Friday, October 24, 2008

Developing Memory and Reasoning

One evening last week, I came home from work a bit late and noticed that the moon was almost full and was very visible from our front porch. So as soon as I went inside, I asked the Pumpkin if she wanted to go outside and see the moon. She knows the moon from books and Baby Signing Time DVDs, but I don't think we've ever really taken her to see it or pointed it out before.

I put on her jacket, picked her up and took her out onto the front porch to look at the moon. She followed my lead and pointed at it and said "Moon!" very excitedly. We looked at if for a while, and then went back inside. It was neat to be able to show her something in real life that she'd only previously seen in books and on TV.

Earlier this week, I came home from work while the sun was still out and saw a bunny in our front yard. He* lives under our front porch and is often in our yard. Also, there are a ton of bunnies in our neighborhood, but the Pumpkin loves to see them each time one is around. So I went inside and told her the bunny was in our yard and asked if she wanted to go outside and see it. Of course she did.

I picked her up and took her outside. The first thing she said was "Moon?" Wow. She remembered from the previous week when I took her out to see the moon. I know she's been remembering stuff prior to that, such as talking about people who aren't currently around, but this was a one-time incident that I hadn't mentioned again. I was floored.

I pointed out the bunny and said, "Look! There's the bunny! Do you see him? He's eating grass."

She repeated that the bunny was eating grass. We watched him for a little while, and then we went inside. When I brought her in, I said, "Tell Daddy what the bunny was doing."

The Pumpkin said, "Bunny eating grass!"

Again, I was floored. Even though I posed the question, I didn't realize that she would be able to answer it! Both because it's an open-ended question that she could have answered with anything and because she remembered what the bunny doing specifically.

The next day, I told the babysitter that we went outside to see a bunny the night before, and then I asked the Pumpkin the same question. "Remember when we saw the bunny yesterday? What was the bunny doing?" And she said, "Bunny eating grass!"

This may seem like a little thing to be amazed about, but to me, it's this leap in cognitive ability that hit me in the face. She probably has already been working on this type of thinking, reasoning, remember. But sometimes, the kid will do something and it just hits me! Wow. She is really growing and becoming a little person.

*Londo has deemed him a male and named him. No, he didn't check the sex. He just decided, and we are going along with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why I Am A Mommyblogger

Let me take a break from complaining about the sleep issues in my house. Instead, let's talk about "mommyblogging."

When I was at the DC BlogHer conference, I introduced myself to one young lady (did I just write "young lady"? I am getting old. But I wanted to write girl, but that wasn't fair) as I did to everyone else, "I'm a mommyblogger." She asked me why I call myself a mommyblogger, after all just because I'm a woman (and I assume she means a woman and a mom) does not mean that all I am is a mom because I could blog about anything. She proceeded to name a bunch of different things that I have little interest in as topics to blog about. I gave her a shorter version of what I'm about to explain to you all now.

Before I became a parent, I did not understand why in the world people would blog. I don't like reality TV or talk shows, which is basically what blogging reminded me of. I didn't understand why people would want to talk about their lives on the internet. I just didn't get it.

Then, I had my child. My lovely, wonderful, fussy, high-needs child. My first foray into anything blog-like was when I was struggling with the fact that the only way my child would sleep at night was swaddled in a swing. A good friend sent me a post from Ask Moxie (this post) which made me feel so much better, and I began to devour her site. Here was a woman who was talking about how hard it was to be a parent, and the comments of other women who understood and comisserated. There were good things too--bright uplifting things that kept me going through those tough first few months. This site became a daily place I went daily to read and feel better.

Then, I went back to work. I went to a new project and got along well with my new coworkers, but they were almost all men. Young, unmarried or just-getting-married men. In my large office, there were other parents, but I didn't know them. The other new mothers were still out on maternity leave. In fact, I was the only person using the Mother's Room at the time, which was nice for privacy, but lonely for understanding. The young men I worked with would listen to how tired I was, ask good questions to understand how hard, and were really great about welcoming me and letting me talk about the Pumpkin. But they just didn't understand and couldn't share their similar experiences (being an uncle is simply not the same).

So one day, as I'm in the Mother's Room pumping, I'm IMing a friend who also had a baby and went back to work. She asks if I've read any mommyblogs. I told her that I'd been reading Ask Moxie, which she hadn't discovered till I told her. She told me about Mom-101, Motherhood Uncensored, Girl's Gone Child, Her Bad Mother and probably a couple others. After a while of IMing about the mommyblogs, my friend fessed up that she actually has a blog, which I quickly added to my favorites.

Wow. These people understood what I was going through. They were talking about it, writing about it, sharing the good and the bad. The comments were other women who were going through the same things. The light came on in my head, and I felt like I finally had a place, a community. I finally understood why people blog, and why people read and comment.

I quickly became an addict. I read those blogs and used their blogrolls and comments to find other blogs. I started understanding that even on Ask Moxie, I could click a commenter's link and read their blog too. Then, I started leaving comments (after coming up with a name for myself). This was better than parenting magazines. This was better, to me, than even parenting message boards, which I had been going to. This was like the best of both non-fiction articles of magazines and the interactiveness of message boards.

I debated for a while about whether or not to start my own blog. I talked about it with Londo, because I wouldn't talk about our lives without his backing. Finally, last Thanksgiving, I decided to do it. I started a blog myself. This way, when I commented on others' sites, they could come back to me and see who I was, what I was going through. It would be more two-sided, more like a conversation. Like a community.

I generally only read mommyblogs, although there are some others I read. Since having kids, that's what I want to talk about with other people. I can't do that at work or with non-parents, as they quickly get bored. But I don't get bored with stories about people's kids or parenthood and all that we go through. I eat those stories up and look for more (I still haven't updated my blogroll, but I read A LOT of blogs).

Why am I "just" a mommyblogger? Because that is what interests me. Why are do some people blog only about politics or sports or their type of job or books? That is their area of interest. Why do some people just blog about their lives and all that encompasses? It's what they want to blog about.

I prefer to keep my blog focused on my area of interest. More than that, I have discovered an online community of women and men who are going through what I am going through. Parenthood. It's not easy, and those who don't have kids won't understand. But those who do, and who reach out and are supportive and kind to each other? Those are my people. My fellow bloggers and commenters.

Finally, although we talk about poop, developmental milestones and problems sleeping, we also talk about politics and work and marriage (or partnership) and life. We are more than just mommybloggers. We are women and men. We are also parents and there is nothing wrong with blogging about that. In fact, there is so much that is right about it and this parentblogging community.

I'm proud to be a mommyblogger.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big Girl Bed

I forgot to write out our whole bedtime routine yesterday, so here it is:
6:30 - dinner, which often last between 30 - 60 minutes (she's a slow eater)
7:30 - head upstairs for potty and then bath
8:00 - diaper, PJs, brush hair and brush teeth
8:10 - three or so books, if she wants them (she usually does, but lately she's been running around the room, climbing on the twin bed and throwing socks out of her drawers instead of wanting books)
8:20ish - bottle and rocking, then pacing and rocking and pacing and rocking
9:00 - 10:00 - actually get her asleep and in her crib

We start early-ish, but she just takes forever to get her to sleep. She truly fights it the whole way, fidgeting like crazy and trying to get down and play. Also, we've tried skipping some things or making them quicker to get her to bed earlier, and that makes it worse. She still sometimes won't fall asleep until 10, and we just spend hours trying to rock her. Totally not worth it.

Some of you have it really tough also, some have it easy and I'm jealous. Some worked hard to get to where they are and I respect that. Londo and I are not going to do CIO because our little one is a tension increaser (the Ask Moxie term Charisse mentioned) and for other personal reasons, which does not mean I condemn anyone who uses that method (every child and family is different, YMMV, do what works for you, etc.). We have just decided to struggling with other methods.

Speaking of other methods, I also didn't mention yesterday the big change we've made in the Pumpkin's sleeping environment because I wanted it to be it's own post (today's post). Hmmmm. Actually, it might not be such a big change, but it will sound that way.

You see, Saturday night we decided to heck with it, let's just put the Pumpkin to sleep in the twin bed in her nursery. The reason it's not such a big change is because she's probably spent more time in that bed than her crib lately! About a month ago, she was sleeping through the night in her crib every other night. But then, she got sick and even her 50/50 sleeping went out the window. We were back to getting her every night and cosleeping in that twin bed in the nursery, sometimes starting as early as 10:30.

We had debated moving her to the twin bed for the whole night for over a month, but when she was sleeping through the night in her crib half the time, it didn't make sense. But now, oh now it was time.

She's always been able to handle things physically that you would think are too advanced for her age. Like her climbing, which she is way more capable than anyone would believe unless you see her (freaks my parents and in laws out!). And she's never really liked her crib. There were maybe two, possibly three, short time periods where she would wake up in her crib and play a bit, but normally, she wants out immediately.

When we cosleep in her room (we take turns every night), the person who isn't cosleeping will wake up the cosleeper between 6 and 7 so that person can get up and get ready. And in the last two months, when the cosleeper gets out of bed, we have been leaving the Pumpkin in bed (because heaven forbid we try to transfer her to her crib!) with a pillow next to her. She would wake up later, call out for me (because I'm the morning duty parent), climb out of bed and be at the door by the time I opened it. We lined the floor next to the bed with pillows just to be safe, but she had no issues.

So, we just felt that she was ready and that it might help her get through the night on her own. I mean, nothing else seems to be working except us sleeping with her! And when we sleep with her in that twin bed, she usually sleeps through the rest of the night no problem. Maybe it was the bed?

However, we had to baby-proof the room in case she does get up and wander around the room getting into stuff in the middle of the night. Londo took the mattresses off the frame and put them on the floor so we would be less worried about her falling off the bed in the night. We covered all the plugs, took out the nightlight that plugs into the wall (we are using the clock as the nightlight because it is really very bright), and put the humidifier up on the dresser so that she won't be able to knock it over again. Most importantly, we moved the video monitor so it shows the bed not the crib (that way we can check if she is just doing a little fussing and falling back asleep, or really crying for us and getting out of bed). Prego! The room was ready!

Saturday night, I put her to bed in the twin bed. As always, I had to rock her/walk her until she was completely asleep and then carefully put her down in bed. That night, she slept through the night!!!

The next night, I put her down again, which again went fine because I got her completely asleep. Unfortunately, she woke up at 10:30 calling for me. So it wasn't a magic fix, but we didn't expect it to be. I went in and was able to lie down with her without rocking and we both fell back asleep. She did cry and kind of wake up again about 20 minutes later, but I just pulled her back onto my shoulder and we fell back asleep.

Then, at 2:45, I woke up and was about to roll over when I realized that she was pretty deep asleep next to me and not on me. So I slipped out of the bed and went back to my very own bed!!! And the Pumpkin? Kept sleeping until 7:45!

Last night did not go so well for Londo, but the Pumpkin was not feeling right. It was one of those nights that would have been bad no matter where she was or what we tried. Once he went in to sleep with her, she was so clingy he couldn't come back to our bed.

I still have high hopes for the big girl bed though. I think that she might start getting used to sleeping on her own in her own bed. If she needs us to lie with her to get her to sleep (or back to sleep), we can do that, and then we can slip back into our own bed. And hopefully she will get more and more used to falling asleep in that bed and waking up without us. Time will tell.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Question of the Week - Bedtime Routines

It's been over 19 months. 19 months of putting the Pumpkin to bed. 19 months of rocking and pacing and rocking and pacing--and from birth to 17 months, it was almost always me and there was also a lot of nursing. Over the last few weeks, Londo and I take turns putting her to bed (and then the other one is on night shift, which almost always lately includes getting up with her, rocking her back to sleep, and cosleeping with her till morning).

As I've said many many MANY times, the Pumpkin is not a good sleeper. She is not good at self soothing, falling asleep or falling back asleep. Sometimes, she goes through phases where she falls right asleep nursing or with a bottle. Sometimes she is exceptionally easy to put down to sleep. Sometimes, she is near impossible to put down, waking up from even a deep sleep every time we lean over to put her in her crib, clinging to us and cry for us to pick her up. It doesn't matter if it's Londo or me putting her down, some nights she just doesn't. want. down.

Generally, it takes us an hour or so to put her down to sleep. And she must be COMPLETELY asleep, or she will just stand up immediately and start crying for us, which leads to the screaming and sobbing, from which she just does not settle down. During that hour, we give her a bottle while rocking her (and I sing our lullaby), then we keep rocking her or pace the floor while holding her until she falls into a deep enough sleep that we can put her down.

19 months of this or similar. It's been a long time, and Londo and I are so tired of it. I know that she won't always need us to rock her to sleep, but for right now, she can't seem to go to sleep any other way, although we really have tried many other ways. I know that this is a short time period in the grand scheme of things, but it's just getting really old. I love her and I'll do what she needs, I just wish she didn't need it.

Ah, my internet friend. You were great about sharing in my toddler tantrum misery. Now I need to ask...

How do you get your child to sleep?

Please include their age, too. I'm looking for hope for the future, co-miseration of the present, and complete jealousy of those of you have it pretty easy. Like my IRL good friend who told me yesterday after dinner about how she puts her Monkey to sleep. I'm so jealous! And happy for her, of course.

How about you? Is it hard or easy? How old are they? And when does it get easier?