you remember none of this period at all in about six months. Which doesn't make today any easier.

We have no idea what's going on, at least half the time. And we're always surprised by being surprised, and having no game plan, no plan b. But we muddle through. Generally with less articulateness than you: at least you've still got your words, and lots of hugs from teh internet.

Sending soporific thoughts ...

11:03 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I don't know what to say other than hang in there. I think the constant change aspect of motherhood must be the most difficult thing. Remembering that this is a marathon, with ever changing landscape and not a sprint must be a daily challenge.
I'm thinking of you.

11:17 AM  
Blogger radioactive girl said...

My son just turned three yesterday and he hasn't slept since he was about 9 months old. He doesn't ever seem to need any sleep and definitely needs much less sleep than I do. As he is getting older, at least we can make him (or try to make him) stay in his room and play at night, but it is frustrating to never feel in control of anything! I feel for you. I really do. He is my fourth baby, so you would think I would know what I am doing by now, but I just don't. My other three are very easy kids, and he is just not. He's not predictable, not like any other kid I have ever met. I love him, but he's very difficult. I am trying to look at it as a learning experience because he really is teaching me a lot about myself too. Mainly that I hate feeling out of control and that it is something I need to work on. I feel for you!

11:18 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

A friend of mine (not a parent, interestingly) said that parenting must be like having to write a exam every day of your life, an exam for which you study in every spare minute, but for which there's no guarantee that the material you study will be relevant, or tested. And the exam changes EVERY DAY.

I thought that that was pretty spot on.

Thanks for all the support, and the recommendations, and the sandman wishes...

11:23 AM  
Blogger megachick said...

so, obviously, neither you nor i are the only ones who feel like we don't know what we're doing. the thing is, neither do the kids. and no one routine is going to solve any given issue for all children. the only thing you can do is try everything until something works, and then use it until it stops working. you're right: all you need is love. well, love and you really do need to sleep occasionally. do you have a dog crate you can lock her in for an hour or so? kidding, kidding......mostly.
good luck.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

What a beautiful post. I'm sure you will figure it out. Wonder Baby is very lucky to have such an insightful Mom.
Nonetheless...Good Luck. Remember, this too shall pass.
Mine are all grown up and on their own, so you see sooner or later it does work.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

I find that figuring out thing the hard way make me better at what I'm attempting. I guess I'm a hands-on learner, so I'm sitting here thinking that because you're really trying everything you can try, that you're one of the most adaptable mothers I know of. Someone who can roll with the punches and take things as they come, which I think, besides love, is one of the best qualities a parent can possess.

I hope the progress continues and you realize a renewal of the sleep patterns you've previously mastered.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

My son didn't sleep through the night until 18 months. Crying it out didn't work, willing him to sleep didn't work, nor did any of the dozens of other methods we tried. He was just a crappy sleeper, and I blame that solely on his father, because I could fall asleep on the floor of a crowded city bus if conditions inside my head are right.

I tell you this not to depress or one-up you, but as encouragement. There is an end in sight. Unfortunately, you're in a sleep-deprived fog so you can't see that end, but trust me... it's there. My daughter is 6, and she's self-reliant to a point that is terrifying.

Take heart...

1:33 PM  
Blogger wayabetty said...

Oh, I feel for you Catherine! Lack of sleep does take a toll on everyone. I hope this phase won't last long. She's strong like her Mama alright.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Oy. I'm an ostrich. I can't think what's next. I can only deal with today. And not even that so much. In fact, I'm still reeling from yesterday when my baby wouldn't nap for nine hours. So I hear ya.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

So well written. I can so relate. We're at a different stage (almost 3!) but so much of it is unknown.
We go up and down with sleep to, and I try to tell myself that it's so much better than when he was little and I got less sleep, but whatever. Tired is tired.
The truth is that as I go along it's just one hurdle after another. And, I'm so frustrated, but then I suddenly have moments where I love it so much and it's okay. And then it sucks. And then there's another moment.
A little off topic, but for us the issue is bedtime. Matt just will NOT go to bed if I am anywhere around since I always cave.
I've started going to the gym every night at bedtime. He gets a kiss and a hug and then my husband tucks him in and I leave for an hour. It doesn't always work, but at least my mental health is a little better (and maybe I'll get in shape)

6:13 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

aww love yes that is how we will survive
and yup to everything else. Except mine didn't sleep at night. Its torture pure torture and then we willingly do it again.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Alex Elliot said...

I never know what the fuck to do as a mom. Also, not everything that worked with the first baby worked with the second. I do agree with the comments about developmental leaps. I found the same thing was true with eating.

When my older son decided he didn't want to nap, I changed it to "quiet time". I got the idea from some of my friends with older kids. Basically he can do whatever he wants in his childproof room as long as he's quiet. If he's not, he looses a priviledge like TV time or playing a board game etc. Sometimes he naps, a lot of times he doesn't. When he was Wonder Baby's age, I would just toss in a bunch of quiet time only toys and books and he would "nap" for 45 minutes.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

I still have NO idea what I'm doing, even after having three children in four years. I think I know less than when I only had one ... this after a three-staple day. Three staples in my 3-year-old's cracked head, that is.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

If it makes you feel better, not a single one of my kids slept through the night until they turned...oh, 4. This also means that I still have at least 2 that wake me up during the night for things like, "Laywitme" and, "More milk/water", etc.

Getting the mom thing down pat will get easier. :) We'll never be perfect though - and if we do, we'll be one of those ones that went crazy once the kids left. As they grow older, there's more chaos - like encountering mean kids or they're great in English and not so great in Math. Which really throws me off, because I think my kids are perfect and, well, they're not.

All we need is love. (and now I have that song in my head! :) )

6:13 AM  
Blogger something blue said...

If a parent thought that they did know everything and that they were perfect with their skills, I would run far away from them. I already feel inferior enough. The things I thought I knew with the first child mostly get washed away with the second. Maybe I've forgotten everything already as a surviving mechanism.

I assure you that you are an excellent parent.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh Catherine, of course I understand the not knowing what we're doing thing. It's the blasted tagline on my blog, for God's sake. I can only hope that when we emerge from the haze of doubt, of sleeplessness, of unsure decisions outweighing the sure ones, that we can look back and it will only feel like the blink of an eye--the stories we tell. The essays we write.

Until then...I hope it goes speedily.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Woman with kids said...

There's a book called something along the lines of "Your Spirited Child." It's been a great help with Boy 1, who has been 'spirited' (on good days) and heinously snotty (on bad days) since he was born.

On the bright side, spirited kids are always an adventure!

11:29 AM  
Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Bad: Two points.

1. You have described Miss M's sleep habits to a T. She refused her crib (in our case from about 7 months on) for all naps. For almost a year and a half we took her out in the car or stroller EVERY SINGLE DAY. Eventually she settled into the routine of it all and participated in this ritual with very little fuss BUT only if we were hyper-aware of her nap cues.

At 13 months (WonderBaby's age now), Miss M stopped sleeping in her crib. She ended up in bed with us for almost a year. She would not fall asleep at night unless she was in my arms. I know the Weisbluthians out there are thinking, just let her cry it out already. I'm sorry. I couldn't. I tried a few times but Miss M went ballistic in a way that terrified me. She was always clingy and with each cry it was as if I was killing her soul. These were not simple protest cries but genuine abandonment fears. She is that kind of kind.

And so, we became a family of co-sleepers despite ourselves. Over the holidays, we put Miss M in a big girl bed. Last night, for the first time ever, she went down without rocking, all by herself. She's been napping with the sitter this way for a couple of weeks. She still wakes up and gets into bed with us in the middle of the night but everyone falls back to sleep quickly.

Miss M will be 2 next week. Sleep, my friend is a long journey. I am still not convinced my journey is done. I know though that, periodically, we come to places of respite. You will too.

Point 2, re the Bad Mother Thing. Look at it this way. Can you imagine any other person on the planet being a better mother to Wonder Baby? I didn't think so. I can't imagine anyone else mothering Miss M. We may be bad but for our particular kids we da bomb.

Sleep well.

11:34 AM  
Blogger creative-type dad said...

I thought you did know everything about parenting? :)

12:05 PM  
Blogger Gidge said...

My twins have foods they "like today" but not tomorrow. Today, they like ham. Tomorrow, it makes them scream.
We used to try to beg, to cajole, to force, etc and eventually we've realized that some nights, it'll be toast with fruit for supper.

You're right......we have no idea what they are going to throw at us next. I guess the saving grace is that they probably don't know either.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

We are going through the no sleep issue too! I have read "the Happiest Baby on the Block", "The No Cry Sleep Solution", "The Baby Whisperer", and "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." They did exactly nothing but cause me more stress and anxiety that my child wasn't napping as long as the books say he should and certainly not sleeping more than 3 hours at a time during the night, a big no no in all those books. I was certain he would be dumb or a murderer or something awful just because he wasn't sleeping. I had to be the worst mother on the planet because I couldn't get my child to sleep.

I finally read Dr. Sears Sleep book and finally I decided to just be patient and try not to crazy in the meantime. James is still breastfeeding every 2-3 hours all night long. If we co-slept it would be so much easier but co-sleeping isn't an option for me. I get up and go to his nursey each and every time he wakes. He had us all fooled at 3 months when he slept for 10 hours and even later when he was just up once a night but not any more!

I was with about 10 other moms and babies recently and I asked them who had babies that slept through the night. First I had to define "sleep through the night" becuase some people think its at least 5 hours, some 10 hours. Others believe that as long as they baby doesn't come fully awake, eats, then goes back out that it's not considered waking up. After we defined it as consitently consecutivelly sleeping 7-8 hours a night with out any feedings only 2 of the moms had babies who slept through the night. ONLY 2!

Oh yeah, and a lot of mothers lie about when thier kids slept through the night!

Know that your not alone and not sleeping is really the norm not the exception.

You're a great mom!

4:24 PM  
Blogger Joker The Lurcher said...

don't worry! my boy (as i have probably already said) was so sleepless that i resorted to sitting him down in front of whatever was on telly - in those days only horror movies - in the night. now he can talk he is so lovely and gives me really good feedback on my parenting. i reckon you have a future genius on your hands there!

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

That was brilliant- and as I sit here in front of the monitor, my eyes burning because I have only had 2 hours of sleep, I totally get it.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Spill the Beans said...

None of us know what we are doing. That's the huge, unspoken, earthshattering secret of motherhood. I am trying not to screw up my kids the way my parents screwed me up, but I've assured my daughter she's sure to be messed up---in different ways.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous dorothy said...

We went through a six-month period of nonsleeping with the little angel. I read every book, every message board, berated myself and finally resorted to therapy, because the lack of sleep turned into bristling anxiety.

I think you should do whatever it is you need to do for you all to sleep. Don't worry about if it's "right." We slept on the floor of her room for a while and let her take a sippy cup of water to bed. But whatever it takes. Seriously. Take care of you!

10:44 PM  

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