The two week wait

For people who are trying to become pregnant, the two week wait is the worst of times. Here’s how it works: there are generally 2 weeks between ovulation and the time when you may be able to find out that you are pregnant. This translates into roughly 14 days that you can obsess about being pregnant/not being pregnant and swing from disappointment to elation to hope to relief.  The pendulum can swing either way and you have no control over it and you can’t force time to pass any more quickly than it is already moving.

With my first, for whom we underwent fertility treatment, I experienced a great number of disappointing two week waits. I am not a patient person, and I spent hours Google-ing any and all symptoms to see whether they could “correlate” with pregnancy. Slight abdominal twinge? Metallic taste in mouth? More sleepy than usual? Hair slightly curlier? Seriously – there was no such thing as low-hanging fruit. I can’t even tell you how much money I spent on ovulation strips and pregnancy tests! Sometime in March of 2014, a week and change after I ovulated, I experienced terrible cramps and was certain that I was out for that cycle (my fifth of oral ovulation induction). Then, a few days later – a positive urine home pregnancy test! Finally! It was the best of times.

With my second, I wasn’t sure when I ovulated (not a medicated cycle), so I took a slew of pregnancy tests around the 28-30 day mark until I was sure that I was not pregnant. However, because I was still late, I took another test a week later and, lo and behold, it was positive.

I am ruminating on this because we’d like to have a third. The situation is different now: with my first, I didn’t know if we would ever be able to have a child, so each two week wait was a truly emotional rollercoaster (would I ever be a mother? what was wrong with me?). With my second, it was more of a surprise (although not unintended). There was less stress and more joy. Now, I am torn between wanting to BE pregnant/closing this chapter of my life, and sticking with the familiar – two kids under three, a known chaos.

Sleep desperation

When my first was born, I pined for sleep on a 24/7 basis. X didn’t sleep, EVER, unless someone was holding him. Classic first-time parenting mistake, but also personality-driven, as I learned after having my second.

Here’s how the first few weeks went: During the day, X would nurse and fall asleep, and someone would hold him. Or he would snooze in a carrier (we used the Boba wrap the most during those first few weeks). When we lay him down, he slept less than thirty minutes. After officially giving up, he slept in this carrier until I went back to work when he was 4 months old.

At night, we would swaddle him tight and lay him on his back. He would sleep anywhere from 20 minutes to maybe 3 hours (max). We were up a lot at night. 8-9 weeks in, my husband held him for 5 hours one night just so I could sleep. It was my first time sleeping for longer than 3 hours since his birth. I was a zombie. I also felt terrible complaining – I had undergone infertility treatment to get pregnant. I felt so fortunate to have this baby in my arms – how could I complain about something as measly as sleep?

Did I mention that he had colic? This made the first few weeks even more difficult. Every night, from approximately 3-4p on, he could only be soothed by being held in the carrier. We tried every “S” that existed, but nothing helped.

We had a Pack n Play, a co-sleeper, a bassinet. He wouldn’t sleep in any of them. We tried every swaddle imaginable (except this one, which was actually my fave after our second was born). We had a consultant (a post-partum doula of sorts) visit our home to observe our interactions with him. She recommended double-swaddling, which was of no help, His startle response was intense! We spoke to two sleep consultants, including a well-known author of an infant sleep tome, who charged a steep price to give his two cents, which were unfortunately not helpful.

Somewhere around 8-10 weeks, we were desperate. Since I didn’t sleep at night, I spent the time reading every sleep book under the sun (this was my favorite).  So one day, I placed him on his stomach during nap time (NOT a recommendation from the book). He was un-swaddled and I sat next to him the entire time. He slept for 2 hours! I was in shock. At night, we started placing him on his stomach to sleep. His sleep improved marginally – regular 3 hour stretches. For the first few weeks, we watched him the entire night. At first, we had family visiting so could easily take shifts. Once they left, this became much more difficult and we were not much better off! We used a movement sensor, which put our minds at ease, but in actuality, it would not have been very helpful in the event of SIDS given the lag between breathing cessation and alarming. E spent a ton of playtime doing tummy time, and first rolled over at 8 weeks, although not reliably until 3.5-4 months. Let me be clear: I do NOT recommend that infants sleep on their stomachs. Infants should sleep on their backs. Please follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for safe infant sleep. I was terribly anxious the entire time that we did it, often waking up in the middle of the night (he slept in our room, in the co-sleeper or Pack n Play, until he was 4 months old) to frantically check on him. And with our second son, we never once placed him on his stomach to sleep. However, during those first few months of the newborn haze, it seemed like the best of bad options. We didn’t trust ourselves to stay awake while holding him (we were exhausted!), we were afraid to have him in our bed, we couldn’t justify the cost of a night nurse, and we had to sleep!

It was a tough time. When he began to roll over consistently, we moved him into his own room. He continued to wake up every 3-4 hours. However, we were (for no good reason) adamantly opposed to sleep training (Cry It Out). Our friend joked that everyone was vehemently opposed to CIO until they just couldn’t take it anymore. She was right (in our case, at least)! We reached our breaking point around month 7, when X started to wake up every HOUR and NOTHING would soothe him to sleep. Via a friend’s recommendation, we connected with an excellent remote sleep consultant. She was willing to work with a variety of parent attitudes regarding sleep training, and presented us with many options. We ultimately chose a gradual CIO (e.g. Ferber method) plan, and this worked for us. After less than a (very tough) week, our little one was sleeping through the night. Legitimately through the night! We had a few hiccups along the way – early wake-ups (we weren’t very strict on waiting until a certain time to get him), travel glitches, regressions, etc. – but we were able to reset by returning to our original plan.

X’s last regression was at 18 months. Since then (knock on wood), he has been sleeping like a champ. Some days he will sleep in until 7:30am! It’s glorious (or would be if we didn’t have a second who is an earlier riser). And he is generally in bed around 7:30-8:00pm with no tears.

So if you’re currently in the trenches, just remember that those first few weeks to months (to years) can be really tough! There’s no right answer, but eventually you’ll start sleeping again!


Supermarket Sweep

When the kids fall asleep, I suddenly feel like I’m in an episode of Supermarket Sweep. Does anyone remember that show? Contestants had to run through the aisles of a grocery store, packing it with as many groceries as possible, in the hopes of collecting the most expensive goods.

When the kids fall asleep I am like one of those contestants – frantically racking my brain for what needs to get done before the little ones awake. I completely forget my To Do list as the most salient tasks in front of me pop up – folding that pile of laundry, washing all of the water bottles and snack containers from the morning outing, putting away the produce we’ve collected from the farmer’s market. So, yes, often there is a lot of cleaning and organizing. Sometimes there will be a work task – following up with a patient by phone, responding to a time-sensitive e-mail, editing a paper or making headway on a deadline. Sometimes (less often than I’d like), I opt to do something creative – reading (New York Times, New Yorker, the current book club pick, another book of interest) or writing (here or in my journal). I respond to messages I haven’t responded to in days. And sometimes I decide to take a nap, because as soon as the kids wake up (more energized than ever), round 2 begins!

So here I am, typing up a few words before the littles wake up. I’m feeling sleepier than usual today so I may opt to take a nap afterwards. Just another day in my glamorous life!

Easy like Monday morning

This weekend, I left both kiddos at home with their father and spent a weekend in Napa with other moms. It was glorious. Of course, I missed my family (in fact, come Saturday night I was quite lonely!), but I hadn’t realized how far removed I was from the days of leisurely lounging.

A recap of our weekend: wine, uninterrupted sleep (8 hours both nights!), massage, sitting by the pool (in the shade of course), leisurely lunches, appetizer platters for dinner, and lots of girl talk. It was as amazing as it sounds.

Now obviously it isn’t feasible to take regular weekend get-aways, but I’ll be thinking of some ways to incorporate leisure time into my daily/weekly/hopefully at least monthly life! Writing this quick blog post is one way of attempting this before the crazy day gets in the way.

Happy Monday!

Adult friendships

This article resonated with me.

It is tough to make adult friendships. I have wonderful friends from childhood, high school, college, medical school, and residency. But as happens with life, I now live far away from most of those people.

In my post-residency life, my friendships have fallen primarily into the following buckets:

  1. Husband’s friends
  2. Mommy friends
  3. Work friends

I have had the opportunity to meet wonderful people in the past 3 years and I feel fortunate to call these people my friends, but the process has been quite different than in the past. In every other situation, my friends and I spent HOURS together. We talked about everything and knew the most intimate details of our lives. We shared in huge successes and massive failures. We participated in the most mundane of activities and also the most exciting. My friendships now are different. We see each other less often. Our knowledge of one another is based off of brief interactions – a few hours here and there spaced weeks (sometimes months!) apart. We are often engaged in other activities when we spend time together – working, chasing after kids, etc.

It is a truth that I recognize but also not sure where to go from here. I miss those deep friendships from my past. It would be so wonderful to have some of those friendships around to complement my new friends!