3 Years Old

My three year old continues to keep me on my toes. That’s right – she just turned three!

We started potty training back in November. Things went really well, overall, though getting her to go #2 on the toilet was a challenge. But, we persisted, and she eventually got it, and was what I would consider fully day trained within a few months. However…. About a month ago she started having accidents again, wetting her pants several times a day, shortly after having gone in the toilet. We explored all the reasons we could think of, including having her checked for a bowel blockage and UTI, both negative. It seems the problem is behavioral, though I still can’t pinpoint what exactly is going on. Nothing has changed in our lives; there’s no clear reason why she would suddenly be having accidents. The only thing I can think of is that she’s simply being lazy and not emptying her bladder completely when she does go, or she’s just too distracted to even realize that she needs to go. It really is mysterious, which makes it hard to fix. We’re working on approaching it with positivity and not letting her see our frustration, but it’s hard, especially since we know she can do it.

On a more positive note, she’s actually sleeping through the night most nights! I can’t tell you how or why – it just happened. After years of struggling, she just started sleeping. Naps are now a thing of the past (except for once or twice a week at daycare), which, oddly enough, does not have an effect on how well she sleeps. Not napping usually means an earlier bedtime, but I honestly can’t attribute the not napping to the sleeping through the night.

Imaginative play is really starting to take off. She loves to take care of her babies: comforting them, feeding them, putting them to bed. She adores Peppa Pig, and has quite the collection of figures and accessories, with which she creates all kinds of stories and scenarios.

She’s taking an interest in learning to write letters and numbers. Thankfully, there’s an app for that (probably quite a few apps, actually, but we really love LetterSchool), and she’s getting quite good at it. She can’t quite write her name yet, but she can spell it and type it.

One of the things I love the most is that we can now have real conversations. I can ask her what she did that day at daycare, how she felt about it, and what she would like to do in the future, and she will have answers for almost all of it. When we read books, she likes to talk about the stories when we’re done.

C has been going to gymnastics/tumbling once a week since May, and has recently graduated to the next level, which means she won’t have my help anymore. She will need to pay attention to the coaches on her own. Her first class is tonight, and I’m a little nervous about how she’ll do.

Current obsessions:

  • Peppa Pig
  • Llama Llama books
  • the color green
  • her iPad

Long story short: C is a super awesome kid! She’s growing and changing every day. It doesn’t make me sad, though. I love seeing her change and grow, learn and gain independence. My parenting dream has always been about raising a good human, and though there was lots I loved about the baby stage, most of that was about survival. Now, it’s all about showing her how the world works and helping her find her place in it.


Potty Training

Because life goes on….

Of all the parenting decisions we’ve made in the last 2.25 years, potty training has been one of the most difficult. All around me, parents are talking about “readiness” signs, like hiding to poop (need for privacy), communicating that they need to pee/poop (or already have), ability to take their clothes on and off (pants, at least), and a handful of other signs. When I read these lists, it wasn’t clear to me if my daughter was ready or not, and the last thing I wanted to do was force her to do something before she was ready and forever scar her.

Then I found Oh Crap! Potty Training. Actually, I first heard the author interviewed on my favorite podcast, and I liked what she said. She dismisses the whole idea of “readiness,” pointing out that in her experience, waiting until kids are “ready”(usually around age 3) is too late. For some reason, it becomes harder to teach them how to use the toilet if you wait until you see the typical signs. Instead of “readiness,” she advises to consider whether your child is capable of learning how to use the toilet. There aren’t concrete signs, necessarily; it’s something each parent has to determine on their own. Also, in the author’s experience, age 20-30 months is the prime time to potty train with the greatest success. At 27 months, C was right in the zone.

After listening to the podcast, I bought the book and dove right in. The author outlines her method, which isn’t complicated by any means, but requires determination, focus, and commitment on the part of the parent(s). I decided that (American) Thanksgiving weekend would be the best time to start, since I would have 4 days in a row at home with my daughter. I told her daycare provider, and she agreed that C was more than ready, and wished us luck.

I won’t go into detail (you’re welcome), but I will say that it was very, very intense and exhausting those first few days. The first day is literally watching your pantless child for signs that she needs to pee or is in the process of going, and getting her to the toilet ASAP. You can’t look away for a second! Even though things clicked fairly quickly for C, it was still tiring and disappointing when she didn’t make it in time and I had to clean up yet another mess. But, by the end of that first day, she actually initiated peeing on the toilet herself! It just kept getting better from there. Her first day back at daycare was a disaster, but only because they do things differently there. Now that she has learned the ropes, she stays (mostly) dry all day long. The times she isn’t dry are primarily because the daycare provider couldn’t help her in time, or because…

….Poop. We’re still working on that one, 11 days later. In fact, there’s a whole chapter in the above-mentioned book devoted to the topic and all the ways it can be challenging. For C, it’s a matter of not yet recognizing when it’s coming. I can say we’ve had a few successes, which were celebrated with much fanfare. And there’s a standing promise of candy for each successful poop in the toilet. (The book actually recommends against rewards, but we’re doing it anyway.)

We also have not tackled night training. She discusses it in the book, but we decided to wait on night training until she’s more fully day trained. To be honest, I’m hoping she just learns to either hold it all night, or wake up on her own when she needs to go. (Ha! Famous last words, right?)

I cannot recommend this book enough! If potty training has crossed your mind at all, even if you don’t think you or your child is ready, I suggest reading this book now. At the very least, check out the podcast interview with the author, or read her blog. It gave me the confidence to say with certainty that my daughter was capable of learning, along with all the tools I needed to have a successful start. It will be months before I can say she’s fully trained, but at just 11 days into it, she’s already nailed one aspect of it. Also, there’s a Facebook group that goes along with the book, where you can get advice and tips from other parents. I’ve posted there a few times, sometimes just for reassurance, and it’s been a wonderful experience. Oh, I almost forgot, there’s also a YouTube channel.

Note: I was not paid or even asked to write all these positive things about the book. I just loved it that much! 


I’m a Loser Again!

Starting weight:  236

Current weight:  214

Weight loss so far: 22 pounds

After being stuck in quite the weight loss rut for the last couple of months, I’m finally back to ticking off the pounds. I kind of “yo-yoed” for a while, gaining and losing, gaining and losing. I toyed with giving up the diet, but my coach convinced me to keep going, and I’m so glad she did. The truth is, I feel so much better staying on plan (which is very low carb, high fat, moderate protein). The times I’ve indulged too much in carbs, I’ve paid for it with stomach pains and a general feeling of “blah.” I still struggle with carving out “me time” and exercise, but I figure one challenge at a time is enough. This food thing is a BIG challenge for me. Though I’ve always known I needed to make life long changes to my food choices, it’s only now just dawning on me that my current plan is probably going to be permanent. By that I mean that for the rest of my life, I’m going to have to avoid carbs for the most part. I’m not unique in this way, I know, but it does surprise me a little. At the start of this, I thought one day I would be able to go back to eating bread and pasta on a regular basis, but now I don’t see that happening. And I’m totally okay with that. As long as I always remember how awful I feel after eating that stuff.

In other news….

My little monkey is closing in on 20 months! Life with a toddler is crazy. And amazing. And frustrating. And exhausting. And fun. Seeing her learn new skills and new words seemingly overnight is incredible. Here are some things she’s done or said recently that have made me delight in parenthood:

When greeting the cats: “Hi! How’s it going?”

Counting to six.

Naming the colors purple, yellow, blue, green, and brown.

Asking “What’s this?” followed immediately by the answer.

Feeding her dolls and putting them to bed.

Chatting to herself before falling asleep.

Goes to bed calmly without any resistance.

It’s not all puppies and rainbows, of course. She IS a toddler after all. She throws tantrums, insists on doing things on her own that she simply cannot do, demands to watch a certain show then promptly throws a fit as soon as it starts, and gets sick all the time (and shares it with us). She’s at an age where she wants me to play with her all the time, but I simply can’t (and, quite honestly, don’t want to), leading to feelings of guilt and resentment. I’m so exhausted all the time, I rarely have the energy to do the things I really want to do, like finish knitting the blanket I started for her loooong ago, or read a book, or watch a movie that isn’t animated, or do chores without interruption. I know every age, every stage, is fleeting and things will change and probably soon, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier right now. That stuff I listed above makes it better, and as much as I want those things to cancel out the negatives, they simply do not. The good and the bad all just swirl together, which is pretty much all of life, right?

Confessions of a Cry-It-Out Dropout (Or, How I Broke My Baby)

This isn’t one of those you should/shouldn’t let your baby cry it out posts.

This isn’t an advice-seeking post.

This is a post about how making an emotional decision during an emotionally-charged situation is a supremely bad idea.

I’m a terrible mother.

I know I’m not a terrible mother.

But I feel like a terrible mother.

Because I’m pretty sure I broke my baby. Psychologically, anyway. Physically, she’s just fine. (More importantly, just so we’re clear, I have no desire to harm my baby in any way. And I’m not making light of those who feel those urges, either. This is just my perhaps-not-so-clever way of saying I feel responsible for making my baby feel and act a certain way that is contrary to how she was before… in other words, broken.)

C is not a great sleeper. At 9 months, she still wakes up anywhere from 2-6 times each night, unable to get back to sleep on her own. Parental fail #1: I never let her fall asleep on her own. Instead, I’ve always nursed her to sleep. Furthermore, even when I lay her down fully asleep, she often wakes the moment I set her in her crib. Of course she does! I would, too. And she isn’t just awake… She cries, hard, until I pick her up and help her fall asleep again.

At C’s 9 month check up, her doctor asked me if she sleeps through the night. Nope. She frowned at me, as if to say, Tsk tsk! This is no good! Bad mom! Her only advice: “I wonder what would happen if you just let her cry for a while.” I made light of the situation and said I didn’t mind getting up a few times a night. The truth is, I mind it. I mind it a lot.

So, one night early last week, when C just wouldn’t stay asleep, in a sleep-deprived state of physical and emotional exhaustion, and with the doctor’s words in my head, I said “Fuck it! If you don’t want to stay asleep, you can figure this out on your own.” And I left her to cry in her crib.

I decided right then that we would Ferberize the baby. Parental fail #2: decided, not weI didn’t ask my husband for his opinion. I just did it. I decided I would check on her and console her after 5 minutes. Then 10. Then 15. That night, she eventually fell asleep, sitting up, after about 2 hours of total crying. But she slept for 4 hours straight! I let her cry it out in the middle of the night, and after just 20 minutes, she fell asleep on her own.

I didn’t think that was so bad, so I decided to keep going. Night #2, I decided that consoling her wasn’t helping any, as she would just start up crying again as soon as I put her down. So, I just let her cry. Fail #3: I didn’t research cry it out enough to know how to do it properly. After about an hour, she fell asleep, sitting up, this time with her face against the side of the crib. Again, she slept for about 4 hours, at which time I nursed her, and she fell asleep immediately for another 4 hours.

Again, not so bad, right? The part I haven’t told you is that she didn’t just cry… She was hysterical, nearly hyperventilating, standing up in her crib and falling down over and over again.

So why did I keep going? Because I’m a cold, heartless bitch. That’s the only explanation, right? Don’t feel bad. I agree with you.

Actually, I kept going, because everything I read said that I would see improvement soon. I couldn’t give up, because that would be unfair to her. She needs to learn to fall asleep on her own, just as much as I need her to fall asleep on her own.

Night #3…. M has a panic attack, because he can’t stand to hear her crying. I tell him to put on his headphones or leave. Fail #4: Not listening to my husband’s gut. An hour of crying, maybe, before she falls asleep, again – you guessed it – with her face against the side of the crib.

The next day, C clung to me as if her life depended on it. When we went into her room to change her diaper or nurse, she started whimpering. The longer we stayed in her room, the more upset she got. That’s when I realized I had damaged my baby.

She continued to be super clingy all day, and would not nap, except if I held her. But even then, it wasn’t a deep sleep. I decided then that what I had been doing was wrong – not morally wrong, just wrong for her. It wasn’t helping. If anything, it was hurting.

So, I went back to my old ways of nursing and rocking her to sleep. Except now she didn’t trust me. Even when I nursed her to sleep, she would wail the moment she felt my muscles tense up before lowering her into her crib. She continued to be clingy during the day, and nap time was impossible. For two days, I worked hard to regain her trust by rocking her to sleep and consoling her immediately when she began to cry. By the end of day two, we were nowhere near back to normal, but there was some improvement.

I feel just awful for breaking her trust in me. That’s not how it was supposed to go, and it wasn’t my intention. But that’s what happened. And now I have to fix it before we can truly address her sleep issues… this time with a rational, well-thought-out plan. To that end, I’m actually reading Dr. Ferber’s book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems cover to cover before we implement any new sleep plan.

So, whether you decide to let your baby cry it out or not, I don’t care – just be sure it’s right for you and your baby, and don’t do it out of a moment of weakness like I did. I’ll probably feel guilty about this for the rest of my life.

(For the record, I’m not opposed to cry it out techniques for all babies. It works like a charm for many, just not for my baby.)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve been struggling with what to write about lately. I don’t want to abandon this blog, or go months without posting anything. I know at least some of you wouldn’t mind more updates on C – and believe me, I could write about her ALL day long! – but I know for others it’s triggering. At the same time, I want to be completely honest and open, as I have been through my entire journey – the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I know I’ll feel guilty for writing anything that sounds like a complaint. I know what advice I would give to me, but it’s still hard to talk about parenting after loss and infertility when many of your readers are still deeply in the trenches. That said, it’s important for me to get this out here and now. So, please, if you’re in a bad place, don’t read any further.

The Good

This is nearly everything, I will happily admit. Some highlights:

  • C is 8 months old, and on track in her development, both physical and mental/emotional. I’m amazed every day by how much she learns and remembers.
  • She is starting to look to M for comfort, more and more, even when I’m nearby.
  • She LOVES food, just like her mama!
  • She is the happiest baby you could ever wish for.

The Bad

  • C wakes up a lot at night, so I get very little sleep. We’re working on it, but it’s one of those “two steps forward, one step back” things. Sometimes it’s 2 steps back.
  • She is super clingy with me, as in I can’t even put her down on the bed in front of me while I get dressed without her crying huge tears. It’s incredibly annoying and inconvenient.
  • She’s had RSV once and croup twice in the last 2 months. I get sick every time, too.

The Ugly

  • I fucking hate pumping. HATE. Lately, my output has been seriously lacking. It doesn’t help that I went from 3 to 2 pumps per day, primarily due to my travel schedule. I know some women would kill to get anything at all, but for me, producing less than half of what she eats at daycare each day just isn’t worth it. I struggled, but finally decided to stop pumping at work. I have a good frozen supply, and C is not shy about eating solid foods. We’ll have to supplement with formula for a few months, but I’ve never had a problem with that. I plan to keep nursing her whenever we’re together.
  • I’m not so crazy about breast feeding, either. Again, I feel bad saying this, because I know plenty of women who would kill to be able to breast feed. Sure, I’ve loved – and do still love – things about it, like the bonding and the idea that my body can nourish my baby. However, lately, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives. I just want my body back. It sounds selfish, but I want to be able to eat or drink anything I want, and not worry about what OTC medications are safe for breast feeding. I’m tired of making my breasts available 24/7, planning my wardrobe around nursing, and worrying about leaking when I forget my breast pads.
  • I’m struggling to resume my work travel schedule, which includes evenings away, and the occasional overnight. I hate the idea of C being sad that I’m not there (especially with how clingy she’s been lately), and I worry about M’s anxiety dealing with a inconsolable baby. Plus, I just don’t want to be away from her, especially overnight. So far, it hasn’t been a big problem for me to restrict my travel, but I can’t continue like this for much longer. Eventually, I’ll have to bite the bullet.

So, that’s life right now.