Today is Bell Let’s Talk day. It is a yearly campaign to raise awareness and money for mental health initiatives. Last year, over $5 million dollars was raised.
I’ve been honest here about my struggles with depression and postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. It was a very dark time for me, one that should have been a happy time. For the rest of my life, I will remember my first maternity leave, not because I was ecstatic to have my little girl, but because I struggled daily to get out of bed and be happy she was here.
I got better when I finally admitted there was something wrong. I went through 16 weeks of intense, weekly Interpersonal Therapy and learned a lot about myself as a mother, as a wife, as a physician, as a woman.
In a lot of ways, experiencing PPD was a good thing; for one, it made me a better family doctor. It allowed me to empathize with the moms in my practice and to recognize the early signs of depression, especially in the postpartum period.
Mental illness is rampant in our society and the stigma is only slowly being lifted. I hope that more days like today and stories like mine help ease it just a little bit.
I sit in a pedicure chair as I write this post today. There are no kids around me. Not even the baby!! After months of being tied to my baby boy, I am only now remembering what it’s like to have some “me time”.
And you know what?
I could definitely get used to this!!
A huge thanks to my amazing husband and baby daddy for encouraging me to go out. (Actually, I’m pretty sure my feet were scratching him too much at night!). Yes, sadly, it’s been far too long since my last pedicure.
So, baby J is now 4 months old. Sleep training has begun and is going reasonably well. Daytime naps are still pretty short but once 5pm hits he is pretty dusted and will sleep 3-4 hour stretches until 6am. He still screams bloody murder at naps but it’s getting shorter and shorter and he’s starting to soothe himself asleep. Great progress all around.
The next hurdle is the formula introduction. I tried to give him a few ounces the other day and he looked up at me with the most disgusted of expressions as if he was thinking, “Woman, WTF is this?!”
Yesterday, I delegated the task to husband and he worked his Jedi magic and the baby drank the formula.
Daddy milk is starting.
I plan to continue nursing for at least another month if I can. I just would like to get some more sleep, so I hope with more formula there will be less nighttime awakenings. Of course this likely means that my supply will start to take a nosedive. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
So, I’ve started sleep training baby J. The reason? This:
Both are amazing and needed in the immediate newborn period; the soother because babies need to suck and it’s just not practical to be a human soother all of the time; the swaddle because the moro reflex interrupts sleep and newborns/infants need to feel tight and secure when they sleep.
But there comes a time when both become a) a hassle, and b) a crutch.
Let me explain.
The soother becomes a crutch because once baby falls asleep, if the soother falls out of the mouth, the baby wakes up and starts crying. Mom and dad have to go back into the room, re-position the soother and baby falls asleep. This becomes a hassle when it occurs a bajillion times a night.
The swaddle becomes a hassle when baby starts moving around and pulls the Houdini routine and you walk into the room when baby is screaming only to find the soother still in the mouth but the baby’s arms are out of the swaddle and the kid doesn’t know what to do with them.
Both of what I described above started happening on a regular basis with baby J and one exhausted morning last week, I decided it was time to stop swaddling. The soother remained, but after two return trips to the crib to replace said soother in the span of ten minutes, another decision was made. Bye-bye soother.
What ensued next?
Yes. Blood-curdling screaming. Poor kid didn’t know what to do. Arms were flailing all over the place, legs kicking up a storm and there is me, face to face with screaming and quietly doing this:
At some point though, one just has to leave the room and let the baby cry. And cry he did. But he stopped eventually and fell asleep, for about 20 minutes.
The the screaming started again. I looked over at my cat who was sleeping on the couch next to me and she gave me this look:
Ah … sleep training.
Excuse me while I tend to the infant … in the time it took for me to write this post, about 20 minutes, he slept and is now awake.
First off, welcome to my new followers. Thank you for embarking on this journey with me! I am honoured and flattered that you are following along.
Baby J is going to be 4 months old on the 16th of this month. I continue to exclusively breastfeed him which is a huge thing for me given how awful an experience it was with my firstborn. I still have the emotional scars. Baby J feels like he is gaining well and he is certainly growing! He is already ahead on the developmental side of things – he is doing everything a 4 month old should be doing and he is only 3.5 months old. He is laughing at us, grabbing at things and is starting to bring his knees up and pivot on his back. He could roll over any day now.
He is napping pretty well throughout the day, it’s just his nighttime sleep which I wish would improve. Selfishly, I admit. I am tired. I want to sleep more than 2-3 hour stretches at nighttime. Last night at 4am, husband got up to replace the soother as I had just fed him 45 minutes earlier. Husband came back and said, “We should be giving him formula at night.” The thought being that he would sleep longer. It certainly was the case for our other kids, why not this one?
My plan all along was to introduce formula about 6 weeks before I returned to work, which would be in mid-late February. But last night and this morning, I am seriously considering introducing it early. Yet, the mommy guilt kicks in. It’s only been 3.5 months. I could do this longer, I should be doing this longer. After all, why did I extend my leave by a month? So I could hand off the baby to be fed by a bottle, by others?
All of my children were given formula. My daughter was 2 weeks old when I started supplementing; my middle son was 3 months old when I first started his transition. By all accounts, I have done pretty well with Baby J as he has been exclusively breast-fed the longest.
There is nothing like leaving your children with their grandparents for a few days and having a relatively quiet house. The older two kids spent 3 days at my in-laws this week and despite the fact I still had to wake up with the baby, I slept in every day and felt relatively human again.
No doubt the kids got whatever they wanted – popsicles, freezies, cookies, crackers. I’m sure there were some healthy choices but let’s face it, what happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s.
So the kids are back today and the reprogramming begins. Over the past few days, they’ve apparently forgotten how to say “please” and “thank you”. “I want” is back in their vocabulary. It’s kind of funny, actually. The same people who, 35 years ago insisted their children have proper manners, have decided its okay that their grandchildren behave like heathens. Boggles the mind, folks!
Still, time away from parents is a good thing. I always enjoyed the time I spent with my grandmother precisely because I could do whatever I wanted, eat whatever I wanted and watch as much TV as I wanted. Good times!
We had planned on taking the kids to the Museum today but it’s bitterly cold out and no one has time for that. As I write this, the kids are watching Sleeping Beauty for the hundredth time, playing with their Christmas toys. The house looks like a tornado came through (again!), so I best be signing off for now.
I woke up tired, oh so very tired. Sound familiar?
I may have had an extra glass of wine last night with my girlfriend. I may have had a nice glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne with my husband. I may have gone to bed at 1:30am.
It was totally worth it.
The baby woke up just minutes before midnight, so I brought him down from his room to share in the New Year with our friends. I nursed him through until after the clock struck midnight, then back to bed he went and the little guy slept for 4 hours. That was a nice New Year’s present for mommy.
Today kicks off a month of healthier eating and an exercise regime which includes daily planks, squats, ab work and running 3 times a week. It’s going to be tough and I expect to hurt daily and you will get to read all about it! Aren’t you excited?!
When National Blog Posting Month ended, I breathed a silent sigh of relief. Phew! The daily pressure to post every day was off. I looked forward to that time alone to compose my thoughts and write a post. I miss it so much that I think I might make January, 2014 my own blog posting month. You heard it here first. It gives me something to do every day, you know, besides taking care of the house, the kids and the baby. It stimulates my mind and I really do need that.
I promised someone I would write about sleep training, and I will. If there are any other topics my readers, you, would like me to write about, please let me know.
Oh, I have some news. In the last week or so, I decided that it was too soon to return to work on March 1. So, I spoke with the physician covering my practice and she is willing to stay an extra month. My official return to work date is now April 1. The thought of returning to work in 2 months just didn’t sit well with me, the baby still seems so young. I also like the idea that I’ll be leaving my husband alone with three kids as the weather starts to improve. Leaving him when it’s still winter just doesn’t seem fair. My bank account isn’t going to like it, but I really don’t care. This is the last time I will be off for this length of time and I want to make the most of it. I am even dreaming of a trip South with the whole crew in February or March. I would love to return to Jamaica. But that’s another post.
For now, I will leave you with a photograph depicting what it looks like outside today.
And this is what I’m dreaming of for February or March.
I just had a delightful day with the baby. We visited our good friend who also just had her first baby a few weeks after J was born. I brought coffee and we spent the morning with our babies, mostly nursing (ha ha!). The babies fell asleep, so we decided to watch some TV. We had many choices but decided on Veronica Mars.
Yes, one of my (many) guilty pleasures. I was introduced to VM a few years ago by this friend. After a few episodes I was hooked. Veronica is such a great character – she is strong, witty, and very intelligent. She has a subtle hint of superiority in that she’s the go-to girl if you want a crime or wrong-doing solved. I wondered how she ever finished high school – you see her more in her car snapping photographs of the perps she is investigating than in a classroom, but we have to suspend our belief a bit. And why shouldn’t we? It’s entertainment, after all.
My friend and I watched six (yes, count ’em, S-I-X) episodes today while the babies napped. We could have done something, anything, more productive like a brain teaser, for instance. But we laughed off that notion and kept watching.
One of my friend’s favorite lines from season 1:
There are so many gems in this little show. Sadly, it ended abruptly after three seasons. Last summer, the show’s creators and star, Kristen Bell, did a KickStarter campaign to raise money to make a movie. The campaign was a huge success – they raised the money, $2 million, in a record, one day! By the end of the 6 week campaign, they raised over $5 million. The film is set to be released next summer. Can you guess who will be the first and second in line? Ha! Well, maybe not, but we have certainly already made a date to go.
Nerds, I know.
I really need to do something productive today – oh wait, I just did! 😉