August 30, 2016

In exactly one week, my first baby will be starting Montessori preschool, two mornings a week. I cannot believe the time has come for my baby to go to school! Like seriously, 3.5 years has gone by already since that first time I held her tiny 5lbs body in my arms and said, 'Hi honey. I'm your mama. I love you so much.' Huh!? The thing is, I could not be more excited for her. She is so ready and SO excited to go - to make new friends, to explore her amazing classroom and to have teachers. She thinks she is a big shot and you know what? She is. She has grown from happy little baby to happy little 'big' girl and while she is not always the easiest thing now (hello threenager) she is pure joy.

The other really incredible thing for this mama is that she is starting her school career in the same exact classroom I taught in 3 years ago. Being the parent instead of teacher is so surreal and seeing her work in the same environment I prepared for all my little students years ago does my heart good. She has the most amazing teachers who I know will love her so well and nurture her little heart and mind. Knowing and loving her teachers makes this transition for me so much easier too. I love everything about her school and feel so good about how well it aligns with our family vision. We have the option to keep her there all the way through high school part time or full time and homeschool the rest. It is such a unique educational program and the fact that she can go to school AND be homeschooled makes me happier than you know. All the things that are good about school, she can experience still and all the things that are good about homeschool, she will experience too.

We are off today for her one on one work time with her teachers and then next week we start this new routine. I think it is going to be so good and I cannot wait to see my baby spread her little wings and fly. I'm so proud of you, Ru.


August 17, 2016

If you remember my last post, you know I was in the trenches of no sleep, at my whits end, running purely on fumes and coffee. It was HARD and I knew I needed to change something about our routine because no one was thriving and we were all tired and cranky. After reading a handful of books and every blog post I could find on sleep training I was feeling especially defeated. I didn't align well with any of the methods and needed to do something that would start working in a few days time. I just could not go on much longer the way we were living. I had tried Cry It Out half heartedly in the past but was not consistent because I just didn't feel like it was right for us. I couldn't do it no matter how hard I tried, but I knew Wren needed to learn to sleep some place other than my arms for more than 30 minutes and I wasn't sure how to go about that without having her cry. After talking to my husband about some options - should we hire a sleep consultant? which method will work for our high need baby? yada yada yada. We decided to take what we read and sort of make up our own method that felt right to us and that we hoped would be effective. So here's the run down on our routine now. Also, before I go into it let me just say, IT IS WORKING! We are on the 11th day and I never thought we would get here. Starting out on day one felt beyond daunting. I almost didn't even want to try because I could not see the light at the end but here we are, not perfect, but a world of difference and SO much happier.

I basically call this a very gentle cry it out method where after our sleep routine, I lay her down awake and leave, BUT then as soon as she starts to cry I go to her, pat her bum, shush or sing and stay with her the entire time until she falls asleep. This way she knows I am there (the idea of her feeling like she has been abandoned was the reason I could not get behind true extinction CIO.) The first day she screamed (screamed!) for an hour and a half every single time I put her down which was 4 times that day (3 day naps and bedtime.) I cried every time with her. It was just so hard not to pick her up but I knew if I picked her up she would think her crying would always lead to me picking her up and I so badly needed her to know she was safe in her own bed. It was also extremely time consuming but again, we so needed this. On the second day, the crying (again with me there with her) lasted maybe 30 minutes each time. Little by little it just kept getting better and better. Here we are on day 11 and she is able to put her self to sleep with no crying, in her own bed, in about 10 minutes for her morning and afternoon nap. IT IS LIFE CHANGING and so freaking awesome. I never, in a million years thought we'd get here. (PRAISE HANDS.)

 Bedtime is still somewhat hard because it is when she is most tired and my baby does not do well overtired. So she is still crying when we put her down for the night for about 25 minutes. We'll get there though. Now, through the night is a bit different because we all need to get sleep then. Here's what we do:

Bedtime: 6:30 (Usually asleep around 7)
The sleep routine is the same for day and night sleep and it's pretty typical:
Close door
Lights out
Sound machine on
Say I love you, close your eyes, it's time for sleep
Lay her down and walk out
If she wakes before 10, I do not nurse her or pick her up but continue with the patting and shushing until she falls back asleep. Then after that if she wakes, I do get her and nurse. Sometimes I put her back in her bed, (which I should note is in our room, right next to my side of the bed) sometimes I don't, but I NEVER let her stay attached to the nipple anymore. If I can feel that she is just pacifying I unlatch her and roll over so she can go to sleep without me. She has been sleeping 3-4 hour stretches through the night, which sounds terrible but 11 days ago she was only sleeping 40 minute stretches so I am extremely pleased with this progress.

I know there are so many different methods and ways to help a baby sleep better. This is what we decided to do and I think no matter what, the most important thing is to be 100% committed and 100% consistent. They need to know the routine to get comfortable with it and inconsistency will confuse and regress the entire process, and I think this is also why it is so important for you to use a method that feels right to you.

So, if you are a sleep deprived mama reading this, struggling to get through your days, I hear you. It is hard and feels impossible. Im here to say though that it can be better. You are strong and determined and patient and one heck of a mama. You can do anything you set your heart to. (Thank you to my husband for saying these exact words to me 11 days ago.)


August 3, 2016

If you follow me over on Instagram (@ourcityhouse) you know it's been a tough 6 months for me adjusting to life with two babes. When I had Ruthie 3 1/2 years ago I remember feeling somewhat guilty when talking with other new moms about how easy I eased into motherhood. Ru was an easy babe, I had no one else to care for except her and I was just on cloud 9 being a mother. While I'm still pretty much on cloud 9 over being a mama, my sweet little Wren is a much different baby. I had a lot of expectations of what she would be like as a second child. Laid back, easy going, super easy. What choice would I have? I'd be so busy with a 3 year old she would just have to be! I thought. Her very first night of life earthside she demanded to be in my arms to sleep. You know those plastic bassinets they want your baby to sleep in in the hospital? She was not having any of it. Literally the second you laid her down in there she cried. It's actually quiet reassuring to me knowing I haven't trained her to sleep so poorly. She just is the way she is and always has been. But let me tell you, to have a baby who sleeps terribly and another child to care for is HARD. The hardest thing I've ever done. Right now she takes around 4 naps a day because they are all only about 30 minutes long and wakes up usually between 4 and 8 times each night. (We've tried all the sleep training methods. Nothing works) And I. AM. TIRED. I have been carrying a lot of guilt about how much time Ru is forced to spend playing by herself or watching TV so I can keep trying to get the baby down for naps. I know this will all be over soon because really, where does the time go? But you know when you're in the trenches and you can't imagine ever climbing out? That is where I'm at right now. Getting out of the house helps and so after Wren takes a morning nap (which is the easiest one to get her down for, but still will only last maybe 40 minutes) I usually load them up and we go to the park or run errands or whatever. Just something to get us out. The rest of the day is a crap shoot whether or not Wreny will nap and she usually just ends up overtired because I cannot spend every hour trying to get her to sleep. Another thing I feel so guilty about.

I know I will miss her gummy kisses and soft, sweet cheeks and her huge smile every time we make eye contact and her baby laugh and coo's, (because my gosh, she is so damn sweet) BUT, I really am ready for us all to get out of this season - to be able to go out with my girlfriends (because what do you know, she refuses a bottle) and to be able to sleep more than an hour or two at a time. One day, right?

So here's to the other mama's struggling to survive. Just like me, I know you love your babies so damn much it hurts, but I also know you'd love a break. I'm here with you. We're doing it. And we should be proud.

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