The Bean

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oh, hello there!

It has been quite awhile since my last post. I thought once I was a stay-at-home-mom (or SAHM as the cool kids call it, which I am not, so I will never write that again) that I would have all this extra time to blog. One would think that nap time would be a perfect time to blog, but that is when I watch my tv shows. Or, very rarely, clean something. Lately, I've been thinking about how much I enjoy reading my friends' blogs (my favorite because I love her) so I decided to jump back into it.

The Bean will be 11 months next week! I cannot believe how fast this year has gone. She gets stronger and more person-like everyday. Like the other night, I bent over to pick her up and take her to the bath and she crawled away from me with this wry little smile on her face. Or like yesterday when I was sitting at the kitchen table and she was in the living room not 10 feet away from me. I heard what I THOUGHT was the Bean lifting up on the first step of our staircase. When I looked in the living room she was halfway up the staircase! My reaction was stuck somewhere between sheer panic and utter pride for how strong she's become. Previously I had to entice her up the first couple of steps with a toy or something, but yesterday she just decided to go upstairs. It is just crazy to me that she is capable of deciding something and then doing it. See, person-like.

At this point I cannot ever imagine going back to work full-time. I'm sure there will come a time when that happens, but I don't see it happening soon. I dropped by my former place of employment the other day for lunch which turned into an impromptu meeting. I sat there listening to my former colleagues as the Bean jumped on my lap and I thought, "Nope. I'm perfectly happy at home with this little person." Before having a baby I always said with full conviction, "I am a teacher. That is what I was meant to be and I love it. I love my students!" I meant every word of it until I met our little Bean. It turns out I was totally, unequivocally meant to be a mother. I still know that I am a teacher and I'm sure I will still love it. I know there is enough room to be both, but not right now. Right now is for listening to the Bean scream during nap time while I try to watch the season premier of Glee.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

You can't fool me

Dear Bean,
I hear you up there wailing mid-nap. You try this every day. You are not done with your nap so stop pretending like you are not exhausted. I will be strong and wait the ten minutes it takes you to get back to sleep. I will not peek in your door to see "how awake" you are because then you will see me and you will look up at me all bright-eyed and smiley as if to say, "See, Mommy, I am ready to get up." NO! You are not ready to get up. If you get up now you will start rubbing your eyes ten minutes from now and then you will be cranky for the rest of the morning. I am the Mommy. I am the Mommy. I am the Mommy. Oh.... you are a tricky one today! I hear you up there chatting away to yourself, probably playing with your toes. "See, Mommy, I am so ready to get up that I can have a conversation with myself. Don't I sound cute? Don't you want to have a conversation with me?" Of course, I do! But not an hour into your two-hour morning nap. NO! I will be strong. I am the Mommy. You are the baby. Back to sleep baby girl. Try me again in 45 minutes. Ha! That's right... moan yourself back to sleep. I will win this one. I am the Mommy. I am the Mommy. I am the Mommy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mom's love

My favorite part of the day is the last few moments of holding the Bean right before I put her into the crib. It is the last part of our bedtime ritual - bath, vitamins, lotion, nursing, holding. She snuggles her fuzzy head right into the crook of my neck. She is warm and heavy against my chest. It is quite and twilight. It is perfect.
I cannot believe how quickly she is growing, how big she is getting. I just want to slow it all down because I have a feeling it only starts to go by even faster. I try to live in the moment each day with her, but I cannot help but think some day snuggling will be a rare occurrence. I think about how I have not lived near my mom in almost 15 years, and I cannot even begin to imagine not being near the Bean everyday. My mom is coming next week to stay with us for a couple of months. I know that when I pick her up at the airport I will get out of the car and giver her a big hug like we always do. But this time I will have a much clearer understanding of what that hug might mean to my mom. I could be way off base, it might be just a hug to her. I can only imagine that when I am the mom hugging the grown-up Bean after not seeing her for months I will feel a deep sense of relief and warmth and the crazy, overwhelming love that only exists in a mother's heart. That is what it feels like every night in those last few moments before she goes to bed.
Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there. I get it now.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Planner's Escape

I've always been a planner. I like to have a ballpark idea of what is going to happen throughout the week. I was never a "five years from now I will be" kind of person. Five years is way too many years to plan ahead, but one or two years? Yeah, I usually have some goals lined up. When we moved to Virginia so Bill could go to law school my plan was to run a marathon. I was by no means a runner, but by golly, I ran one. The Virginia plan was law school, marathon, baby. In the grand scheme of things I think all along I had this vision of my life at 30 - teacher, wife, mom. Sounds good, right? I feel quite accomplished, thank you very much. There is just one small problem... I never pictured what happens next.
For those of you who know me well, you know that after three years or so, we usually pick up and move across the country for whatever reason and begin a new adventure. We throw our chips (or is it cards) up in the air and see where they land. This has worked out well for me, because on the way to the next adventure I usually plan what I want to do and then make it happen. But here I am, 31, a teacher, wife, and mom, and I have absolutely no clue what the next couple of years look like. I can sort of picture what life will be like once the Bean starts kindergarten, but there are five blank-canvas-years staring straight at me.
I was back at school from maternity leave for all of six weeks before I decided to take next year off. I applied for a one-year leave of absence and thought, "This will be great. I'll take one year to be with the Bean and then come back to teaching refreshed and ready to rock!" Then my leave of absence was denied. Oh. HR informed me that if I wanted to take a year off that I would have to resign and then reapply for any open jobs a year later. Oh. After about 30 seconds of panic I felt this enormous weight lifted from my shoulders. I feel like for the first time in a really long time my future is wide open. It feels like someone opened my eyes and reminded me that there are many possibilities. This is not to say that I don't like teaching -- I love it. I love the school that I'm at and (most) of the students there. Taking a leave of absence was a plan, but resigning is liberating! Why stop at one year? Why not stay home for a few years and have a brood of babies?! Or why not take advantage of all the awesome theatre here and get back into being a teaching artist (you're in and out of those classrooms and never have to write a referral or call a parent)?! Or why not get my MFA?!
The one thing that I am absolutely sure about is that I will get to spend way more time with the Bean. I won't have to rush to pick her up from day care or feel guilty for staying after school with someone else's kids. I will get to wake up with her, have lunch with her, arrange play dates. I will get to take time to breathe and wait and see what happens next. It is really peaceful here in this blank canvas.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Comedy of Errors

One of the most comforting things to think about when all hell breaks loose is, "At least this will make a pretty good blog post." Bill is out of town this week. He has been gone since Thursday which happens to be the first night the Bean really slept through the night. Thursday and Friday nights were a piece of cake. Apparently my yin needed some yang.
Saturday brought my first nighttime diaper blowout situation. Wow. That is a whole new level of clean-up. Around 4 in the morning the Bean started crying. Like a good Ferber Follower I let her cry for a bit, but she was not settling down like she normally did. So in I went to reassure her that I was still around if she truly needed me. Oh, she needed me alright! My daughter was laying in a big wet spot of leaky poo. I scooped her up and got her out of her pjs and began the great clean up. I had to turn on the light to see what was going on. And I had to put her in her Bumbo so I could use both hands to clean up. So she thought it was time to be awake and was looking up at me happy as a clam, naked save her diaper. Meanwhile I'm elbow deep in hot soapy water to rinse out her jammies and sheet. Poo rinsed out, I picked her up and turned off all of the lights when all of a sudden she projectile spit-up onto my foot. Great, whatever, nothing I can do about the chunky spit up between my toes at the moment. Into some new pjs she went and back into the crib. But she thought it was time to be awake so the crying/screaming/wailing began. "Ferber, Ferber, Ferber.... I can be strong... let her cry for a bit," at this point I need someone to pat my tummy and stroke my hair and reassure me that everything will be okay. Five minutes go by -- in I go, out I go. Seven minutes go by -- in I go, out I go. Finally she got her self back to sleep. Just as I breathed a sigh of relief -- PEANUT! Our wonderful, old, blind, neurotic dog began the I-have-to-pee dance which includes hot, stinky breath up in my face. Down the stairs we go. It is at this point that I realize the night is a total waste. There will be no rest for me. Once baby, dog, and mommy were all settled into bed the remainder of the early morning was peppered with whimpers from all three. Somewhere around 7 AM the Bean won (like she always does) and there we were, awake. Around 8 I decided coffee and pancakes would probably make the day a little easier.
Sometimes as I write these posts I think, "Experienced parents out there must think I'm so ridiculous." I fear that I write like these are huge important crazy experiences, because they are to me. But other parents must just think, "Duh, Kylie, that's the way it is. Get used to it." Oh well. At least I have something to write about.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I just about lost it on Monday. I was so exhausted and warn out that I started crying in the car on the way to work, then again in a co-workers office when she asked me about a totally non-emotional subject. I had a running date with a friend after school which I thought would get rid of the extra stress I was feeling. While the run was great, I still went home feeling anxious and worn out. That night I had a mommy meltdown (which used to be called "Kylie Days"). I ugly cried it out and went to bed. But somewhere in the mess of that day I managed to check out Richard Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems from the library.
Tuesday morning I was a mom on a mission. I spent all of my free time reading as much as I could. The case-study named Betsy might as well have been named Bean because it was exactly what we had been going through. I felt as if Dr. Ferber had been watching our every move because it was so right on. Ten pages into chapter 4, "Sleep Assoications: A Key Problem," I was hooked and determined to try it out immediately. I could get into Ferber's theory at this point, but I will save you the long explanation. The key for us was the progressive waiting approach. The point is IT IS WORKING!!!
The first night when I put her in her crib while she was awake (and crying) I patted and kissed her and then got the heck out of there. I went back in after 3 minutes to pat her tummy and tell her I loved her and then got the heck out of there. I went in 5 minutes later to do the same thing and then got the heck out of there. This technique called for me to go in 10 minutes later if she was still crying but she had gone to sleep!! So rather than doing the 15 mintue holding-rocking-bounching-"I love you"- dance over and over again, I had to only go in a couple of times before she had put herself to sleep. VICTORY! She slept for about 1 1/2 hours and then woke up. So I started again... 3 minutes of crying, then in I went and out I went. I was on the second step (letting her cry for 5 mintues) and 4 minutes into it she was OUT! I didn't even need to go back in. WHAT?! This continued throughout the night. By about the third or fourth waking she was putting herself back to sleep before the 3 minutes were even up. The next morning I felt like a new empowered woman.
Last night was our second go. I fed her, hugged her and put her in the crib awake. I was prepared to let her cry for 5 minutes this time. I left her room and before I was even down the stairs she was asleep! Every time she stirred from then on we would hear a little fussing and then silence. I think I actually slept for three hours at one point without waking up. She also stayed asleep in her crib longer this morning. This is the first morning I have not had to bring her into bed with us in the wee hours of the morning. AND she woke up with a smile.
Can this be true?! Has my daughter learned to put herself back to sleep in only two short days? I feel so encouraged I can hardly stand it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sleep give thee all thy rest

I find it hilarious that the Bean's nursery is A Midsummer Night's Dream theme. One would need to sleep in order to dream.
I've been back to work now for about six weeks. A friend of mine warned me that the Bean might not sleep as well at night once I went back to work. That was an understatement. At first, it was endearing that she wanted to be with me at night because I was gone all day. I told myself it would get better once she got used to our new routine. Then I thought she was not sleeping well because she was hungry; perhaps mama's milk wasn't enough for her anymore and she needed to start on cereal. The doctor took one look at her and basically told me that there was no way she was hungry due to her pleasantly plump figure. He did say it might be time to let her "cry a little." Okay, then. Maybe it is time to let her "cry it out." We started researching different methods of "sleep training" (yes, non-parents this is a real thing). I quickly realized there was an overwhelming number of "training" programs and they run the gamut on how much and how often a parent should let a baby cry. Both ends of the spectrum claim that their way will help babies develop into self-sufficient children who feel loved and protected while the other guy's way will turn your baby into a needy, heartbroken mess. Most of them agree on one thing... you shouldn't let her cry anything out until she is 6 months. Then we thought her pacifier might be the problem. Obviously she was waking up when her pacifier fell out. We must break her of her pacifier dependency ("Hi. My name is Bean and I'm a Paciholic"). A little internet research and we decided that cold turkey was the way to go. It looked like it would take a few days of hell, but then everything would be roses. Night #1: Bad. Night #2: The best sleep I'd gotten in over a month. VICTORY! Night #3: Hello 1 AM, and 2AM, and 2:45 AM....So here I am today with a 4 1/2-month-old baby who wakes up every hour AT LEAST.
I have no idea what to do. The best thing we can figure is to fight through this until my spring break at which point she will be almost 6 months. We will attempt to Ferberize her (not just a joke on Modern Family) then. If I don't get any sleep at night at least I can nap during the day that week and hopefully she will figure it out by the end of the week. What do I do until then?
I would love some advice from any moms and dads out there who went through a similar situation. I do NOT want to hear that your baby started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. I do NOT want anyone to tell me it will get better/worse. However, I fear that this phase is just like everything else I've learned about parenting.... we just have to figure out what works for us. "Though she be but little she is fierce."