sleep, or a lack thereof

Bad Mama Confession: Until recently, there hasn’t been a night in recent memory where Ellie has fallen asleep on her own. And by that, I mean one of us always had to cuddle with her until she fell asleep. It’s something we started when she was a baby and just never stopped. Yeah, I know–not a great habit, but until Gwen was born it wasn’t an issue. The way I saw it, 20-30 minutes of snuggle time in the evening was a fair trade for a full night’s sleep in my own bed.

But since Gwen arrived, our nighttime routine has become… hectic. Newborns don’t care about their older sister’s routines–when they want to be fed, they want to be fed, routine be damned. For the last three weeks we’ve made do, but it became obvious our old habits weren’t serving us well. Ellie was staying up until well past her bedtime, then it would take forever for her to fall asleep (meaning one of us was stuck in bed until she passed out)… and then she stopped sleeping through the night.

Elspeth playing

As someone who’s been spoiled by a good sleeper, this was NOT COOL. Being awake with a newborn is a given–it’s not always pleasant, but I expect it. Being awake with a pre-schooler who’s become accustomed to snuggling with you to get to sleep, on the other hand, is infuriating–especially when sleep is already a precious commodity.

So after a particularly rough night, I made one of those Difficult Parenting Decisions–we needed to change the bedtime routine. The kiddo needed to learn to fall asleep in her own bed, sans over-tired parents. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but it was necessary.

I decided to put my plan into effect on Friday night when Tim was out at a movie–that way I wouldn’t be tempted to hand Gwen to Tim in the thick of a tantrum and go back to our old ways. Leading up to bedtime, I made a point of telling Ellie several times, “You’re going to sleep in your own bed tonight, by yourself!” I tried to make it sound EXCITING and FUN! YAY, SLEEPING ALONE! Mama loves it, why don’t you?

She wasn’t buying it, but when bedtime came, she crawled into her bed and pulled her blankie up to her chin in between sniffles. I thought to myself, “This might not be so bad after all!”

Ahah. Ahahahahahaha.

Here’s how the evening went down:

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gwen’s birth story

Miss Guinevere wasted little time in getting here once she decided she was on her way out. My water broke around 11:30 on Tuesday night, after I’d just dozed off (of course!) Unfortunately for our home birth plans, it was tinged with meconium (baby poop) and that meant a hospital transfer. Apparently home birth is just not in the cards for us! Our midwife came over and confirmed, so we made a few calls, updated Facebook (of course!), packed Ellie into the car (Tim’s family agreed to watch her at the hospital since they live in the area) and headed to Ellsworth.

Contractions really kicked in around 12:30 and I did not handle them with grace, to say the least. Due to the last-minute change in plans and the fact that I was over-tired and anxious about Gwen’s health, I was unimpressed with this whole labor/birth business, to put it mildly. I decided that since we were going to the hospital anyway, and since I wouldn’t be able to use the birth tub for pain control, I wasn’t going to be a natural-birthing heroine.

Read: I was grumpy and I wanted drugs. Stat.

The hospital admitted us around 1:30 a.m. and checked everything out. I was dilated to 3 cm. The nurse informed us I’d need to get to at least 5 cm before they would consider an intrathecal for pain, and I was NOT a happy camper.

I begged. I was loud. I swore. I bawled like a baby. I hated every single person in that room. Every time Tim looked into my eyes and said, “you’re doing a great job, love,” I wanted to punch him.

Evelyn, our doula, really earned her keep that morning. She encouraged me to stay upright so I’d progress faster. I kept telling her, “I don’t want to do this. I just need to get to 5. Just need to get to 5 so I can sleep.”

Around 4 a.m., I asked to be checked again and I was at 4 cm. Not good enough. The nurses suggested IV pain medication and at first I declined because I didn’t want to feel loopy or drugged… but after a particularly excruciating contraction, I changed my mind. Evelyn thought the meds might be just enough to take the edge off so I could rest and let my body do its thing. I relented and they gave me Stadol–in the nurse’s words, “It will feel like you’ve had a couple shots of tequila.” And she was right! It still hurt like a bitch, but I was able to give into the pain instead of fighting it. I snoozed a little in between contractions and they eased up a bit–probably because I wasn’t so tense.

Around 6 a.m. I started to feel pressure. The nurse was hesitant to check me again until the new OB came on, so I had to wait… entirely uncool, as the Stadol had worn off and I was still focused on getting that intrathecal. Eventually the nurse checked me and said, “I have good news and bad news! The bad news is you’re not getting your intrathecal. The good news is you’re almost at 10 and you’re going to have this baby very soon.”

I was… pissed. Haha! I still wanted the drugs, but everyone kept assuring me it would be over soon. I didn’t really believe them. I was not feeling very nice. 🙂

They rushed to get the new OB on the phone and she arrived around 7 a.m. Sure enough, I was almost at 10. They had me roll over on my side to help even things out, where I had what felt like the longest contraction in human history.

When they told me I could push, I wasted no time! It took about three pushes, total, over the course of a minute… it would have been less, but they had to keep reminding me to breathe. Annoying! I was not interested in breathing–I just wanted her OUT!

She was born at 7:29 a.m. posing like Superbaby, with one little hand above her head. They put her on my belly and she squawked briefly, then just looked at me, wide awake and alert. She stayed there all warm and cozy until after they stitched me up and Tim was able to cut the cord. Her APGAR scores were 9 and 9, the little overachiever. Thankfully there were no complications as a result of the meconium! I was so relieved–both that she was healthy and that it was over.

big sister, little sister

We’re settling in nicely, with many thanks to my mom for keeping house and entertaining Miss Ellie while we adjust to living on Newborn Time once again. So far life with two is not much different from life with one, just with a bit more creative juggling. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about that later!

on motherhood: week 20-something (who has time to count??)

imma bein silly I’m not sure where the last month has gone… lost in the abyss! Life is great, just extremely busy.

Ellie started daycare this week, which was relatively uneventful with the exception of her catching her first cold. Welcome to the petri dish, baby girl. She’s been a bit feverish and snuffly, poor thing, but seems to be on the upswing. We’re only a teensy bit sleep-deprived, so I consider myself lucky!

Speaking of the little bean, I’m told tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and oh hey, I’m a mom now, right? I guess I am, although most days I feel like this is just a warm-up for the years to come and the “real” parenting has yet to begin. This is the honeymoon phase, which serves the purpose of ensuring we bond appropriately so that when she’s 13 and a terror I won’t leave her on the side of the road somewhere. I may be tempted, but thanks to the memory of her baby gummy grins, I won’t actually do it. 🙂

All in all, after four and a half months of Ellie in our lives, I think I can speak for both Tim and myself when I say we are just so in love with her. She’s perfect, from her adorably wrinkly little toes to the slightly bald spot on the back of her head where she rubs against her crib mattress at night. Yes, you read that right–even her bald spot is adorable. I want to capture every little nuance of her behavior and tuck it away in memory, because every day she’s a little more attentive, a little more coordinated, a little more her own being and less the squirmy, wailing creature we met in December (who was cute in the way newborn babies are cute, but is no match for this strikingly blue-eyed baby girl).

In other news, I’ve been working on some new ideas soon to be released at Calobee Doodles… in fact, I need to take photos for some new products tomorrow.  Very exciting! And today I spent some time at a local greenhouse, buying new starter plants to decorate our porch over the summer (a “congratulations, you’ve survived four months of mommyhood” present to myself). It seems the new floors have inspired me to prettify the rest of the house, which includes our often-neglected back porch and yard area… I can’t wait to see all the colorful flowers peeking in at us through the kitchen windows.

Now I’m going to go relax, maybe read a book, and enjoy the first thunderstorm of the season. Good night!