By George, I think I've Got It!

So, two things. First, I feel human again due to Hollis' newfound love of sleeping! And, two, I've discovered what causes my eczema! Woot! We're talking major celebration here!

Ok, so how have I done it? Well, after much soul-searching, heart-breaking, and all together painful parenting moves, Hollis now realizes it's ok to sleep on his own mattress for longer stretches at a time. I did this by nothing short of what felt like child abuse, but I chanted to myself, "I am not breaking my baby. I love my baby," over and over. The amount of physical pain I was in due to lack of sleep was tipping the scales in favor of taking some drastic mommy-saving measures (and daddy-saving ones for that matter) and so I exercised them.

Last night, for example, SBH fell asleep while I was wearing him around 7:30. We let him sleep there for an hour or so then I went in for the transfer. He ate heartily, passed out in my arms, but as usual popped awake the moment his head touched the mattress. I patted and rubbed him and said, "I love you," and left the room. 10 minutes later he was still gustily proclaiming his dislike of the situation so Anthony went in to love on him for a bit (without picking him up).

The flashing lights on the monitor went dark as soon as Anthony entered the room and they remained dark for the rest of the night until 3:30 am!! For the past 5 nights it's been some version of this and I feel like a new woman. It's amazing what rest can do for overall mental health - ahhh, I crack myself up.

So, that's one thing: we're tackling our sleep-deprivation. Big thing number two is I've narrowed down the cause of my eczema which is a really awesome thing for me. I just got done doing a 21 day cleanse (vegan, gluten free, no sugar, caffeine, or alcohol) and last night I celebrated with pizza. And this morning I woke up with eczema blisters. I can easily deduce from that that gluten/wheat is the cause of my skin reactions. (I hate to admit it, but I cheated on the cleanse the past week and had some dairy and a very, very small amount of gluten with no appearance of eczema.)

Writing it down as "a big deal" sounds a little dramatic, but if you only knew how many years I've been trying to figure this out, you'd know what a breakthrough this is. Of course, I'm no doctor, but I think I have a gluten/wheat sensitivity. My mom has Celiac's Disease, so I'm not surprised that I have an intolerance to a large dose of gluten/wheat.

For those of you who've been wondering what I've been up to, well, that's pretty much it. I've been a cranky, hungry, sleep-deprived woman bent on understanding the mood swings of an 8-month old.

[Ed. note: Months later rereading this I'm shocked at the words I so casually threw about such as, "Well, after much soul-searching, heart-breaking, and all together painful parenting moves, Hollis now realizes it's ok to sleep on his own mattress for longer stretches at a time. I did this by nothing short of what felt like child abuse, but I chanted to myself, "I am not breaking my baby. I love my baby," over and over." I think being in it I was much harder on myself than what was due.

It's true, we tried the Ferber method, or a very modified version of it for about a month. Hollis never cried for longer than 15 minutes at a time and that really and truly did feel like torture. Eventually, I think what really happened to cause Hollis to sleep a little more was we became more attentive in general due to the distress we were causing in him. We were on high alert when he became upset and we would always run in to make sure he was ok, whether or not "time was up."

I'm practically ashamed we even tried something like this, so staunchly against am I these days. But, I was a new mom, utterly sleep deprived and desperate and when my other mother friends told me tricks that worked, I gobbled them up. I stopped this kind of forceful parenting due in part to my readings and to this website.

And yeah, I'm apologizing for what I did. But at least I know some new and more gentle tricks for any future babies now and I am 100% certain that Hollis won't hold it against me that he was our little guinea pig for a few weeks.]


For the rest of my life

So, just like during my last post, I'm sleep deprived once again. Hollis threw us a bone once last week by having a night where he only woke up once. The next night, he woke up twice, and ever since then it's been spiraling out of control to the point where Anthony lay on the nursery floor last night with a Boppy as a pillow while Hollis played himself to sleep. He had carpet marks on his cheek when Anthony moved him into the crib at 6 am.

Parenthood is an interesting thing. You are 100% in charge of a little being that's 0% capable of taking care of himself. You at once question your motives, your intelligence, your future, and your sanity for each little decision. If you go into his room while he's crying this time, does that mean you'll be destined to drop what you're doing forever? And the part that really gets me rattled is, "Is this gonna last for the rest of my life??"

That's the sleep-depro talkin'.

On a day where I get at least 8 hours of sleep (broken or not) I think to myself, "Aw, little Bubby needs to see his mama. I'll go let him know I'm still around. No biggie!" and I skip off to my Sweet Baby Hollis. However, on days when I'm going on maybe 2-3 hours of sleep I'm much more sinister and a lot less flexible. Thoughts such as "I'm going to die if I can't write this email!!!" or "I can't do this for the next 12 friggin' years!!!" go through my head and I'm not as soft with him. Then, guilt quickly follows because I know deep down that he can't help it.

He cannot help it...

... that he's a baby.
... that he can't reach that itch.
... that he's bored, lonely, cranky, tired, hungry.
... that he wants to be *over there* and needs my assistance.
... that his teeth hurt.
... that he wants to play.
... that he needs a diaper change.
... that he has gas.
... that he's constipated.
... that he wants to pet the kitty.
... that he wants to play.
... that he wants to eat that tiny piece of plastic.
... that he wants the grown-up remote controls and not his battery-less one.
... that he wants out of the Exersaucer/Jumper/Bouncer/ErgoBaby/carseat/stroller.

He is utterly incapable of rationalizing, forecasting, and conceptualizing. And I love him all the more for it.

It's this utter helplessness that has bonded me to him inextricably. I love him, plain and simple. And while I don't pretend to think that he "loves" me back, he is most certainly bonded to me (and to Anthony, for that matter). He lights up when he sees me, he reaches for me for comfort, and he laughs for me when I make ridiculous faces and sounds.

It's because of this bonding that he wants us around so much in the first place. I should feel honored in those dark, early morning hours when he cries until I reach for him. I really do remind myself of all of this, but God damn, it's hard to let it seep into the folds of my shriveled, sleep-deprived brain.

Come morning, though, with the sun beaming down through our big-leafed trees and the wind-chimes serenading us I am able to think, "It's a new day to be with Hollis" and even the hardest night is gently put in its place of "It's Just a Phase."

I'm rambling... I know it. But I don't care. I want to sing the praises of parenthood to everyone I know, but I want to be real about it. I'm not a perfect person and I'm not finding this experience all roses and rainbows. It's demanding beyond anything I have ever done before. I knew it when I signed up for it and so I'm not surprised by any of this. I guess I'm just at a place in this process where I'm able to think about my thinking some more.