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October 29, 2008

Comments

Beth

Oh Jessamyn. I have been reading you for so long - your writing never fails to move me. I have 4.5 year old twins, and let me tell you - I totally relate to your pain. I think sleep deprivation can be unbelievably debilitating. How sad is it that getting 4 hours in a row can totally change your outlook for the better? But it really does, doesn't it? When my daughter was 5 months her sleep patterns regressed from the brink of 8-10 hour stretches back to up 2-3 times a night. I had a similar breakdown as you to a good friend and her advice was "let her cry for 10 minutes." I know this is a sensitive topic and not sure how you feel about it. But one night she woke up 2 hours after nursing at midnight (when I KNEW she couldn't be hungry) and I let her cry for a bit. It was the LONGEST 10 minutes of my life. But at 11 minutes it was obvious that it was slowing down, and then she fell back asleep. I could not believe it. The next night she woke up again, and I let her cry. 3 minutes later she was back asleep. Of course that wasn't the end of middle of the night wakings altogether, but I got some much needed relief and learned to trust myself and her to soothe herself when I knew she was dry and not hungry. Please ignore if this is just assvice you don't want and didn't ask for.

I was so glad to see you again in my google reader. Good luck with everything and hang in there.

Beth

Angie

Jessamyn,

I feel for you honey, and I've often wondered how you are doing. My 9mo is an easy baby, compared to my 3.5yo who had bad reflux and colic. So it is a dream that my baby sleeps mostly thru the night. With my daughter, I would pump an extra bottle for my husband to do a late feeding. He would actually do the 3-4am feeding because he was an early riser. Is that an option? Maybe if your husband could do one night a week, you could get some sleep. And crying it out may give you some needed rest- buy some earplugs! Also, how much is she eating during the day? It could be she is reverse cycling (not eating as much during the day because she misses you, so she is up all night.

My 3.5 yo just started pooping on the potty a few weeks ago, after being fully pee trained for a year. She was scared. I feel for you- if you need tips, email me.

We sing the same bedtime songs- I do "goodnight my someone" with my kids' names, Til there was you, Over the rainbow.

Lori Paximadis

(((((hugs))))) I'm not a parent, so I can only imagine how hard it is. But this phase, it will pass, and blessed sleep and time for creativity and self-care will be yours again. I have been reading your site forever it seems -- one of the first personal sites I ever bookmarked, back in the days when there were so few of us sharing our stories and the word "blog" hadn't even been uttered yet, much less co-opted by blathery political commentators. I look forward to checking in once in a while and hearing about your growing family.

Laura

Jessie, I'm sending a virtual hug with this comment. I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. It's incredibly hard to function without sufficient sleep . . . Perhaps once Annabel is eating more solids it will help her sleep longer at night -- I pray that is the case. I can completely sympathize with the "#2" challenge with Katie. My daughter didn't do it until she was a few months shy of 4 years old. You will all get there. . .

Erin

I love you.

Lots and lots of hugs. :)

Shani

Oh, how I remember those feelings. I understood for the first time how sleep deprivation was a form of torture. I wished for the protection of a Geneva Convention for mothers of infants.

It's awful. It's the worst I've ever felt in my life.

But I got through it. And so will you.

Have you thought about keeping her with you, so at least you can just roll over and feed her without having to get up/wake up? That helped me a little. If you're worried about safety, I'll send you my gently-used Snuggle Nest.

I liked the idea, above, of pumping a bottle so Geoff could handle a feeding. I ended up supplementing with formula (which my husband could feed our son while I slept); that made a huge difference.

Oh, and a little cousin of mine hated to use the toilet. I think he was five before he was willing to do it. His father is a doctor, his mother's a therapist.

None of us are failures, and neither are you.

jana

This post made me in part terrified but also relieved. Terrified because I'm expecting my second in January, and I remember well the very kinds of nights you describe having with Annabel from my first. She was a terrible sleeper, and the deprivation nearly drove me crazy. I remember five months being a particularly low point for her, too. How in the heck will I do this with two?

But I felt relieved because at least I'm not the only one worrying about this kind of thing! I'm not the only mother wondering how exactly we're expected to get through this. And that's some comfort.

Please, keep writing about your experience, especially if you think sharing is helpful for you...it's certainly helpful for me!

Sundry

Oh, this really resonated with me, everything from the sleep interruptions to the Poop Issues to the feeling of trying to do so much and worrying that I'm falling short in all categories.

You are the best. Really, you are.

Joanne

I am just now coming out of the every two hour feedings. Last night my girl woke up at midnight and 6:00 to nurse and then she was up for the day, which sucks, but once you can get to those five/six hour stretches, it will be so much better. I know you know this but I am reminding you anyway. It's awful - the paradox of being so happy, to have two healthy children and being so, so miserable and sad because you are so tired and worried and TIRED and TIRED. It makes me miserable to be around, and I am mean to my sweet husband because HE isn't here - but he's at work, not off at the club or anything! I will never get over how hard it is, no matter what you do. I hope and know it will get better, at least from the sleep angle of it. And then maybe everything else will fall into place. I hope and pray for you.

Joanne

Oh and as for the poop thing, I have no idea, NONE! My son is 3.5 and I don't think he will ever been trained. He is on the autism spectrum so has some sensory issues but man - there is just NO comprehension that he's going, that he's gone, nothing. So I do know the enormity of it, and I hope that for both of us it gets better.

Eliza

I've got no advice, I just want to say that I'm thinking of you and I hope that it gets better soon. I admire you a whole heck of a lot.

charlotte

Lots and lots of hugs for you! Can you pump some milk, so that Geoff can get up at least once during the night so you can get a bit more rest? Does your state have a paid family leave policy that you could use part-time (like, to get out of work earlier a couple of times a week to just go to sleep somewhere, maybe even at a friend's home)?

I'm nervous about the whole sleep thing myself when my baby girl finally arrives, and on Flotsam, the blogger talks about the Miracle Blanket really helping her out with a crying baby that didn't sleep through. So, I've been thinking about trying this, too. FWIW, here's the URL to the video: http://www.miracleblanket.com/video.htm . If it works like they say, it might be worth the $30 ...

Again, lots of hugs to you!!!

Latrelle

This is probably one of the most beautiful pieces you have ever written. (I've been reading your work since Diary-X.)

Thank you for sharing :)

Murray

Jessamyn- I have been reading you for years, before you were married, before you had your beautiful girls. I love your writing. I just want to say that you are me two years ago. I now have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and life is so much better with a guaranteed night's sleep. Not sleeping is HUGE. HUGE. It will get better, I promise. Soon.

LC Whittle

Jessamyn, I had a similar poop problem with my girl at about the same age (she's now a healthy 31 year old with a 13 month old baby of her own!) Fortunately I had a great pediatrician who figured out my daughter didn't like to poop on the toilet because it hurt --- she had abnormally large stool because she held off so long, and it had compacted in her colon. Jeez, I know this is a horrible comment, and I am sorry. But anyway, a round of stool softeners and some scaling back of fiber helped her get back into the habits she needed. Check with your medical folks. It might help.

You're a good mom, and you're just having Mom-Brain. It will pass. :-)

JayneLM

Oh these first few months are so, so tough. I wondered the same as Laura - could it be that she needs more solids?
I had to bottle feed my girls but my husband and I had a 'one night on, one night off' system where one night in two we knew we could sleep and the other would deal with the baby's needs. In reality, on very difficult nights we'd often get up together when the baby was very fretful (often) but the fact that we had the green light to just stay in bed if we really wanted meant *everything*. I don't know if you could work out some system like this?
As for Katie's toilet troubles, we had our fair share here too. With our younger daughter I bought a bag of the kind of cheap nik nak toys that you'd put in childrens' party bags. If she got the toilet thing right she got to do a lucky dip in the bag. That and lots of hugs and praise very quickly did the trick. ...I don't know if that suggestion is of any help ...
I too have been reading your blog for years so I feel I've got to know you a bit and it's awful to read when people we like are having a tough time and we can do little to help. All I can say, rather ineffectually I know, is that things will improve. Hang in there, {{Hugs}}

Annie

My good friend Eliza sent me the link to your blog. It is soooo hard when you are in the midst of juggling so many things with sleep deprivation on top of that. I will never forget the day that my husband, 4 year old daughter, and I all sat on our bed sobbing. We were so tired, delirious, and miserable. I know I wanted to slap people who told me it would get better, but it really does. For your oldest, have you tried miralax? A good friend of mine works with young kids with encopresis and uses a combo of miralax and a behavioral "sitting" schedule. Hang in there!!!

Anelie

One of the hardest things about being a mom for me, is the isolation and solitude I feel in my guilt and worry about my kids. It's crazy--even from your other comments it is obvious that there are MILLIONS of moms out there going through the same thing, but for some reason, we just can't seem to give ourselves a break. LET'S JUST GIVE OURSELVES A BREAK!!

First of all, I completely second and third the idea of pumping and letting Geoff get up for AT LEAST one of the night feedings. It was the only way I survived and I wasn't even working full-time. Even using formula for that one feed would work and not mess with your supply.

As for the pooping thing--I know it can seem huge--but honestly, she will get it. If she poops in a pull-up for a while, just realize that she won't be doing it in college. The more YOU stress, the more she will stress. Other than that, I have no advice. With Mason I finally was a very, very bad mommy and told him that if he didn't let the poop come out (he was holding it in rather than poop AT ALL at that point--for 6 days!!!) that he would get very sick and could DIE (like I said bad, BAD mommy) and he got very serious and quiet but then pooped in the toilet about 2 minutes later and never had a problem since. I will be going to hell for that one (he actually came running out all happy and excited yelling, "Mommy, I'm not going to die!" HELL, I say), but at least it worked. So don't stress--try to prevent painful poops and just let her go when and where she will. She WILL get it!

Thanks for the post and always being an inspiration for me to be a better mom!

Anelie

AH! I just typed out the longest comment, and then lost it! *sigh*

Basically, the gist of it was--although I totally relate and am guilty of this myself--don't be too hard on yourself! You are a great mom!!

DEFINITELY pump and let Geoff take over AT LEAST one of the night feeds. It was the only way I survived and I wasn't working full-time. Even formula wouldn't hurt for you to get a few hours straight of sleep!

As for the pooping thing, I have no good advice except for don't stress too much about it. Believe it or not, she WILL get it. She won't be having this problem in college. It will pass. I'm definitely not one to talk; at one point when Mason had gone 6 DAYS without a bm, I was a very, very bad mommy and told him that if he didn't let the poop come out he could get very sick and even die (BAD mommy). He got very quiet and serious but then pooped on the potty 2 minutes later and never had a problem since (he actually came running in afterwards all happy and excited yelling, "Mommy, I'm not going to die!" BAD MOMMY). We all do what we have to. But I know that when I stress, my kids stress. She WILL get it!

Thanks for being an inspiration. It's nice to know that I'm not the only heartsick mommy out there. I have to believe in my heart that loving them as much as we do will make up for a multitude of shortcomings.

Nicole

I think once you get to the point of utter exhaustion the worst part is that you don't have enough brain power left to even devise a plan for sorting things out. I am pregnant with my second and after a very difficult day yesterday when I was just pregnancy exhausted and shouted at my 3 year-old, I asked my husband how on earth I was going to manage once I was spending all night awake with a baby? It really does frighten me (and I don't work full-time).
I remember how frustrating it was with my daughter, trying to convince her to use the toilet to poop. She absolutely did not care one bit if she had poop in her panties. I hated to go back to diapers, but I reached my limit in terms of cleaning poop out of her clothing. My MIL actually stumbled upon the magic solution, during a weekend visit to her house- she made Ella 'clean' off her clothing (splash it in the toilet) and get in the bathtub to scrub off her own butt. Ella absolutely HATED having to do the cleaning, she was disgusted by the whole operation. When we went home and I explained that from now on, she would have to clean herself up after a poopy accident, she very quickly decided to use the potty. I didn't act like it was a punishment (which I think is important), I just explained that I did not like having to touch her poop and I thought that she was a big enough girl to choose to use the toilet or choose to clean up the mess of an accident.
And remember that, in some women, stress and fatigue can turn into serious long-term problems if they trigger an auto-immune disease like MS or lupus (a lesson I learned a bit too late...) so its not necessarily choosing the best for your family by pushing yourself too far. Its important to be gentle with yourself, for lots and lots of reasons. Good luck!!

suzanne

You are facing, in my opinion, the hardest question a woman ever faces: how to meet her obligations while giving her child or children the attention they deserve/require. I, personally, believe a child under the age of 4 is a full-time (plus) job. Two children? Two full-time (plus) jobs. How you're sandwiching in work is beyond me. The question isn't why did you break down, the question is how have you gone this long before it happened.

Consider seeking alternatives (even drastic ones) to the full-time job. The working world will always be there. Your children will grow up before you know it. You'll never be sorry if you do, but you may be awfully sorry you didn't.

I love your writing and it's obvious you're a wonderful mother. Good luck.

Jessamyn

Thanks, everyone. I do plan to post again soon, but "soon" might not mean for another week or two. I really appreciate all of your care and support and suggestions, and am taking them in the loving spirit in which they were obviously all intended.

As far as suzanne's suggestion, above, about seeking an alternative to my full-time paid employment, though, I'm really not sure where that would lead us. Right now, my husband has the part-time job, and I have the full-time job. Am I to assume that it's inherently better for the children for me to be the one spending more time with them than for him to be spending that time with them? I don't believe that's true. And if the idea is that I should simply drop back to a part-time job (or no paid job at all) without making a change to his job situation, well, that would require some drastic (as you said) life changes that, were I to try to implement them right now, would create a lot more stress, I think, than they would eradicate. We would certainly have to move, and probably have to move not only from our current home, but possibly to a completely different georgraphical location. Anyway. I do appreciate that you believe I'm a wonderful mother. But I admit I'm a little hurt by the idea that I'm allowing myself to miss out on my children's childhoods, and that I'm going to regret it later, which is the way I'm interpreting your comment.

We're doing the best we can. I work one day a week from home, and 4 days a week I go into the office (except for one out of every three weeks, when I get a three day weekedn). I spend evenings and mornings and weekends with them. There are days, lately, when I do miss them and don't get to see them enough, and I feel sad, but overall I am not unhappy with my schedule.

Aw, crap. Heh. This should have been its own post. I will try to post again soon about more of this, I promise. But just believe me - I have considered a lot of options that aren't contained in the last post, and when I'm getting better sleep (as I happen to be this week), I'm able to recognize that our overall situation is pretty damn lucky. And today I'm able to be what I'm not when I'm as exhausted as I was the other day - I'm not only lucky, I'm happy.

suzanne

Jessamyn:

Wow, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to imply that you are, in any way, making the wrong decision! I feel horrible that I may have added, in any negative way, to your situation.

I wasn't aware that you were the only full-time person and (very wrongly) assumed that both you and Geoff were full-time. In this case, assuming? Made a total a$$ outta me.

Obviously, your situation makes it difficult, if not impossible, for you to cut back and, yes, I think that Geoff taking the larger (day time) parenting role is absolutely the same as you doing it. A virtual parenting "wash" if you will. I'm happy to learn you have that luxury.

Really, that changes the whole picture.

What I was (very clumsily) trying to say is that, given a situation where both parents are full-time, with two pre-school aged children, I can't imagine how both parents WOULDN'T be pushed to the exhaustion breaking point on a regular basis. In my opinion, in THAT particular situation (which I thought you were in) given your post, something would likely need to give. I made the assumption that YOU cutting back would be the logical choice, but I should have said (because I truly believe) it could mean a change of work schedule for either or both parent(s), additional outside help...something.

Granted, there are probably people out there that are parents with two full-time jobs and multiple preschoolers who manage to do it all. My hat is off to them.

When I read your post, Jessamyn, I hearkened back immediately to those days of sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and feeling like there's never enough time (my son is grown now). I meant to just suggest the idea of a change as something you wouldn't be sorry for, not to heavy-handedly suggest that you'll be sorry for what you're doing. Never that. But, after (cringingly) re-reading my (quickly written) comment, I can see how it reads the way you took it.

My abject apologies again. I have a child of my own who is grown and I have faced a similar situation. When I look back? I only wish I had spent more time with him (and, heck, I did quit work!). There are no right answers, are there? Only doing the best we can which you and Geoff quite obviously are.

My apologies again. I'm so sorry. I meant to be supportive. I failed.

Miserably.

Suzanne

Nicole

This is the first time I've read your blog, and wow, it brought back memories. I have 2 sons. For my first, I was lucky to be able to stay at home for the first few years, and so nightly sleep deprivation was not such a big issue for me. However, I returned to work 3 months after my second son was born. There were times when I just could not fathom how I would make it. I was so tired at work, then would rush home through crazy traffic to dinnertime, bath time, pump, make bottles for day care the next day etc etc, and each night would end with a pounding headache. Going to bed was not a reprieve in any way- the baby woke me to nurse every few hours, which was wonderful and horrific all at once. But somehow, I made it through! And of course, I miss those sweet infant moments- the silky feel of his head, his gummy little grin, and cute little cooing noises. Now there are new things to enjoy, and even though there are still challenges (my baby is 2 now, and I mean he is THOROUGHLY 2, quite a dastardly little guy/pain in the rear end), things are much easier. I guess all this is to say- hang in there, you'll get through it!

Nicole

This is the first time I've read your blog, and wow, it brought back memories. I have 2 sons. For my first, I was lucky to be able to stay at home for the first few years, and so nightly sleep deprivation was not such a big issue for me. However, I returned to work 3 months after my second son was born. There were times when I just could not fathom how I would make it. I was so tired at work, then would rush home through crazy traffic to dinnertime, bath time, pump, make bottles for day care the next day etc etc, and each night would end with a pounding headache. Going to bed was not a reprieve in any way- the baby woke me to nurse every few hours, which was wonderful and horrific all at once. But somehow, I made it through! And of course, I miss those sweet infant moments- the silky feel of his head, his gummy little grin, and cute little cooing noises. Now there are new things to enjoy, and even though there are still challenges (my baby is 2 now, and I mean he is THOROUGHLY 2, quite a dastardly little guy/pain in the rear end), things are much easier. I guess all this is to say- hang in there, you'll get through it!

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