Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Work or Not to Work

So, when people asked me if I was going to go back to work after I had Max, the response was always " I don't know, I am just seeing how it goes." I kind of just thought to myself that I would seriously start thinking about it after Christmas. I just put off thinking about it really and truth be told, before Christmas I was way too wrapped up in just trying to get any sleep at night and finding time to take a shower... Since things have calmed way down with Max I started to allowing the thought of going back to work enter my mind.

I have ALWAYS worked, since I got my first job as at the Bulverde Bakery when I was 15, I have literally always worked. All throughout high school, and usually more than one job at a time in college. Except for the 5 months that I lived in Australia, I worked. I think I have written a blog about working before and how I felt about not working while I was pregnant, and that was different. I had nothing to occupy my time then and felt pretty worthless just hanging out at home, now that I have a child, it is a completely different feeling.

I often hear stay at home moms say "being a mom is my job". And although I do admit that being at home and raising a child 24 hours a day is way harder than any job, and ALOT of people could not handle it. I don't think it's a "job". In my mind a "job" gets you money (and is something you can put on a resume) I am not putting down stay at home moms by any means because, believe me, I know how tough it is and way to go all of you out there!

When Max was a couple of months old, I would seriously just sit and wish I could be working...working anywhere! The house was closing in on me and I was so jealous that Jeff got to get up, get dressed, feel like a person and go to work every day, and I was stuck at home. I was trying to remember what was so terrible about waiting tables and working retail anyway, this having a baby business was so draining!

But, ever since I have been back to the UK, and have had a better handle on this whole "mom" thing, I have been trying to find things to fill my day. I have always been involved and now that I can function as an adult, I am all about finding things to do. I created a play group for Max, and got him enrolled in swim lessons. I also started planning a small get together for some spouses and have started baking some more. I also hired a baby sitter to come twice a week for a few hours each, so I can get stuff done. Whether it is errands around town or just organizing the house. It is very nice to have some alone time every week.  I also put myself on a cleaning schedule for the house, so the house stays relatively clean. I've been pretty proud of myself for actually get things done now.
Since things are getting accomplished I felt like I could do more and I started just browsing around for jobs to see what was available. I told myself, I wouldn't take a job, just to work and only find something that I really loved. Well, the other day I found a listing for a coordinator position for the club on base. It was be a great job, so I just went ahead and applied since it couldn't hurt. Well, I got an interview, it is tomorrow. Obviously, I am not sure I will get the job (since I really tend to suck at interviews, which is surprising because of how many jobs I have had) but I am still on the fence if I even want to work.

 I mean yes, I want to work because I want to help make money for our family. I enjoy making my own money to pay off my student loans and it really is nice to be able to buy presents for Jeff without using the money he earned. I also just like feeling so accomplished. At work, and especially in the event coordinator field, there is a certain accomplishment that comes with pulling off a great event. Also,  I kind of  consider  myself a low maintenance feminist, and I feel like women have earned the right to work outside the home if they wish. It is no longer 1950 and I want to be a part of the "liberated woman" of today. I really believe that women can be great moms and have a great career. It doesn't have to be one or the other and I kind of want both. I feel like if I didn't work, in 5 years I might regret it. I absolutely know for sure that I do want to work again at some point and don't want too long of a gap in my work history. I still am a woman and want to be more than just a mom. (again, not that there is anything wrong with stay at home moms, I might even be one, and I don't want anyone to get offended from this blog, but I just personally feel like I will want more). I do want do be the one to raise him and watch grow, but does having a child mean I have so give up on everything that I am? Men aren't expected to give up their jobs when they have a baby.

On the other hand, I honestly don't know if I can leave Max for that long every day. Sometime I miss him when I just leave him with Jeff for an hour to go to the grocery store. Or sometimes when Max takes a really long 2 hour nap, I can't wait for him to wake up so we can do something. I really LOVE spending all day with him and seeing him learn new thing and grow. I feel so connected to him, and I feel like I am the only one (although I know I'm not) that can do everything just the way he needs it. I kind of wished I had gone back to work when he was younger. When he was only 8 weeks old, and all he did was cry, it would have been so much easier to leave him at day care:) Now, its just so hard to be away from him. (because he is the cutest baby in the world!)

But also, I never wanted to be one of those moms that can't leave their kids with someone else. I always thought it was so lame when moms are completely wrapped up in their child's life and never give them ANY room to breathe, and never do anything for themeselves. Just because I am a mother doesn't mean I'm not a woman still.

In conclusion, I still don't know what I am going to do. If everything works out for me to work, then I will, if not, then I won't. There are pros and cons to both, and I think every woman and mother has to make the decision that is best for her and her family. (That has kinda been my new philosophy when it comes to parenting anyway. Every family is different and has different wants and needs, so basically, do what is best for you and don't listen to what everyone else says:)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How I managed sleep training

Sleep training is the task of getting a baby to sleep by himself without the aid of being rocked or nursed to sleep. It also is supposed to help babies put themselves back to sleep when/ if they wake up in the middle of the night.

So I have put off sleep training for a while for several reasons.

A. I just don't know if I could handle hearing Max cry so much when I know I can help him
B. I just got him to be able to even fall asleep at all for naps and am not eager to start a new training.
C. I am worried it won't work at all, and I'll just be letting Max cry and getting zero sleep myself in the process with no end., Max is a very stubborn baby and takes a long time to get used to new things.
D. I kind of love putting Max to sleep in my arms. There seriously are no words to describe how wonderful it is watching your baby drift off to sleep and rocking him to sleep. I know I won't get this opportunity for much longer, the bigger he gets.

Those are the reasons I don't wanna do it. The reasons I finally decided to start doing it are.

A. I want Max to learn to be able to sleep on his own, because it's a skill he needs.
B. I would like to be able to go out at night and leave Max with a baby sitter who can get him to bed.
C. I am pretty exhausted and really need to start getting more than 4 or 5 broken up hours of sleep every night.
D. These barely there naps are starting to wear on me, I don't want to dread nap time.
E. He is 5 months old and I think he is getting a bit old to still have all these sleep wakings.

For those of you who don't know, there are basically 2 trains of thought when it comes to sleep training a baby. There is age old Cry It Out method, mostly taken from Ferber http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-ferber-method-demystified_7755.bc which really just means you put your baby to bed awake, leave and let them cry, some time later go back and try and soothe without picking up, and then leave again, repeat until baby falls asleep. And then there is the No Cry Solution by Elizabeth Pantley,  http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/index.html. Mostly that one involves a lot of charting and a very slow and gentle transition into self sleeping. Both of those methods are proven to work and many families swear by them, but I decided I could not handle the strait out cry it out, and that No Cry Sleep Solution  method would take way too long and commit me to way more time than I have. So I chose and in between method. It's called the Pick up/ Put down method by Tracey Hogg in the book, the Baby Whisperer.   http://community.babycentre.co.uk/post/a12117065/pick_up_put_down_-_the_method  Now normally I am not a huge fan of baby books and "this is the way a baby should be raised" kind of thing. I think every baby and family is different so there is no possible way one set of guidelines will work for everyone. That being said, I needed a sleep training option and decided to go with this one. To explain it in a short way, you do a wind down routine, such as a diaper change and a book, then lights out in the room, and gently put baby in crib. ( I do diaper change, read a book, then lights out, sound machine on and put baby down)When he starts to cry, try and get him to settle by placing a hand on his back ( or belly, whichever way he sleeps) and talk to him softly. When he doesn't stop crying, pick him up and comfort him until he does stop crying. Then immediately put him back in he crib. Continue as needed. I kind of amended this a little as instead of a hand on his back I pat his bottom. Supposedly, it could take up to an hour and about 100 pick ups to begin with, but every time is supposed to be shorter and quicker. So here is my experience with the whole thing .I have given myself 3 days of doing this at every sleep time and will then evaluate if it has worked.

For back ground info, my previous ways of getting Max to sleep were either letting him fall asleep while nursing, cradling him a swaddle and pretty much dancing around, or holding him upwards against my body and bouncing and walking around.


Day one, Thursday Jan 3.
We started with the morning nap, this nap is usually the easiest to get him down for, but only lasts about 45 minutes. The PU/PD method of crying took about 20 pick ups and 20 minutes of me talking to him with my hand on his back for him to fall asleep. All in all, better than I expected. Nap only lasted 34 minutes. Tried a few times to PU/PD again, but he was wide awake.
Second nap of the day, this nap is usually impossible to get him to lay in his crib for. About 15 pick ups, quite a bit more screaming this time, and took longer to get him to calm down when I picked him up, and settled after about 10 minutes, but was almost asleep twice, then woke himself up and started crying. But overall only about a 20 minute process again. So far, feeling good. Ok, about 40 minutes into the nap, he woke up crying ( which is pretty common for him to do) took about 30 minutes of PU/PD for him to go back to sleep... That part has been the most frustrating so far because I wasn't sure if it was even worth it. Only slept about 25 minutes after that.
Third nap of the day, not sure if he was just really tired or what but for real it only took, 1 pick up, and some pats on his bottom and he was out. I think it's also worth mentioning that I put him down with no clothes on, just a diaper. He hates wearing clothes anyway, so I thought I would give it a try. And wow, seriously 5 minutes and he was out! He slept for about an hour and a half before I woke him up because it was running close to bead time and we were still trying to get back over jet lag.
Alright so night time, Wow I was feeling pretty positive going into this, since the last nap went so well, but it was terrible! After an hour and a half of it, I caved. I know, but in my defense, I accidentally scratched Max's face with my wedding ring when I picked him up the last time and it was terrible! Anyway, I fed him until he went to sleep. At the start it was going good, mostly just fussing, and not any big cries. So many times he was about to be sleep, when he would wake himself back up. But we kept at it, when it hit the hour mark, Max just started to scream and not stop! I have no idea why the naps went decently well and the night awful. My only guess is that our night time routine had been pretty set from day one, but nap time was always all over the place, so it wasn't a huge deal when we changed it. Idk, guess I'll try again tomorrow...during the night he woke up 3 times, I nursed him and put him right back down.

Day 2
Morning nap. Went pretty good considering last nights terribleness. Only about 5 pick ups and 15 minutes total and he was out. Lasted 50 minutes.
Afternoon nap. 2 pick ups, and 10 minutes total. Oh, I did also put him down with just a diaper on too.lasted hour and a half.
Nap 3, again just in his diaper. Took 4 pickups, and about 10 minutes. Lasted 11/2 hrs.
Bedtime fail again. Tried for over an hour, and same thing, about 5 times he was so close to falling asleep, then bam! Screaming! Sigh... I know I'm failing too.. But it starts out so promising and just gets worse and worse...I'm starting to fade and I may just nurse him to bed, I actually like it, and now that I know he is capable of putting himself to sleep... Idk well see. He woke up every 2 hours that night like clockwork because he was rammed into the side of the crib...And yes I nurses him back to sleep....

Day 3
As with most things Max, I am thoroughly confused. Morning nap today I laid him down and left the room this time. He cried and fussed for a few minutes. I went back in, patted his but for maybe 30 seconds and he was asleep. So no pick ups and not even 5 minutes...slept 50 minutes.
Second nap, we were out and about so he fell asleep in the car. Positively, he fell asleep without any crying first and stayed asleep for an hour while Jeff and I got some things done. Third nap, 3 pick ups and about 20 minutes total. Was asleep for hour and forty five minutes.
Finally a night time success! Thought I'd change it up a little, so after the normal bedtime routine, I nursed him with the the lights out and he sounds machine on and then rocked/ walked him until he was calm but not asleep. I laid him down in his crib and patted hit bottom for a minute or so. He was, of course, crying so I left the room for about 5 minutes. When I can back he was screaming pretty good, so I picked him up and calmed him then set him back. He started crying again an I patted his butt for about a minute and he was asleep! Maybe I adapted a little but of the cry it out method into it recently which seem to help, but I still allow myself to pick him up if he is right out screaming, because I just can't take that. And maybe I am accidentally teaching him to go to sleep with his bottom being patted. But really I don't mind that for now. I think I will slowly start to leave the room more and see how it goes. Here's hoping that it will work out soon, but I do think he has gotten so much better in just the three days! He can now take naps in his crib and even fall asleep without nursing or being walked! Huge achievements for us. The next big thing is to see of he can last longer at night. I suppose I will have to start doing this same thing when he wakes up at night, but that's way tough because I am so exhausted. I'm hoping he will just stop waking up if he know how to put himself back to sleep....

Well I think I am going to continue this blog for my own sake of seeing progress in this sleep training, but feel free to stop reading the small details and just skip to the end to find out what the final result was, I'm giving it 4 more days. To get a complete evaluation:)

So after a few more days, I think it is time to end this blog with my evaluation. I started to leave the room when I set him down and then come back a few minutes later to pat his bottom if he was still fussing. If he didn't settle in a few minutes, I left again for a few minutes and then came back to pat again. Mostly he has settled and gone to sleep after the second time I come in and pat his bottom. To me this is a huge success. Also just now, Max fell asleep for the first time completely on his own! I left the room, and he fussed for a few minutes and then was asleep without me having to do anything! Plus last night when he was up for a feeding, he usually just falls asleep right after the feed. but he wouldn't this time. So I laid him down and he was sleep, just like that! So I am VERY pleased with the way this sleep training worked out. I think it worked for me because
1. I didn't have to adapt to a strict guideline of rules
2. I allowed myself to pick him up and comfort him when he was screaming
3. I slowly eased him into self sleep, so it wasn't a huge scare for him and it only took about a week
4. It allowed me to follow my so called mothers instinct and go with the flow.

Yes, Max still wakes up at night, but I have been able to get him back to sleep a few times without feeding him, just by patting or rubbing his back, but if it doesn't work, I still feed him. Last night he slept 7 hours without eating! I mean he woke up once and I had to rub his back a little but that was it:)
So success for us! I realize I will probably have to continue this and will have some more rough nights, but anything is better than it was. Also I will admit that I have no idea if this would work for every baby (as I have only had the one:) and I am sure every baby would react differently. I just wanted to blog about it and share with any other mothers out there. Although it would have been nice to have Max sleep better earlier, I am glad I didn't try this any earlier because I know he would not have reacted as well. For me and Max, we started at just the right time, where I thought he was mature enough to learn the new art of sleeping.
-A special note to mothers out there struggling with lack of sleeping babies.-Do what you have to do. Don't let someone tell you there is a problem with your baby's sleep if you don't think there is. You know your baby, and what he/she can handle, also what you can handle.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Changes

I hope I am not counting my chickens before they are hatched, but since coming back from the states I have realised how much easier this whole being a mom thig has become. Must have been something about hitting the 5 month mark for Max when things just started to click. I dont know if it's his reflux meds that started to kick in or the fact that he can actually do things now and be really entertained or what, but something has changed in this baby.
In the past few days, Max has started cry considerably less every day. He now plays by himself on the play mat or the jumper for decent periods of time. It's like now that he can roll over and get his hands to grab toys when he wants them he is so much happier! I'm not really sure how to explain this drastic change. He smiles and laughs a bunch everyday and is actually consolable most of the time when he is crying. He hasn't had a strait out scream fest in a while.
Yes, he still has problems sleeping, he wakes up twice a night consistently and it's still very difficult to get him to take a nap by himself, but he does fall asleep quicker:)
This is probably going to sound bad, but I feel like I can just now start to enjoy motherhood! Maybe I have changed my out look on parenthood too, or am just more relaxed, but I can now see why people have more than one kid! If you haven't noticed from my previous blogs, I have been more than slightly stressed and beaten down during the last 5 months, but recently I have discovered a new sense of confidence. I feel as if I can take Max somewhere and not worry that he will be crying non stop the entire time! You have no idea how good it feels as a mom to finally be able to comfort your crying baby and get him to actually stop crying!:) I finally am able to understand him more!
I do realise that there are still going to many many tough days, but I feel like I can handle them now:) I can actually say that I love spending time with my baby!
I know that sounds awful, and of course I have loved Max since before he was born, but any mom with a fussy baby will understand what I mean. He is actually fun to be around now and not constantly stressful and crying:) I can enjoy teaching him new things and watching him learn!
Yes, I am still extremely sleep deprived and always covered in spit up, but I feel like I can be ME again! Again, not sure where these changes came from or if all I needed was a good long time with family to help me relax, but I am so thankful that they are here! I pray things only continue to get better and urge any new Moms out there that is going through the same things I did, that it really is true when people say it gets better! I know it's tough to believe, and really the past 5 months have been the hardest of my life, but it just makes it so much more awesome when everything just seems to work out!
Since these changes and have come around, just in time for the new year, I am determined to make some changed for myself as well. I really need to start making an effort to make some friends here in England so I am not just sitting at the house every day. I also really want to keep a cleaner house. I am not a neat freak by any means, but wow have I let this place get a little gross when there just is no time to clean...hopefully I will find some time now. Also, I want to make more time for my husband, the past 5 months have been hard on him, and our relationship too, so I really want to make time for quality for just us! I really just being able to hang out with him! Lastly, I want to start blogging about something other than my baby:) hahaha I love Max soo much, but I am a person living in England and I want more stuff to write about than just him (no offense Max), I am not only a mom, but a woman too!:)