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Monday, April 23, 2012

Bed transition - Success

So, after the ups and downs of our Saturday night attempts to get Ben settled for the night he ended up sleeping through the night and woke up at 7:05am.

We decided we'd try to remain as consistent as possible with our routine on Sunday night and wait on trying anything new at this point. After gently explaining to Ben that it was time to sleep and he needed to stay in his bed, as I got up to leave his room he literally ran after me and slipped his little fingers around the door to keep me from closing it. It is SO hard to be firm in moments like this, but we've learned from experiences with Ben that consistency and keeping with a schedule really works for him.

I carefully moved his fingers from the door and reminded him again that it was time to sleep. I closed the door and stayed there for less than a minute to keep him from coming all the way out, but as soon as I heard him leave the door, I went and paced the living room sure that he'd be out any minute.

Then, Ben started crying and then Hugh started crying, which on the first night we learned that when Hugh started crying (twice) it was because Ben had climbed into the crib with Hugh. But last night we thought Hugh was just upset because Ben was upset and we were sure Ben was going to attempt to come out any minute, so we just waited for a little while (maybe 15 minutes).

At that point it sounded like Ben was saying "down", so Marc went in to check on him. He had climbed into the crib and was crying from there, all while Hugh had laid himself down on the far end and was already fast asleep, even amidst Ben's crying. Marc got him out and laid him down on his bed and told him it was time to sleep and then came back out. Again, we fully expected Ben to come out, but after a minute of protesting it got quiet and we didn't hear a peep from him for the rest of the night. That was 7:45pm and he ended up sleeping until 7:15am this morning. I went in to check on him a little later and he was snuggled up on his bed with his blanket and his two favorite stuffed animals.

We were able to understand better after last night that Ben climbing into the crib with Hugh must have been Ben's way of telling us of some fears and insecurities he was feeling with this transition. I felt some terrible mother guilt once I saw the whole situation from his perspective. I really felt like crying and was determined that we'd approach this whole bed transition more gradually and give him time to feel secure with the change.

Well, if we thought last night went smoothly, tonight was a piece of cake. We did all the normal stuff - scriptures, prayer, storybooks, songs, cuddling - and just when I was about to get up and leave, Ben patted his pillow and begged me to stay, so I sat down next to him and ran my fingers through his hair and sang him two more verses of his favorite lullaby, telling him over and over how much I loved him. He calmed right down and after making sure he had Elmo and his sock monkey in each arm, asking if he was going to go night-night with Elmo and his sock monkey, he even giggled a little. I wasn't sure if it was enough, but I left him at that point and was totally shocked that he didn't follow me to the door, he didn't cry and we didn't hear anything from him at all. That hasn't ever happened - even when he was in his crib.

I don't know if the coming nights will go quite as smoothly, but I've decided it doesn't matter. I think my mind made a way bigger deal out of this whole transition than it needed to. I'll blame it on pregnancy and my fear of never sleeping again once July comes, which I see now is just silly and ridiculous. I clearly value my sleep - and I value my kids' need for sleep and my role in helping them get the sleep they need to be happy - as well as the sleep I need to be happy. BUT, even more than that I've come to realize through this whole situation that I value providing a feeling of safety, of security, of love. And, coming to that realization (even if a little delayed) is the greater sign of success here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bed transition - update

This is for those of you who are interested, as well as for my own attempts to keep track of what we're doing that works and what doesn't work. Our first night of transitioning Ben to a big boy bed was a bit of a long night. I slept pretty good the first part of the night, until about 1am. That was when I heard the boys' bedroom door open. In my half-sleep disorientation, I jumped out of bed and ran through our living room and down the hall, hoping to get to Ben before he stumbled into something in the dark. And, luckily, in the process I didn't stumble into anything myself! He had barely closed the door behind him when I scooped him up and took him back to his bed. He was being really talkative, which was making it really difficult to get him settled down. I had been hopeful that it'd only take me 10 minutes before he'd be fast asleep and I could go back to the comfort of my own bed. Not so lucky.

I made five attempts to leave his room, when I thought he was asleep enough not to notice, and before I could get to the door, he was awake and making his way to the door with me. On that fifth attempt I had to use the bathroom so bad and was so tired and uncomfortable from laying down next to him in awkward positions, that I left him and hoped he'd just stay put. I was really surprised to come out and see that I'd been in there for two hours. That was when I decided to ask Marc to take a turn with him.

I tossed and turned the rest of the night, waiting for Marc to come back, but he ended up falling asleep with Ben until morning. I guess being non-pregnant made a difference in the comfort level.

Thursday night we repeated the bedtime routine from the night before and we both laid down with Ben expecting it to just be a 10-minute process. But, since he'd had a three hour nap that afternoon he wasn't nearly as exhausted. After 10 minutes Marc had to get back to a work project, so I stayed with Ben until he fell asleep. An hour and a half later I emerged from his room, admittedly a bit annoyed and impatient that it took him so long to fall asleep. But, that night he slept through the night and didn't come out until 6am when he woke up.

Friday night I let Marc have a turn laying down with him, which ended up taking about an hour. But we were both starting to feel like it was becoming a bit of a game and making Ben more distracted and dependent on us being there than we wanted him to be. So, we decided it was time to switch things up a little for our routine tonight.

7:00-ish - baths are done, scriptures are read, prayers are said, and snuggle time begins.

7:17pm - We say good night and leave the room.

Between 7:24 and 8:26pm - Ben comes out 25 times and Marc patiently and stoically takes him back to bed. There were about a dozen other moments when he opened the door and shut it again on his own without coming all the way out. By around 8pm he was getting a little fussy, a sure sign that tiredness was starting to hit.

9:00pm - After a half hour of complete silence I went in to put him in his bed, because I was fairly sure that he'd fallen asleep right by the door. In the process of carefully pushing the door open, he woke up and became really frantic when we tried to continue what we'd been doing of laying him down and leaving the room.

So, I caved and laid down with him. As soon as he realized I was laying down with him he wiped his tears and leaned in to kiss me and then cuddled his face right up against mine. I hummed a calming lullaby and within ten minutes his breathing was heavy enough that I thought I was safe to leave. Before I could get to the door he was up and running towards me, totally in a panic.

So, I went back and laid down with him again. I kissed him on the forehead and whispered, "go night night, baby." He then very sweetly brought both arms up and around my neck and pulled me close and would not let go. So, I stayed and cuddled him back to sleep. Again, when I tried to leave, he woke up just as I got to his door. So, the next time, I put his sock monkey in one arm and laid his Elmo next to his other arm. And, rather than laying down, I just sat next to him. It was obvious that he was exhausted by how quickly he was falling asleep. It was just that his radar of being left alone was on a high alert.

9:45pm - On my third attempt to come out, he woke up again, so Marc took a turn going in with him.

10:25pm - Marc emerges without Ben waking up. Success! Well, kind of, I guess.

I'm not really sure what this means for our night tonight, if he'll be so zonked out that he'll sleep through the night like he has been or if our efforts were more traumatizing than we intended and he'll wake up in a panic at some point. And, at this point, I'm really not sure what our plan will be for tomorrow night. But, somehow, someway, we'll all make it through this transition successfully. Hopefully sooner than later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The First Night

So, a month or so ago I posted about Ben's attempt to climb out of his crib. With how tangled up he'd gotten in the process, we sensed that he was too timid to make another attempt. We decided we'd buy ourselves a little more time to figure out what our next step would be for him. Today we suddenly ran out of time.

Nap time came and everything was going just like normal. Both boys in their cribs, babbling away, which usually ends up in both eventually settling down and falling fast asleep. After about 15 minutes Ben was the only one still babbling, so I guessed that Hugh must zonked out and Ben would soon be on his way.

And, it was right about then that I heard his bedroom door open. I immediately covered my mouth in shock and to stifle the laughter as he came running out, with a huge grin on his face clearly pleased with his accomplishment. Then he turned right back around and ran back into his room and shut the door. A minute or so passed and then Hugh was awake and crying. Ben had gone back in and turned the light on and done something to arouse Hugh.

I took Hugh to my bed to get him back to sleep while Marc worked on getting Ben settled. Since he still takes 2-3 hour naps consistently we know he isn't quite ready to give up his naps completely. Anyway, to make a long story short, after getting Hugh back to sleep I spent the next two hours trying everything I could think of to get Ben to fall asleep, eventually leaving him in there alone, only to have him climb out at least a dozen times before I finally gave up.

By late afternoon, I think we had both morphed partially into monsters. Lucky for us both that my parents got back home today and were kind enough to take both boys to the playground down the street for a little while. In the meantime, I rearranged the boys' room and set up a temporary bed with one of our camping pads and brand new monkey sheets I bought a few weeks ago. I tried to make it look fun and inviting, but was totally dreading our bedtime routine tonight.

We did everything like normal, but Ben was so tired and was clearly having a slightly harder time than normal getting settled down. And, since we put Hugh's crib away and moved him into Ben's, there was some confusion about who was sleeping where and why. Ben kept trying to climb into the crib with Hugh, so we laid down next to Ben to help him with the transition. He was so tired that within 10 minutes or so he was totally out. Hugh was still wide-eyed, but seemed content to settle himself to fall asleep on his own.

That was two and a half hours ago and we haven't heard a peep out of either of them at all. But, I'm very cautious in my optimism! Not sure exactly how the rest of the night will go... if either one will wake up disoriented and scared, or how much sleep we'll all end up getting tonight. But, this marks the beginning of the transition I've been putting off. And, just to be prepared, I'm heading to bed early tonight!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The extra exhaustion of illness

This last week has been exhausting. I mean, life in general right about now is a little on the exhausting side - two active toddlers coupled with being six months pregnant. But, when illness strikes, exhaustion takes on a whole new meaning.

It started last Tuesday when Ben woke up from a four-hour afternoon nap (which is quite a bit longer than normal) and was extra cuddly. I noticed his little body was generating more heat than it should and just let him rest in my arms while we watched some Curious George. As soon as Marc was done with work for the day, he took my place on the couch while I headed into the kitchen to get dinner started. Within maybe ten minutes Ben was throwing up all over himself, the couch, and Marc.

Before bedtime he had thrown up one more time and his fever persisted. But, fortunately, he was holding water down. The night that followed was long and uncomfortable for the little guy. We took turns responding to his cries and with each check on him, that darn fever wasn't showing any sign of breaking. Finally, by the time morning arrived his fever was gone and he was mostly back to his normal, active self.

We initially felt relieved that Hugh wasn't showing any sign of being sick. Then, Thursday morning came with Hugh feeling feverish and miserable all the day long. No appetite, no interest in anything, no energy whatsoever. He would accept water to drink, but shook his head in refusal to anything else we offered. Maybe that was the secret to the absence of any vomiting.

Friday morning, and throughout the weekend, both boys seemed back to normal health again and I was relieved their episodes were relatively short-lived. I was more than a little shocked when I went to drop Ben off at his Early Start playgroup on Monday morning and while helping him get settled, I found myself catching his unexpected vomit in my cupped hands. Luckily we were standing by the sink, so I dumped and when back to catch more as he continued to heave over and over again. I felt so terrible. He had been a little more clingy that morning, but I attributed it to him waking up earlier than usual and just having a harder time getting started.

After getting him cleaned up, I brought him back home, where we spent the entire day snuggled on the couch and his little body refused to hold down anything I tried to feed him. Hugh kept himself busy with an old cell phone, pretending to talk to BaPa and GG, no doubt wishing like I was that they would hurry and come home from their trip to visit my brother and his family.

Today, once again, the morning greeted us with two little boys who seemed back to normal health and activity, but I'm feeling a little skeptical and on guard, just in case tomorrow morning comes with another unwelcome illness, bent on knocking us down once and for all.

On a somewhat related note, I did notice that Ben is just starting to cut the first of his two-year old molars. Is there any chance that vomiting/fevers are related to cutting molars?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some thoughts on politics

WARNING: This is the first (and very possibly the last) blog post regarding politics. I don't claim to be an expert nor am I a professional political commentator by any means. But, I do have a few thoughts I thought I'd share (which I might fully regret).

There are some who might be surprised to know I'm a total political junkie. I regularly check the top news sites and go straight to the political section. But, I rarely mention anything related to politics on here, and I rarely engage in conversations with friends about it either. Let's just say I value the relationships in my life more than getting into a heated debate over some political topic or figure out there.

You might be interested to know that Marc and I aren't registered with the same political party, and yet I feel most comfortable in my discussions with him about politics. We talk openly about our positions on different issues and there are times when we don't agree. But, we know how to be respectful of each others' opinions and I really appreciate that about our relationship. In fact, I think having us see things so differently has actually helped open my mind to consider other opinions than what I might normally consider on my own.

I've had some moments in recent months when I've wished there were more civility and respect among different supporters of different candidates. I've read a lot about the different presidential candidates currently running and there is a lot of garbage out there that tries to support one candidate solely by trashing another. I really dislike that part of the political process, even though I know the arguments that claim to support its role in the overall game. I guess it's one thing for the candidates themselves to find the need to distinguish between themselves, but I wish more supporters would leave the trash-talking to the politicians.

Marc sent me a thought-provoking article written by someone a couple of years ago, who addressed this to a certain degree, quoting a well-respected leader of my Faith (from a few decades back). It's well-known that a large majority of the LDS population is Republican, but I am always grateful for the reminder that there is room for people of all backgrounds, all opinions, all political parties who are seeking to be one in following Christ, regardless of who we support for the office of President.

One of my favorite quotes from the article is this:

"Strive to develop a maturity of mind and emotion and a depth of spirit which will enable you to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ. Allow within the bounds of your definition of religious orthodoxy variation of political belief. Do not have the temerity to dogmatize on issues where the Lord has seen fit to be silent. I’ve found by long experience that our two-party system is sound."

If you're interested in reading the article you can find it here. (Within the article itself there are links to other articles referenced that are also worth reading.)

And, if you're still reading at this point, head over to read what my friend Jessica wrote about her thoughts on Politics. I could have just re-posted her blog post and called it my own.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Unexpected Mercy

This afternoon Marc came with me to take another quick peek at our growing little Baby Girl. There's a comfort to having him by my side for big moments like this and I feel extra grateful that he takes the time in his busy day to show he thinks it's important, too.

It was a month ago, at my normal pre-natal appointment, that I was told we needed to get a second ultrasound done between 26 and 28 weeks. Initially the midwife told me that the ventricle outflow in the brain wasn't "well-demonstrated." Well, as soon as I got home I hopped onto the internet, which took me on one quick and scary ride through the land of Worst-case Scenarios. After having a mini breakdown at the thought of something going terribly wrong, and possibly losing this little girl, MY Baby Girl, I summoned the courage to call the midwife and get more information. I wanted details, I wanted to know the exact words from the report of the initial ultrasound, I wanted answers to questions I had been too stunned to ask during the appointment.

Once I finally got a hold of the midwife, she read the report in my chart word for word to me over the phone. There was one point where I heard something about "ventricular outflow of the heart." The midwife kept going and I had to stop her to clarify. I reminded her that at my appointment she'd said it was the outflow of the brain. She read it again and then apologized for the confusion and clarified that it was the outflow of the heart that wasn't clearly visible. For some reason that not-so-tiny detail made me less worried. And, really, in the following weeks I felt this calm reassurance that Baby Girl would be just fine.

And, that was exactly what we learned today. We got a good view of the heart and there was good outflow and a good, strong beating heart. Huge relief. We can resume our previously scheduled non-dramatic pregnancy!

The ultrasound tech was being shadowed by an intern today, so after we got the important things cleared up, we were asked if we were okay with the intern taking a turn driving the little wand across my belly. "Sure. Why not?"

So, we got some additional measurements, just for the heck of it, which revealed our little Baby Girl is not so little. She is consistently measuring two weeks ahead of my estimated due date, with her head measuring slightly ahead of everything else. That moment took me back to Hugh's 28-week ultrasound when we found out about his head measuring ahead of the rest of his body parts. We apparently make large headed babies. And, if Baby Girl's growth continues like it did with Hugh, I guess we can expect another baby tipping the scales near another healthy 9 pounds (hopefully not more than that!).

Seeing into my own womb, watching my baby moving around and feeling the kicks simultaneously, getting a tiny glimpse of this little unexpected miracle, made my own heart feel like it might just burst. I was realizing that every one of my babies has come unexpectedly, in moments when we were least expecting or planning. All unexpected, but all the greatest of surprises and true miracles.

It's no wonder the most striking moment from this past weekend's General Conference for my church, was this quote by Elder Holland:

"Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful - especially to those who don't expect it and especially to those who feel they don't deserve it."

To have been the recipient of God's mercy on more occasions that I dare try to count, makes me want to dig deeper to be better and more deserving of His love and goodness.