Suddenly, change

Pandra has been put through a lot in the last week. She’s handling it all really well, though. My kids are resilient, and for that I am thankful.

Pandra on a tricycle
Pandra is growing up fast…

I started to cut back on nursing her late last week, on the advice of the oncologist. It only makes sense to wean her now, rather than right before chemo starts, so that it’s not an issue for her. Really doing anything to make life less complicated when that happens is a good plan.

But weaning has been hard for me this time around. Lyra nursed until she was almost two and a half years old, and then I flew away to Las Vegas for an extended weekend. When I got back and she asked to nurse, I told her that the milk was all gone, and she said “oh,” and never asked for it again. We were both pretty much ready to stop at that point.

I expected to nurse Pandra for longer than this. It’s been a bit of a blow to me that I’m not, even though I know there is no harm in stopping now. I’m not nursing her at this point because I have to; I’m doing it because I want to, and because she wants to.

Today was the first day I haven’t nursed her at all. Yesterday, she nursed once in the morning. The day before, she nursed once in the evening after work. On the weekend it was maybe twice each day. She hasn’t given up asking yet, although she’s stopped having epic meltdowns when I tell her no. Small steps.

The worst for me is when she walks around the house, making me follow her from room to room, assertively pointing in each room at a chair or bed where, in the past, we have nursed. She’s so disappointed when I say no that I want desperately to give in, just this once maybe. But I don’t. And she doesn’t nurse at all overnight any more. But there’s more to that side of things…

Sharing bedrooms is the best!

I had given up nursing Pan at night two months ago, but when she got sick, I went back to it. It helped her sleep. When she was better, though, she wanted to nurse all night still, so I had to cut that back. She was very rageful about this, and we didn’t sleep for a week or two.

Last weekend I decided, on a whim, to move her bed into Lyra’s room as an experiment. Adam thought I was crazy and that it could never work. I mostly agreed with him, but I needed to try anyway. So that night, we put the girls to bed at the same time, in the same room. Bedtime was mildly chaotic, but we managed.

Lyra was fantastic about having Pandra in her room. When I told her that Pan might cry for a bit, Lyra said “Oh, that’s okay mom. I’ll tell her it’s okay.” When I mentioned that Pan might wake up in the middle of the night and yell, Lyra replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll just go back to sleep when she’s done.” All this from a girl who looks for any excuse to stay awake all night.

And then, when Pandra did wake up in the middle of the first night, Lyra didn’t. When she woke up the second time it was closer to 5:30 in the morning, so I took Pan into the living room to cuddle, and Lyra followed. Pan fell back asleep in her bed, and Lyra and I went to sleep in the office. We all slept until 9am.

Adam and I were amazed that Pan had only woken up twice. And that Lyra hadn’t been upset by any of it, and was perfectly happy to share her room with Pan again the next night.

And that’s how it’s been since Saturday night. It’s Wednesday night now, and last night was the first night ever that Pandra has slept a whole night through. We realize that it might be a fluke, and she will probably still have wake-ups, but the fact that it happened at all has been a shock to our systems. It took Lyra until she was three and a half years old to sleep through the night.

Little girl in a dress
Lyra, the young lady

Not that we felt rested or caught up on sleep yet. That will take a bit longer. But I’m so glad that my children adapt well to change, and that I pushed through the challenge of having Pandra weaned and sleeping well and in a separate room from me before chemotherapy starts. I don’t know how I’m going to react to it yet; but I do know that I will be better off with my own space.

And to top it all off, Lyra, who has so easily taken to sharing her sleeping space, lost her first baby tooth yesterday. She’s not a baby anymore. She hasn’t been a baby in a very long time, but now she’s losing teeth and going to school. Everything, absolutely everything, feels like it’s changed in the last couple of months. I don’t feel bad about this; I like change. But it’s been a challenge learning how to handle it all.

My girls are both lovely, and adaptable, and clever. They’ll have no problem dealing with whatever changes get thrown at us in the near future; of this I am confident. We’ll all be okay.

Reasons given by my four-year-old when she wakes up in the middle of the night

It’s the luck of the draw. Sometimes you produce a child that sleeps. Sometimes you don’t. Our oldest is a preschooler now — and at four years old she’s almost as terrible a sleeper as she was as a wee baby. Her little sister sleeps far better at eight months than the older one ever has.

Not enough sleep at night leads to passing out on the couch for mommy. Not usually for Lyra, though.
Not enough sleep at night leads to passing out on the couch for mommy. Not usually for Lyra, though.

It’s a rare night that doesn’t find her standing beside our bed staring at us in the darkness or wandering out to the living room where we’re watching an episode of Doctor Who or playing video games; sometimes in tears, sometimes just waiting for the right moment to speak, standing and staring at us creepily. And it’s some of the things that she says that are the icing on the cake.

“Freckles fell off my bed” – she sleeps on a futon. Freckles the three-foot-long stuffed lizard toy half-slid off the futon. Apparently it was easier to get up, open the door, come in to our room, wake us up, make us retrieve Freckles and place him next to her on the bed again than it was to just reach over and pick it up herself. This has been used more than once.

“I have a bad song in my head and it makes me not sleep.” – In this case, the music from Super Mario Galaxy. Yeah, I get that. I told her to hear a Deadmau5 song instead. It only kind of worked.

“My pillow is too hot.” – Umm. What?

“I can’t find my Quetzalcoatlus” – Who can even pronounce that at 3am?

“I don’t want to use my pillow anymore.” – Then maybe just push it off the bed and go back to sleep? This requires an announcement?

“I have to do my pee.” – Us: You’re in the living room. Please go to the bathroom. No, don’t take off your pyjama pants in the middle of the living room… the bathroom is down the hall. Wait, that’s mommy & daddy’s bedroom… back up there. Into the bathroom you go. And done.

“I had a bad dream about tiny robots on the floor.” –  Curse you tiny robots. Curse you!

“My leg/arm/eye/stomach hurts.” – When asked to point to where it hurts, she either can’t do it or changes her mind to something else that hurts.

“Your game/video is too loud.” – Oops. We’ll turn that down.

“I’m sad.” – When asked why, she doesn’t know. Acknowledge the sad and move on.

“I lost my penguin.” – To her credit, she tried to find the penguin first; by turning on every light, dragging blankets and sheets across the room, and upending everything in sight. It was on her bed.

“My cars aren’t parked.” – Followed by a trip to the living room to park her cars, if she thinks she can get away with it.

“I’m ready to wake up. Is it time to wake up? I want to watch a video. Can I play games on the computer?” No. Just no.

“What are you guys doing?” – We’re sleeping. Or we were. Now we’re silently raging against the darkness, or crying into our pillows. We miss you, sleep.

 “I’m really, really awake, and I don’t know what to dooooo.” – For the love of all things good, please just go back to sleep. If you can’t sleep, read a book to yourself. But please let us sleep now, it’s 3am.

“I don’t have any company. You and Daddy get to sleep together, but I’m all alone.” – Heartbreaking, but you won’t fit in our crowded bed. When your sister gets older you can share your room and complain about it to her from the top bunk.

 “Daddy, you have to put the toilet seat DOWN when you’re done!” – After a bathroom break at 2 in the morning. Normally she goes back to bed right away. This time she had to come and tell us about her irritation with the toilet seat. She has a point, daddy. This could be my favourite one… who knew it started so early?

“I’m lonely.” – Actual translation: I’ve run out of plausible reasons to be awake and this is my last ditch effort to get you up. That doesn’t make you feel any better to hear it from your four-year-old daughter. When did she learn what lonely means?

I know that I’ve missed a lot of great excuses for not sleeping, but I’m generally too incoherent in the middle of the night to remember some of the amazing things she says to us when she wakes up. If we’re in bed it’s usually her dad that tucks her back in, because as soon as I move the baby magically knows that I’ve left the room and wakes up, and that’s the last thing we want in the middle of the night.

At least I know where she gets that feeling of ‘when I sleep I miss out on everything amazing that’s happening!’ I feel exactly the same way most of the time. I’ve just learned to ignore it, and have spent enough hours of the night awake, bored, and lonely to know that usually I’m not missing out on anything.

Babywearing attracts attention, and other things I’ve noticed when I’m out with my kids

The girls and I do not respond well to staying home all day. Even Pandra, as early as 3 weeks old, was crankier and complained louder if we hadn’t left the house each day.  And so, from the first week after Pandra was born, we were getting out of the house at least once a day.

Lyra, Jenny and Pandra by the river
Out walking by the river’s edge with the family – Pandra (1 week old) is sleeping in the cuddly wrap

My preference (and Pandra’s) is to use a babywearing wrap — in our case, we’re using the Cuddly Wrap by Peapod Creations. It’s the same one I used with Lyra when she was a tiny baby, and once we’re done with it I’ll give it away and switch to using an Ergo Baby that we also used with Lyra for a long time. I’d rather have my hands free than pushing the stroller up and down the hills around my house, and Pandra would rather be cuddled up against my chest than sitting in her carseat, staring up at the sky from the stroller.

I’ve discovered that by having the baby at eye level instead of waist level, people will talk to you about the baby. A lot. And if Pandra is wearing any colour other than OMGPINK then she is automatically a boy. Maybe she has masculine features? Maybe it’s the full head of brown hair? I really can’t explain it, but even if she’s in a flowery white and purple outfit they assume she’s a boy, and the neutrals (brown, yellow, green) are all automatically boy clothes to random strangers. The only outfit so far that makes her look like a girl was bright flowery fuschia combo. I generally try the subtle ‘she’s a girl’ approach with my answers, or not bother correcting them, since I’m unlikely to have a long-term relationship with them. The questions are usually as follows:

How is he sleeping?

I’ll answer with ‘Better than her sister did’ or something along those lines, which is the absolute truth. She sleeps, she wakes up, she eats. The only comparison I have is to her sister.

How old is he?

She’s [insert age here, currently 2 months old].

Wow, he really loves to sleep on mommy like that, eh?

Pandra
Pandra doesn’t get mistaken for a boy in this – mainly due to the pink bows on her socks.

Yep. Always sleeps in the carrier.

Is he a good baby?

Much as I want to answer “no, she’s a complete demon, terrible baby, just awful” I know that sarcasm on the west coast is usually unrecognized in casual conversation, so I’ve learned not to be as sarcastic as I used to be. I’ll just smile and not at this one, since I’m uncertain as to what makes a baby ‘good.’ Are you a good adult? Am I a good mom? How do we answer these vague questions?

People will also ask Lyra if she’s a good sister, and if she likes being a big sister. Her standard response is to look at them for a moment and then just say “Yep,” with a disconnected tone that suggests she’s answered this question a hundred times. That seems to go over well, when people can hear her. Lyra’s a little soft-spoken.

The supermom effect

I’ve also discovered, by being out with the kids so much, that people don’t expect me to be out with them when Pandra is so young. That’s starting to fade now that she looks less like a newborn and more like a regular baby (and that’s one of those differences I can’t explain — you’ll know what I mean if you’ve spent enough time with a growing new baby).

When I would be out walking with Lyra, Pandra strapped to my chest, I got nonstop comments about how impressed people were that I had left the house.

Wow, you’re out already?? That’s amazing!

I would look at them and say something like “well I have a four year old, she can’t stay in all the time,” when really I just don’t understand why it’s such a shock to them. I can’t stay inside. It would make me go completely stir crazy. Apparently I’m the exception by being out and about every day with my newborn.

So if you want people to think you’re a supermom when you have a newborn, leave your house. It’s that easy.

The sleep question

The standard question people ask when they see a mom with a new baby is about sleep — are they sleeping well, are you getting sleep, how’s the baby sleeping? Everyone who’s had a baby knows that sleep is the hardest part of dealing with the new baby, and that the less sleep a parent gets the less functional they are. They mostly ask out of a sense of sympathy, I’m guessing. I developed my standard reply because I had to answer this question so often, and I’m guessing most new parents do the same, but I’ve become so tired of the question.

The comment I get in addition to the sleep question is how I look so good — so very well rested — for a mom of a newborn. At first I thought it was just a false compliment; something people were saying to make me feel better about myself. I’ve slowly realized that I was mistaken. Apparently I really do look well rested. I feel all right — somewhat tired, but nothing like how tired I was with Lyra during her wake-up-every-two-hours-every-night phase (the entire first year of her life, and again when she was 18 months old). So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m getting enough sleep, and that I actually do look good for having a two month old baby. Pandra sleeps fairly well at night for her age, and I feel lucky that she’s not like Lyra in that sense.

Hooray for compliments that aren’t false, and for getting enough sleep to look reasonably well rested!

A happy, sleepy update

This week was rough. I kept track of all of Lyra’s wake-ups, and I made huge efforts to get her back to sleep without falling asleep next to her myself. I feel a bit bad for my co-workers – I was a sleep-deprived zombie all week, and yesterday I got downright delirious. I’m pretty sure I said some fairly nonsensical things… but I’m happy to entertain, if nothing else.

So here’s a basic rundown of Monday through Thursday night (I’m not counting the wake-ups she has before 11pm – she usually wakes once between 10-11.)

Monday Night: woke up four times between 11pm and 6:30am with Lyra. Longest sleep stretch was 2 hours – in fact, all night she was up every two hours.
Tuesday Night: woke up four times between 11pm and 7:00am. Longest sleep stretch 2.5 hours.
Wednesday Night: woke up three times, but this is less positive than one might think, since when she woke up at 5am I couldn’t get her back to sleep, so we were up for the day. Ugh. Longest sleep stretch: 2.5 hours.
Thursday Night: Adam had the idea to dress her up extra warmly for sleep, so I pulled out a fleece full body sleeper and put it on her at bedtime. We had stopped trying to put her in sleepers eight months or so ago – they used to seriously impede her crawling, since she had a weird crabby crawl thing going on. The feet would get pulled down off her feet and then tangle up her legs, and it frustrated her to no end. Her bedroom, however, has no heat balance – it’s either too cold or too hot. Lyra doesn’t like sleeping under blankets (and by doesn’t like, I mean she gets mad if we put them over her, and if we sneak them on her when she’s asleep she wakes up and kicks them off angrily.) She woke up twice between 11pm and 6:30am – at 12:45 and at 4:30. Longest sleep stretch was 3:45! And at 4:30 I got her back to sleep and she woke up at 6:30 for the day.

I am so incredibly happy about getting nearly four hours of sleep, and I have never before in my life felt like 4 hours of sleep is a lot. This morning, I feel like 4 hours of sleep was heaven, and I feel more rested than I have in three weeks or more.

So what worked on Thursday night? I think Adam’s warming her up for the night was the clincher. She used to sleep as much as five hours or more in our bed with us – and that may well be in part because she had a warm body to curl up against, and because our room is better regulated heat-wise. We didn’t really think about using a sleeper now that she’s walking – it hadn’t been an option for so long that it didn’t occur to us. I had taken them out of her dresser and put them in a storage bin for whomever clothes are being passed along to, but when Adam suggested it I knew where to find them.

Today I will get a coffee not because I need it to function, but because I am out having coffee with a friend.

Sleep is for the WEAK!

… and the very, very lucky.

The holidays pretty much destroyed what few sleep habits Lyra had developed to date, and the first two weeks back at work became a huge challenge. We were able to get her to bed, but she would wake up often, and after midnight all she wanted was to nurse in her sleep. Let me tell you, that begins to chafe a bit after a while. I’ve been spending most nights in her room with her, and when I try to cut the nursing in her sleep off she would have screaming fits of rage and frustration. It drives you to drink.

To complicate matters, about a week and a half ago I went to visit family, and shortly after Lyra’s nap she woke up, nursed, and promptly threw up all over me. It was extremely unpleasant. This was followed by five days straight of tossing her cookies around 3am (although she also managed to throw up twice on her uncle Jordy as well). There were five nights in a row where I was sleeping with her, she woke up, coughed, and cookies were tossed all over me, her bed, or the floor. That’s five nights straight of combination epic nursing and using me as a soother (ow) followed by sickness. The weird part was, in between she seemed perfectly fine: happy, energetic, no fever. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She absolutely loved those 3am bathtimes. I wasn’t as big of a fan.

The daycare told us that nearly all the kids had it, and no one knew what it was.

And then Adam got sick. Although it manifested itself a bit differently, we are pretty sure he caught the same thing that Lyra had brought home from the daycare. He was sick for a good week, bad enough to stay home from work. I took Lyra to the doctor, who didn’t really know what was up and told us to wait and see how it worked itself out. That was Wednesday, and on Thursday the daycare sent notice home that the kids and many staff members had the Norwalk Virus. Joy of joys.

I still hadn’t fallen sick, at least not of the virus, but I had reached a point of exhaustion that I don’t think I’ve felt in years. Between Lyra waking up every couple of hours and having screaming fits or throwing up on me, and trying to hold things together at home with a sick husband on top if it, I could barely think anymore. In my weakened state, I caught a small cold – sniffles and sinuses, but thankfully no tossing of cookies.

By Thursday, though, Lyra was better. Adam was still not really well until Sunday. And I’m still just tired and sniffly.

After yet another night of Lyra having tantrums because I didn’t let her nurse nonstop, we had to figure out another sleep plan. I read the No-Cry Sleep Solution a month or two ago, and decided to take some ideas from it and see if I could piece together a plan for convincing the little girl that sleep is not the enemy. Last night was an initial attempt at implementing it. The main problem is that in order to get some sleep, I usually lie down in Lyra’s room with her when she wakes up. I’ll try to stay awake so that when she falls asleep I can climb back into my own bed, but I mostly lose that fight and the night passes. She sleeps longer when she has someone in bed with her. I can’t entirely blame her – I sleep better with someone else in bed too.

When I fall asleep in those times when I’m trying so hard to stay awake, I sleep terribly. I’m restless and I have bad dreams and I wake up frequently because I really want to climb back into my own bed. It makes me cranky sometimes. The grand plan (as it stands right now) is to get her back to sleep without lying down with her, which sounds simple enough. Unfortunately for me it means that she wakes up more frequently, so last night went something like this:

Asleep on the floor9:00pm Lyra’s bedtime
11pm 1st wake-up, back to sleep in 10 minutes.
My bedtime was somewhere between these.
12:30am 2nd wake-up, back to sleep in 15 minutes
1:30am 3rd wake-up, back to sleep in 15 minutes
3:00am 4th wake-up, back to sleep in 10 minutes
4:30am 5th wake-up, back to sleep in 20 minutes (I think I may have dozed off with her this time. It’s hazy.)
6:00am 6th wake-up, back to sleep in 10 minutes
7:00am I had to actually wake her up to go to daycare. She would sleep till 8am happily at this point.

(note: Back to sleep means she fell deeply enough asleep that I could leave without waking her. She’s pretty touchy at the best of times.)

Now that I’m looking at the list, it’s a bit scary. The longest stretch of sleep it seems I got last night was an hour and a half. No wonder I felt like a zombie at work all day. The sleep I did get, however, was deep and felt truly restful. It was in my own bed, and it was comfortable and cozy and under my down duvet.

What makes last night a success to at least a small degree was the complete lack of tantrums, and the fact that I somehow settled her reasonably quickly and still managed to go back to my own room. In theory, she’ll start to sleep for longer and longer, until eventually she sleeps through the night… whatever that means.

Yeah, my girl, she’s not so into the sleeping thing. I plan to keep track of the awakenings for the next while (however long I can keep it up I guess) to see if there’s any improvement. If there isn’t… well, I have no idea what to do next. I’ll worry about if it comes to that. I’ll just be happy to see her return to her old 3-hour sleeping spans. Five hours would be amazing.

Growth Spurt?

I think Lyra’s hit another growth spurt. Last night was a night of hourly wakings to feed. She woke up at 5:15 and wanted to be awake, so I got up with her for about 45 minutes before convincing her that sleeping was a grand idea. We crawled back into bed and she let me sleep from six till 8:45, which was something.

The day was a bit weird, too – she basically wouldn’t fall asleep all day, so her usual morning nap didn’t happen, and her afternoon nap was rather truncated – I think it only lasted twenty minutes. I finally got her back to sleep around 4:30, but again for only twenty minutes. That’s happened once more, and now I’m utterly exhausted and she’s lying in the bassinet screaming at me. I did have her sleeping happily in my arms, but I really had to use the washroom so there was no help for it; I had to put her down.

My tiredness level is very, very high right now. She’s still screaming at me. I’ve turned off the lights and put her little star projection thing with ocean/rain sounds on to try and calm her down, but it’s not working. I’m going to have to pick her up and put her back to sleep again.

So. Very. Tired.

Coffee and foggy days

Today’s foggy on at least two levels.

I was up at 6:30 this morning with an awake and happy LyraMonster. I was more groggy this morning than I have been in a little while, though. Last week I got off easy – she was letting me sleep in till 8 most days, and 9 once! Saturday Adam and I got up with her at 7, played for an hour, then we all went back to sleep till nearly 10. That was exciting.

Before I was pregnant I would have a coffee (latte/cappuccino) maybe once a week. When I got pregnant, in the second and third trimester I started having a latte almost once a day in the afternoon. Now that I’m a mother of a baby that’s nearly 5 months old, I have reached a point where I feel like I need a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up. I don’t think it’s because I’m less able to wake myself up – I’ve always been a groggy zombie in the morning. It’s just that now I actually have to try and be functional enough to take care of a little person without dropping her or tripping over my own feet.

So yeah, I’m a coffee drinker. I actually use our awesome coffee machine on a regular basis now, and I bought a pound of shade-grown organic fair trade coffee.

This morning was a super foggy day – for my brain, and outside. It was one of those fall Vancouver days where the clouds come down from the sky and blanket everything. I couldn’t even see one street away when I went out on the balcony.

Lyra is fast asleep in the bassinet. I want to take a nap, but now I’ve had my coffee so I’m wide awake. Whee!

I am awake at a ridiculous hour

There I was, lying in bed, attempting to fall asleep (unsuccessfully, I might add,) when I heard a strange noise coming from outside my apartment. Someone was being rather ill outside the living room window. I think it was a guest of the upstairs apartment or something… they decided to go be sick outside.

Anyhow, it woke the cats up, and since I wasn’t falling asleep anyhow, I got back out of bed. Too bad MSN is being bitchy, I have a feeling that Neal is online from Korea right now, and he could entertain me.

I can’t believe it’s nearly 4am… and I’m wide awake. And my stomach hurts.

Hey, wake up!

It must be painfully obvious how tired I am today… people keep walking by my cube and saying “hey, wake up!” I couldn’t sleep last night for some reason… lay awake a long time. Then this morning my sleep was restless as I dreamed of being kidnapped and some complete stranger appearing and slaughtering everyone around me with a machine gun. I was splattered with blood that dried on my skin and clothes.

Drinking an earl grey tea, hoping it’ll wake me up…

Discord keeps me up at night

Not enough sleep this past week.

I went to read on the couch in the living room, and ended up napping for about an hour out there. Came back in here to go to bed, only to find that I couldn’t sleep. This morning I couldn’t sleep past 10:30am, and woke up every hour or so all night long, due to phones or cats or something completely inexplicable…

It’s been a week since I’ve slept well. The last good night of sleep I had was last Saturday (not last night.) And now I’m tired, but not sleepy.

Discord is surrounding me, it’s upsetting and throwing me rather off-balance. People make no sense sometimes. Even when it doesn’t involve me… I’m just too affected by my surroundings to be able to disconnect from things.

Of course I run from conflict. Didn’t you know that it’s always my fault anyway? If all else fails, you can blame it on me.