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Obviously I’m not finding time to post anymore. We’ve made a commitment not to allow Gia any screens outside of FaceTime with family, which means we can’t even show her our phones or computers. If she even sees me send a quick text she goes crazy screaming “pit-tire!” (picture) and crying. Especially with the new guidelines out about no screen time at all before two years old, we’re not exposing her to television or laptops. She also still isn’t sleeping well so I don’t even have time to myself every day before I got to bed – we go to bed immediately after Gia does since we know our hours are numbered. 

This means I have to say good-bye to my blog and amazing blogging community for awhile. It was amazing to share so much while I was pregnant and follow your stories. I miss it. I wrote blog posts in my head. But when it comes to even writing a five-minute post, it’s time I need to shower or make coffee or just go to sleep!

Thanks for all the wonderful support! 

We’ve been in Europe since Sunday morning and Gia isn’t sleeping. This is different from her usual sleep issues though – it’s worse. She has been awake from evening until around 3am for the last three nights, four counting tonight. It’s 11:54 pm and she’s been crying, walking around our room, eating and reading books since 8pm. That’s FOUR HOURS. I feel awful that jet lag and traveling to new places is affecting her like this. Questions have been running through my head: did we make a mistake? Are we selfish? Mean? Expecting a toddler to travel around with us? We knew it would be a tough adjustment, but I never would have imagined it would be this bad. 

She’s been passing out around 3am and we’ve all been sleeping in until 9 or 10 and missing half our day, although our days have been miraculously nice. We’ve have an apartment in Menton, France for three days. Tomorrow we drive back to Italy to hang out on 0the Italian side of the riviera. Gia is enjoying the food and the sun and loves exploring. Just not sleeping. 



Gia’s sleep in the past two months has completely deteriorated. Leap 8, or the cognitive surge that happens around a year old, or whatever you want to call it, hit our household like a devastating hurricane in mid-July – three nights in a row in which Gia was awake for 3-4 hours in the middle of the night, followed by a night later that week in which she was awake from 11pm – 3:30am. I waited for it to subside but it didn’t. 

Gia would have trouble going to sleep, then wake up a couple of hours later and no matter how much breast feeding, rocking, playing, feeding or CIO we did, she wouldn’t go back to sleep until the wee hours. Even bed sharing doesn’t work anymore – she just gets exited and babbles and does acrobatics. The worst was the couple of times we did let her cry for awhile out of sheer desperation, and she sobbed for so long that she fell asleep in a heap on top of her sea horse toy and we had to wake her up to move her, then be up with her for another two hours. 

I felt desperate and angry. I yelled in the middle of the night. It went on for weeks with only a couple of nights of relief here and there. It’s been chronic and the fallout has been humbling – issues at work, issues in my relationship, all in a haze of exhaustion. The feeling of waking up AGAIN to her cries is awful. It feels like I’m being burried alive or tortured (no disrespect to actual tortire, I know it can’t compare it’s just how I feel in the moment). I haven’t been excited to see Gia in the morning because I’ve been up with her all night. The last night I was up with her – four nights ago – ended with me taking her to bed with me, sobbing into my pillow while she nursed and flailed around for another hour. 

Our pediatrician said he didn’t think sleep training would work at this point – she’s too excitable. He also thought that when she started walking, she would start sleeping. Well, a couple of nights after that appointment, she did start sleeping – she slept COMPLETELY THROUGH THE NIGHT FROM 8pm – 6am for two nights in a row. It was the exact night she took her first real steps! Last night she was awake for an hour so we don’t know if it was an anomoly or if things are getting better for now. 

Either way, I decided to night wean her cold turkey. She doesn’t need to nurse all night anymore and it agitates her. J thinks she’s waking up to nurse and is willing to take care of her in the middle of the night and re-evaluate things in a week. For now, I’m not seeing her in the middle of the night at all – only J is going in because when she sees me she cries and fusses and wants to nurse for a long time. We will see what happens. 

And of course, now that she’s sleeping and the pressure of being up with her for hours has subsided, I miss her so much. She’s been hilarious and adorable these past few days. I wish I could go get her and cuddle with her all night. I hope that we can keep creating a healthy routine and setting limits with her so we will all start getting some sleep and feeling better. 

Gia has been one year for a week now. It’s crazy. Someone asked me today when she started crawling and I couldn’t remember. That’s when I realized it’s time to start keeping updates. They may not be on adorable chalkboards or unique fabric every month, but at least they’ll be done!

We had her birthday party early in the month in Minnesota, but also had a little birthday dinner for her while my mom was in town. My mom made spaghetti and meatballs, since Gia likes to slurp up the spaghetti. For dessert I made whipped cream over fresh berries and almond biscuits. We got her the radio flyer tricycle!


Gia has reached some milestones and is racing towards others. She says actual words now – when you ask her what a crow says, she says “Caw! Caw!” She says “apple,” “up,” “agua” and “uh oh” in the correct contexts. She also says “hi mama” and “buh bye”. 

She’s taken a couple of steps here and there, but she prefers crawling. She crawls at lightning speed. She can open the door to her bedroom and crawl away during bedtime routine. 


We took her to the beach for the first time on Sunday. We held her over the water and she loved the waves so much that she cried out in ecstasy as they crashed over and under her. She crabwalked over the sand and right back into the ocean by herself. 


She eats everything and yet she’s particular. One day she’ll shove spinach and chicken in her mouth; the next, the same foods will be gently removed from her plate and dropped onto the floor. She usually peers at me while she’s doing this to see if I’m watching. Tonight while we were eating dinner, she rocked back and forth and shook her head to Credence Clearwater Revival. She’s been nursing a lot on weekends and still nurses to sleep each night. I thought I’d finished pumping at work, but J and I have had some after-work dates and wedding meetings, so I’ve had to keep it up. 

I can’t talk about her turning a year old without discussing Leap 8. It has been the worst growth spurt so far. All of the leaps manifest in sleep in our household. Two weeks ago, at around 51 weeks, Gia stopped going to sleep on time and started staying awake in the middle of the night for two full hours, sometimes more. This happened for three week nights in a row and it was Hell. She then slept ok for one night, then was up from 11:30 pm to 3am on a Friday night. We tried everything – nursing, bottles, snacks, toys, letting her cry; nothing worked. I’ve called into work and gone in late a few times, and reinstated lunchtime car naps. I think the worst is over. For those of you who have the Wonder Weeks app, the storm cloud passed two days ago and we’ve had one good night of sleep so I’ll keep you posted. 

This is a video of how whiny and clingy she’s been during Leap 8:


For all the sleep deprivation, I can honestly say that what comes to mind when I think about the last couple of weeks is just pure joy. Her smile and laughter and antics have changed. Watching her learn and grow is beyond incredible. 

As much as I want to blog, it’s just not happening right now. I’m not giving up. I want to continue sharing our adventures, especially with so many coming up (Gia’s first birthday, wedding, trip to Europe). I will try. I hate feeling built that I haven’t posted updates on her though. Especially since this is the only baby book I have. I will try to do an update and maybe share some wedding stuff. I’m following everyone though!

You know when one drop of ink taints a crystal clear bowl of water? My work situation is tainting an otherwise beautiful time in my life. I won’t be listing all of the horrible awkward details here, but they include our program head making passive-aggressive comments in meetings, calling me out on mistakes no one else would have even noticed, and hiring people who don’t fit into our clinic and make everyone uncomfortable. Many of the coworkers I was close to have left or are waiting for their new hire dates – seven, to be exact, in a clinic of only about thirty people altogether. The program head has stopped making weird comments about my pumping and now is uber-sweet about it. Then today she called me out on a mistake which was really embarrassing and then told me (with a falsely sympathetic and patronizing look on her face) that I could come to her if being a new working mom is too difficult and I need to talk. 

The thing that’s bothering me the most is how I respond. I’ve spent the last few months processing all of these happenings in my coworkers’ cubicles or in the hallway. I’ve given one of our new “supervisors”  who doesn’t fit in and acts better than everyone else (mind you, I have a higher degree, have been licensed longer and have worked at the clinic for longer) the silent or bitch treatment, depending. I’ve said things to this woman that shock me. And recently, since she’s started being grossly sweet, I’ve made myself vulnerable to her, ie, admitting how tired I am, identifying my weaknesses. Suffice it to say, I just don’t feel comfortable about how I’m handling it all. 

When I began to realize how serious the situation was a few months ago, my intention was to rise above and end up proud of how I handled it. In some ways I am – I haven’t quit, I’ve delivered what I believe to be excellent services to my clients, and I’ve supported my interns the best I can. In other ways, though, feel ashamed of my mistakes and sometimes dirty for venting so much. 

It took me a long time to learn how to behave at work and in social and professional situations. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD  twice by specialists who do extensive testing. Usually people grow out of this disorder, but I was re-diagnosed at age 25, which is rare. Because of my inattention and related anxiety, I do make small mistakes. I do behave impulsively sometimes. I do lapse into fight or fight reactions. I’m also really emotionally sensitive. I want to be strong and deal with this situation effectively, but it’s hard. Every day I leave my awesome child and COMMUTE to a job that then makes me feel sick. I drive away from my family. I pump three times at work and get barely any milk. Sometimes in meetings I’m so anxious and offended I’m shaking and my heart is racing. I’m on high alert all the time. And now, tonight, I’m feeling like some of it’s because I’m not smart enough, professional enough, organized enough. 

I’ve known for awhile that I need to work in a certain type of environment with a boss who is supportive, easy-going and appreciates my strengths. This is NOT that environment anymore. It really was when I started, so it’s very disappointing. I am working SO hard, seeing clients back to back, working with women who refuse to see the new therapists because they don’t like them (she hires people who don’t fit into the culture) and supervising the two psychology interns day in and day out. I’m working so hard and things just get worse – I feel defeated. 

I’m not sure what the universe is trying to show or teach me, but I know it’s something. Hopefully writing this will help me come to that realization. I’ve tried mindfuless, being strong, recognizing myself as much as possible, and always getting support from J. I’m hoping things will get better soon. And a little surprise if you’ve made it this far – we are seriously considering moving back to San Diego soon! So maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

Better post this before the 9-month mark!

This month has been a game changer in terms of both physical and cognitive development. Gia’s movements, social interactions and interests have taken a huge leap!
 
Weight: 21.5 pounds 

Size: 12 months/18-24 months, depending 

Teeth: four on top, four on bottom

Development: fully crawling, pulling herself to standing, starting to cruise, carefully sitting back down by putting one hand down first, playing peek-a-boo,  turning pages of books, mimicking sounds like “up” and “uh-oh”. I think she may still be slightly cross-eyed so we are going to have our pediatrician refer us to an optometrist. 

Naps: 3 with nanny, 2 on weekends with us

Favorite activities: reading books, clapping, knocking down block towers, standing up and walking while holding our hands, and LAUGHING while we’re being silly. 

Food: loves zucchini and apple oatmeal with flax seed, vegetable soup with beans, pieces of beets, broccoli, asparagus, etc, sautéed greens, berries, and noodles. Oh, and definitely breast milk!

Sleep: Not fun. Leap 6 has been a bitch, and interesting considering how alert and interactive Gia is. A lot of her ability to self-soothe is still there, but it’s as if she’s moved on to needing new ways of connecting anyway. Some nights she has trouble going to sleep, and she’s harder to settle after her night feeds. She wakes up twice. I’m planning to wean her from one of them once her teething and sleep regression settle down. I nurse her in bed and we sometimes end up bed sharing in the early morning hours; the rest of the time she’s in her crib with a knitted blanket and her fox lovey. We’re doing some research and consideration of how to organize Gia’s sleep again now that her behavior has changed so much. I need to figure out how to help her sleep better now that she stands in the crib staring at us!

 

 
  
  
  
  
As far as mom life goes, I’be been struggling with my work environment not being as healthy as I’d like, low pumping productivity, and sleep. On the positive side, being a mom just gets better and better. I find it easier to care of Gia without feeling anxious and overwhelmed. J and I have started going out more during the weekend days since we’re always home at night for Gia’s bedtime, and it’s been FUN! We are working on our relationship too, and it’s slowly paying off. Playing with Gia together is the best – she loves to read books, dance to Paul Simon, and ride around with J on my exercise ball chair. Making her laugh is more fun than going out drinking any day! Well, we least for now.

 
The other day I was watching Parenthood and there was a cheesy, cathartic but well-edited scene tying an episode of parenting strife together. I thought, very clearly, I can’t believe I almost missed out on this. I can’t believe I didn’t realize how incredible having a baby is. I am so, so happy.  Being Gia’s mom is the best thing I’ve ever done.

  
Two weeks ago Gia stopped going to sleep as easily. With the time change, her bedroom was light at 7 pm when she usually goes down, but it wasn’t just that. She wasn’t calming down while nursing and when I put her in her crib, when normally she would roll over and close her eyes, she was popping up, wide awake and crying. A few times that week it took an hour or more to get her to sleep, and several times in the middle of the night it took the same to get her back to sleep. When I opened the Wonder Weeks app, a storm cloud loomed over her little head. 

J and I discussed her baby craziness a few days later and decided we just wanted to support and comfort her, rather than take a hard line. We let her sleep in bed with us after her first waking a few times.  At the same time, she started crawling on all fours and pulling herself to standing. She wants to stand and “walk” holding our hands all the time! She also claps and says “uh-oh” and “up”, although I’m sure she doesn’t know what they mean. We weren’t about to do sleep waves while she was standing in the crib, peering over the top screaming. I suppose you could, but it didn’t feel the same now that she can pull herself up. 

It’s been pretty rough.  I did have a couple of freak-outs at 3am. One night I removed myself and slept in the nursery because I couldn’t be the best mother in that moment. I had to listen to her cry in J’s arms for awhile, but she’d already nursed for 45 minutes and I knew she was okay. She had trouble sleeping for two weeks and is just starting to get back on track. We changed her bedtime routine to 7 and bedtime to 7:30, and I started doing a dream feed so I could skip a night waking. (Why didn’t I start this earlier, it’s great! She’s so mellow and goes right back to sleep and sometimes I get to sleep six hours straight.) 

The best thing I did during this sleep regression was take two warm baths with Gia. One night when J was away on business and Gia seemed really amped up I drew a bath and pulled her in with me. We hadn’t done this since she was just a few months old. We lay there playing and nursing for a long time and she went right to sleep that night. It was nice so we tried it again a few nights ago. 

 
During the day though, this sassy little girl is pretty hilarious. She cracks up at the silliest things, lies on her back staring at books like she’s reading them, andslurps down the broth at the end of her soup bowl. I feel a lot less anxious about taking care of her, aside from her weekend naps which really stress me out (she naps perfectly for the nanny but with us will only nap in stroller or ergo). She’s very interactive. She’s started a music class on Fridays and we start swim lessons this Saturday.

  
  
  

First, a quick update. Work is Hell. There is a lot of drama and I’m struggling to be professional and take the high road. I have had to stick up for myself both privately and in meetings. It’s so disheartening that as a licensed psychologist, I have had to do this. I look forward to the days when I am full-time private practice! Because of the stress of work, I haven’t had as much time or headspace for other things like talking to my family and getting household paperwork done; I feel depleted all week long. Thank goodness I’m pretty good at separating work and home, so that the second I see Gia’s eyes light up, realizing I’m home, I can be present with her. 

I’m feeling much more confident about parenting. Our sleep and mealtime routine works well and it’s so nice to have some adult time in the evenings to watch TV and just hang out. We miss Gia during this time, so I’m glad that we still co-sleep with her crib in our room, and see her for night feeds. It’s worth it to be tired, as long as I’m not as tired as I was before we implemented her sleeping in her crib! 

When Gia was a newborn I struggled with a lot of anxiety; having a tiny human relying on me all the time was a shock to my 36-year-old, previously free-spirited system. Then between four and six months, before we helped her learn how to sleep by herself, I felt desperate and I have to admit, a few times wondered if I had gotten in over my head with having a child; the burden of not sleeping and working so hard was heavy.

Sometime in the past few weeks things have shifted. I’ve found myself incredibly excited to see her every morning, night and all weekend long. I adore spending time with her. She is hilarious – if I look at her out of the corner of my eye, or play a trick like sneaking up behind her, she laughs so hard. She eats pretty much anything we put in front of her – broccoli rabe in olive oil, chickpea, spinach soup and tomato soup, sesame tempeh with rice noodles. It’s amazing. Watching her explore her meal is awesome. For playtime, she’s obsessed with standing up. If you sit on the floor she will crawl over and reach for your hands, then pull herself up to standing and look around, grinning, to see who is watching. She says “Uh oh” clear as day; I’m not sure she understands what it means, but she loves saying it! She is so much fun and her schedule is under control enough that I no longer feel anxiety about the rest of it. How I will get her dressed, myself dressed, the car pulled into the driveway, the stroller into the car and the baby into the car no longer bothers me. Knowing I’ll be woken out of a deep sleep to nurse her in the wee hours of the morning no longer bothers me. I’m really proud of our family (the cats helped to, cuddling in the nursery every night during bedtime routine) for pulling ourselves together and making our home a comfortable place for Gia to sleep, learn and laugh.

Homemade vegetable soup:

 
 One hand! 
 Butterfly rocker at a play cafe: 

My older sister is about to have her second baby, and J’s brother and sister-in-law are due in July; Gia will have five first cousins! I am so excited to see what my little niece is going to be like. 

I’m happy for anyone in the blogging community or who reads my blog to read this, it’s just better not out in the open 🙂

Email me santosha1203@gmail.com