Sleep “training”

I don’t like calling it that, George, but that’s what they call it, and that’s what we’re doing. You are 1 year old, and for the last year we have rocked you to sleep. I nursed you almost every night, but on the very very few nights when I didn’t, someone fed you a bottle and rocked you and rocked you until your perfect eyelids closed and your lower lip was sucked into your mouth, in and out, in and out, in peaceful slumber.

We would lay you down in your bed, asleep, and you would wake up over and over again all night long, presumably upset because you were no longer being cradled in someone’s arms and being rocked. And when you would wake, I would zombie walk to your room and hold you and nurse you until you fell back asleep, and then I’d place you in your crib to sleep again, until you woke again, and so on.

But now, I am in the hallway outside your bedroom, on night two of what they call “sleep training” – otherwise known as parental torture and probably childhood trauma. I got a book at the library called the Happy Sleeper. And it tells me to go in and “verbally comfort you” every five minutes. So I have stopwatch. I have a book. I have this computer. I have anxiety. I have a glass of wine. And I am listening to you scream angrily on the other side of this door, wondering why I have forsaken you.

There’s supposed to be a phrase we repeat, exactly, word for word, each five minutes that we go in to “comfort you” without touching you. THe phrase I’ve chosen is, “It’s time for sleep, I love you, goodnight.”

You are NOT amused. You are the as far away from Happy as I’ve ever seen you. You are angry. And you are not sleeping.

The book tells me that you are screaming because you are protesting change, not because you think I don’t love you anymore. The book says that you will appreciate the “sleep wave” of me going in and reassuring you by saying the same thing each time. But instead you stop screaming and reach for me, and it is breaking my heart sweet boy.

But you have to learn how to fall asleep on your own or else we may never be able to take a vacation again. You need to know that, although I wish I could, no one will cradle you forever, and at some point you’ll have to make yourself fall back asleep in the middle of the night when you wake up at 2, 3, 4 and 5.

I wish I didn’t have to do this, because I feel awful and terrible. And there isn’t enough wine in the world to numb the pain associated with hearing your baby cry. Last night I sat outside your door listening to you weep in your sleep after you’d fallen asleep crying.

This part of parenting is so hard. Everyone says it’s the right thing to do. I know that I have to do it because I am tired. I worry about you. You have to learn.

But I am sorry. I’m so sorry to make you cry and yell like this, George. I hope you don’t remember and talk about it in therapy as an adult.

Just know that I am sitting outside your bedroom door, broken hearted and almost crying myself, drinking a glass of wine and wishing I could make everything better for you all the time. But this is the first of many times that I’m having to step back and say, “I’m sorry buddy- you gotta figure this out on your own.”

I do it because I love you. Please don’t cry much longer.

1 Year, for George

Dearest George,

Oh my we have made it! You are 1! You still do not sleep much. You are a wild man, a pistol, and so very interesting to watch grow. You are so smart, and starting to talk and sign more and more everyday. You are generous with kisses and love to be held. You’ve been walking for months now, and are starting to get faster and faster. You want to keep up with Simon. Only he can make you laugh that belly laugh that’s contagious and amazing. The way you look at your brother is just awesome. There’s love shining both ways there, and it makes me so happy knowing you have each other.

Nonni and Papa came up a week before your birthday, so we celebrated a little early with carrot cake cupcakes and opening presents. You love the new airplane they got you, and we were all so excited to watch you taste the cake. You weren’t that impressed.

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George is not a fan of carrot cupcakes.

Your baby sitter also had a birthday party for you later in the week, where they sang and ate cupcakes and you got a cool present from them, too.

Then on your ACTUAL birthday we had cake AGAIN and sang and you got even more presents! So, whoever says having a December birthday stinks because of Christmas- well that’s a load of bull. Because instead I think people are just more willing to celebrate more often. And the decorations of having twinkly lights and gingerbread houses in the background make it extra special.

I can’t believe what a whirlwind this year has been. The scary moments when you’ve been sick and I took you to Urgent Care or the ER..The number of times we had to dose you for reflux and how many times I”ve been vomited on. I’ve gotten pretty good at determining what to do when this happens. I even keep extra old towels under your bed, in case this should happen on any given night.  Since you are a weird sleeper, you often end up with us in the wee early hours of the morning. This morning from about 4:44 until 6:15 I fought you with sleep. You bounced between your dad and I like a pinball, talking and rolling around. You are getting a top tooth  finally, I can see one sliver of white coming through the gums and I am assuming that’s why you have been extra whiny and drooly lately. You are so incredibly cute though, we will forgive you for it this time. DSC_0342

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We were really lucky to have Nonni and Papa take you overnight to a hotel party with Simon, so I got to catch up on sleep for a night, which was amazing. I’m confident that some day we will all sleep a nonstop 7-8 hour stretch, but it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. When you cry at night, and I go in to comfort you, your head in the crook of my elbow is so much bigger than ever. You are a legit toddler, topping the growth and weight charts in usual Geig fashion. But when I look at your little face, getting comfortable in my arms, I am overwhelmed with how lucky I am to have you in my arms and in my life. You make me laugh every day, and you bring such a great vibe to this family.

DSC_0370You love music. You like to push buttons on music things and dance. Or, you like to steal my phone and carry it around while it plays Pandora music stations. You sway your head side to side and bounce up and down to dance. You have the biggest grin when music comes on- whether it’s bad rap or rock and roll- you love it all.

It’s been a long time coming but you’re finally starting to eat some finger food, though you’d just as soon survive on yogurt bites and Cheerios. You’re not a fan of cold anything- fruit, cheese, etc. We’re working on getting you using a sippy cup, but for now you just slam it around and chew on it. DSC_0306

You say “mama” “dada” and “alllll done”. “All done” is your favorite phrase and you use it often. You love to wrestle, be tickled. Your tricks include “So Big!” and “peek-a-boo” — even though you just hold one arm up when you do either trick. You toddle around this joint as if you own the place. You walk up to every gate and shake it as if to say, “HOW DARE THEY TRY TO KEEP ME FROM THAT AREA?” You are constantly pulling grown up books off the shelves. You take everything out of the pantry and the cupboards. You love books of all kinds and bring them to us all the time, as if you want us to read them to you. But as soon as we start to read them, you turn around and walk away. Usually you just bring us more books. You are a real piece of work little boy. You are so handsome, and funny and fun to be around. We are always just waiting to see what you’ll do next. We love you so much, and are proud of every single little thing you do. Thank you for being ours’, little boy. We are so lucky to have you in our lives. DSC_0359

All my heart,

Mama.

Kindergarten Teacher Conference.

Last night we had our first Parent Teacher conference for Simon.
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Simon’s teacher has been teaching for 24 years. She is very kind but firm, and incredibly knowledgeable and on top of things. It is quite clear she knows what she’s doing, and Simon really loves her. I knew she was no-nonsense in the first interaction we had with her at the initial orientation, and I was worried that she didn’t appear to be as touchy-feely as some of the other teachers that were at that meeting. As it ends up, my nervousness was uncalled for (go figure) and she has been a great match for Simon this year.

Gabe and I sat in the hallway, after talking briefly with two sets of parents who have sat through other orientations with us- first preschool two years ago (when George was just a glimmer in my eye). “Weren’t they just three years old?” one of the moms asked. “Yes!” I agreed.

We were given his writing journal and some classroom books to peruse as we waited. The teacher was running late, but we didn’t mind. There was artwork to look at in the hallways and I loved looking through his writing journal. Right now, it is filled with pictures of him doing things- climbing on the monkey bars, playing with his friend Max, and going to a ptrnm (planetarium) with his daddy.

The other morning, when I would not let him wear sweatpants he could pull up above his knees to school, he angrily told me he was going to write a sad face in his writing journal about me.

I looked for an angry face in the journal but didn’t find it. (Instead he wrote a love letter to his daddy, but that’s okay.)
“My dadeluvsme” it says.

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When we finally got into the room, the teacher offered us some candy and a seat in the tiny little chairs. Gabe made a joke asking about the weight limit, but she thought he’d be fine. We sat nervously crouched and the first words out of her mouth were, “Simon is such a sensitive boy, and reminds me so much of my Adam.”

Simon is such a sensitive boy. He is.

She relayed a story from that day, stating that the students were having a rough time during Read to Self time, and she had to ask a few of the boys to go back to their seats. Simon was one of those boys. She said as she continued on working with the other children, she looked back at Simon, who had two giant alligator tears running down his face. “I felt so bad, ” she said. But obviously, he needs to listen and follow rules like everyone else.

Simon is such a sensitive boy.

She then told us about his reading, and showed us on a chart how far he has improved in just three short months of being at school. She says, “He knows every letter sound!” as if that was a surprise. She is happy with his progress academically, and showed us some ways we can work on math at home. Counting and adding and games for the ipad and computer. I grimaced a little when she told us his reading level and suggested things that I consider Screen Time, but all in all the report was wonderful, his teacher is wonderful.

“It is easy to tell how Simon is feeling, just by looking at him.”

I love that Simon feels things so greatly. I also worry because it is easy to be heartbroken when you are such a sensitive person. I know this from experience.

Simon is such a sensitive boy. I hope he grows into a sensitive man.

I just love the little person he is becoming.

With all of the fits and fights and frustrations that come along with the push and pull of parenting…

I am so proud to be his mama. So very very poud.

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Dear George.

Georgie. Last night you took your first real steps. You’ve been standing up and taking half-steps for about a week now, but last night you deliberately walked 8 steps. Eight! I counted them! It was amazing.

Did we capture these moments on camera? No.
Did we capture them on video? No.
In the year 2014 does everyone have a phone with camera and video capabilities in their pockets? Yes.
Why do I not have these moments documented for posterity?
Because I was watching you and willing you to do it so hard with my brain, I didn’t want to move to get my phone. AND because I’m pretty sure I have so many other photos of you taking up space on my phone, that there is no room to add more at this time.

So instead, I had to memorize the moment in my head. And it was a pretty awesome moment, kid. Pretty awesome.

I love you, sweet barfy boy.

Mama.

10 months, for George

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Dear George,
What a month it has been! A whirlwind of fall is upon us and you are doing all sorts of fun things. For example, you high-tailed it three-quarters of the way up the stairs. We didn’t know you did this until we heard you thud thud thud, bump, thud, thud thud THUD SCREAM, hit the landing. Your dad and I FLEW into the living room (we were all in the kitchen making dinner when you disappeared) and you appeared to be terrified, but fine. Not even one bruise to speak of. You were so lucky. The next day we went to Babies R Us and purchased a baby gate. It works for now, but you like to pull yourself up to it, and shake it as hard as you can, as if to say, “It is only a matter of time before I will defeat you, baby gate!”

You are our crazy boy.

This morning in the rush of me trying to get myself and Simon out the door to work and school, I found you in the kitchen, playing with a box of cereal and surrounded by cartons of yogurt and a can of black beans. In both hands you had a piece of Simon’s homework, and you were waving them in the air as if you wanted to take off flying. Your dad and I looked at you and shook our heads. You are our wild man, into everything. You love “grown up things.” We are constantly pulling you out from under the end table, where you like to play with the modem and router. Or we have to pull you away from the electrical outlet, or take small things out of your hands. You want whatever isn’t yours’ to play with. And you scream bloody murder when things are taken from you without your express permission.

The baby sitter said you’ve started to get a “little aggressive”– which is probably true. Simon loves to play with you now that you are more mobile and you two will shriek and play upstairs like crazy people. Your face lights up in a way that is different when you play with Simon. It is clear that you think he is the best. The rest of us are chopped liver when Simon is giving you the time of day. And boy, does he love you, too. Sometimes when he is getting in trouble, he will yell at me (or dad) “I ONLY LOVE GEORGE- I DO NOT LIKE YOU OR DADDY ANYMORE!” So far you are still on his good list. :) I hope it lasts.

In addition to your falling down the steps milestone, you occasionally take a step or two. And you will stand up in the middle of a room directly, by yourself, sometimes with no assistance of furniture or anything around you. You will be running around here by Christmas no doubt. I am terrified and excited.

You are still eating baby food, but we have started trying SOME other foods like those melt-away puffs and tiny bits of softer grown up foods. You still gag and barf a lot, so we’re taking it easy, but I am convinced that someday you will eat like a normal person and we won’t all feel the need to duck and cover, should you gag and barf what you just ate all over us, as you sometimes tend to do.

Your little personality is just so fun and funny. You are very easily entertained, and you still love your farm toys and o-balls to chase around the house. But most of all you love your brother. You would follow him just about anywhere, and when we come home each day, you rush to the door yelling for us to greet us.

You sign ball, milk, daddy and sometimes mommy (we think). You SAY dada and baba. You are otherwise quiet most of the time, but when you do talk, you babble on and it is so fun to listen.

I just love you so much. I love your dimple, your light brownish blond hair that waves over your ears and on the nape of your neck. I love the way you give me kisses when you wake up in the morning, even at 5am, your wet open mouth kisses are the best. And even though you have only slept SORT OF through the night for about a week total in your 10 months of existence on this planet, I still love you more than you’ll ever know…EVEN THOUGH I AM A COMPLETE ZOMBIE AND FUELED BY CAFFEINE AND CANDY MOST OF THE TIME.

So if you want to start sleeping more often, that’d be great too.

I just love your guts, kiddo. I can’t wait to see all you become. Watching you and your brother grow up is the biggest privilege of my lifetime. Keep on being awesome.

All my heart,
Mama

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9 months, for George

Oh Georgie,

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Well let’s see. You have oh-so-many tricks now! You blow raspberries and occasional kisses. You push a toy cart around the house, walking like Frankenstein behind it. You have pushed it into furniture and walls and you will scream when you’re stuck and can’t move it any further. You wave, clap and stand. You want to be in the middle of everything exciting. I love that about you.

You squeal and squeal with your brother when he gets wild. You follow him all over and will pull yourself up to the table and yell at the top of your lungs to chime in with his noises. You come barreling towards me when I get home from work, so happy to see me. You have a funny tripod like crawl, one foot on the ground, one knee on the ground, and you are so fast and furious. Your favorite toys are your O-ball, which you will crawl after and throw, playing catch with yourself. You also still love your barn and farm animals. I just noticed this morning that you know how to get the animals out of the silo, where they’re kept.

You are a sweet sweet baby boy and just the cutest thing. I took you to the eye doctor and you had the whole office smiling as you squealed and tripod crawled all over the waiting room. You were great in the office and we scheduled a tear duct probing for September 24th. I’m nervous for it but also glad we’re getting it done because hopefully your eye will be less goopy when it’s over with.

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At your 9 month dr. appointment/checkup the doctor gave me THREE specialist referrals, one for your gag reflex, since you don’t really like to eat solid food yet. You like baby food just fine- sweet potatoes are your favorite. But any time we’ve given you table food, even in small tiny pieces, you gag and sometimes throw up. I’m not convinced this needs looked into- you may grow out of this too- but if not, we have a referral for a speech pathologist or something for you. We also got a referral for a urologist, which we don’t really need either. And a referral for a cranial ultrasound, because your head is so big, but again we don’t think you really need that. Your brother has a giant head (always has) your dad has a giant head (always has) and your head size is proportionate to your body weight and height. So basically I’m looking at other pediatricians because I think this one is a little kooky. I mean, if things pop up where we think it’s necessary, then sure by all means we can go see a specialist but I felt like she was giving us a long list of issues that aren’t really issues. You are my perfect boy, who is growing perfectly and learning every day. I’m not worried.

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You still go to a baby sitter and I think that’s going okay. Everything you do all day is recorded in a notebook and even though it’s nearly full and falling apart, I told daddy I’ll be keeping it for you since it’s really a funny journal of sorts, of your first few months. I really can’t imagine our family without you here. When I look back at the times before you were here, it feels like something’s missing. And now, I know what it was- it was you! I cherish you and love rocking you to sleep. Even in the middle of the night (because you still wake up….in the middle of the night) I love looking at your sweet cheeks and tiny little chin, nuzzled up against me as we rock and rock.

You are my sweet boy, Georgie Porgie Puddin’ and Pie. We love you so so much and watching you grow up is painful and beautiful and awesome.
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I love you more than you’ll ever ever know.

Mama