The hurrier I go the behinder I get.
My Infant Sleep Obsession

My beautiful, bouncing baby boy has been, shall we say, a challenging baby. No sweet and snuggly honeymoon period for us post-birth. Ben came into the world with a holler and hasn’t stopped since. Those first few days in the hospital Mike discovered that Ben would calm down if he elongated the “eeee” sound at the end of “Benny.” Between that discovery and trying to match Ben’s intensity (per Happiest Baby on the Block), Mike and I have been circling our son, buzzing like a couple of giant bumble bees in hopes of containing his wealth of personality.

After ten weeks if screaming jags that could last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours and ranged from minor to unsootheable, the boy miraculously began to settle down. His sleep became longer and more regular. I began to revel in the tremendous achievement of a baby who was becoming a good sleeper all on his own. This was the calm before the storm.

One of the keys to Ben’s sleep is the swaddle. With it he sleeps soundly and falls asleep quick-ish. Without it, he is the spawn of Satan. About two weeks ago Mr. Man began to break out of his swaddle. I would wake up to a wailing Ben with a single hand peeking out of the top of his swaddle. This development has coincided with needing to move him to his crib because he has outgrown his bassinet. The transition went less than smoothly.

Last Thursday it took six blood curdling hours to get our offspring to fall AND STAY asleep. We rocked. We swayed. We “eeee’d” until we were hoarse. We nursed. Mike finally held Ben in his arms for an hour, letting the little body fully relax and fall asleep before we could put him down without waking him. That was the last straw. Letting him cry it out would be less traumatic and painful to Ben and us than a repeat performance of that fiasco.

So we did. Friday night we let our boy cry. We went through the normal bedtime routine, shut the door and waited. Boy howdy, did he cry. Wails and sobs; gasps and hiccups. For two and a half hours Ben made his opinions about his circumstances known to all and sundry. I cried. And then I left the house. I couldn’t stay to listen. But eventually he cried himself to sleep. The next night he cried for an hour. And the next night: ten minutes.

Now to my obsession. It comes from not wanting to let the boy get overtired so he cannot fall asleep. The kid has no tells. While some babies yawn and get droopy eyed, signaling their tiredness, Ben goes from dandy to full melt down without so much as a single yawn. So I watch the clock. An hour after he wakes up I start putting him back down for naps. We’re experimenting with early bed times. I’m charting his sleep habits. When I’m not putting him to sleep, I’m reading about his sleep. I am a woman possessed!

I have found that I am willing to go to whatever lengths to help my son get enough sleep. When I look into the sunken tired eyes ringed with dark circles because he just won’t give over and fall asleep I renew my efforts. And when he wakes up with a coo and a smile rather than a shriek my efforts are justified. Some day we will nail the right pattern of nap and overnight sleep. Oh happy day! Just not this day.

Swaddle Weaning: Day One

I totally caved. The boy has been breaking free from his swaddle the past few days. Each sleep period his left arm miraculously appeared over the top of his blanket or SwaddleMe. Being an astute parent I believe this means it is time to wean him from swaddling for sleepy time.

His first two naps went swimmingly. Slept well and soundly, one arm out of the swaddle. It went progressively downhill from there. Beginning at 3:30, when he suddenly developed the ability to bring his fist to his mouth, but not the ability to keep it there, the boy has been unable to fall deeply asleep. He keeps teasing himself with his free hand.

Mike asks if we should wrap him up fully after hour two of swaddle-drama-rama to which I respond, no, because we’re going to have to do this some time. Might as well be today.

10pm. Well in to hour three of swaddle mania. Ben: wide-awake. Mom and dad: increasingly tired, with no end in sight. So, I caved.

Boy is fully swaddled and being put down by his saintly father. We live to fight another day.

Be careful what you wish for…

…you might just get it. We have entered a new phase in the saga of Ben’s sleep habits. Where his daytime routine has become somewhat settled (for the time being), the boy has refused to go to sleep before 11:30pm! Refused, I say, regardless of how tired he obviously is.

Last night the miraculous happened and he was down for the night by 10pm. Alas this happy occasion was followed by him waking every two hours for the rest of the night even though he had previously been sleeping for 4 hour chunks the last week.

The rule of thumb for baby sleep is apparently expect the unexpected. I have real, true envy for those who’s children sleep through the night. I miss sleep. Such is the life of a new mom.

Good thing he’s cute.

Kind of a lot has happened…

It’s been a while since the last time I blogged and kind of a lot has happened since then. First and foremost, my son Ben was born. Pretty big deal, the birth of a child. He’s changed, well, everything about my life.

Before he was born I was certain I wanted to advance in my career and was still trying to determine how best to make that happen. I received a lot of my self esteem from my work performance and the respect of my peers. But from the moment the boy was born, all that ceased to be important.

I really didn’t understand what parents meant by the insistence that nothing would ever be the same. I don’t think you can until it happens to you. But from the moment the doctor put that goo covered little boy on my chest I was toast. So here I sit, a stay at home mom when I never expected to be. My life suspended for my son and his well being. Maybe not suspended, but very much altered.

This is my boy, Ben, born January 10, 2011.

This is my boy, Ben, born January 10, 2011.

Kitsuné Maison, je t’aime!

Beware!  The recommendation to follow may induce frantic, uncontrolled purchasing of music and impromptu office dance parties.  Consider yourself warned!

Thanks to one of my favorite audiophiles, (Shelly, I’m looking at you) I have a new musical obsession to share.  .  French electronica/electro-pop label of “Cut Copy,” “Two Door Cinema Club,” “La Roux” and “The Whitest Boy Alive” (Erlend Oye of “Kings of Convenience”) fame.  Kitsuné Maison Compilation 7 Cover

Compilation #7 is a must have. As is Kitsuné Tabloid (Compiled & Mixed by Digitalism).

Purchase.  Listen.  Groove.     

Grade me! Validate me! a.k.a. It’s Performance Appraisal Time

For someone who love to be graded (moi), I truly hate performance appraisal time at work.  The reason is simple.  I do not want to self-evaluate. I want others to evaluate me FOR me.  I have a wildly distorted perception of my own value to my employer.  Call it “employment dismorphia.”  I am my biggest critic and judge myself far more harshly than does the world.  So, when appraisal time inevitably comes a-knockin’, my hatred of it burns with the fire of a thousand suns. 

Now that I have vented my spleen a bit, I can admit that, yes, the process has become significantly easier over the past several years.  There was a time that whenever my supervisor closed his door I believed it was to discuss how he needed to fire me.  That paranoia is the product of many years of job hopping as a waiter and has never fully left me.  Also what has never left me from those years is the uncanny ability to remember drink orders.  The size of the party doesn’t matter.  I know who ordered the Appletini (editorial aside: gross…just gross).  But, I digress…

Back to my performance anxiety (rimshot), the truth remains that since I know my own judgment of myself is either far below or above reality I prefer the evaluation of others.  I don’t trust myself to be objective, but I do believe the opinions of others, sometimes beyond reason.  This is one reason why I have such an affinity for school.  To quote Lisa Simpson, “Look at me! Grade me! Evaluate and rank me! I’m good, good, good and oh so smart! [drops to her knees] Grade meeeeee!!” 

Oh, Lisa.  I relate. 

Dis baby haz flavur!

Dis baby haz flavur!

Spring Fevah!

It is here.  I have it.  Like a new tattoo, it is an itch I can’t scratch.  In my car on the way to the office I had to turn down the heat and put on sunglasses because this strange radiation emitting light source in the sky was blinding and overheating me.  Glorious.

Those who hail from northern climes know the phenomenon of which I speak.  You have it too.  I can see it in the too giddy expression on your faces when leaving office buildings.  There’s a spring to your steps as you traipse along the sunshine flooded pavement of Michigan Avenue.  I know what you are thinking because it is also in my mind…spring!

Those whose winter temperatures dip to the shocking low of 50 degrees (San Diego, I’m lookin’ at you) don’t quite understand that collective and panicked thought that floats like a low pressure system across the north country in the heart of the long dark: “Winter has to end some time. Right? Doesn’t it?!”  Much like the recognition of our own mortality, a northern winter drives those who experience it slowly insane.  It makes things like sandals in 45 degree weather, not only reasonable, but downright pleasant.  Is there something somehow inappropriate to shorts at this time of year?  It’s in the UPPER forties, people.  Might as well be 70 degrees when one has spent the last four months as a semi-animate icicle.

So to all of you enjoying this first sunshiney, warmish day of spring I say the tide has turned!  Spring cometh!  In the words of Whitman, “Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.”

Oh yeah, and go Cubs!  Like Spring itself, hopes springs eternal!

The fat shall inherit the earth!

We, humans, are victims of our own success.  Our species was not built for abundance, but instead, for scarcity.  The history of humanity on earth has been characterized by deprivation and the resulting population die offs.  Those individuals and family lines that endured passed the traits that helped them survive on to their offspring.  In a time of famine the ability to store energy as fat is an asset.

In more recent times only the very wealthy were fat.  Generous body size was a sign of prosperity and success.  Only the poor and those who labored for a living were lean.  Traditional foods from around the world are those that carry the most bang for the caloric buck: easily portable, preservable without refrigeration, and energy sustaining…e.g. sausage!  As recently as the turn of the 19th century, most Americans struggled to take in enough calories to sustain themselves through a days work.  Long hours of manual labor combined with the lack of climate control meant that the average American was still functioning in an environment of relative scarcity, metabolically speaking.

So, here we stand (or lean)…Americans at the beginning of the 21st century.  Why the stroll down memory lane?  Without that context, obesity becomes a personal problem rather than a societal problem.  We live in a time of unprecedented plenitude.  Advances in technology ensure that we do not have to walk across the street to visit a neighbor, instead we call.  No need to use bi-pedal locomotion to go to our mother’s house, we drive.  We needn’t even regulate our own body temperatures in the heat and cold: we have central air!  Every convenience of modern life in America keeps us sedentary.  Our work is at a desk, in front of a computer.  Our leisure is on a couch, in front of a television or computer or game console.  We exercise for fun (some of us), not for our daily bread.

And we wonder why we are fat?

We struggle to find enough activity in our daily lives to burn the 2000 calories we should be taking in, let alone a more realistic 2000+ calories we actually ingest.  So what do we, as a society, about the monster our success has created?  The human species is evolutionarily predisposed to rapid weight gain.  There is not a looming cataclysm on the horizon that will help switch our collective metabolisms into ketosis.  And one hundred years of national abundance is not going to supplant millions of years of evolution.

We educate ourselves as to our own nature as homo sapiens.  We do what we can to be healthy and long lived.  For those who are losing the battle with bounty, we offer accommodation and encouragement rather than derision and scorn.  There are many things we can control, but the nature of our species?  That we cannot.

And as I consider that piece of candy or eye my couch on the way to the gym, I will try to be grateful for my own efficient energy storage system.  I say instead, Huzzah!  Evolution has equipped me well for the coming zombie apocalypse!

Written in honor of the hilarious Kevin Smith.  Keep on keepin’ on.