Thursday, February 28, 2008

Now We're Rollin'!

Oh, I have soooo many good reasons for not posting sooner. And yes, I'm going to bore you with all of them.

Two days before I, my mom, Chewy, and the Papoose were scheduled to leave Tucson to drive the 23 hours to TN (this was back around Feb 11th or so), I bent over to put the Papoose in her swing, like I had done a zillion times before, and felt something in my lower back twang. Yes, twang. I don't know how else to describe it. Luckily, I didn't even come close to dropping her or anything, but I immediately knew I was in trouble. I also knew I had about 30 seconds to get somewhere before it tightened up so much I wouldn't be able to walk. We were in my bedroom so I got in bed, someone brought me ice, and there I stayed for the next two days. I did manage to get in the car on the appointed day and by then, although I was walking bent at a permanent angle pitched forward and about 45 degrees to the right, I actually found the car quite comfortable. THANK GOD for my mother. I would not have been able to make the drive without her. I couldn't get the Papoose in and out of her carseat. I couldn't carry her at all. I couldn't walk the dog. I couldn't carry any of our bags. It took me days of heat and ice to finally wrench myself back up to looking like homo sapiens again rather than some evolutionary ancestor who walked with her knuckles dragging on the ground. I'm still recovering now, though doing most things around the house again, but in limited fashion.

The Papoose behaved beautifully in the car. She slept for about four hours every morning in the car seat. We'd stop for lunch, which would take us about 90 minutes what with getting everybody fed and walked. By then, she was ready for another nap anyway and would sleep two to three more hours. Chewy, on the other hand...oh, poor Chewy. He rode in the hatchback, where he actually had a decent amount of room, especially when lying down. But he couldn't pee on the leash. I did so much dog training research before we got him. I read so many books. I tried so hard. But I somehow missed the crucial bit where you're supposed to teach them to eliminate on leash, for just these such occasions. After two days, I'm sorry to say that he peed on the floor of the hotel. A lot. Don't tell Motel 6. There'll be no more lights left on for us. It was funny though because the second we got to TN and let him into his new backyard, even though he was tied to a rope, he was able to toilet with no trouble. It was like he knew he was home. Or he at least new he was at someone's home and that made it okay to him. Our new backyard is about five times the size of our old one, at least, and he loves it. Conveniently, he's also chosen to do all his toileting behind the garage, leaving the rest of the yard doo doo free. Easy clean up.

The moving van showed up four days later than the last day of the arrival window they gave us. Ouiser's family (her aunt and uncle live across the street) were lifesavers, letting us stay a night there, lending us supplies, etc. My mom stayed at her uncle's mother's house, which is just down the street. Ouiser herself came and helped out with some unpacking, especially kitchen organization, which was soooo appreciated. The Husband and I slept on an air mattress. The Papoose had her portable crib, so she, at least, was pretty much all set. Poor Chewy had nothing but the hardwood floor. Every night was an adventure, to put a positive spin on it. The cats were running around making noise like crazy and waking up the Papoose, so we had to lock them in a room. They damaged the door, scratching all night. So we locked them in the basement, which isn't heated, and our consciences couldn't take it, so we locked them in a different room with a painted door that we figured would be easier to repair. The Papoose is now in a nursery that is a little tiny room off the master bedroom on the second floor. But we can't close her door because the heat doesn't circulate very well in there and we found her little hands and feet frozen in the morning when we tried.

Speaking of the Papoose and sleep...oy. She stopped sleeping through the night. She stopped napping. Rephrase that: she stopped napping except when she's nursing. She's somehow blurred the line between eating and sleeping so that she thinks they're the same thing. The Husband and I are having visions of a five-year-old falling asleep, peanut butter and jelly sandwich in hand, half eaten. For now, she fusses, I can tell she's hungry, I feed her, she falls asleep. She fusses, I can tell she's tired, she'll only sleep while nursing, so I feed her, she falls asleep. And I'm talking falls asleep after about five minutes. On a good day. They're supposed to do ten to twenty minutes per side. She's always had difficulty with this; I fully believe it's a big part of the feeding and weight-gain problems we've had. But after four months of tickling her, poking her, talking to her, pouring water on her head, she ignores all attempts at stimulation to keep her awake during feedings and happily sleeps right through them, doing nothing but comfort suckling. If I put her down, she wakes up immediately. If I lie next to her and try to sneak away, she wakes up immediately. It's finally reached a low where I am spending about six hours a day on the couch with her sleeping on me, over the course of two or three naps a day. To all of you without babies, this probably sounds pretty funny, but I know Ouiser and Toddler Tamer, at least, are sympathizing. When you're in a new town, in a new house, surrounded by boxes full of your stuff that you need to unpack, and no one available to help you, it blows, frankly. Add to that the fact that I know she's only getting the foremilk when she eats this way, which is watery and low-calorie, and no hindmilk which has all the fat; and the fact that she's been dropping steadily lower on the growth charts since birth...the stress was really mounting.

So, we've started sleep training. Oh, God, I did not want to face this so soon. She was sleeping so well in Tucson. I don't know if it was the move or if it's just the age (she'll be four months on Monday!) she's reached, or a growth spurt, but she won't even nap in her swing anymore. And this whole, "I will only sleep while suckling" thing is no longer contained just to naps, which I might have been able to handle once we had Internet and TV and books available again (oh yeah, didn't I mention? For a good week, I was doing all that couch-sitting with nothing to do. Nothing. I literally stared at the walls. For hours. Now are you understanding why I was losing it?). But now that she's waking up in the middle of the night again, too, these new sleep problems have extended to that. I don't mind getting up once or twice a night. I really don't. But I'd nurse her to sleep when she woke up (and believe me, she demanded to be fed when she'd wake up), and we'd have the same problem we did during the day: she'd be asleep, I'd oh-so-carefully set her down in her crib, just when I'd sneaked back to my bed, she'd scream. The Husband quickly became the only one who could get her down, and with her now getting up three times a night and taking an hour to settle each time, he was going on four hours of sleep a night. This wasn't working for us anymore. I'm all about the attachment parenting up to a point. This has gotten beyond that point.

So, at Ouiser's recommendation, I read Good Night Sleep Tight last night. We were going to wait another week to start anything, but the Husband couldn't take it anymore. We put her to sleep like we normally do, but she woke up, went through her old tricks of waking up screaming as soon as I got back to bed after nursing her back to sleep, and the sleep training started. This book recommends that you put the baby in her crib drowsy, but awake. I won't bore all the non-parents with the details, and the parents already know them, but this is key: drowsy but awake. We, like many parents, never knew the mistake of putting them down already asleep until it was too late. But you have to do that when they're first born, so I don't know how you avoid going through this at some point. I think they all have to cry eventually; it's just a matter of sooner vs later. So he sat by her crib, as this book recommends, trying to comfort her with his hand on her and with his voice, but pointedly not picking her up. She cried for 50 minutes. Then she slept for an hour. Then she woke up again and they repeated this while she cried for 70 minutes. I made it through the whole first round and 60 minutes of the second before I started crying. It's just awful. I could hear her getting hoarse. I kept telling myself over and over that she needs to learn to sleep, this is a life skill we're trying to teach her, her Papa is right there so she knows we didn't just leave her, that we love her, etc. But it's soooo hard. I'm actually impressed that I held out that long. When she fell asleep again, it was about 5:00 am, so she slept for an hour. At 6:15 I knew she was up for the day, so I went in to get her. She was happy so see me, so apparently didn't hold the betrayal against me.

I've been dreading bedtime tonight all day long. We tried an 8:00 pm bedtime, an hour later than we've been doing. She always wants a third nap too close to a 7:00 bedtime, so we'll see how this goes. Miracle of miracles, I nursed her, watching very carefully for when she started to look drowsy, burped her, handed her off to the Husband, who gave her a bottle until she started to fall asleep, put her down in the crib, braced himself for the scream, and...nothing. He said she looked at him and then closed her eyes and went to sleep. That was an hour ago. I can hardly believe it. I'm sure she'll wake up at some point tonight and we'll face the screaming, but it's encouraging that there's some change already. Oh, and she's no longer getting swaddled, so she's not really a Papoose anymore. I figured we needed to keep her hands free so she could try to self-soothe. During that second crying jag last night, she learned to suck her thumb (as opposed to attempting to get her whole hand in her mouth, which is what she'd previously been doing). My little Papoosekin is growing up.

On the bright side (and as more evidence of what a big girl she's getting to be), the Papoose rolled over! A week ago, I set her in her crib while I was trying to unpack some things in her nursery. I turned away for a second, I turned back and caught the tail end of her rolling over. She did it again three times in a row last Sunday. She hasn't done it since, but that's okay. She officially can. And I bought her a couple of exersaucers, used, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I don't think you're supposed to put them in those things until they can sit upright on their own, but she's doing fine in them, and I only do it when I'm right there watching her. But it's great to be able to brush my teeth, go to the bathroom, eat lunch, you know, pamper myself.

Speaking of which, I need to hit the sack in preparation for later screaming. Soooo glad to finally be able to post again. Hopefully no more long, long hiatuses. Pictures are still waiting though as our desktop computer is not set up yet and I have no way to upload; I'm just working off the wireless. Thank goodness for network engineering husbands.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We Have Arrived... TN that is. We don't have Internet yet, so this is just a quick check-in. We got to the new house Friday evening. All survived! The moving trucks will arrive Wednesday; they were supposed to get here this weekend, so to say it's been a mild inconvenience is putting it lightly. Right now I'm rushing to get some copy editing done on time, so I'll write more when I can. Thanks for being patient!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Road Trip

This will almost certainly be my last post in the state of Arizona. My mom arrives today. The packers come Tuesday. They load the truck Wednesday. I'm not sure yet what day my car will leave, but D-day (departure day) is looming over our heads and approaching with appalling rapidity.

You'd think that things wouldn't be too hectic with someone else packing up your house. Ah, not so, my friends. All except the neat freaks, picture your home right now. Is everything truly in the right place? Did you put away your necklace last night, or leave it on your nightstand? Are all your bills filed? When was the last time you purged your closet? How about your bookshelves? Are your CDs in their cases? Did you ever get rid of all those VHSs you never watch anymore? What about that project you started in the garage and never finished? I consider myself fairly organized, though admittedly significantly less so since the Liliputian's debut. But this kind of organization, this fast...our head's are spinning.

Not to mention that you also have to get everything off the walls and disassemble all disassemble-able pieces: curtain rods, desks, bookcases with cardboard backs, wall storage systems, wall shelves...this list goes on and on. And you can't drill at night if you have a baby sleeping in the next room.

Not that she's sleeping all that much these days anyway. Remember how she started sleeping through the night at two months? A distant memory. She's sleeping worse every night and no longer taking real naps during the day either. I fear she's overtired, which makes babies sleep worse, and we're caught in this vicious cycle where she can't sleep because she hasn't slept which makes it even harder for her to sleep. So I'm back to sleeping in one- to two-hour stretches, totaling four to five hours per night.

And did I mention that maternity leave is officially over? I quit my job at the hospital, obviously, because we're moving, but I'm back in the rotation with the freelance copy editing and guess who just got slammed with two issues due pretty much as soon as we get to Tennessee?

So I have a little anxiety that goes something like this: I'm having insomnia because of everything whirring through my head that needs to be done and am compulsively making lists of lists. My baby isn't sleeping which is keeping me up having to feed her but also trying to figure out how to improve the situation with any tactic that isn't ridiculous to start right before we're about to move and screw up her schedule anyway. I'm worried that so much fatigue is going to leave me susceptible to illness again, threaten my milk supply, and make it unsafe for me to drive long hours across the country (my mom's not so comfortable with a standard transmission after many years of automatics). And then there's the potential for missed deadlines with the copy editing that put my job at risk, or at the very least reflect poorly on my performance making it harder to ask for a raise in the future.

The counterarguments to all this are as follows: Insomnia is insomnia. The worst thing you can do is worry about it. The bright side of the Papoosekin's sleep being screwy now is that I don't have to worry about the move messing it up. We can just start from square one once we're settled in the new house. We have at least five days to make it across the country. That's an average of only 4.5 hours per day. I know I can manage that, even if I have to take a break every hour. If I miss a copy editing deadline, it would be bad, but I probably wouldn't lose my job.

The immune system and milk supply concerns are legit, though. I can't talk myself out of those ones.

Anyway, enough whining. I'm sure it'll all be fine in the end. I just needed to dump all that out of my brain.

Case in point...Papoosekin has been sleeping in her swing for almost two hours so far this morning, so that's already an improvement as she hasn't had her what-used-to-be-usual morning nap in at least a week.

It'll be at least a week before I can post again, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

On the Move

One week from tomorrow, I will be hopping in the car with the Papoosekin, Chewy, and my mom and driving to Tennessee. The Husband will be following a couple days behind with all three cats and their sedatives. I think we may all need sedatives by the time this is over.

He'll drive fast; probably he'll make it in two days. We'll take our time; maybe four days...give or take. I'm told by people who've done this that I could probably make it in two days because she'll just sleep, but I'm not going to even attempt that. I'm too scared of screwing up her circadian rhythm and having her think she should be awake all night and sleep all day by the time we arrive.

The Husband has a new job. We have a new house. Well, we kind of have a new house. We don't have a closing date yet (yikes!). The Husband has been handling all the details, but my understanding is that we just need to give Evidence of Insurance, which is currently hung-up on getting the insurance people to understand that, although the original 1930s electrical wiring is still in the house, it's not hot. It was apparently just cheaper to leave it there when they put in the new wiring, but it's not a fire hazard, so they should just insure us already.

But the packers are showing up Monday, so closing date or not, we'll find ourselves in TN in the near future.

The Husband has been frustrated with this electricity thing because it's moving pretty slow, he's had to call back multiple times asking for various things, etc. I think the concept of a New York minute doesn't fly in the south. Not that The Husband is from NY, but I think Seattle's so hopped up on caffeine that they probably are ingrained with a similar concept.

The best thing about moving is that it's the only time I can get my packrat of a husband to get rid of anything. We're posting things on Craig's List left and right and making back a few drops from the bucket of money this whole thing is costing us. And the Papoosekin gets lots of "new" clothes from the thrift store as we trade in our old duds. We need to use up our credit at the used book store...I was there today to unload another boxful of books and they offered me $60-something in trade or $20-something in cash. I'm so used to automatically choosing trade that I almost ended up with $100 total in bookstore credit to use in the next week. Oops. So I took the cash and will head back another day with the previous credit that I forgot to bring with me today. And we'll do the same at the thrift store: bring one last load in then use up the credit.

Have I mentioned how much I love buying and selling second-hand? I know I have. I only wish I could buy myself second-hand clothes...alas, I need tall sizes in everything. Not exactly easy to find in a thrift store. Hopefully the Papoosekin will end up a little shorter than me and be tall without having that particular challenge. According to the height predictors (and who knows how accurate those things are), she should be about 5'8", which seems about perfect to me.

And speaking of second-hand, we find the Baby Bjorn we borrowed from Toddler Tamer to be priceless. Especially valuable to the Papoosekin is the convenient height of the front panel when she's facing forward: perfect gnawing position. We've been tucking in burp cloths to protect the fabric from slobber stains, but wouldn't one of these covers be way more chic? Definitely on my want list.

Here are a couple of parting shots, mainly for Grandma's benefit, who bought the Liliputian the t-shirt and hoodie below. Yeah, I know, all her pictures are on the couch lately. She spends a lot of time propped up there these days. We'll have a greater variety of backdrops as she becomes more mobile. God help us. Mobility. The beginning of the end, I'm told.

By the way, recognize those black bear booties?She finally fits in them! And I learned why I need to make future booties with less slippery soles. While checking out at the used bookstore today her feet were slipping out from under her as she tried to "stand" on the counter while I was holding her. Sad thing is that I don't think I'll have time to make more until she's too big to wear them!