Archive for the ‘The Baby’ Category
Prior to getting pregnant and having Eli, I was kind of a crappy eater. I mean, I was a healthy weight and my BMI was in the “normal” range, but you’d probably have cringed at my diet for a few reasons. First, I could live on carbs alone, and be completely happy about it. But also, I am a big fan of preservatives. I even wrote a post several years ago where I bashed organic foods as a scam.
I always internally rolled my eyes at the “crunchy” moms who only fed their kids organic, hormone-free stuff. It just seemed so over the top and unnecessary. And even though I found/find the “well, we survived when I was growing up doing x, y, or z that is now unsafe” argument infuriating when it comes to just about every other part of parenting, I gave the same excuse for food. I was healthy on a diet of preservatives, why did I need to freak out about feeding my son the same stuff?
When I got pregnant, I felt a small shift in my thinking. I still ate Easy Mac by the heaping bowl full, I still overate carbohydrates, but I began to linger longer at the organic section in our grocery store. I scrubbed fruits and veggies before eating instead of casually rinsing. I started to choose meat from the organic market and read labels slightly more carefully.
After Eli was born, we were in survival mode for a while, eating whatever was in the house or delivered to us, regardless of its health benefits, but when we started him on solid foods at 5 months, I began to feel uncomfortable with our eating. The first thing we did to try to combat our discomfort with the situation is joint a CSA and get a basket of fruits and veggies every other week. Eli’s first several foods came from those baskets and it made me feel a little better to be able to give him non-genetically modified, non-pesticided foods, locally grown food.
As he started to be more interested in real table foods, it got more challenging. We’re very fortunate in that we live walking distance from an organic market, but the distance isn’t the issue now- it’s the cost. Last week I bought a few lunch items for Eli, as well as ingredients for 2 dinners (that would feed us for 4 nights) and it cost over 80 dollars. And look, my child’s health is important, but that is unsustainable.
We also decided to quit the CSA basket this week, not because we don’t like it, but because we’re not making good use of everything and having to throw away too much produce. I found a small local produce stand that will likely be more reasonably priced than the market that I’m going to try out, but either way, it’s been frustrating to balance my desire to feed my child healthy, whole foods and not spend my entire paycheck on it.
And it makes me feel more frustrated because we’re fortunate, we can afford to spend extra for organic, but that’s not the case for everyone. I hate that other families may want to feed their child the same way I want to feed Elijah, but are unable to do it because the cost is prohibitive. I’m frustrated that we’ve reached a point in society where we’re comfortable with feeding animals antibiotics prophylactically, even when we know it causes antibiotic resistant bacteria to proliferate. I’m frustrated that we’re comfortable spraying pesticides on foods, even when we know that some of these chemicals in large quantities can be very dangerous.
I’m frustrated that it’s so complicated to feed my child safe, healthy foods.
I have no solution, not even really any good ideas, just worries and frustrations. I want to be able to feed my child well without breaking the bank. And I just can’t understand why that’s an unrealistic desire. I can’t understand how we hope to manage all the health crises facing our country if we can’t even find a way to make healthy food affordable. I’m frustrated and I think I’m not alone.
Today you are eleven months old. And oh what a month it has been.
I’ve been telling people for the past month that this is my favorite age, and that’s still very true. You are the most fun you have ever been. You laugh, you babble, you crawl, you play and you are just a joy to be around. You squeal and bounce when we walk into a room and interact in a way that is much more boy than it is baby. Last week you started dancing every time you hear music and it’s so cute that I pretty much want to have music playing all day long. If I could bottle this age up forever, I would.
But this month will also always be the month where you ended up in the hospital for several days, and I will bear the scars of that on my heart forever. A few weeks ago you fell head first off our hotel bed onto the very hard floor and got a bleed on your brain. You were completely miserable and ended up staying in the hospital for 3 nights so we could control your pain and persistent vomiting. It was awful for all of us, most of all you. Thankfully and to our amazement, you came out of the whole thing virtually unchanged and picked up right where you left off- a joyous, playful baby.
Just after I finished telling your Nana that I didn’t think you were close to talking, you suddenly started doing just that. You now use Mama and Dada mostly appropriately, though Mama tends to be my name and your way of saying you want something. You can repeat the word duck, though you don’t say it in reference to ducks, which is odd (also probably a good sign that we need to start watching our mouths). When asked to say kitty, you still say gaga, and it’s also what you call Glen your monkey blanket and basically any other stuffed animal. I am not counting any of these as an official first word yet (if you’d say duck in the presence of a duck, I totally would, but alas…), but I’m so excited for you to talk more because I think your tiny voice is the greatest sound ever. (Turn on your speakers and try to ignore my very obnoxious voice…)
You’ve been pulling up to stand every chance you’ve gotten this month and started cruising some as well. You’re not really big on cruising, mostly I think because the couch is a little tall for you, but this past weekend Dad grabbed your little car, put you behind it and you just took off walking like you’d been doing it your whole life. Now you’ve decided that every toy is a push toy and push toys all around the living room while walking, even if they don’t have wheels, or sometimes even if the wheels are supposed to face a completely different direction.
You now eat a variety of real food and all without choking or gagging, which sounds like not such a big deal, but someday when you’re a parent you’ll realize it is. You love blueberry toast and cheese, but everything else is hit or miss. Last week there was one night where you chowed down on strawberries like they were going out of style. The next night I gave you one, you took one bite, spit it out and looked at me like I had just given you arsenic. I’m learning to roll with your finickiness, but to my great frustration, some days you exist primarily on air and puffs.
Your likes this month include: Dad, Aunt Claire, Mom, all the assorted grandparents, the kitties (their tails especially), laundry, balls of every shape and size, Little Crunchies, Sesame Street, your pacifier, stuffed animals, music, baths, pulling the stickers off the wipes containers, rocking on your rocking horse and walking with assistance.
Your dislikes this month include: diaper changes, head injuries, ear infections, teething (you now have 4 teeth!), Augmentin, being dropped off at daycare, getting dressed/not being naked, having your teeth brushed.
This month was by far the toughest we’ve had as a family. I have never in my life felt so helpless and I know your dad felt similarly along the way. The whole thing was just heartbreaking. We wanted so badly to fix you and let us all go home, but there was nothing we could do, and so we snuggled you and cried while you cried.
The accident at the hotel was truly an accident, but it was also the result of a lapse in judgment on my part. I knew better than to not have my hands on you on a high surface and I’m sorry, Eli. It’s a mistake that I won’t make again. If I could go back in time and undo it, I would, and I have wished for that a thousand times this month. But all I can do is learn from it and be more careful in the future.
I’m trying very hard to keep my worries quiet around you lately. I saw another little boy who is 2 weeks younger than you yesterday and he was tearing around the room with reckless abandon. I know all kids are different, but watching him made me realize how cautious you are. You lower yourself to the ground slowly and carefully every time and you almost never do anything until you’re sure you can do it just perfectly. I hope that this is just your personality and not my worries influencing you. I want you to be free to explore, to try new things, to be whoever and whatever you want to be, even if it scares me. I want you to be confident and comfortable, and do whatever makes you happy.
The other thing this month did was give me a fresh dose of perspective. I have spent so many of the last few weeks lamenting how big you are getting, that my baby is gone and all sorts of other silly sounding things, because you are growing up so fast and my heart is having trouble keeping up. But as everything unfolded with your accident and as I waited for an ambulance I thought to myself how all I wanted was for you to be okay so you could grow up and do all the things you were meant to do. It made me realize that I was wasting so much of your life being wistful about stages that we had passed that I wasn’t embracing the ones we were in. I miss the tiny baby you once were, but I am so incredibly in love with the emerging toddler before me right now. I can’t waste anymore time being sad about you growing up when I have so much to enjoy now and look forward to in the future.
This month, more than anything else, reaffirmed how very much we love you and how lost we would be not just without you, but if something happened and changed who you are. You are the most amazing little person I’ve ever known and I cannot imagine a life without you, despite having lived 28 years of one. You’re like air to me now, vital for my survival, and the very thought of losing you has forever changed me. Someday when you’re a teenager or an adult and you read this, I hope you understand how deep my love runs for you, has always run and will always run, no matter what happens. There is a bond here, made of something you cannot see or understand, but it courses through my veins every second of the day, into my heart and through my very soul. You hold a piece of my heart and I will be forever tied to you. And that makes me the luckiest person in this world.
Eli, we love you so very much and truly cannot wait to see what next month brings.
You may recall from this post or my 800000 tweets about Eli’s sleep, that we were having some issues. Namely that my 10 month old would still only sleep in a Rock n Play, which was definitely not an ideal sleeping place for a kid his age. I’m not going to come right out and say it was unsafe, but it was definitely getting rapidly to that point and the pressure to do something different was mounting.
Prior to Eli’s injury, we had a firm plan in place, thanks to a sleep consultation. Yes, we paid money for a stranger to tell us how to sleep train our kid. Sorry I’m not sorry. She gave us a plan with several phases and after just the first phase, we went from 4 nighttime wake ups to 1, and eventually will be using this technique to get to none. The next phase was getting him in the crib full time at night. Prior to our trip to San Diego and Eli’s injury, he was sleeping in the crib for the first segment of sleep- usually 2-3 hours each night, before waking up screaming and basically refusing to go back in it. Once in San Diego, he got an ear infection which meant that even laying him down flat to change his diaper elicited tears and then with his injury, the pressure on his brain was worse laying flat, so we had to go back to the Rock n Play exclusively once again.
I was to the point of contracting someone to build a toddler sized Rock n Play (not really. Mostly.) when we found out a key piece of information. Our babysitter tried to transition Eli to napping in the pack n play like the other toddlers and he lost his mind. Screamed and screamed, just like he does with the crib. But when she let him nap on a blanket on the floor like all the preschool aged kids, he conked out and slept for 2 hours. Um. What?
All this time we had been assuming that flatness was the big issue for Eli and had tried to mitigate that with a crib wedge and varying other compromises, but it turns out that the flatness was not the issue. I am pretty sure that containment was the problem.
So we decided to try a floor bed.
Basically, it’s his crib mattress on the floor. We babyproofed the crap out of his room (more on this another time), moved his crib out and put him down on the mattress. The first night, he sort of sat there for 10 minutes and then just went to sleep. And slept until 2, I fed him and (though he was awake for longer than usual) he put himself back to sleep. And slept until 6:45. That morning, he took a 2 hour nap in it without a fuss. That afternoon, he took a 1.5 hour nap, with a little fussing. We were shocked.
We’re on day 3 of no Rock n Play and I’m just…I’m dumbfounded by how easy this was. He sleeps. Flat. Not in a device that is unsafe. He has whined a few times, but honestly, nothing more than normal nap/sleep fighting.
I realize there are some immediate questions about the floor bed and so even though we’re in the very early stages, I thought I’d answer them for anyone considering this route, as I’m told via twitter that several are.
What if he gets out of bed?
So the floor bed is based on Montessori principles that I won’t pretend to fully understand, but basically the idea is that it lets him explore his environment safely. And so the best answer is: meh, so what? His room currently only contains his dresser (which is anchored to the wall and all the drawers are locked), his bookcase (which is anchored to the wall and has only books he can play with or destroy, except for on the top shelf, which he cannot get to yet), the glider, and his mattress. I have a small basket of stuffed animals, 2 board books and a few extra pacifiers by his bed so that if he wants to play without leaving bed, he can. Because here’s the thing- I’m not going to force him to sleep. Sometimes I get in bed before I’m truly tired and it’s frustrating to toss and turn and have nothing to do. The floor bed allows him to play until he’s ready to sleep and learn his own sleep cues. I think it’s fairly awesome, though I know that there will be more difficult phases and there will definitely be days that he sleeps on the floor.
What if he falls out of bed?
Been there, done that already. It’s not fun. The first night I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t intentional, but he was in the middle of his floor like, wait, what do I do now? So I put him back in bed. The next day we practiced crawling into bed so I know he knows how. The next night he fell out twice: once from sitting before going to bed (sat down at the edge and it caused him to tip), which scared him for sure and once he sort of slithered out head first and didn’t even wake up (I put him back in bed). Since then I’ve added a small pool noodle under the sheets at the edge to act as a sort of ledge to prevent him from falling out and a body pillow next to the side to cushion the falls. The body pillow makes me a little nervous as a suffocation hazard, so it might disappear once he gets a little more familiar with his boundaries.
What if he gets hurt?
As I understand it, the idea is that the room should be so well babyproofed that if he got locked inside, awake, for several hours, he’d be fine. The only hazard I’m currently concerned about (aside from the body pillow) is the glider, for it’s finger pinching issues. I’m wavering a bit on what to do because we still use it every night and I’m not quite ready to give it up, so I think perhaps we’ll keep it until Eli starts getting out of bed and then decide if it’s still worth the risk.
What if he plays all night?
This was my husband’s concern and it’s a valid one. We want him to sleep, that’s our goal and there may be some nights where he does play. We’re controlling what’s in his room, so there won’t be any interactive toys, but ultimately, if he wants to play then as long as he’s quiet, that’s fine. He’ll just be really tired the next day.
Will you transition him to a crib eventually?
Nope. Not unless there’s a sudden concern of some sort.
What about when you travel?
This is my big concern. I don’t know if once he’s accustomed to sleeping flat that he’ll tolerate a pack n play while out of town, so I can’t really say. The other options we’ve discussed are using the pack n play mattress on the floor, using a toddler air mattress or a toddler sleeping bag. We know he’s not safe to sleep on a bed (let’s not go there) and we don’t bedshare, so this will be our big trial and error experiment. My biggest concern is that no where we go out of town is babyproofed, so keeping him safe (if he wakes up before us), is a big problematic.
We are just starting out on this adventure, but I am already so very relieved at how well it has gone. In 3 days we’ve had no more than 1 minute of crying if you add all the crying together, which is kind of unbelievable. We went from struggling every night with the crib to sleeping 6+ hours at a time at night in the floor bed without tears. I could not be more pleased.
I’m not sure I’ll convince my husband that we should completely forgo the crib with the next baby, but I will say that I am a floor bed convert for sure. I feel like ultimately it is what’s best for Eli and the fact that we found a way to listen to his needs and merge them with our own, has made us all much, much happier. And much, much more well rested.
We’ve been home for 3 days now and Eli is mostly doing well. He was so great on Wednesday that for a few moments I forgot the horror of the previous days, and then he struggled a bit on Thursday morning with what we think was 2 seizures. It’s ups and downs and as much as I want to snap my fingers and have him be fine, healing isn’t a linear process this time, much to my great frustration.
As Eli gradually heals, I’m finding that my much less obvious wounds are gaping.
I understand that this wasn’t really my fault. I understand that it was an accident and that this is why we don’t call them “on purposes.” I’ve told this to people plenty of times myself, but that hasn’t made it easier to forgive myself. To believe those words.
I’m finding that for now, for me, being busy is the only thing that makes me feel okay. I can’t lay down in bed until I am so exhausted that I’ll immediately fall asleep because if I have even an ounce of energy left, my mind starts playing a reel of images that I want to never see again. My baby falling off the bed. My baby moaning with his eyes closed while I waited for the ambulance. My baby crying for hours in an ER. If I have a moment to myself, I can’t keep myself together. And right now, I need to be strong for my son.
I feel like this incident has made me question my ability to do simple parenting tasks. I am afraid to be home alone with Eli, despite the fact that I’ve been home alone with him hundreds of times. It makes me question all my parenting decisions- is this really safe? can this go wrong somehow? I find myself constantly quizzing the things we’re doing for safety hazards.
It’s like all the work I did in therapy has been undone. I’m seeing all the dangers all around me and feel like my son and I will be swallowed by them.
All I want, all I have ever wanted, is for my child to be safe and happy and healthy. This week he has been none of those things and it has been hard on all of us. I have apologized to my husband and to Eli more times than I can count. Enough times that my husband gets angry at me for it now. But I can’t fix it, I can’t undo what I’ve done, so the only thing I have left is my words. To say that I’m sorry, that I made a bad decision, that if I could undo it I would, in an instant. That I would trade places with him and take every ounce of pain and fear and unhappiness just to make him feel better.
I know that these kind of accidents happen to parents/babies all the time. I know that it doesn’t make me a bad mother and that I need to forgive myself. But I truly cannot figure out how. I can’t figure out how I can face myself and not feel guilt, not feel deep regret, not feel in some way, unfit. My child’s wellbeing was endangered this week. This baby that I love more than anything in the world, suffered on my watch. Nothing I do or say can undo that, and it’s a reality I get to live with forever. And I’m finding that it may not be that I can’t forgive myself, as much as I don’t want to.
I don’t want to ever lose the vigilance I have found this week. The all consuming desire to protect my son. I let my resolve slip once, let myself make a poor decision, and the consequences were great. I fear that if I forgive myself, if I accept that accidents happen and it’s not my fault, then I can’t prevent something like this from happening a second time. That if it’s no one’s fault, then it’s not preventable. And I can’t live with that at all.
So I choose to hold onto the guilt, the fear, the remorse. I hold onto it all so that I can face the world and pretend to have a tiny bit of control over my child’s safety and welfare. Because it’s easier to choose guilt than accept that my child’s wellbeing may not be within my control.
This past week, Eli and I joined my husband in San Diego for a conference. The hotel room was covered by my husband’s work and we decided we’d rather be hanging out all day alone by the ocean than all day alone in our apartment. We did briefly return home so I could work Wednesday and Thursday and took a pitstop at the pediatrician Friday morning for another ear infection, but we were back Friday afternoon and enjoyed a few quiet hours at the zoo. It turns out Eli loves him some porcupines.
On Saturday morning, after a rough night (presumably from the ear infection), I fed Eli breakfast while my husband was at the last lecture of his conference. We had plans for when he got home around 10, so I was trying to keep Eli up until then so he could crash in the car or stroller for his morning nap. I laid him on the bed to change his clothes, sat him back up and heard a bang. I realized it was the toy Eli had been playing with during the diaper change, but the sound of it was enough to make me nauseous. I felt compelled to get Eli off the bed and back to playing on the floor. Just as I was making this decision, he tossed his pacifier over the edge.
I bent down to get the pacifier, leaving Eli on the bed, about a foot from the edge, thinking he’d be fine for that one second while I grabbed the pacifier. But before I could do anything, it happened.
He fell, head first, off the bed.
I cannot even describe the noise it made and even typing it out now makes me feel sick. It was the worst thing I have ever heard. The worst sight I have ever seen. I wish I hadn’t seen it, for my own heart, because the scene that replays in my head whenever things are quiet is relentlessly awful. The hotel bed was between 3 and 3.5 feet tall, and the floor was thin carpet tiles over concrete.
He screamed immediately, which everyone insisted was a good sign. I scooped him up off the floor, not even thinking about his neck, just hoping I could calm him down and that we’d be fine and that we’d walk away with a goose egg. But it became clear, very quickly, that he was not okay and wouldn’t be able to just be snuggled out of this. He couldn’t hold himself up in my arms and was flopping around uncontrollably. I laid him on the bed to check where he had hit his head and when I went to pick him back up, he couldn’t even tuck his chin, his head just flopped back.
I have never in my life been so scared. He just laid on the bed, my tiny baby, eyes closed, moaning. It was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced and I was not the one physically injured. I can’t even put into words how terrible this felt. I really can’t. Within a few minutes, Eli was having trouble staying conscious and I called 911.
Once we got to the hospital, Eli began vomiting. They got him cleaned up, off the backboard and in a collar to stabilize his neck and we waited on x-rays to rule out any cervical spine damage. We attempted some Motrin for pain, but he threw that right back up too. We didn’t think much of the vomiting at this point because the first one was immediately preceded by coughing, the second by Motrin, both of which are normal puke occasions for Eli.
The x-rays came back clear and his collar was removed and we were told that Eli was fine, just some sore muscles. The ER doctor told us that because the bed wasn’t that high and Eli’s neuro screen was normal, that there couldn’t have been any serious brain trauma and that he’d just be sore. I think we were both pretty unconvinced, and were made even more concerned when Eli vomited again a few minutes later. Once again, the ER doctor told us he was fine and pushed forward with the discharge. We decided to stay in San Diego a few more hours so we could keep a close eye on him before driving home. I think we both knew in our guts that he wasn’t okay, we just couldn’t convince anyone else of it.
The next several hours, including the eventual ride home, Eli mostly slept. He kept down a few ounces of milk, which made us both feel better, but just wasn’t interested in anything and wanted to sleep. When we pulled into our parking lot, he cried a bit, so I gave him a few ounces of milk while I unloaded the car. 5 minutes later he threw it up and continued vomiting for several minutes. This time there was no reason for the vomiting and we immediately got back in the car and headed to our hospital.
The very short version of what happened next was that they did a CT scan and it showed that Eli had a subdural hematoma, which is basically bleeding on the brain, and a possible skull fracture that was ruled out the next day. It’s exceedingly rare from an injury like this, but apparently his large head size predisposes him to it.
We were admitted Saturday night for overnight observation and pain/vomiting management, and Eli was worlds better by 11 that night after some fluids and Zofran. He perked up a lot on Sunday morning and was zipping right along until we were about to leave. Our nurse gave him a final dose of Motrin as we were getting our stuff packed and suddenly Eli was vomiting again. We once again assumed it was from the Motrin and decided we’d be fine at home. We were wrong, yet again.
After a nap, Eli woke up and began profusely vomiting. He couldn’t hold anything down, to the point that a few hours later (in the ER) he was still vomiting and it was just stomach acid. I’ve felt helpless a number of times since becoming a parent, but nothing like this. He was lethargic but listless. He’d lay his head down only to lift it back up, cry, thrash and repeat, over and over for hours. The second trip to the ER was considerably longer and considerably worse for all of us. My husband confessed afterwards that he was much more scared Sunday than Saturday.
After several hours and another CT scan (which was nearly identical to the one the night before) we were readmitted to the hospital and had a better plan for managing Eli’s symptoms.
The next two days are a bit of a blur. Eli vomited a lot the first night, even with medication. He rallied a bit during the day and then vomited again the next night. By Tuesday morning, he was nearly his normal self. The steroids and pain medication made a huge difference and our baby gradually began to look and sound more and more like himself. Neurosurgery cleared us to go home and after a rough night sharing a room with 4 other babies, several of whom were in considerable pain and (rightfully) cried for several hours, we were thrilled.
We got home at around 2, Eli went down for a nap and when he woke up, he was a new baby. He played on the floor for almost 3 hours, with a few breaks for food and cuddles. I cannot say enough how happy I am to be home, how happy we are to have our sweet boy back. This whole experience was eye opening for me in a myriad of ways.
I’ve tried very hard to not blame myself for what happened. I understand that this happens to parents every day. That almost everyone’s child has taken a fall similar to Eli’s and that we just got very unlucky with how it ended up. But at the same time, I knew better than to leave Eli on a bed for even a second. I’ve treated children with brain injuries, I am intimately familiar with how little it takes to damage a tiny brain and how severe the consequences are. And the whole time I was waiting for the ambulance and waiting for the CT results and at many points throughout these past several days, I’ve feared the worst. Feared that my child would be neurologically devastated. That my typically developing 10 month old would never be the same again. Terror is the only word I can use to describe how it felt.
I know some people will question why I wrote this and that’s fine, that comes with the territory. There are 2 reasons. First, if sharing our story can prevent this from happening to someone else, then it was more than worth the time to write it all out. Eli fell off the bed while I was inches away from him. It can happen that quickly. Don’t assume that sitting next to your child is safe enough. It’s not.
The second reason is because if we had listened to our original doctor and assumed Eli was fine, the outcome may have been different. He was pretty significantly dehydrated twice in this adventure and was given drugs that helped slow the swelling in his brain down, which made a huge difference in his symptoms. If we had followed the medical advice instead of our guts, I’m not sure how our boy would be right now.
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from this is the most cliched. Life is precious. I knew this beforehand, but as I watched my child struggling to stay conscious and in so much pain, I realized for the first time how true that was. It took one second for this to happen. In an instant our lives could’ve changed in such a huge way, and though I think I understood that abstractly beforehand, I understand it in the very core of my soul now.
My son, the brightest light in my life, suffered the consequences of a poor choice on my part. It’s something that I’ll never forget and a mistake I will never make again. I will never take him for granted again, will never pass up and opportunity to be with him again. His life, our relationship, our family, is the most precious and important thing to me. I’ve played a little fast and loose with technology around my son and those days are done. When he’s awake, I’m 100% focused on him.
We were so blessed through this adventure to have the tremendous support of our family and friends. Our son is lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who care about him so deeply and we have all felt your love through this. We want to thank all of you sincerely for the love, thoughts and prayers you offered us. We hope to get back to real life, with a new dose of sincere perspective on what is truly important in this life, very soon.
Since I’m pretty sure the vast majority of you don’t want to read through all seventy something comments, I figured I’d update a little on how the last 2 nights went and on what our plan is.
First, there seems to be a consensus that he’s having night terrors, which sounds like a distinct possibility. I’ve noticed that when he falls asleep eating his bedtime bottle (which, I hate and try to discourage, but when this baby wants to fall asleep, he wants to fall asleep, damnit) and I put him in his crib mostly asleep, he tends to wake up more freaked out, so I’m wondering if it’s an object permanence thing sometimes too. I mean, if I fell asleep in the living room and woke up in bed with no idea of how I got from one place to the next, I might scream my head off too. So, my goal is to push bedtime up a little bit so he isn’t quite as sleepy and will fall asleep in his crib.
Once we moved him to a more reasonable position, he slept in the crib for 4 hours without waking up hysterical, just normal whiny/crying to eat. I even almost got him back to sleep in the crib, but he was fussing and fussing and it was a night before I had to work, so I took the lazy and bad habit way out and put him in his bunny bed after 15 minutes. It seems I am part of the problem.
Speaking of which, here’s my current plan, based on some of your wonderful ideas.
First, crib naps. We haven’t been doing them. I tried a few weeks ago, but it was just before he learned to crawl and basically he flipped over, got on his hands and knees and cried and cried, not out of a desire not to nap, but a frustrated cry. I decided he was just too frustrated with his mobility and that we should wait until after he’d met that milestone…which is now. So I need to lower his crib mattress again (I haven’t done it yet because I’m a terrible mother and I haven’t been worried about nighttime standing because he doesn’t sleep fight much at night) because he can pull to stand (though he almost never does) and once I do that, he’ll be crib napping. We’re going out of town this weekend, so the crib naps will probably start Monday or Tuesday, depending upon what time we get back from our trip.
The other thing, like I said, will be pushing bedtime earlier. Most nights he goes down between 8 and 8:30, but there are some nights (last night, especially) where I should’ve done it earlier. Sometimes it’s laziness, last night it was so he could spend a few minutes with his dad who was stuck at work until 7. I need to make a better effort to get him to bed before he’s so exhausted he can’t finish a bottle without falling asleep.
And of course not giving into the bunny bed so easily. He definitely settles down faster in the bunny bed, but I’m using it as a crutch, so when he’s not upset and is just taking extra time to settle back down, I need to let him sort it out in his crib. I am not saying let him scream his head off in favor of his crib, but fussing is fine and I need to be more patient and a little less selfish.
And lastly, I’m not going to fight with him anymore. He makes it clear when he is done with the crib and I think the best thing I can do is keep offering it. He’s not used to it yet, and I don’t expect him to sleep through the night in it, but I think the more he realizes that it’s fine and he can sleep comfortably there, the better. His sleep hours still suck hard (last night bed at 8:15, up at 10:30 and 3:15, up for the day at 7:30), but he’s going longer between the two wake ups so that’s a nice change. I’m hoping this is just a stage like many of you said and will be figuring itself out soon.
We also have a pediatrician appointment next week, so we’ll find out about the ears/reflux possibilities then. Nothing seems urgent enough to push the appointment sooner, the ear scratching has actually decreased in frequency and severity, so I’m hoping it was just a phase.
Thank you again for all the suggestions. We’re hardly at the end of our sleep journey, but I’m hoping that we’re headed in the right direction for now.
Sigh. I had hoped we wouldn’t reach this point, but I need you, my village, to help me raise my child. Well, no, to help me get my child to sleep. I’m not even looking for Eli to sleep through the night (yet!), my aspirations are not that high. I just want him to sleep in his crib.
A little background:
When Eli was tiny, like, from day 1, he had reflux. It was pretty ugly and initially our doctor didn’t want to medicate him. One of the things we did to try to help was put him in a Rock n Play (which will henceforth be referred to as his bunny bed) for sleep, which actually made a tremendous difference in his sleep. He gradually got pretty good at sleeping in it and would go 6-7 hours without eating. Once he actually went all night. Once I said.
At 6 months we moved him to his crib in his room. The first night was so bad we moved him back to his bunny bed in our room. The next few nights got progressively better and better and within 2 days he was sleeping in his crib all night (with a break to eat at least once, very occasionally twice). He even slept happily in the Pack n Play over Thanksgiving with one (very late) wake up a night. It was a miracle.
And then he got sick. And I kept up with the crib through the bronchiolitis and right up until the ear infection. Every time I laid him down in the crib he would scream. I mean scream as if the world was ending. And so we pulled the bunny bed back out and let him sleep in that until he got better. And he got better so we went back to the crib…until he got sick again. This time he slept on me for 2 days and then we went to my mom’s house for Christmas where he outright refused the Pack n Play, so he slept in the bunny bed. Then he got sicker, with a sinus infection and the pediatrician recommended keeping him on an incline. We tried wedging the crib mattress but he would immediately shimmy to the bottom of the wedge, so it was pretty worthless.
So now he’s healthy and I’m ready for him to sleep in his crib again. Most nights (save for the few where he is overtired) he goes to bed in his crib without a fuss. Like last night I put him in it wide awake, he played with his feet for a while (they had monkeys on them) and then laid down and slept like a rock…for 3 hours.
Every night for the past 4-5 nights, he wakes up 2-4 hours after going to bed, hysterical. Like screaming. And when I pick him up he won’t snuggle and often won’t calm. Sometimes the bottle doesn’t even help. Last night he kept pushing it away, arching and screaming. Some nights if I put him in his bunny bed he’ll then eat and calm, other nights, like one last week, he’s awake and screaming for an hour. I mean screaming when I hold him, screaming when dad holds him. Screaming if we put on Sesame Street, screaming if he sits on dad’s lap and watching him play video games (which is a thing we reserve for when he really needs comfort). Screaming with a bottle which is usually the cure to any nighttime ill. Several times he’s screamed until he has vomited despite me being there, holding and comforting him.
One night last week, he didn’t. He got up to eat twice (which, yes, sucks, but 8 month sleep regression is upon us and to be expected and I can’t tackle that just yet), but both times he went back down in his crib without any tears.
My husband thinks that it’s behavioral, but my gut says otherwise. The eating all night long may be a habit at this point and that is something that will need to be tackled, I’m not pretending otherwise, but the screaming. The severity of the crying, the duration, it’s just so very atypical for him. He’s usually all business at night. He wakes up, cries for a bottle, eats it and sleeps. So being inconsolable is troubling. And even if it IS behavioral, I have no idea how to get past this without considerably and frequent puking, which just seems like it will not improve the sleeping situation.
And I’m just…I’m stumped. He doesn’t seem sick, but he has been aggressively scratching the inside of both of his ears a lot lately, which I’m really unsure about. No fever, perfectly happy in the morning, but hysterical at night (always between 10:30 and 1am). And I am completely unsure of what to do. I refuse to make a fight of it because that’s just not my style, but I don’t know how to get us over this hump. How to help him stay calm, how to reduce the screaming, how to get him to sleep in the crib. He’s gradually creeping up on the weight limit for the bunny bed, so there is a deadline, though we have some wiggle room.
So, I’m soliciting advice. There’s no assvice here, tell me what you think. He’s on a good nap schedule where he sleeps usually 2.5-4 hours during the day in two naps. He has a good bedtime routine of bath, book, bottle, bed, that we’ve had in place for probably close to 7 months. I just don’t know what else to do- how to make his crib a happy place to sleep, how to reduce the nighttime hysteria.
I’m ready for him to be able to sleep in a crib and then, someday, SOMEDAY, through the night more than once. Help? Please?
Update from last night: Literally one minute after I hit send, he woke up, after an hour of sleep and freaked out. He was wide awake, not in pain, but did not want to be in his room. We tried cry it out again and it was awful. I lasted 25 minutes before I moved him from his crib to his bunny bed, where he cried a few more minutes, much less vigorously and went to sleep. He wasn’t in pain that I could find, wasn’t hungry, refused (with anger) his pacifier, and would cry when I held him, rocked him, put him in his crib. The only thing that made him stop crying was if I took him out of his room, which to me says he just didn’t want to sleep (which, TOO BAD CHILD. YOU NEED REST). He went back to sleep around 10, got up at 1:15, ate, nearly settled back down and then cried off and on until about 2 (cried in his room, cried in his swing, cried on my lap), slept until 6, ate a little, got up for the day at 8. I am so tired.
On Saturday night, we decided we would try to get Eli sleeping in his crib again, since he’s been sleeping in his Rock N Play for several weeks due to sinus/ear congestion. I laid him down and he freaked out. I picked him up, soothed him, and laid him back down. And he freaked out again. I eventually gave up and put him in his Rock N Play, where he continued to freak out, apparently not so much from the sleeping location, but from separation anxiety. And after an hour of fighting, he finally whined himself to sleep alone and my heart broke into a million pieces.
It turns out that he’s at the perfect age for separation anxiety and clearly it is just no fun. So we decided to see if we could make it a thousand times worse the next day.
We made plans to have lunch with my family on Sunday since my dad, step-mom and grandma wanted to come down for a visit. We had planned to go to the soup dumpling place, which is pretty much our favorite restaurant, but the wait was too long, so we went to this other place that is sort of meh, but nearby, since everyone was hungry.
After looking over the menu about 10 times and finding nothing that looked terribly appealing, I got a salad that was half cabbage and vinegar and half a blue cheese salad. And it was delicious. Such a good balance of flavors. And you’d think that by age 29 I’d know to ask if there’s eggs in the salad dressing I’m ordering since I’ve had this allergy for as long as I can remember and the only times I tend to slip up is with salads, and well, you’d be wrong. I did not ask. And so about 20 minutes after lunch, things got unpleasant.
Before the allergy reared it’s ugly head, we decided to run to the Gap to return a shirt from Chanukah, that didn’t fit my husband. As we were waiting in line to get a belt with the refund ticket, things went from bad to worse and I needed to rush to the restroom (sorry, a bit of this story revolves around the bathroom). I told my husband I was going to find the nearest one and I’d text him where it was since we weren’t really familiar with that mall. I left Eli, asleep, in the stroller, where we had been, about two feet from my husband, just next to the checkstand, thinking that obviously he’d look up and realize I hadn’t taken the baby since I didn’t want to take him to the bathroom with me.
Roughly 15 minutes later, I stepped out of the restroom and saw my husband, but no baby. I immediately assumed he was playing a joke on me, as he is wont to do. He finds it pretty hilarious to try to freak me out because I obviously need help with my anxiety. I thought that the baby was probably right around the corner he was standing at.
But this time, he was not playing a joke. After I asked him where the baby was and he asked me where the baby was, we realized what had happened. I took off in a sprint back to the Gap, which was 4 or 5 stores away.
The whole time I was running, I just felt like screaming. In the past 8 months, I have come up with about a million ways my child could be harmed, could die, but I never thought it would be from our carelessness. And as I dashed from the bathroom to the Gap, I just kept having visions of my child not being there. Of someone having taken him.
It was the longest few moments of my life.
I finally got through the door and there he was, in his stroller, awake but fine, right where we left him. The people at the register had realized that we had abandoned our baby and called mall security, who had not yet arrived. The Gap workers apparently went back and watched the security video where I walked out and then my husband walked out and neither of us with our baby. We waited for mall security, but eventually they told us we could go, without ever seeing them (which, was not terribly comforting, but none of this really was).
We got to the car and I just couldn’t stop shaking my head at us. I know I laughed a little, but I think it was just so that I didn’t have to face what had just happened. What could have happened. Because behind the head shaking and laughing, I was shaken. We left our child unattended in a store for 15 minutes. My child who had such severe separation anxiety the night before that we couldn’t even leave his side for an hour, was left alone in a store in public.
I don’t blame my husband anymore than I blame myself. We were careless. We messed up. And we were so incredibly lucky that nothing bad happened as a result. That the people at the Gap were on top of things, that they noticed what had happened, watched the tape and knew who we were and didn’t let him go with anyone else. It’s possible that on any other day, things wouldn’t have worked out how they did and we know how fortunate we are. That night we braced for a major bedtime struggle and instead he went to sleep without a fuss and slept 6 hours before waking up to eat. Which is better than he has slept in weeks.
I hope that some day this will just be a funny story that we tell our son about how we cured his separation anxiety at the Gap. Until then, I will continue to try to pretend like it never happened because my anxious heart cannot take it.
So we’ve officially reached the difficult to take pictures stage…
(The mohawk was just something I did for fun last night after his bath and then he woke up with it still very much present today. Which is funny because I brush his hair every night and in the morning it’s always a hot mess.)
Though he weighs, almost to the ounce, the same as he did last month, he’s a whole different baby now. Which is why there isn’t a picture of him sitting next to the lion, but instead, a picture of him coming to get me with a lion in the background. I cannot believe how quickly time is passing. How quickly this baby is growing up. Oh my heart.
Today you are 8 months old! When I finished writing last month’s letter, I thought about how different this month’s would be and now that I’m sitting down to write it, I have to confess that it’s going to be a little redundant.
You have been sick almost this entire month. There was a 3 day stretch, beautifully revolving around Christmas, where you were healthy and maybe a few others days at the beginning of the month after you got over the ear infection, but otherwise, you have been sick almost constantly for the past 6 weeks. You woke up on December 20th at 1am with a fever of 101, proceeded to throw up all over me (and the carpet. And the bathtub.) and then rallied briefly, before being the sickest and saddest I ever imagined a baby could be. You had a sore throat and every time you swallowed you would cry and cry. I have to admit, I actually hoped you had an infection of some sort, so we could treat it and you would bounce back, but alas, it was viral and all we could do was try to keep you comfortable.
Thankfully you were back to your old self within about 2 days (just in time to catch something different!) and we didn’t miss Christmas as I had feared, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that experience. You and I both did a lot of crying. I’ll tell you this now even though you won’t understand it until you’re much older, but there is nothing in the world as awful as having your child be in pain, especially when there’s nothing more you can do to fix it.
Lest you think it was all gloom, there were some very good points mixed in this month, too. You finished up Chanukah and then celebrated your very first Christmas in my hometown with your gigantic family. You got some great gifts, enjoyed some time with your grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and came home with a brand new virus that is now a sinus infection. We could’ve done without that last gift, but the rest of it was fantastic.
For the third month in a row, you are dangerously close to crawling. If we’re being technical, you are crawling, you are just only going backwards. You’ve gotten to be really good at going from sitting to your tummy or your hands and knees. You can wiggle forward if something is close, but for the most part, you get on your hands and knees and push so hard with your arms that you go backwards. It would be adorable if you didn’t get so frustrated and we didn’t have to rescue you from underneath all the objects in the living room 100 times an hour.
You are seriously obsessed with stuffed animals now and if you see one you squeal, pull it to your face and fold in half, laughing the whole time. It is almost as cute as the fact that you now give kisses (big open mouth ones) to your dad and me when we ask. We make sure you don’t see when we wipe off all the slobber.
You are very much a daddy’s boy this month. He walks in the door from work and you just about wiggle out of your skin waiting for him to set his stuff down and grab you. He was absolutely invaluable through these sicknesses, because though you prefer to sleep on mom when sick, dad is the best distraction. You love to sit and play computer games with him, right until he refuses to let you push buttons. He’s so mean.
Your newest, and most adorable, trick is head nodding and we’ve realized that you only do it when you’re tired. Being the mature adults we are, we like to ask you questions when you’re in your nodding mode. Someday you’ll find it as hilarious as we do.
This has been a surprisingly good month for sleep, despite all the illness. You now take 2 solid naps a day, in your room, not in a swing. It was as if you just suddenly got it over Christmas. You seemed to realize that you could put yourself to sleep and stay asleep and it was no big deal. And then last Saturday you slept through the night for the very first time. 9pm to 6:45am and Eli, this was my very favorite of all the milestones. Even though you woke up twice the next night and haven’t repeated the sleeping feat again since that first time, knowing you’re capable and that I haven’t ruined your sleeping abilities for forever was pretty great.
Your likes this month include: the cats, your monkey, baths, pulling glasses off faces, biting, pureed apple, pureed pear, Sesame Street, your pacifier, sweet potato puffs, Dad, Mom, Aunt Claire, Aunt Emily, all the grandparents, your babysitter and being let out of your carseat.
Your dislikes this month include: having your nose wiped, Tylenol, Advil, Amoxicillin, any food that is green, yogurt, any chunks of food that are not crackers or puffs, diaper changes and being put in your carseat.
4 days after you were born, your dad looked at me and said he wanted to have more kids right that minute and I was feeling similarly. As you’ve gotten older, we’ve both put the brakes on that idea a bit. Let me be clear, it’s not because you’re not the awesomest baby ever- it’s because you are. It’s because I am having the time of my life watching you, playing with you, loving you. And I don’t want to divide my attention between you and another baby anytime soon. Someday we will have other kids and I hope they’re just like you. If someone could promise that all our kids would be as sweet and as lovely as you, I’d have a million.
Your dad was telling me just yesterday that one of his coworkers is going to be adopting a baby in the next few days and he told her that being a parent was hard, but that it was the greatest thing he’s ever done. I say the same thing to soon-to-be parents all the time. I can’t tell you enough times or in enough ways that being your parents has changed us in the most wonderful ways. It has enriched our lives, made us happier, given our lives more meaning. We smile and laugh more than ever and I think it has helped us realize how important our marriage is, too.
Each month I read the previous month’s letter so I can remember what was this month and what was last month and I’m struck by how much you’ve changed since last month. You’re not much bigger (you’d have to actually eat in order to get bigger), but your face has changed so much. You’re less and less a baby each passing day, more and more a little boy. You no longer look just like your dad, and you’ve never looked much like me, but you look like you. Periodically I get this little flash and I can see what you’ll look like a year or two from now. The little boy you’ll be, the man you’ll become, and it’s both so cool and sad. Your babyhood is already disappearing and toddlerhood is coming at us, full speed ahead. I wish I could slow down time and savor these last few months before you reach the independence I know is coming.
This month has been one of germs and sickness, but it has been one of love as well. You have become more loving towards everyone and everything around you, happily giving hugs and kisses and smiles. And we have huddled together, loving you, to get through the sad and hard days, as if love might be the antidote to the germs. Even if it hasn’t made you physically better, I hope it has made the days a little more bearable than they would otherwise be.
Happy 8 months, Eli. We love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.