Early birds

My youngest woke up at 5am this morning. Ouch. I wouldn’t mind so much if he didn’t wake up early every single morning! I know what I should do (according to my sleep consultant): set the wake-up time for him (e.g. 7:00 am) and let him fuss until that time. Eventually, babies are supposed to learn that wake-up time is at X o’clock. Logically, this makes sense. If I go to him when he wakes up at 5:15am, 5:30am, etc., then I am rewarding him for waking up early (if I wake up early I get milk! cuddles! play!).

I have a hard time doing that, for no good reason really. But I think: if he slept from 7p-5a, that’s actually pretty good! Or: maybe he’s not tired. Or: maybe he’s just an early bird (before kids, I used to be an early riser). And most times I just can’t deal with the crying. In sum, I make a lot of excuses for him. I did the same with my first. He used to wake up 4:30a-5:30a! I would prep my walking/running gear the night before, wrap him up first thing in the morning, and set off for the park to let my husband sleep in a bit. Other times I would try to see whether he would fall asleep again (he was much better at doing so than my second, who never falls asleep once he’s up in the morning). And probably 70% of the time I’d make coffee and see what games we could play that involved my laying horizontally the entire time.

Two weeks ago, I tried to nip this early wake-up behavior in the bud. I had razor-sharp focus because we were awaiting a family visit and I knew that the kids would be sharing a room. Now, I can deal with one child up at 5a, but I do not want to deal with two children up at 5a, especially when one is a toddler and nothing is worse than a sleep-deprived toddler! So when my little guy woke up at 5a, I let him fuss until 6a. It was easy to do because I was so tired that I just kept drifting in and out of sleep. Lo and behold, the first night they were in the same room, he slept until 6:45a. But this slowly deteriorated to 6:30a…6:00a…5:45a…5:30a…5:15a…and, today, 5:00a. But I don’t have the courage to let him fuss in his brother’s room at 5:00a because, again, the horror of sleep-deprived toddlers.

I just keep holding out hope that this early-rising phase will soon come to an end. My first started “sleeping in” somewhere between 18-20 months, and he was a terrible sleeper. So this little guy, who sleeps better overall, should start sleeping in soon, right? Fingers crossed. Until then, I’ll keep drinking that coffee…

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.

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!

Before you have kids

I read an article once that made me crack up. I just tried to find it but to no avail, so if anyone knows knows of it or the author – let me know! It was hysterical. The premise was this: before you have kids, relish in the simplicity of the pre-kid life. The example they used was leaving the house. Step outside, they said. Just step outside your door. It’s that easy – you’re out! Once you have kids, this will become a daily obstacle.

Truer words have never been spoken. It takes forever to leave the house. I actually don’t think that it takes all the much longer with two kids as compared to one, but the jump from zero kids to one was massive. Now before leaving the house I have to change diapers, juggle nap schedules, pack the diaper bag (which inevitably takes forever), convince my 2 y/o that leaving the house is a good idea, fit the stroller into the car, find everything to put in the diaper bag (takes longer than expected since the house is almost always a disaster because who has time to clean!?), and usually come back into the house once or twice because something was inevitably forgotten.

The thought of this exhausts me!

So parents-to-be, do yourselves a favor: if you want to do something, relish in the ability to just do it. You won’t have this opportunity again for many, many years.

On Children, by Khalil Gibran

I think about this often. My life at the moment revolves around my kids – a 9 month old and a 2.5 year old. When I am at home, I do not have a minute to myself. The days fly by in a blur of mealtimes, nap times, and activities to entertain the kids. The hours pass while we watch the kids play in their playroom, stroll outside with one baby in the carrier and one on his Strider bike, wash dishes, do laundry, clean pump parts, cook – the list goes on. These are lovely moments – reading books on the window seat, playing peek-a-boo, and even answering the same question over and over again. I have already seen how these little people are born with their own desires, disdains, and personalities. I know that it is only a matter of time before they fly away from me. They will make their own friends, create their own worlds, and go on to have busy, busy lives. It is the nature of things and I am trying to prepare for it. For now, I am soaking up these precious days – trying to be as present as possible despite so often being exhausted. And in the back of my mind trying to remind myself that these children are not my own.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Sleeping again (maybe)

My youngest turns 7 months in a week. This is truly unbelievable and I can’t believe how quickly the past few month have flown by! One of the perks of him turning 7 months is that he is now sleeping through the night – hurrah! This is happening because we’ve worked on it (by letting him cry and self-settle, more on that in a later post), but also because he’s getting older and doesn’t need to eat every 2 hours. Admittedly, he was eating every 2 hours approximately 2 weeks ago, at a time when he most certainly did not NEED to eat every 2 hours, but these little babies sure can be manipulative!

In any case, I am again amazed by how sleeping through the night gives you a whole new perspective on life. Granted, it has only been two nights, and I’m an old hand now – I know that regressions are around the corner – but WOW does it feel good to sleep without waking up every 2-3 hours! I can actually think more clearly, and act more quickly, and I have a much better temperament. Also – the possibilities seem endless! Now that I’m sleeping through the night, perhaps I will actually wake up early to go to the bi-weekly exercise class I signed up for in January. Or maybe I will blog more. Who knows? Again – endless possibilities.