I have bounced all the bounces: When sleep training works

When I graduated high school, a group of friends and I went camping alongside the sand dunes at Honeyman State Park. We went skinny dipping, we played drinking games, we flirted—and, gathered around a campfire, we burned the spiral notebooks and three-punch paper we had filled with notes on biology, history and literature.

As remnants of high school went up in smoke, I felt ready for a new chapter to begin.

I’m considering doing the same with our giant stability ball—because that’s apparently what I do when sleep training works.

Don't let anyone mommy guilt you about sleep training your baby. Ferber works—and it gave me my life back. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Mac n’ cheese is my hero

Yesterday we got home from a long trip to Eugene for Eric’s birthday. It was a packed long weekend, full of hanging with the family, games of Euchre and Quiddler, meeting up with friends, blackberry picking and twice-nightly dessert.

Super patriotic super sweetie with Grandpa
Super patriotic super sweetie with Grandpa

We were beat, so when it came time to cook dinner last night, I made a box of Annie’s macaroni and cheese, mixed in some spinach for good measure and called it good.

When I set the shells on Peeper’s tray, she couldn’t shovel them into her mouth fast enough. She sucked them off her fingers and had more in the other hand waiting. We marveled at how much she packed in.

“That’s more than a three-year-old eats,” Eric said at one point.

After Peeper ate her fill and we washed off the greens and cheese she mashed into her hair, I put her to bed.

People, she slept through the night.

Even more remarkable: I slept through the night.

I didn’t wake up worrying when she’d want milk. I didn’t get up to pee. I didn’t peek at the monitor. I just slept. That was the first uninterrupted night’s rest I’ve had since Fall 2012.

Seriously.

Mac n’ cheese for dinner every night!

NW’s Biggest Baby Shower Recap

I’d never seen so many preggers bumps in one place.

On Saturday Peeper and I joined what seemed to be every pregnant woman and new mother in Portland at the NW’s Biggest Baby Shower. Hundreds of families piled into the Left Bank Annex (where, mercifully, they turned on the air conditioning after a little while—I was unbearably hot with my drooly space heater strapped to my front). We bustled around, checking out companies, organizations and services tailored for expecting and new parents.

Three floors of baby gear—plus the blessed air conditioner
Three floors of baby gear—plus the blessed air conditioner

Despite it not being so up my alley—I don’t usually love packed crowds of people—I had a good time. I was glad I went early, before it became difficult to sidle up to a booth. (I took the above photo around 12:30, by which time it was hard to maneuver my babywearing self between other babywearing selves.)

I learned a lot—not just about products but techniques, too (e.g. essential oils for napping and a tip about using acupuncture for lactation problems), but you have to strike up a conversation with the people at the booths to learn about this. Overall, then, it’s not for everyone, but if you want to know more about baby gear and get your hands on products to try before buying, or you want to talk to the people who know a ton about baby stuff, I do recommend going.

If you’re bummed you missed the event, or you live outside of Portland, you can hit up the baby shower in Seattle on September 27.

Here are a few of the highlights from the shower.  Read more

Perchance to dream

The other day, I witnessed a minor miracle. Peeper took a long afternoon nap.

The nap in question was so long, in fact, that I had to wake her. It was 5 o’clock and I didn’t want to completely throw off her bedtime.

I snuck into her room. She was out cold. Instead of throwing open the blinds, though, I sat down next to the crib and rested my forehead on the slats. I sat quietly and watched her sleep.

She was lying on her stomach with her rump stuck in the air. One cheek was smooshed on the mattress. Her eyelids fluttered and her lips pursed. She was dreaming.

Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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Don’t follow this advice

It’s almost a cliché that once you become a parent, everyone—friends, family, randos on the playground—are suddenly an expert at how to raise your child. Sometimes the advice is helpful; sometimes it’s ridiculous; most of the time it’s confusing. (And sometimes it’s obnoxious enough to inspire a rant by yours truly and make me swear off online parenting advice altogether, like this.)

Every so often, a mother-to-be or new mama asks me for advice. I could say a lot about getting help with breastfeeding (if you choose to go that route), finding support in other mothers, bringing spare onesies when you fly and plenty of other tips. But what I usually say instead goes something like this:

You are the expert in your baby. You carried her for 40 weeks; you know her better than anyone else in the world. Do what you feel is right and ignore the other advice. You will make the best choices for your baby and your family.

I’m grateful to the people who told me something similar. They gave me the support and confidence to follow my own parenting path (one that my husband and I walk together, of course).

Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Here is the advice I’m glad I ignored.
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I understand, sleep-deprived mom

Soon after I gave birth to Peeper last year, my grandma told me a story.

She had just had my mom and uncle, a set of big twins who went to 40 weeks. (My mom weighed about as much as Peeper did—and she was only half the load!) My grandma was doing her best to take care of them and an older daughter essentially by herself—my grandpa was of the generation that thought that he would work during the day at the bank and she would take care of family and home.

My grandma struggled but told me she was overjoyed at having twins, which had always been a dream of hers.

One night, they got a sitter to watch the children at home, which was a rarity. They went to a party. My grandma took their coats to the host’s bedroom. And then—then she lay down and fell asleep.

They hadn’t been at the party five minutes before my weary grandmother was collapsed on a pile of strangers’ coats.

I know that kind of exhaustion too well. Chances are that you do, too. Maybe you zonked out in an inappropriate place. (I fell asleep on the exam table while waiting for the midwife at my six-week postpartum appointment, for example. Awkward!) Maybe you canceled plans because you were too sleep-deprived to drive safely. Maybe you’ve feared dropping your baby while trying to get her to sleep because you could pass out at any moment.

I’m so thankful that Peeper and I have moved past that point, at least for the time being. I was reminded of the bleary reality of many other parents, though, when I read this article about a woman who happened across another mother who had fallen asleep at an indoor play gym.

“I won’t leave ’til you wake up… hopefully rested and ready to face the weekend with the warrior-energy us mamas need to parent with a smile on our faces,” she posted later on Facebook. She had kept an eye on the sleeping mother’s kids while the tired mama caught some apparently much-needed winks.

To the woman who slept slumped against the windy slide, and to any of you who have never felt more like a zombie, I get it. I feel you. I’ve been there, too.

It’s miserable to feel like a shell of yourself. It’s embarrassing to nod off in public. You might even feel a little shame that you can’t “keep it together” enough to parent your baby and manage to sleep—I know I did.

I’ll say it gets better, though you might not want to hear it.

But I’ll also say that you have my full empathy and compassion until it does.

As new parents, and especially as new mothers, we have to stick together. I’ve got your back, tired one. If I can do anything to help, give a shout. If not, I’ll continue to look out for you and hope your baby finally goes to sleep!