Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Oh, For Pete’s Sake


(Um.  This got really long, possibly because — see below — I am really tired.  But I added pictures!)

Big changes afoot chez Bionique.  I went back to work on Thursday, later than expected thanks to Irene.  It sucked.  The farther I got from home, the sadder and more frightened I felt, and I work very far away.  As in, no way to get home in under two hours.  Work itself was lonely.  I teach writing at the college level, which means that in the fall, I teach freshman comp.  I love teaching freshman comp, but it does mean that on the first day of the new year, my students don’t know me yet.  I’m an adjunct, so I don’t know many of my colleagues, either.  It can be pretty lonely.  The building I teach in is falling apart and is now wrapped in a fence to keep people away from the plummeting masonry.  So my office window looks out on chain link.  I know, an office with a window!  It is not grand and it is shared — think linoleum, dank half basement, horrible overhead fluorescent lights that turn off if I sit still for ten minutes — but I don’t get one at all in the spring semester.  For a prison, it’s very nice.

The good news is that Sugar gets to stay home with the Bean on Thursdays.  Yay!  Sugar’s office probably agreed to that schedule only because they are so terrified to lose more staff, but whatever, they did agree.  I’m really happy that the two of them are getting some regular time alone together.

Despite our attempts to rush the Bean’s interest in food, he really isn’t eating much yet.  He likes to grab things and put them in his mouth and taste them but feels quite betrayed when bits of them try to get down his throat.  At least he’s grown out of the exuberant gagging that led to vomiting.  I’m still glad we started giving him solids over the summer, as it’s made me feel less sad about giving him formula now; instead of the formula intruding on our perfect little wonderland of breastmilk (which I didn’t think I cared about until it was so fucking miserably hard and painful to create), it’s just one more “food” he’s trying in addition to nursing.  I do hope I will be able to keep enough supply that I don’t need to give him formula when I am around, though, principally because I am lazy and don’t like doing dishes.  This may be a little tricky without pumping much, so we’ll see.

Speaking of pumping, the bad news is that the manual pump is not gentle enough not to have kicked the vasospasms into action again.  On Thursday I pumped three times and only enough to keep from exploding.  (Okay, a little extra on that last round because I had just heard from a friend with mastitis.)  On Friday, spasms all day, plus white patches on the ol’ nips.  Ugh.  The spasms weren’t really painful — more pins and needles — but they left me feeling nauseated with fear.  It’s just possible I have a little lasting trauma in that department.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, in what I meant to be writing about when I started this post, we have come to the end of our ability to deal with the Bean’s preferred sleeping patterns.  Those patterns being: couple of naps in the day, followed by a trillion wake-ups all night.  When he was younger, this made a lot of sense: he was small and very hungry and clawing his way onto and up the growth charts.  Of course he needed to eat, and I was pretty damn irritated at the people from our birth class who, after telling us that “babies don’t like” to be rocked in the way that he liked, informed us that at 8 weeks, he no longer needed to eat at night.  Maybe your giant (dumb) baby doesn’t, I thought, but my little one does.  He never wanted to do anything but eat at night (where night is defined as ending at 4:30am, lest you get too jealous); no interest in playing or otherwise being awake.  If he did not get enough to eat, he would cry until he did, period.  Since he was eating every five minutes all day, it wasn’t surprising to me that he couldn’t go more than two or three hours at night, and I did my best not to begrudge him, though I admit to a few ugly moments during the vasospasm hell period.

At around three months, he had gotten big and strong enough to nurse with me lying down.  Or maybe it was an issue of coordination?  Regardless, my life improved so much that I didn’t really care about the wake-ups for a while.  I couldn’t sleep while he nursed, but at least I didn’t have to rearrange a million pillows every time and then hold my head upright for 45 minutes.  Ah, the good life.  He slowly started dropping a few feedings, such that he’d take a longish break when he was first put to bed and then often go three hours rather than two.  I was getting pretty tired — I hadn’t slept for more than 2.5 consecutive hours since he was born — but I also kept hearing about babies his age who were sleeping through the night, and I was sure he’d get there soon.

And then…he just didn’t.  And I started hearing about more babies sleeping through the night, babies who were younger than he was.  For my own sanity, I told myself their parents were lying or, in the case of parents I liked, delusional.  (You’re welcome!)  When the Bean hit the four month sleep regression, the spring 2011 moms on the local listserv started complaining about their little cherubs’ waking up sometimes.  After not one replied with a “me, too” to my post about the Bean’s relatively awful sleep, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and unsubscribed.  Meanwhile, I got my period, my milk supply dropped, and the Bean started waking more than ever.  You’ll recall I was thrilled.  My mood was not improved by reading all over the internet that my period should stay away as long as I didn’t stop feeding overnight.  Ha bloody ha.  As it were.

I tried to content myself with the knowledge of the Bean’s superiority in every other way.  (Cue photo break.)


He eats pickles.


He’s learning to swing.


He loves the cats.


He vogues.


He almost crawls: forward motion occurs, but not predictably yet.


He likes our favorite Mexican place


He helps Sugar look for four-leaf clovers.


And he’s going to get that beer, any day now.

And then a miracle occurred.  He had three nights of only one wake-up.  Three nights!  Not in a row, but still.  It was amazing.  I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sure, it had taken two and a half months longer than the American Academy of Pediatrics had promised, but it was happening!  It was!  …the week we were going on a big trip to visit Sugar’s parents.

You all know how this part goes, right?  Sleep in a strange house.  It was an unqualified disaster.  We came home, and it was still terrible.  More wake-ups than ever.  We gave it a week; it didn’t improve.  We gave it two weeks; it got worse, as did my cough from the cold I couldn’t shake, thanks to never sleeping.  I started to wonder when I had last slept through the night myself.  Given the exigencies of late pregnancy, it certainly had been longer than 6 months, maybe 9.  I read this paper (tip o’ the nib to The Blog That Ate Manhattan), and despaired of ever fitting into my clothes again.

[Yeah, weight loss not going well.  Another rant for another day.]

So.  It is time.  This weekend, we started a little sleep training.  Our present goal isn’t no wake-ups — Weissbluth thinks two feedings per night is normal in a baby of the Bean’s age, no matter what the moms at the swing set are shouting into their cell phones — but I’d like to get down to one or two, knowing he can do that without starving.  At the advice of wiser parents, we have started by not feeding him before midnight.

The first night was horrible.  After waking and going back down fairly quickly in the early evening, he woke up for real at 10:30.  He screamed for an hour while Sugar sat with him.  At that point, she was wailing, too, so I sent her to bed and did something that made me feel like a total asshole: I sat on the couch and did not go in to him.  (This made possible by the amazing Starhillgirl, who should seriously run a sleep training skype hotline.  This is not a joke, and I will be her agent.)  I have always imagined rocking my baby and singing him to sleep, but it has been true since the beginning that he hates that.  Any comfort measure you can think of only aggravates him and keeps him awake.  Every nap time begins with crying, no matter what, so it is not ultimately surprising that the kinder forms of sleep training — the lady-shuffling, the rocking, the singing — don’t work.  Makes me feel like mother of the year, I tell you.  But after another half an hour, he fell asleep.  Incredible!  He had never fallen asleep at night without eating, ever.  Took me a bit longer to drift off, what with my own soggy face and feeling like a horrible person: call this a mutual cry it out program.

Or, Dr. Sears and me: still not BFF.

In the morning, Sugar turned to me, eyes still red, and said, “I guess this is what people mean when they say this sucks.”  We stumbled through the day.  We turned our backs for a moment, and the increasingly mobile Bean dove off of our bed with a terrible thud.  (He’s fine.)  This is why we need to do this, because we just can’t be good parents without sleeping more, now-ish.

The second night, he woke up again, at the same times as before.  This time, Sugar went to him, patted him and told him he was okay, and then left the room.  And, within two minutes, he was silent.  On the third night, he was silent as soon as she left.  Mirabile dictu ain’t in it.

He’s still waking up two or three times in the second part of the night, and in general things in the early morning hours are a bit messy, but things are looking up.

Except not for me.  I’ve gotten less sleep than ever.  I’ve spent the past several nights lying awake until after midnight, later last night.  Turns out I’m an oxytocin addict, and I a several-hour stretch without nursing leaves me restless and unable to relax.  I had certainly noticed that nursing would help me get to sleep on anxious nights, but I had no idea it had come to this.  After all the complaining I’ve done about breastfeeding and night-wakings, it turns out the Bean wasn’t the only one using nursing as a crutch for sleep.  Dammit.

31 thoughts on “Oh, For Pete’s Sake

  1. I really hope you start getting more sleep – this stage sounds so incredibly exhausting and hard and painful. I used to skim sleep posts like this but now that we have our own terrifying unknown around the corner, picture me at my work computer, white-knuckling the mouse, eyes wide and shoulders tense. Which is to say, you’re scaring me, but that’s probably a good thing.

    The pictures are completely fabulous!

    • oh, i plan on getting more sleep: sugar brought me a box of benedryl for tonight.

      anyway, there’s no point in worrying too much: it will happen and you will get through it, or it won’t, and i will secretly believe you are delusional.

  2. I, oh, no, just, eek. Hormones. Lack of sleep. Months of it. (Also the nipple thing. Again. EEEEP). I feel bleargh just reading about it. You poor woman. It is seriously just as well that he is very, very, very cute. Extremely cute. Excessively cute, even. I am cuted out.

    Oh, and now you have to work, too. Ohhhh, crap. Fingers crossed sleep-training mommy with benadryl works.

  3. My good woman, you absolutely win a prize for endurance in the service of being an amazing parent. Because…wow. Just…wow. I am hopeful that you will get cut some slack on at least one of these fronts–like your supply will hold up, or the Bean will continue this trend, or you will triumph over the oxytocin monkey… Hey, why not all of them. Something has to get easier, and I hope it’s everything, all at once.

    Also, the idea of you lonely in your dank office is SAD. If I were your colleague I’d come over with my bottle of gin and we could mock students together. Not that you’d do that. So you could listen to me mock students.

    Also, OH MAH GAWD THAT PAPER on weight retention and sleep! How absurdly cruel is that!?!

  4. Yeah, around four or five months Dr. S convince me to try letting Bug cry himself to sleep and I, too, sat in the living room and wept pitifully. Also, after a point, you seriously just can’t take it any more, and the kid is going to live through it.

    We did months and months and MONTHS of sleep training, in total; also, my kid is, you know, 29 months old, and there was weaning. But my point is: it worked! So hurray for you, and for more sleeping! It will work eventually! Or at least you’ll wake up for 5 minutes while Bean cries and then all go back to SLEEP, SWEET SLEEP.

  5. (And by cry himself to sleep I mean nurse for, like, an hour, and then get put in his crib, wake up a little, and cry himself *back* to sleep. He didn’t sleep without nursing until 23 months but that is a TOTALLY different problem, i.e. me.)

  6. Damnit it’s harddddd. They are lucky they are so cute ( love the pics!)

  7. Urgh. I’m not sure whether it was the sleeplessness/trauma or the two-hour commute to the lonely office that made me sadder. Well, yes I am. You will sleep again, much as it may seem otherwise today, but going back to work is always a bit sad.

    No delusions here. Eggbert didn’t go for more than 2-3 hours without feeding until she was 10 months old. TEN MONTHS! I almost died, I tell you. But now she does sleep. It kind of snuck up on me, but one day it suddenly became clear that I had, in fact, survived.

    You can tell me about your students if I can tell you about mine!

  8. Bean is gorgeous. And, I feel your pain. We had all kinds of sleep issues too. Maybe not as concentrated but it still sucked.

  9. Well I can speak with first hand knowledge that neither his sleep deprivation nor yours has decreased his cuteness now brilliance in any way, so you have that to be thankful for. It sounds just awful, truly. And like Olive, reading this terrifies me just slightly. However I don’t have a baby-on-the-outside yet and I’m writing this at 5am after going to sleep after midnight, so sleep deprivation is something I’ve already become quite familiar with.

    You’re a rockstar mom. Screw the listserve and playground biatches.

  10. The shitty sleeping has obviously led to an increase in his cuteness….a cute growth-spurt if you will.

    This resonates: “I have always imagined rocking my baby and singing him to sleep, but it has been true since the beginning that he hates that. Any comfort measure you can think of only aggravates him and keeps him awake.”

    Our guy has always been like this, too. Sadly, it is no different at 2 years old. We’ll start singing to him after reading books and he’ll squirm and whine until we put him in his crib. At that point, we can usually continue singing but he doesn’t like to be cuddled or held except on rare occasions. What is it with these kids??

  11. The Bean is just gorgeous. You know that anyway, but he takes my breath away.

    I am sorry you have been having sleep problems. It sounds like you are doing what works for the three of you, and that is what matters. Hopefully you’ll get some more sleep yourself soon. E. is up more frequently these days, but it’s because we’re getting him to bed much earlier…and I will take the wake ups in order to get an evening to myself! (Also because he is so fast at eating that he’s only up for 10 minutes, so I really can’t complain. That said, one of his baby friends goes to sleep at 9, and sleeps straight through until 7.30!!!!, and she’s younger than E. and weighs less. I try not to think about it.)

    This is total assvice, but if the Bean is now six months, have you tried using the 2,3,4 method for day sleep? would have heaps about it. Basically they go down for their first nap two hours after they get up in the morning, down for the second three hours after they wake up from the first, and down for the night four hours after they wake up from the second nap. If your day sleep is working, no need for it, but I thought I’d mention it. We’re probably going to try it with E. in a couple of months if he is still totally random like he is right now.

  12. ok Bean is cuter than cute.
    My view is that, if they weren’t so cute, there would be a plague of defenestration. I don’t know whether it would be the moms or the kids, but someone would be taking the plunge.

  13. 1. I have been an adjunct. A lot. And it sucks. A lot. (Masterpiece of understatement.) So, my undying sympathies there. I don’t know how I would cope if I were doing that + commute from hell + leaving the turtles at home.
    2. The turtles are so not into feeding themselves yet either. We give them two meals a day of purees by spoon. But when we offer food on their trays they look at us like we are crazy and wait for us to deliver it to their mouths. I don’t get it, especially since they have NO problem sticking every toy they touch in their mouths. What is so different about food?
    3. You know we have our own sleep demons around here so I won’t pretend to give any advice. The only thing I WILL say is that our turtles do their best sleeping in the first part of the night. And they pretty much demanded their 6:30 bedtime. (We were putting them to bed at 8, then 7:30, then 7 until they threw fits and fell apart and we realized they needed to go to bed at 6:30.) We did CIO for the night-time (6:30) put down. And it did NOT take “a few days” like the books all say. It took 6 weeks. Some nights would be tear-free, some nights there would be a half hour of crying, no way to predict what kind of night you were gonna get. But I’ll say that now, finally, 8-9 times out of 10, we put them down and they go to sleep within 10-15 minutes, no crying. VICTORY! And, as I said, we get a great stretch from 6:30 to midnight or 1 before any fussing, pacifier popping, waking up to feed starts to happen. As for sleeping through the night until 6 the next morning with no bfing…that goal I’ve just given up on for now. We tried to force the issue and it just.wasn’t.happening. So yeah, I guess I gave advice without meaning to but just to say–pick only 1 night problem and concentrate on that. (A couple weeks ago we had like 4 different night sleep problems so you have to just pick your priorities in battle.)
    4. The bean is crazy cute, yo!
    5. And still, another post with no information about Bionic’s vagina. Sigh.

  14. yup, yup, yup –we did the same thing with Izzy and it has been AMAZING to actually SLEEP. We havent had a night yet with NO wake-ups, but we are down to one feeding and that feels pretty darn good…you guys are doing an awesome job and that bean is one cutie pie!

  15. wow. this whole working mom thing is tough. i am still in a sleep-deprived blur of co-sleeping and several feedings a night, but i feel lucky compared to what you’ve been and are still going through. (although i’m up at 4 am and someone sounds restless next to me.)

    and the bean just gets more and more gorgeous.

  16. gah! that sounds not so fun. sleep training honestly sucked. but at some point you realize that you need to function to be a decent parent and well sleep tends to be helpful with that. sorry no one on your message board responded – that is ridiculous. i think people are afraid to admit things like that when really it would be great if we could all support one another to get through it. anyhow. i hope things keep improving for you.
    your boy is absolutely gorgeous! so aside from the oxytocin fix i can see why you wouldn’t mind staring at him multiple times a night either!

  17. Oh, bean. I just want to eat you up. How do you manage to keep getting cuter?

    Let’s combine my b00bs, which are pain-free, with your baby, who understands that b00bs are for eating. K? That would improve both of our lives a ton.

    Your job doesn’t sound half bad, though the commute sucks hairy donkey balls. The Fountainhead! Snort. You can only be 18 once.

    • indeed — i figure liking ayn rand at 18 is basically developmentally normal. (and my job isn’t half bad, except for the commute and the pay, it’s true.)

      ugh, ugh, ugh to babies who don’t eat. horribly stressful. the worst.

  18. Oh sleep… We have had many such trials ourselves. Nothing but sympathy from here!

    Love your blog 🙂 – came here via stirrup queens! I kind of envy you your freshman comp classes tho adjunct status is not so much fun. I got to teach freshman comp as a TA and loved it too.

  19. This sounds all too familiar. Like, I was about to write pretty much this exact same post.

    I swear parents lie when they say their offspring are sleeping through. My girlie certainly isn’t. I’m always afraid to leave her without feeding though because it’s hot and I keep thinking she might be thirsty, rather than proper hungry. Sooner or later, I’m going to have to get some courage together and start the sleep training. Until then, I’m going for quality zzzzs if I can’t have quantity. I’m doing some post-pregnancy yoga before bed, having some valerian tea and then konking out until it’s feeding time.

    For now, that’s about as good as it gets 🙂 Lucky they’re so cute!

  20. This cracked me up and made me groan in commiseration in equal measure. I just had our 3rd (my 2nd, my wife birthed our eldest) and at 7 months he loves nothing better than sucking the icy condensation off a pint of beer.

    We totally fudged the night sleep issue. “Whatever gets you through the night” used to be a grooving song, but is now our credo. We are, with kids almost 5, just 4 and 7 mo, exhausted but satisfied with our choices. What you do at night in order to make it through your days (be they outside of the home or in) *is* best for your family.

    I nursed 2 babies f/t all day and much of the night and still got my period back at 8 mo post partum. I’m still more than a smidge bitter.

    Love your blog. I believe that we all are hormonally programmed to think our kids are totally cute, but yours really is, and has quite the spark of alert genius.

    Keep doing what you’re doing – that includes the benedryl. :). My doc said that was the modern mama’s “mother’s little helper”.

  21. Your adoring fans miss you. Just because you have a REAL JOB and a baby is NO excuse, you know. 🙂

    Also, I just read this blog entry about discipline, most of which is not entirely surprising, but the part I want to share: mothers who have two drinks a day have kids with fewer behavioral problems. Hah!

  22. One of my twins still does not Do Slwwp well, if you count doing sleep well as actually fecking sleeping in consolidated chunks without screaming for dummy, bear, milk, Mama, Dada, the moon, the answer to life, the universe and everything etc.

    She’s three.

    So’s the other who has been ‘trained’ in exactly the same way by my tired self. Matched controls prove that the books are bloody stupid because you gets the kid you gets and you can mould things a bit but if you are lucky enough to get an easy one anything works and you just become one of those smug women.


  23. I have so much empathy for you… on the adjunct thing (been there) and the sleep training thing too (been there very recently). It sounds like Bean has learned really fast, which probably bodes well for future progress on sleep. For my BabyC, once she learned to fall asleep on her own at bedtime, other sleep things came a little easier. She started napping easier and longer during the day, and she slowly dropped her nighttime feedings on her own. She’s now 10 months and smiles at me quietly from her crib when I turn off the light – then she’s grinning at me 12 hours later in the morning. I almost miss her during that time, I swear! But yeah, she was never one for rocking or singing or snuggling either. I tried, and she would just scream at me, which admittedly made it a little easier to put her down and let her cry, since I couldn’t seem to soothe her. Crying it out was hard and I couldn’t help but worry I was doing irreparable harm to my tiny little helpless girl, but once on the other side, I realized that I could be a much better mom day in and day out if I was getting good nights of sleep and had some time to myself too.

    I just wrote a post on introducing solids – check my blog if you are interested. I love your blog, by the way. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been lurking for a while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s