Keeping Kids Safe from Household Hazards with Rosie Pope!

A few weeks ago, before my kids got sick (twice!) I was presented a unique opportunity. The lovely people at P&G Fabirc Care set up an interview opportunity with Rosie Pope as they were unveiling a new campaign. If you’re not familiar with Ms. Pope, she was previously on the show Pregnant in Heels and is known for her maternity line and household safety background. And the latter is why P&G called her up, and exactly why I wanted to pick her brain.

The original intent of this interview was to promote a new campaign for National Poison Prevention Week (which was March 15th-21st) called the Up, Up and Away storage technique. Even though that week is long past, I think that the advice extends beyond poison prevention into everyday life. Keeping the home safe from accidents is something we all need to do, all year round and hopefully Rosie’s suggestions can help us all do better and keep our kids safer.

Tell me about the Up, Up and Away storage technique and why it’s so important.
This Poison Prevention Week I’ve teamed up with Tide and Gain to bring you tips on how to keep your home safe both in and out of the laundry room. The campaign is about acknowledging that these things [household cleaners] are dangerous and that we have to get them up, up and away and out of the reach of children, in order to prevent these avoidable accidents.

Avoiding accidents in the home is a huge priority for me, but I’m constantly finding new hazards as my kids grow. What are the biggest hazards you worry about and how do you manage them?
My biggest fear is my children ingesting something that’s dangerous, whether that’s household cleaning supplies, detergents, medicines or small objects. If it’s not food, then it’s not safe. So you need to treat everything with caution and keep everything out of reach of children. Because I have four children, there seems to be always something potentially risky around that I need to be careful about storing properly.

Is there a place for educating kids about poison hazards and if so, when would you start that education?
As soon as they’re born they can learn from your reactions to touching things. As they get older and learn to communicate with words, you can add more explanation. Show that’s its coming from a place of love and not because you are mad at them. They need to know that the consequences can be serious and painful.

What emergency procedures do you have in place in case of a household accident/poisoning
Call poison control and make sure they’re around the house. Also, each night once they go to bed I go through and make sure there are no little toys on the floor. Check smoke detectors every three months. You can also educate your kids to help you with safety. I tell my six year old to let me know if something is going on with my younger kids.

Are there any poison hazards you’ve completely removed from your home? Why?
Yes, we’ve removed pesticides. That type of poison I do not keep in the house any longer. If for some reason it is needed, then it is a one-time-use sort of situation. We will use it and get rid of it immediately.

We do lots of trips to our kids’ grandparent’s homes, and they are not terribly baby friendly. How do you manage these hazards when you’re visiting family/friends homes?
It’s not easy. I suggest parents bring the smaller things with them on trips, such as socket covers. The first thing I do when we get to a hotel room or rental home is do a sweep through and take the things away that can break or that could potentially cause injury. Hotel rooms are pretty quick. When you visit grandparents’ or other people’s homes, it’s important to have a conversation with them about little things that would help to keep the kids safe. Then you have to understand that it’s not your house and there is always the possibility that kids will get into places they shouldn’t. That is where education is key. You should have a conversation with your child and make sure they are diligent.

While Poison Prevention Week has passed, the lessons and warnings about poison prevention are important all year. Keeping cleaning supplies, especially ones like laundry and dish washing pods up, up and away in places that are not accessible to children is crucial. And as Rosie said, teaching children early to watch for hazards and being prepared at home and away can go a long way to keeping our kids safe and reducing the number of avoidable accidents and poisoning in the home.

(I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are mine and Rosie Pope’s. I don’t know if they paid her, but I definitely didn’t. P&G did send me a package with laundry pods in it, but Eli’s skin is insanely sensitive so I actually donated those to a local women’s shelter. Basically, nothing to worry about self-interest wise.)

What a Difference 8 Months Make!

I really can’t deal with the fact that we’re 2/3rds through a year already, nor how grown this baby is. We had an appointment with the GI today and while he is getting older, he’s not getting much bigger. He’s 16.3 pounds and 26 inches. He’s only 3 pounds more than he was at 2 months- good thing he ate so much at the start!

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3 months and 1 day!
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8 months and 1 day!
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William: Month 8

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Today you are 8! months! old! I just can’t believe it. That sounds so very old. So very dangerously close to 1 and there’s no way my tiny infant could be almost 1. No way. Nope.

(Of course I didn’t actually drive anywhere like this)
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Much to my surprise, you are still not crawling. You are really, really good at getting up on your hands and knees and rocking back and forth. Sometimes you even move both legs forward like you’re going to crawl and then you fall on your face because no matter how many times we show you and practice, you just do not get the arm part of this skill. Sometimes you inch worm forward a bit, but for the most part, you move backwards or spin in a circle. I’m not going to lie, this is kind of convenient because I can leave you unattended for a period of time without you chewing on computer cords (your favorite toy) or your brother’s shoes (your second favorite). I’ve said it before, but I have a feeling that your days of immobility are numbered.

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You are also dangerously close to pulling to stand. You can easily go from kneeling to standing, but you need a little help to get to kneeling. Either way, you just think you are pretty grown up and I’m just not sure I think that’s okay.

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This month was not a particularly bright one in terms of health. You have now battled through your first sinus infection and pneumonia for what I hope is the first and last time. I cannot understate how pathetic you were with this particular bout of illness. Your eyes were red and sad and your voice was hoarse and the wheezing and oh it was so sad. To your credit, you handled it well, even the breathing treatments and while you’re recovering from another (OMG) virus/fever/something right now, you did have a brief period of like a week where you were healthy. Yay daycare.

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Your reflux has been somewhat better controlled this month and tomorrow we finally see the gastroenterologist who will hopefully find the best combination of meds to keep you comfortable and even maybe gain some weight. You are delightfully petite, but someday we’d love for you to pass 16 pounds.

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Sleep is…well, it’s not ideal. To say the very least. It’s funny because I was so worried about getting you out of the Rock n Play early since your brother struggled so mightily that way and somehow, you’re 8 months old and still sleeping in my bed at least 50% of the time. Being sick did NOT help this situation at all. We have tried some sleep training, but honestly, my heart cannot handle you crying out for me and we’re going to have to try something different. Hopefully once you have your own room it will be a bit easier on all of us.

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Speaking of which, we’re moving this coming month. I am indescribably excited for this move. I’m excited for you to have your own room, for us to have a backyard and for you to grow up in a house that we love. We won’t be in this house forever, but I expect to be there several years and I hope that it’s a place that we can all build some wonderful memories.

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Your likes this month include: mom, nursing, mom, dad, Eli, aunt Claire, mom, grandparents, blueberries, puffs, the cats, mom, my bed, the Ergo, pacifiers and did I mention mom? You are very, very attached.

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Your dislikes this month include: when you can see mom but can’t touch her, when mom puts you down, green beans, sleeping in your own bed, pneumonia, breathing treatments, Zantac.

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I won’t lie, it has been kind of a hard month for me. I don’t know how I made you so attached to me, and don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it’s tough for both of us. I have to put you down some of the time, both for things I have to do around the house and sometimes for my sanity. You cry big heaving sobs when I walk away and it’s awful. I would love nothing more than to sit on the couch and hold you all day, every day, but unfortunately, that can’t happen. It will get easier with time and I know that someday I’m going to wish that you would cry and reaching your sweet little arms out for me to hold you all day, but right now it’s a struggle. I feel guilty that you get so upset, but I also don’t want you to never learn some level of independence.

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Truthfully, even though I’m feeling a little touched out this month, I also find you to be one of the most delightful and adorable, babies. You coo and babble and your voice is seriously the best thing on this earth. One day you just started saying “da da da” out of nowhere and now you say it all day long. Occasionally you throw in a “na na na” but primarily you’re all about the das. You squeal and squeak and oh, I just love you so very much. I have about a thousand videos on my phone because I can’t get enough. I never want to miss a moment or forget a sound. You are just at such a fun age and I wish I could find more ways to soak it up.

There are times where I see you and your brother together and I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe that this is my life. I can’t believe that I get to be your mom and get to spend my life raising you and Eli. I have spent my whole life dreaming of being a mom and even in my wildest, best dreams, it was never this good. Nothing could prepare me for how amazing it is, nothing could ever prepare me for the way it feels to love people the way I love you, your brother and your father. You are my whole heart, you bring me so much happiness, I can’t even possibly begin to describe it.

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Will, you are a light in my life and I am so happy I get to watch you grow up, even if you’re doing it quite a bit faster than I’d like. I love you so very much and I cannot wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

In the Middle of our Street

My husband’s fellowship doesn’t end until the end of June, but because we moved out here a little early (thanks to the crazy ski mask guy on our patio last year), our lease for this apartment is up in mid-May. It caught us a bit by surprise, and suddenly last month we found ourselves looking at rental houses. We decided it was time to be out of apartments. We needed to not be sharing walls, to have more room and most of all, these boys needed a yard.

We knew the area we wanted, we even decided to enroll Eli in a jewish preschool starting in June in that neighborhood. It’s equidistant from my work and my husband’s (well, his job that starts in July) and it’s the same city where my sister lives. As an added bonus, it’s a wonderful family friendly city that has all kinds of fantastic community events that we have enjoyed tremendously the past few years.

And so we started looking. We even applied a few weeks ago, sort of on a whim, for a house that was just outside of the area we wanted because it fell into our laps. Though they said we were in their top 3 applicants, we didn’t get it. Initially, we were a little sad, but deep down I felt like if we didn’t get it then it wasn’t meant to be our house.

The search continued. And last Thursday I woke up to an email from my husband with an link for a new rental listing. I called that morning and set up a solo visit for the next day. And after that visit, I set up a second viewing with my husband on Saturday because I had a feeling.

When we got there Satuday Eli made a bee line for the backyard and yelled, “mama, come run on my grass!” and I knew.

We submitted an application Monday.

And, well, this is our house. In the middle of our street.

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We move in May 1st.

It’s maybe not a perfect house but it’s perfect for us. 3 good sized bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a HUGE backyard with grass and rocks and a gazebo and a lemon tree. It might not be our forever home but this is where some of Eli’s first long term memories will be created and my heart can barely contain the happiness and excitement I feel right now.

It’s our house. Finally.

Sleep is for the Weak (and the people without babies)

Once upon a time, I had an infant who slept. He would go to bed at night, get up once to eat, and go back to sleep in his own bed. He was so easy. I was so well rested.

And then he hit 4 months and had a little sleep regression. And then had a major increase in his reflux. And then he got an ear infection. And then another ear infection. And then a tooth. And then another tooth. And then more reflux. And then pneumonia.

And now my baby does not sleep.

Well, that’s not fair. He sleeps like a freaking champ in my bed or in my arms. He sleeps in his bed for about 4 hours max- from bedtime until his first wake up of the night. Very occasionally he’ll go back down in his own bed that time, but inevitably, we gets up again a few hours later. And my hands feel so tied as to how to fix this. I am not really pro-sleep training. I mean, I don’t judge anyone else for doing it, but I don’t have the guts to listen to the crying for more than a minute or two and it sends me into a guilt spiral. It’s just not something I ever planned on doing.

But I also didn’t plan on having a baby sleep in my bed.

And most frustratingly, even though I know I need to something, I can’t do anything yet because of our living situation. We have 2 bedrooms in this apartment. One is Eli’s, one is ours. I don’t want to put Will in Eli’s room because the last thing I need when the adults aren’t sleeping is for the toddler to not sleep too. So Will sleeps in our room. About 12 inches from my boobs, the object of his desire. Add to that the shared walls with others and yea, I just can’t sleep train. And so every night he ends up in my bed because that’s the only thing that stops the crying and allows me to sleep.

I’m so tired. Just so, so tired. I can’t remember the last time I got to spend a whole night in my bed without a baby beside me.

We will be moving in May and Will will have his own room, but until then, it’s just this miserable holding pattern where we’re reinforcing a habit we don’t like so that we can get enough sleep to be functional at work. My husband gets up at 3am for work, so he really cannot spare any sleep at this point.

During the day I’m pretty good at realizing that this is a phase and it will pass and someday I won’t remember how hard this is. But at night I tend to get into that, woe is me the world is ending we’ll never sleep what do I do? mindset. I start trying to solve all our sleep issues at 1am when I’m awake and annoyed and none of those ideas usually pan out in the light of day.

I don’t need or expect Will to sleep through the night. I signed up for nighttime wake ups when I decided to have kids, but I do expect my 7 month old to be able to sleep longer than 3 hours at a time and for wake ups to last less than an hour. This seems reasonable to me, but I suppose babies are not known for being very reasonable.

I will happily take any and all suggestions or reminders that this will pass. I remember a lot from Eli’s infancy, but damn if I didn’t forget how hard this part of babyhood was.

March 23rd

March is brain injury awareness month. Two years ago our son sustained a traumatic brain injury from a fall off of a bed. He was inches away from and supervised and it still happened. So here’s my plea: please don’t put your infants on elevated beds. Don’t leave them unsupervised on changing tables or couches for even an instant. Don’t set them on counters or forget to buckle them into high chairs. Accidents happen every day, but some of them, like ours, are avoidable. Spare your children the pain and yourself the grief. Keep kids on the floor or buckled in safely.

Two years ago was the worst day of my life.

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It started like most others that week. Play time with Eli, breakfast together, picking out an outfit, cleaning up toys. Nothing unusual. And then just moments before we started packing to leave the hotel we had been staying in all week, it happened. Eli threw his pacifier over the edge of the bed, I bent down to get it and he fell.

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The sound will forever be implanted in my brain. The ambulance ride, the silent tears, the fear, all of it is still fresh when I let myself think about it. There are just some things that the brain never forgets.

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One hospital discharge was followed hours later by an admission to a different hospital and a scan showing a bleed on Eli’s brain. We were able to see the bleed on the scan from across the room and even my untrained eyes spotted it instantly. It wasn’t just a bump on the head, it was a brain injury.

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We spent 4 days in the hospital managing Eli’s pain and nausea and watching for changes. He had 2 seizures at home right after discharge and weeks of vomiting from the pain and irritation of the blood that had pooled on his brain. To say that our world was upside down wold be the biggest understatement I can imagine.

In the past two years, the world has slowly righted itself.

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Eli is now 2 years and 10 months old. He is the most fun kid I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I wish you could all spend a day with him. Even when he is the most two-ish two year old, he’s still hilarious and kind and really, really cute.

This is going to sound like a brag, and it really probably is, but he is very, very bright. He can count forwards to 20, he can count backwards from 10, he knows all his letters and numbers on sight, he can spell his name and identify just about every shape. There is no question that his cognition was spared. His gross motor skills are pretty good too, and this was once a major area of concern for me. He walked a little later than we expected and dragged his left toes for a while. But now he runs and jumps and kicks and marches and does all the things his peers do, symmetrically and mostly with ease.

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There are other things that aren’t as fabulous. He has some obvious motor planning difficulties, especially when it comes to fine motor skills. It took him well over 6 months (he was past 2.5) to figure out how to do the spinning arms that we do when we sing Wheels on the Bus at swimming. We practiced and practiced and he just couldn’t do it. There was an 18 month old next to us who picked it up in seconds and I have an 8 month old I see at work who can do it, but Eli could not figure it out. It took him almost 3 months to figure out how to hold up 2 fingers for his age and he still holds up a 3rd one at least 50% of the time. He finally mastered the thumbs up after months of sticking up his pointer fingers or doing finger guns. So far, this doesn’t seem to bother him and we do our best to not stress him out or make it a point of focus, but it’s something we’re keeping tabs on for the future.

There is no way for us to know if this is the result of that injury. It was close to area of the brain that controls motor planning, but he was so little when it happened that we have no way to compare his skills before and after. We opted not to sedate Eli for an MRI, so we don’t know if there are areas of overt damage. We don’t know, but also, we don’t care.

Eli is who he is. If this injury caused those issues, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t change the difficulty he has, it doesn’t change how we approach it. Honestly, our child got a brain injury and the biggest issue is that he can’t hold up 2 fingers easily? I can’t even continue with this part because it’s ridiculous. We are unbelievably lucky. We do not allow ourselves to lose sleep over this.

The damage it did to me was and is much less obvious, but it has also faded considerably. The nightmares are few and far between. The guilt is pretty much on par with what I imagine anyone would feel coming out of this. These days I just enjoy being a mother. I don’t let fear guide my decisions, I don’t let it slow any of us down.

Two years ago I wondered if any of us would ever be okay again- mentally, emotionally and physically. I wondered how we would ever be normal again or how life could ever go back to the way it once was. And it might not ever be the way it was then, but that’s okay. We learned about the fragility of our child’s life, we learned to take safety seriously. And we also learned to count our blessings because things like this happen in the literal blink of an eye.

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My world crashed into the floor that day. Two years later, we are changed and a little scarred, but we are good.

What a Difference 7 Months Make!

Tonight’s photo shoot went much better than last month’s. Will wasn’t much more well rested, but I think we’ve figured out how to entertain and distract him better, which is mostly a good representation of how this month has gone. But! I have a happy baby picture, so that is how I will choose to remember things.

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2 months and 1 day!
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3 months and 1 day!
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5 months and 1 day!
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7 months and 1 day!
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William: Month 7

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Today you are 7 months old! Seven! You are way closer to one than to birth. It’s completely insane to me how fast this month went. And how much you have changed. You are so much more a person now, so much more you, if that makes sense.

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You now have two teeth, thank God. That second one was a real bear. I walked into daycare to pick you up last week and your teacher said you were so happy and asked what was different that day. All I could think of was that tooth, which had finally broken through the day before. You’re so much happier now and those teeth are just adorable. Not that the single tooth wasn’t. You know.

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Speaking of adorable, you found yourself this month, in the mirror at least, and you think you are pretty fabulous. You smile and giggle and coo at yourself. It’s adorable. You do the same anytime you can get your brother’s attention, which admittedly is pretty rare. If he had any idea how much you love him, I think it would knock his socks off.

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Your sleep is a heaping pile of suck right now. Let’s just leave it at that. I’m tired and my neck might not ever be the same after all these nights on the couch. Probably half the nights this month have involved you sleeping on me in some capacity. I am tired. Really, really tired.

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You are an excellent sitter these days. You don’t transition out of sitting very well yet but we’re working on it. While on your tummy you can pivot rapidly, get up on all fours and move backwards with ease. Forwards? Not so much. We’re working on that too. But not very hard because mobile babies are way more work.

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Your likes this month include: mom, dad, Eli, Addie, the cats, peas, sitting, nursing, the Ergo, your banana toothbrush, Motrin, crinkle paper.

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Your dislikes this month include: sleep, sleeping alone, sleeping in your own bed, Zantac, being set down, being alone, post vaccine fevers.

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Your personality has really emerged this month and it is big. You are an extrovert. You want people to see and hear you. You want them to look you in the eye so you can smile at them. You want to be held all the time and put down never. You are sensitive though and cry easily and hard. There are times I’ll set you down and lean to grab a diaper and by the time I come back a nanosecond later, you have tears on your cheeks.

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I don’t know much about raising or being an extrovert but I’m trying hard not to change you. You are so different from your brother and it’s fascinating to watch you grow but it’s a struggle to not compare you all the time. I have to remember that you are Will and he is Eli. You’re not a second edition of the same person, you’re entirely you and that is a wonderful thing.

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Despite my frustration with your refusal to sleep, there is something very sweet about being the only place you feel comfortable enough to rest. It’s a unique privilege to get to be that for you- your refuge. I hope that as you grow and (dear God hopefully) stop needing me so much at night, that you know I will always be your resting place. My heart is at peace when I’m with you and you can always aand forever find sanctuary in my arms.

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William Louis, I could not love you more if I had to. You are one of the great loves of my life and I hope you never forget that. Happy 7 months baby boy, we love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

That One Time Goofy Judged My Parenting

So we went to Disneyland yesterday. It wasn’t really a planned trip as much as a spur of the moment, my husband was finished with work early and I was off and why not? (The answer to that is: fatigue, lazy, naps)

About 12pm, Eli had a major blood sugar crash. He had refused breakfast, had a small snack but his favorite way to manage blood sugar crashes is to refuse to eat. So he’s hot, hungry, and crabby as all hell. I finally managed to get half a cookie into him (it’s about getting something in, not nutrition at this point. We’ve talked with our pediatrician about this and they agree) and he perked up some. But the crash had taken its toll and he was exhausted. We decided to cut our trip short, but we went on a few short lined rides first.

Typically, we restrict Eli’s pacifier use to his bed and the car, but since he was so pathetic, we gave him his pacifier (his “pup”) in the stroller. The whole pacifier issue is a longstanding parental screw up. Basically, we thought we were going to be SO SMART and cut holes in all his pups. And surely, this would wean him of his addiction painlessly, right?

Ha. Haha. Hahahahahaha. Wrong.

Instead, Eli just stuck his finger in the hole of his pacifier and plugged it so it worked fine. So basically, he went from sucking on a very flimsy pacifier that the pediatric dentist said was no big deal (and specifically mentioned was much better than sucking on thumb/fingers) to basically sucking on his finger. I cannot. I do not know what to do because if we take away his pacifier now, he’ll just suck on his finger. I can’t be sure, but I think I was just outsmarted by my 2 year old.

So anyway, Eli had a pacifier in his mouth as we were leaving the park when we came across Goofy. Like, a person in a Goofy costume and he came over to our stroller. This in and of itself was pretty rare because usually the characters are pretty carefully guarded, and here was this Goofy all up in our space. And then he grabbed Eli’s pacifier from his mouth and pretended to throw it away.

And. Um. I can’t be sure but I’m pretty sure a giant cartoon dog may have judged my parenting.

I mean, he’s not wrong, but he also doesn’t live in my house. And the pediatric dentist said to ditch the pacifier by age 3 and I don’t get to sleep through the night as it is, the last thing I need is more strife at bedtime. So 2 more months, exactly. I do not know what we’re going to do, but I suppose the worst case scenario is that we’ll let him go live with Goofy. Or something.

Is this rock bottom parenting? I think it might be.

The Thing About (Not) Sleeping

I’m writing this on my phone while lying flat and still on my bed. Because my baby does not sleep anymore and he’s in his pack n play next to my bed not sleeping. But I want him to be sleeping. You can see where the problem is.

I want him to be sleeping for several reasons. One of which is the caramel apple in my refrigerator. The other is that I don’t want to repeat this whole process in an hour. I’m already going to have to repeat it at least once, probably twice tonight. Once upon a time, William was a model sleeper and now he is not.

Now Will hates sleeping.

I cannot understand this because I would give my left foot for a full night of sleep, but not Will. Oh no. He’s perfectly great on broken sleep. He’s cheerful the mornings after being awake for over an hour in the middle of the night. He is pleased as punch to start the day at 5:45.

I am tired.

I’m not really looking for advice because we’re just in a really tough spot with not having a room for him. I have feelings about sleep training in general but I cannot and will not attempt sleep training when my boobs and me are like 12 inches from his face. That’s just not cool. Not to mention that we live in an apartment with thin walls and lots of neighbors.

And so I hide in the dark. I wait for him to either fall asleep or cry. I reinsert his pacifier 839295 times and I cross my fingers that tonight will be the night. Tonight we’ll only get up once. Or tonight he’ll go quickly back to sleep after eating. Tonight I won’t have to sleep with him on the couch or kick my husband out of bed.

I mean. One of these days that’s all going to happen right? RIGHT? You can lie to me. I’m desperate.

(The third revision of this post occurred after a second nursing, a brief two minute nap and then giving up and eating the caramel apple over Will’s head. Tonight seems unlikely to be the night.)

Welcome!
I'm Katie, a 30-year-old, wife, mom, former teacher-turned PT, who also had brain surgery in November of 2007. This blog chronicles my daily life, from mundane to crazy, often with far too much detail. Sit down, get comfortable and stay for a while.
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