Thursday, January 28, 2010
It's so much easier to sucker out the nose of an angry and annoyed baby (though still hard and no fun!). Than the nose of one that looks at you with such shock.
I've been trying to put my finger on some things. You know, I'm tired. We've it's been a rough few months. Some weeks Ryan and I wonder how we're going to survive. And I don't really think I'm being melodramatic. Taking care of meeting the physical and emotional needs of two little people is absolutely exhausting. Add that on top of extended family stress, making all the needs and necessities squeeze into our budget, sickness, and you've got a little too much happening. A very stretching time for both of us.
I guess my thoughts have to do with "attachment parenting". It was such a focus for me with RJ, growing a strong attachment with her- am I meeting her needs well? Is she attached? Lots of questioning and figuring it all out. Nothing wrong with that! She was my one and only and my world for a full 10months. She was IT. Then I got pregnant with Amity and my heart and mind slowly started making room for another. That process was a whole different line of thought and discussion.
Since Amity arrived- it's like what do terms really matter? What's best for my children? What WORKS for us? What brings us balance? HOW DO WE SURVIVE THIS YEAR? I don't ask "is she attached? is this normal? Am I doing this right?" like I did with Riley. I don't know if that's "normal" first-time Mom questions but it was where I was at.
This time I realize, she is attached. She came out of me- in her mind she's still part of me, of COURSE she's attached! What is normal? And as for doing this right: nope probably not some of the time but I'm doing my best and that's what's important.
I also have a huge perspective of sleep. Whenever I think of Riley's first year I think of the glaring sleep deprivation. Now, I had a lot of physical things I was recovering from in Riley's first year- major abdominal surgery, plus health complications: liver enzyme levels over 1000 (normal is between 7 and 40) and all that gall baldder craziness PLUS the flu, PLUS breastfeeding (which was very hard to get established), PLUS adjusting to motherhood and trying to mother a high needs baby...All while trying to recover from the above and deal with the aftermath of the c/s. Well it's a lot, there is no wonder I was a zombie there for a while.
But also the frustion of never sleeping more than 2 or 3 hours at night, ever. I think around 2 months (when we were in the hospital- so it was probably the drugs I was on!) she started sleeping longer stretches. Then it was back to every 45min-2hours all night every night. Now that is hard for any mother. It's hard right now, as Amity is doing the same thing. BUT this time I have this perspective: I expect it. I expect sleep to be rough at this age- if you take into account every thing they are learning they go from being little 7-9lb helpless, flailing, adorable bundles to being able to WALK and say WORDS in ONE SHORT YEAR (well some times they walk and talk a little later but STILL)!!!! Why in the world would I expect anything less than short sleep spans!
This perspective has helped my sanity so very much of late. This too shall pass. I don't expect to sleep longer than 2 hours at a time (longer than 45 minutes WOULD be very nice but that's okay it's only for a time)... All too soon she'll be grown, she'll wean, she'll be running around telling me stories and destroying every thing she can get her hands on (or at least pulling every thing that I carefully placed on some thing DOWN and leaving it around the room).
This too shall pass really is true.
I am thankful that my first few months with Amity were very restful, no catastrophes, no huge illnesses 2-4 (some times 6-7!) hours of sleep was wonderful...And now we dive into the marathon of milestones! She'll be walking before I know it, right?
Friday, January 15, 2010
The women's group at our church has a winter Bible Study every year. Last year we met every Saturday for 11 weeks. I went every week on top of working evenings and weekends, being pregnant and having/nursing a 1 year old. That winter/spring session nearly killed me.
My pastors wife just called me make sure I knew about the study and wanted to know if she should get a book for me. I don't want them to feel alienated. I haven't been making it to church as much as I'd like since dd2 was born. Sunday morning comes and any opportunity to be home with just one child is such a relief and sanity saver. It's I guess not a very spiritual sanity saver. But it's been getting me through. RJ is just some thing else and a relief from the constant talking, needing, every thing ing means so much right now. The last thing I want to do is go to church and pace the entire time with a fussy baby who is missing her morning nap and won't nurse because she's too curious about being in a new place.
I didn't know what to tell M. :0( I mean essentially I told her I couldn't commit to coming to the meetings. But it's more than that. We simply don't have an extra $20 at the moment for the Study. I know that's pathetic but money is so tight right now. I do get $20 spending money every week, but that goes to things we need . This weeks money went towards Gatorade, crackers and disposable diapers so I could have a chance to recoup from this awful stomach flu. I don't feel like spending it on a study guide for a study I don't think I'll get to go to. :0( And even if I DID get to go I'd have to take AJ- she's still nursing every 2 hours or so- I mean she can go 3 or 4 hours but I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving her for that long.
But more than that Ryan is getting more and more requests for his LBCCS seminars - we're looking at 2 a month at this point and that will be an extra strain on me because he'll be gone late into the night when he has those seminars. Which means no downtime for me on those days.
This is such a short season of my life, I am learning and growing so much in so many ways- ways that might not be very "spiritual" but I can't say how much God is working on me and drawing me to Him right now. It isn't in the "lets sit down and study the bible" kind of way.
Growth doesn't just happen one way right? I mean as long as we're staying open to the Holy Spirit and ...Well I just feel like ...I don't know I feel fake for doing the "read your bible pray every day" going through the motions. I AM trying to stay in the word, but right now "staying in the word" means watching a sermon on DVR while I nurse AJ or rebound or reading a Psalms in a short quiet time. or just saying a memory verse over and over and over again while taking deep breaths so I don't kill some one. (just saying)
Last years Bible study was really good, I'm glad I did it, kinds. But I've also learned my limits and my family needs me right now. I just don't want the ladies at church to feel alienated. Need to think on this some more. :0(
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
But what about when baby gets older? What about toddlers...children? I've been blessed with a daughter who has a lot of emotion. She feels things deeply- and more often than not loudly. It can be exhausting, embarrassing and some times down right annoying. Many many times we just want the tears to stop!!
I'm reading Playful Parenting by Larry Cohen Ph.D. I'm allllmost done with it, and I just finished reading a section about crying. I can't say how much this impacted me.
Here are some quotes that stood out to me...
"Tears are good. When we release grief and loss and sadness through crying, we generally feel much better, think more clearly, and recover. These benefits are especially true when we cry with someone who is caring and empathic. I have spent years trying to help adults in therapy, especially men, to cry so they could effectively heal from their traumas. Then I became a parent and I was surrounded by people trying desperately to get babies not to cry." (p. 223)
"In addition people seem to think that if you stop babies from crying you've actually stopped them from being sad or hurt. On the contrary, you've stopped their natural healing process, and the hurt just builds up inside. I like to think of crying as getting "un-sad." I know it ruins the metaphor, but a good cry actually fills children's cups, especially if they are being held and comforted." (p. 223)
He goes on to talk about meeting babies needs- like I said above: figure it out and meet the need.
I found this interesting, "But often babies cry just to express themselves, or to release their pent-up frustrations and tensions from the drama of all their new experiences." (p. 224)
He urges the reader to never leave a child alone to cry and also to ask the question: Are they happier and more connected after a good cry?
This part especially hit me hard.
""Is there a pattern in your family of teasing people or humiliating them for crying? Have they ever seen you cry? Have you tried staying with them, [the child who is crying] physically and emotionally, listening to them cry for as long as it takes to express themselves fully?" I also ask parents to recall their own history of crying as a child. "Did you have to cry alone in your pillow, or not cry at all, or were you lucky enough to have a friend or parent or caregiver who offered a shoulder?""(p. 225)
One more quote, "The term crybaby is an awful slur. It reinforces a very destructive idea that crying is bad, weak and immature. However, some children actually do cry a lot, for no apparent reason. Just because we don't know the reason, though, doesn't mean they don't have a good one. Emotions don't come from nowhere. It's presumptuous for us to decide when tears to be compassionate about and which ones to dismiss. Since we usually stop tears before they are done, some children get stuck in an endless loop of trying to express their feelings through tears, only to be stopped midway...."
This brought up some painful things for me. I can't count how many times I was teased for being a "crybaby"...Specifically by my siblings, it was a family joke that I was uber emotional. I remember many times crying into my pillow because I HAD to cry but didn't want any one to hear and make fun of me. I remember after a spanking I'd cry and scream and my parents (yes it probably was way over the top, I tend to be that way ). They would get angry at my "disrespect" and ask me if I wanted another spanking. That I better "dry up" or I'd be getting another one. I guess per Dobson you're supposed to spank the child and then comfort them and hug and hold them and reaffirm your love aftewards.
But after a spanking I didn't want to be hugged and held- from what I remember, I was hurt angry, enraged on a couple of occassions. I'd cry so hard I'd almost throw up. My parents viewed this as manipulative and got angrier at me and either left me alone or I know a couple times I got another spanking. My parents weren't ogres, they really were not big spankers at least compared to the other parents in the circles we were in. And they were pretty crunchy in a lot of other ways (homeschool, homebirth, all 5 kids breastfed, co-slept for at least the first few months etc.). They made mistakes. And those moments were a very small part of my childhood.
But they stand out so strongly in my mind - especially now that I'm a mother of an emotional toddler I feel those bad experiences so much stronger than I ever did. Before RJ was born I know I would have said' My parents spanked me, and I turned out okay"...Actually I'm pretty sure I DID say that on a few occassions. And I also know now that I'm grown and married and parenting my own children how deeply those spankings and interactions effected me. I can see how clearly they contributed to my being the emotionally constipated person I am today. A person now, trying to raise children in relationship. A relationship that will allow candid show of emotion- even loud and some what ugly emotion. A realtionship that will hopefully teach ME and my children how to express emotion in a healthy respectful way. NOT stuff it! Ask my husband I am the queen of stuffing it- untill I blow up that he took a wrong turn and cry for an hour over a stupid comment...Yup real healthy!
Read: "Children are often full of deep feelings that they can't get out. The real emotion is just too intense to handle. So they pick some little thing to get upset about, a pretext." (p 226)
All of this challenged me, especially at this point where RJ seems to cry over nothing so many hours of the week. Her big feelings are sometimes infuriating and exhausting - I don't know how to fix it and the sound is downright annoying (not to mention LOUD).
But I can choose to see the expression of feelings as obnoxious and over the top...Or I can embrace it, help her finish it out...And hopefully (please Lord!) guide her in experssing her feelings in a healthy way as she grows.
I should see the tears as an opportunity to connect
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The Myth of the Perfect Parent by Leslie Leyland Fields
A few quotes...
"We are so focused on ourselves—on our own need for success and the success of our children—that we have come to view parenting as a performance or a test...If we are graded instead on an absolute scale—as I believe we are—we fail even more miserably. But this is why a Savior was provided, and gifted to us through grace, through faith—"and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). If even our ability to believe in God is given to us by God, then how much of parenting can we perform on our own? We must proceed, then, on our knees first, beggars before the throne, if we are to parent well...
We are not sovereign over our children only God is. Children are not tomatoes to stake out or mules to train, nor are they numbers to plug into an equation. They are full human beings wondrously and fearfully made. Parenting, like all tasks under the sun, is intended as an endeavor of love, risk, perseverance, and, above all, faith. It is faith rather than formula [italics mine], grace rather than guarantees, steadfastness rather than success that bridges the gap between our own parenting efforts, and what, by God's grace, our children grow up to become."- Leslie Leyland Fields
A really great perspective at Christian parenting. Very much along the lines of Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel...It's about walking in REALTIONSHIP with our children. Holding them to the natural and logical boundries and consequences that God holds us to. Modeling for them and mirroring the relationship (through GRACE) that we have with God Himself. Okay enough, just sparked some thoughts in my mind thought I'd share.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
What we've learned...
- We've confirmed that our little RJ is not like most...We knew this already, she's always been high needs and sensitive. But it should have been in the forefront of our minds when we took on this "3 Day Potty Training" deal.
- We learned how easy it is to get stresesd out having to follow a program...We're not program people and it's not in the best interest of our family.
- We learned in the end that we're really glad we dove in with the underwear thing! REALLY glad. Did she learn to use the potty in 3 days? Nope. Did she learn to recognize what elimination/peeping/pooping ARE? ABSOLUTELY.
- We learned A LOT. We learned that we can handle cleaning up messes- they aren't a big deal. Actually having cloth diapered for the past 18months we've realized her wearing underwear really is only a little different (the messes end up on the floor)...And we have the dry pail (for poopy or wet undies) all set up for AJ!
- We learned that RJ really is VERY good at holding her bladder, amazingly so. Again, probalby thanks to the CD's? She learned she felt wet so instinctively held it for longer so her diapers wouldn't bother her?
- We were once again confirmed that our family is definitely never going to fit in the "one size fits all" category. And to distrust advice that says every one does.
- We also learned to recognize RJ's cues and we got a special long weekend giving her a lot of attention (and learning from OUR frustrations).
What we've decided...
That we're going to keep going, but with a more relaxed attitude...More late ECing (which we've done a little of since she was 7mos old) than PTing. Let her run naked or in underwear around the house, puting her in pull ups, cloth pull ups, or training pants when we're out and about... It might take a few weeks but I think it will eventually be 100% underwear (I mean we WILL eventaully- she's not going to be PTing when she's 16, right? ;0). And very soon we'll be starting with Amity- who already cues very well when she pees I can almost always tell- I'm just too lazy to catch it before she goes. And hey, she's in cloth it's not costing much to wash them.
This potty training journey has been interesting. I haven't felt this waffley (that's a word) and unsure since Ri was a newborn! Looking back there are a few things I wish we had done differently... I want to in the future be more aware of fear- fear of failure. I know this whole thing was probalby a bit more stressful on Ri than it could have been. #1 don't potty train when they are sick. Give it up and try again...But we'd introduced the idea and once she expiereinced diaper-free morning she really didn't seem to want to go back. Oh and on the sick thing, especially in RJ's case, doing ANY THING when she is sick is miserable. She cries pretty constantly when she doesn't feel well. She sits there and fusses for hours on end- in our arms, alone, with us walking her around, constant intense attention and platy have to happen to keep the tears at bay...she's definitelt my girl! :0.
It was definitely an exhausting time made more exhausting by her being upset by wet peed on legs. We're not doing THAT agian. And I'll admit it, we were on the first day scared that if we backed off and let her back in diapers she wouldn't potty train for years and years (it was an unsaid irrational, silly, inkling fear).
And on a positive note, some thing changed in me this weekend. I realized a naked child running around (the very thought stressed me out) really isn't a big deal, getting them dressed 16 times a day (shirt on, shirt off) really wasn't a big deal... This whole thing has really been a very bonding experience for me and Ri... I'm glad we did it.
Lessons learned...agh parenting is humbling.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I honestly don't mind changing diapers- 2 in (cloth) diapers isn't a big deal, I mean it's a lot of laundry it's definitely work...But way less work than dealing with a potty trained toddler...Who will need help getting to the potty IMMEDIATELY for the next several months (if not years).
I am doing this for her, I really think she wants to learn how to use the potty.
But she holds it, she stands and crosses her legs and than has an accident and won't use the potty. The mention of "tell us if you need to go" totally melts her into tears and whining. I don't know what to do.
I'm very conflicted. The largest part of my heart says "hold her close, be patient and compassionate...Hold her through this change, stay constant and consistant she WILL adjust...She'll grieve and move on."
The other part is slightly concerned we're ruining this process for her. We've tried to make it fun, we've tried to give her extra special attention. I think getting sick has made it a thousand times harder. ERGH had we realized that the sniffles would head this direction we never would have taken this on. :0(
So Day 2- no success.
Day 3- no accidents (and she's been up an hour and a half)...we'll see if it clicks, if it doesn't we're not sure what we'll do.
Maybe she's not as ready as we thought. I'll own up to that. I know she'll get used to this eventually, but is it what's best for her?
Friday, January 1, 2010
2 hours later her diaper was still dry. She was asking to wear underwear and wanted all her clothes off. 2 more accidents that day and it was bedtime. Oh was also dry after nap.
Woke up with very wet pull up. Had 3 accidents in the morning, and a poop which got half way in the potty (with help from us). The pooping thing with out a diaper was traumatic (seemingly?) she did not want to poop with out a diaper and she was so upset. Pacing, and crying anxious about having to poop.
She had a few more accidents and then it was nap time, woke up dry...We put her on the potty as soon as she woke up and she went in the potty! Buutt, she wasn't done and went some more on the bathroom floor...And then when we brought her downstairs...She had a lot of accidents. Or she'd hold it really well and then let it all loose. It's been a challenge to keep perspective. This afternoon has been hard. She's not feeling well and she's been crying a lot. She's never handled change well and the change from diaper to no diaper seems to be a bigger transition for her than I anticipated. I'm kinda kicking myself for not realizing what a change this would be for her. :0( She's excited about the underwear, but she wants to be naked too. Which is fine, but our rule is no naked on the furniture (except her rocker) it's my Mom's furniture and we don't' feel like it's respectful to let our 2 year old climb around on it naked. Ryan and I waiver- is this being awful to take and make her transition so extremely fast and cold turkey? But on the flip side we feel like this is the best way for her to learn- the most logical way. Let her be excited about underwear, help her grieve the loss of diapers...Give her a choice to be naked or in underwear- let her see what her body does- stay positive, give her lots and lots of cuddles and attention, and let her figure this thing out. I just wish we had realized she'd be sick when we were doing this. :0/
We've decided even with the sickness we're going to keep going, and stay consistent. We feel like it would be really confusing to her and we'll just keep chugging away and keep her consistent. She likes sitting on the potty but she doesn't want to put her pee in there. :0/