Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Night in the Life...

The doctor visit went well. He increased my Prozac dosage a bit, told me it was really OK to take the anxiety mediation if I needed it, but more than anything he encouraged me to get Amelia sleeping through the night. He said if I could just do that, it would relieve a great deal of my anxiety and stress.

So that you can fully feel my pain, I decided to keep track of how often Amelia wakes up in the night. This was her schedule on Thursday night (the past couple of nights Dan had taken to sleeping down in the living room and letting Amelia and I have the bed to ourselves. She'd been waking up every time we lay her in her bed. I just got tired of it and let her sleep in the bed with us, but she spent half the night kicking Dan.)

  • 9:10pm- I nursed Amelia to sleep
  • 10:30pm- Amelia was awakened by Lily crying about brushing her teeth and putting on lotion. Encouraged by my talk with the doctor, I decided to just let Amelia cry. It was very short-lived as Dan asked me what my plan was and I conceded that I didn't really have one. I realized that while I was sick (yes, I got the girls' cooties) wasn't the best time for the battle. Dan walked her to sleep.
  • 12:45am- Amelia woke up and I nursed her back to sleep.
  • 1:33am- Amelia woke up and I walked her back to sleep.
  • 4:05am- Amelia woke up and I looked at the clock, relieved to have gotten over 2 hours of sleep in a row. I nursed her back to sleep.
  • 6:45am- Amelia woke up and I nursed her back to sleep. I stayed up to do a reprint order.
  • 8:23am- Amelia woke up for the day.

So from the time she went to bed until she woke up for good the next morning, Amelia was up 5 times. No wonder I'm cranky!

My doctor recommended that we try the Ferber Method to get Amelia to sleep at night. This method involves putting the baby to sleep while they are awake so they can learn to fall asleep on their own. (For a baby like Amelia who has always been nursed to sleep, this seemed very daunting.) Inevitably, the baby cries and rather than pick them up, you wait a period of time, go in and pat them, but don't pick them up, then go back out and let them cry for another period of time and so on until they fall asleep.

Now, this may seem obvious to many of you seasoned parents, but we never had to confront this issue with Lily. She was the golden child when it came to going to sleep on her own. We could just put her in her crib and she would go to sleep. She still woke up a couple times a night to nurse, but was always easy to put back to sleep. I think her sleep habits developed better because she slept in a different room than Dan and I from the time she was born. But with Amelia we kept her in our room, at first in a bassinet, then in a port-a-crib right next to my side of the bed. I got in the habit early on of nursing her until she fell asleep and then putting her in her bed. I was always right there when she woke up in the night, so she never learned to sooth herself.

Well, after Dan spent the day at the bookstore on Saturday, reading everything he could about getting your child to sleep through the night, we decided to go for it. I had an engagement shoot on Saturday evening, so Dan was home with the girls. Amelia had not taken her late afternoon nap, so she kept falling asleep in Dan's arms. He decided to just try putting her down. Our plan was to do a 3 minute interval, 5 minute interval, 10 minute interval, followed by 10 minute intervals until she fell asleep or 1.5 hours passed, whichever came first. She ended up taking two very short catnaps before she finally went to sleep for good. It took her about 15-20 minutes to fall asleep each time. Here's how the night went:

  • 8:40pm- Asleep for the night
  • 12:01- Awake. I decided to go ahead and nurse her then since she hadn't eaten since 6:00pm.
  • 12:10am- Put her down awake. She cried for about 1 1/2 minutes and then fell asleep.
  • 5:04am- Holy crap! I have not had almost 5 hours of consecutive sleep in months! We had decided her wake up time would be 7:30 and if she woke up within an hour of that we would let her stay up. So I put her back down and this time it took her about 25 minutes to fall asleep.
  • 7:43am- Awake for the day.

Why, oh why, did we wait so long to do this? For her first nap today she went right to sleep after I nursed her, without a peep. For her second nap I put her down awake and she cried for about 10 minutes and went to sleep. I had to wake her up after an hour and 45 minutes so she wouldn't sleep too long. These photos were taken right when I woke her up.

Groggy, coming to.

There's my Mama!
Quit taking pictures and get me out of this baby jail!

God Bless You, Dr. Ferber!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Confessions of an Anxiety-Ridden Mother

There's nothing quite like sick children to push you to the brink of insanity. Both of the girls have some sort of virus with a fever and sores in their mouth. The doctor said it should pass in a few days, but they are both whiny and miserable. Add to that the fact that Amelia is a lousy sleeper (just ask everyone at the family reunion- she won the award for the Noisiest Sleeper) and you have two very cranky parents. Dan injured his back in a biking accident a couple weeks ago and it's just not healing up. He's been taking narcotics and trying to take it easy, but it's just not going away. He's very stressed about work because the jobs are taking much longer to complete and get paid for than we had originally anticipated. Money problems suck. Period.

My good friend Jenny and I shot a wedding together a few weeks ago. Don and Lora, my brother and his wife, were friends with the bride's dad so they were there too. We all sat together to eat and at one point I got up to take a few photos. Jenny and Lora were talking about me and how I was so easy going and just let things slide off my back. Lora was like, "I don't know how she does it." Jenny's answer was, "Prozac." Said in jest, yet true (this is an answer I have given Jenny many times when she's asked me the same question.)

I don't feel like that kind of person anymore. For about the last two months I have been noticing my anxiety level increasing. I keep thinking that I'll feel better when Amelia starts sleeping better or when finances aren't such a burden. I just feel like I can't cope anymore. It sounds so weak; there are always other people who have much worse problems. On Monday I went and tended 4 kids for a lady in the neighborhood who is pregnant with her 5th child and has to be on bed rest. She has an incompetent cervix so she has had to be on bed rest with every one of her pregnancies. And they have all been unplanned despite using multiple kinds of birth control. And here's the kicker: the oldest kid is 6. Holy crap! The age differences are 14 months, 26 months, 19 months, 18 months, and this last one will be 18 months. If that were me I'd be in the funny farm for sure. Yet I have trouble coping with my two kids who are 4 years apart.

When Lily was younger I used to take medication for anxiety on an as-needed basis, usually once a week or so. I can't exactly recall, but I think I started taking it around the time of the punching-the-wall-in-a-rage-and-breaking-my-hand incident when Lily was around 2 1/2. It's a somewhat amusing anecdote, but something I'm definitely not proud of. Lily was throwing a fit about staying up late and I told her she could stay up, but that her Dad and I were going to bed. She started screaming because she wanted me to stay downstairs. I was so tired and cranky, reasoning with her wasn't working, nor was yelling. In a fit of rage I punched the wall and the wall won. I fractured the hand bone under my pinky finger. Some of you may remember the hand brace I was wearing at the family reunion in 2004. I was embarrassed but I kept consoling myself by saying, "at least I hit the wall and not my kid." It was a big wake-up call that I needed to get my emotions under control.

I don't want to go there again. I quit taking the anxiety meds when we started trying to get pregnant because they cause birth defects. I've continued to stay off of them because you can't take them while you are nursing. I was hoping I could get my anxiety under control at least until Amelia turned one, so I could keep nursing. But I am a wreck right now. Every day in my prayers I beg for some relief, for Amelia to sleep better, to stop stressing so bad about everything. Dan keeps reminding me that Lily went through a similar phase with not sleeping well. Time has mellowed those memories, but I am certain that I'm not coping as well with it now as I did then.

I find myself yelling, even at the baby, for the smallest things, like when Amelia puts her hands in her dirty diaper or when she starts crying the minute I lay her down. During the day she's getting more and more leechy and I'm getting more and more distant. Moms are supposed to feel nurturing and want to comfort their children. Instead I find myself pissed off when Lily whines or Amelia fusses. I think, "when will they just leave me alone?"

It's very hard for me to accomplish any work with my photography business because the girls are so needy right now. And quite frankly, in the past couple of weeks I've just stopped caring. I just can't handle the stress of knowing that I'm late on everyone's orders, yet my baby is sitting by my feet at the computer just crying for me to hold her all day. It's just too much to try to take care of your kids and make a significant financial contribution to the family, all from home. I'm doing a mediocre job at both. A couple times I have looked into just putting the kids into daycare and getting a full-time job, but it just doesn't really help us financially at all. I just want to feel like I am taking good care of my kids and supporting my husband the best I can without constantly being stressed out and distracted by work at home.

This has been quite the venting session. Perhaps it's a bit too much information to admit on my blog, but I've never been shy about my feelings or my opinions. And blogging is really a release for me. It's an outlet where I can say what I want and do something for myself. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to talk about my anxiety, so hopefully there will be something I can do to make it better.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

So Much to Blog, So Little Time...

Summer is in full swing and I rarely have time to sit down and blog. My problem is that I always want to say a lot and I have a hard time just posting a few things. We had an awesome visit with my friend Lori, but I will save that for a separate post. For now let me just update you on some of the latest with the girls.

Lily has her first loose tooth and to say she is excited is a gross understatement. For over a year she has been asking me when she was going to lose a tooth, ever since she saw an episode of Arthur with the Tooth Fairy. I'll bet she loses the sucker within about 10 days. On the 4th of July she was showing everyone her loose tooth and Dan was like, "OK, you're grossing me out!" He said, "I remember being young and having this almost uncontrollable compulsion to play with your loose tooth. There was this weird itch down in your gums, you just had to wiggle it!"

Amelia started crawling on June 7th and within just a few days she was pretty efficient at getting around.
About 10 days after that she started pulling herself up on furniture and just a few days after that she started cruising, standing up and walking along furniture, stairs, and people. We have baby gates up all over the house, but there is one spot where the wall is at an angle so the gate won't fit. We've been putting a chair in front of the stairs, but once Amelia started to pull herself up, my Mom suggested attaching the chair with a bungee cord. Very ingenious!

On Friday she started to climb stairs. Slow down, Baby! If I can figure out how to post a video clip I'll do that soon.

That's it for now...I'm off to do reunion preparations. Only 3 days away!