6 month checkup

Ellen had her 6 month checkup yesterday. She is healthy as a horse, and nearly as big as one too!

The official weigh in was 21.1 lbs, and she is 28.5 inches tall, both at the very top of the charts.

The doctor advised me to stop feeding the beast at night time unless she absolutely demands it and won’t sleep without it. And even then, only once per night maximum. That’s what my gut had been telling me to do anyway, so it was nice to have my instincts backed up.

HOWEVER! Ellen wouldn’t stay asleep last night after waking until I finally gave in and fed her. She kept falling back asleep and waking up as soon as I would put her down. But when I fed her? Zonked for 5 hours. Pretty hard to cut that night feeding out entirely at this point, if she literally will not sleep without it!

Ellen also got 4 shots and an oral vaccine and was a tough girl. She cried for a bit and then as soon as I picked her up, she was fine again. Didn’t seem to have any adverse reactions throughout the day/night afterwards either, which was delightful.

Lastly, Ellen got rave reviews on her developmental milestones. I was actually a tiny bit concerned because she isn’t rolling (queen of inertia!) even though she’s shown that she can. But the doctor didn’t react at all to that news, and said Ellen was doing everything she was supposed to be.

Proud mama!!

6 months old + Family Update

My sweet girl is 6 months old! You’d think that after going through this once before I’d be prepared for how fast time goes, but somehow, I’m just as surprised this time around at how quickly my baby is growing up!

Ellen is doing fantastic. She can sit up endlessly, can pass things back and forth between her two hands, is suddenly overjoyed by the idea of standing up (while holding your hands), and is capable of rolling over – as evidenced by her doing it one time each direction – but seems so content to be wherever you put her that she hasn’t repeated her rolling performance.

We’ve also been having a great time trying solid foods, all of them purees so far. Daycare has given her a bite or two of banana and avocado, but everything chewable that I’ve offered Ellen has been rejected. Lewis was similarly uninterested in chewable food until well after he turned one… I’m hoping Ellen gets on board a little sooner than that, but no rush!

Just after turning 6 months old, Lewis was already showing interest in crawling. Ellen doesn’t seem remotely interested. Lewis also got his first tooth on the day he turned 6 months – I still don’t see any teeth on their way for Ellen. Lewis had also been sick a bunch with ear infections by this point in his little life, whereas Ellen has only had a little cold, has never had a fever, and hasn’t had to have any antibiotics! So different, my two babies!

Ellen’s sleep saga continues, but I am feeling hopeful again. We’ve had a few good nights, but I had to break some sleep safety rules to get them. Long story short, Ellen seems to prefer a “squeeze” when she is sleeping, and she may have been cold too. I’m working on safer ways to accomplish those two “requirements”, and should have everything in place by Monday so those theories can be truly tested in a safer manner.

In summary – I am fully boarding the “sleep crutch” train, and I am OK with it. As long as Ellen is safe and we are sleeping, I do not give one single shit (sorry for the language, Granny!) if I am using crutches. Screw hardcore standards that require your child to comply with rigid guidelines. “Rigid” has no place in my parenting philosophy, so I’m going to take all the recommendations and adapt them to find what works best for Ellen. It is taking a while, but we will get there. And she won’t need those sleep aids forever, of that I’m sure.

OK! Update on the rest of the family!

My body has come a long way in the last 6 months. I have officially lost over 50 pounds since right before giving birth. I had intended to lose another 5 pounds this month, but only managed 3.5. Given how utterly sleep-deprived I’ve been, I feel glorious about the fact that I lost anything at all! Go me!!!! I even went down a pants size for the first time since getting out of maternity clothes.

Lewis is almost fully potty trained. Or maybe he is fully potty trained? I guess it depends on how you look at it. He is still wearing diapers at night, although to be honest, he makes it through most nights without peeing in the diaper, so he might be ready for nighttime training soon, too. And he has only had one accident during the daytime in the last week, and that was in the morning when his nighttime diaper got stuck on his butt after he had un-velcroed it and he couldn’t sit down on the potty because it was in the way. Result? Pee on the floor. Oops! If the diaper hadn’t gotten stuck, we would have been accident-free all week. That feels like fully (daytime) potty trained to me!

Last weekend Kyle (and Lewis) did a little home improvement project – our sink in the downstairs bathroom cracked all on its own (so weird!), so we had to replace it. Lewis was super into the repair process, and Kyle did an excellent job. We had a new sink installed within 24 hours of the crack showing up. Besides paint, this is really the only customizing we’ve done to this house, and it is fun to have at least one thing that we picked ourselves.

We got our federal tax refund the other day and paid off a chunk of the debt we had accumulated due to my maternity leave. Our state refund will be used for the same purpose. It feels good to be getting on better financial ground. Realistically, we had babies before we could “afford them” because we chose to have them when we wanted them, while we were young and healthy, and when our careers were on positive trajectories. We knew we had the earning potential to make up for jumping the financial gun eventually, so we went for it. Now that we’re (most likely) done having kids, and we’ve both gotten significant raises, we should be consistently making strides towards a debt-free life, with far fewer back-slides. I feel optimistic, and very proud.

I had a birthday this week. 31 years old! The occasion was marked mostly by spending time with family, and with a birthday pedicure with a dear friend. I also napped (hallelujah!). No great fanfare this year, since it isn’t a milestone birthday, but I felt adequately celebrated, and really enjoyed my day.

There has been off-and-on snow in Portland this week, which even led to daycare closing on Wednesday. I had to work anyway, deadlines being what they are, so I worked from home with the kids. That’s right! TWO kids + work. I can handle two kids, and I can handle work. But when you put the two together, wow. It was a rough day, but the kids were very well behaved, and we got through it. I felt like supermom, even though I was also superexhausted!

And finally, my house is a constant disaster area, but the slogan in our house is “full bellies and beating hearts, the rest is just extra”. So I’d say we’re doing great!

I am completely at a loss. I haven’t slept in weeks.

I am to the point of fatigue where I am angry at my baby. I can’t function. I have serious debates in my head about how I can quit my job and still send the kids to daycare so I can just sleep during the day, because that feels like the only way I will ever sleep again.

I am also contemplating buying every single sleep aid on the market. Sleep sacks, special beds, professional infant sleep coach to come live with us for a week and teach us how to do this… Take all my money, even a tiny improvement would be worth going into thousands of dollars of debt for.

I am obviously shitty at this. I have happy, healthy kids, yes. I’m a great mom during the day – I am consistent with discipline, we have fun, my babies know I love them, they eat balanced diets, they’re safe.

But at night? I’m crap. I clearly don’t know what I’m doing. I follow my instincts and this is what I get. Following my instincts, I end up inadvertently teaching my kids not to sleep. If it was just one of them, I would chock it up to bad luck. But I’m batting 1000 on shitty sleepers, and the common denominator is ME.

In the end, we actually had a good night. Awake at 1 and 5:30. I fed Ellen both times, wrongly assuming she was up for the day at 5:30, and she fell back asleep.

What was different last night to make it better?

  1. Ellen had slightly larger bottles at daycare
  2. Ellen screamed for 45 minutes before going to sleep.
  3. We gave Ellen tylenol before bed.

Tonight, I’d like to remove item 2 and see how things go. We will keep items 1 and 3 to see if the results are the same. If it works again, maybe we will remove the Tylenol and see what happens. I suspect the Tylenol played a major role in the improved sleep, but I think a controlled experiment is required to figure it out.

No matter what, one decent night of sleep does a lot to set me up to handle subsequent bad nights. I feel much more prepared to face the world after sleeping two 4 hour chunks instead of four 45-90 minute chunks!


Tried sleep training this evening. Did not go well.

At bedtime, I literally pulled her off the breast and immediately dropped her in her crib. She was already asleep.

She then woke up 45 minutes later, crying.

So I gave it 5 minutes before walking in to comfort her without picking her up. Off to a great start!

That’s where the success ended. After 45 minutes of letting her scream, and occasionally patting her and attempting to comfort her, I quit.

Ellen was wide awake, angry, and snotty (AKA unable to breathe). I was bawling.

I feel like a total failure. It seems like my choices in this situation are either pile of shit or heap of shit – either I torture my baby and myself, or I never sleep again. In either scenario, I’m in hell. In scenario #2, at least Ellen is happy.

Rocking my baby and holding her feels natural to me. I just can’t believe that there is no way to have a better sleeper who also gets snuggled by her mommy at bedtime. That makes no sense. Why would I have this instinct if it is wrong? Aren’t we given these instincts for a reason?

Sweet baby Jesus, I want to sleep. But not like that. That’s not right for me. I need to find something different.

The Sleep Dilemma

This sleep thing – it isn’t sustainable.

Also, Lewis was exactly the same… so it must be something I’m doing wrong. And if I’m doing something wrong, that means I have to try something different. My ideas:

  • Larger bottles at daycare. More calories during the day = less hungry at night?
  • Night wean – I’ve already been doing max 2 feedings a night even if Ellen wakes up 8 million times. Time to cut it to 1. And after that? BIG FAT ZERO. If her belly stops expecting meals, maybe she won’t wake up?
  • Maybe “sleep training”?

Sleep training seems like a good idea in theory, but I’m a bit confused by it. Ellen doesn’t have any trouble going to sleep. Especially nursing and rocking. She has trouble staying asleep. All of the sleep training stuff I’ve read is about your kid self-soothing to go to sleep, and says nothing about teaching them to stay asleep. So… does sleep training even solve Ellen’s problem? I have no idea.

Maybe sleep training would help her go back to sleep when she does wake up, so I don’t have to get up a million times? If that’s the case, I would like to try putting Ellen down in her crib “drowsy but awake” to teach her to self-soothe. However, the thought of that is hard, and I don’t exactly know how to manage it 1) because Ellen falls asleep at the breast at bedtime, so how would I keep her awake? 2) Feeding/rocking Ellen to sleep works really well. It’s like magic. 3) Ellen’s room is right next to Lewis’, so if I leave her to her own devices, squealing and screeching, he’s going to wake up and then we’re all screwed. And finally 4) I don’t see my sweet girl all day long. Those snuggles as I nurse and rock her to bed are priceless to me. (although…paying with sleep might be too high a price…)

Another aspect of sleep training that is not super appealing to me is that I don’t really mind getting up once or twice a night to feed/snuggle/rock Ellen. Putting her back to sleep doesn’t actually bother me as long as it isn’t more than twice. Waking that often doesn’t damage me with fatigue the following day, and it is such special, precious time. I could sustain that for ages and have no complaints. So fully sleep-training her is… I guess okay? But it seems like overkill given what I’m comfortable with.

We’ll see what happens. This is constantly on my mind. There has to be a way to get the balance I need. And I’ll keep trying to figure it out until I keel over, because… well… this either gets better, or I keel over!

I got approximately 5 hours of sleep last night, broken into 4 tiny chunks, with a few periods of being awake for an hour at a time.

I don’t even think I can go to work today. Maybe if this was the first crappy night. But most nights are crappy, so the fatigue just keeps building and getting worse.

I might die.

Big boy milestone

Lewis had a first! He woke up in the middle of the night to go potty!

Kyle and I were asleep (I was between waking #2 and #3 with Ellen) when we heard over the monitor, “DAD! THE PEE IS ABOUT TO COME OUT! DAD! DAD! MY BLADDER IS FULL!” on repeat, until Kyle swooped in and grabbed Lewis for a trip to the potty.

Pretty amazing!!! He also went right back to bed and to sleep without any protest. Proud mama right here!


I would like to invite you into my brain for a bit. Or is it my heart? I’m not sure… but please, come join me in the place where my obsession lives.

I have been up and down with emotions lately. I think fatigue is partially to blame, since Ellen is still not sleeping well (zzzzzzz… so tired). But I don’t think I can pin all the blame on exhaustion – it seems more likely that my baseline is already emotional, and the fatigue simply heightens the highs and lowers the lows.

The summary is that I’m still really struggling with the idea of being done having babies and being pregnant. My thoughts are consumed. Everything makes me think of it. I shed a few tears every time I hear about a new pregnancy or new baby, every time my own sweet babies do something new or wonderful or amusing or grown up, every time I see a commercial for the olympics and think about how proud their parents must be, and what will my children do with their lives?!

All of the joys of my kids and observing other people’s joys with their own parenthood experiences provide me with simultaneous highs and lows. I feel pretty wrecked from wrestling with it constantly – literally everything seems to make me think of babies.

I wish I could figure out how to stop mourning the passing of the childbearing phase of my life so the highs of parenthood could exist without feeling loss at the same time.

Life feels like nonstop excitement and pride and all-around wonderfulness (if you ignore the lack of sleep). In my eyes, my kids are perfect and I’m so full of love for them. And they’re both doing some pretty amazing things right now! Lewis is potty training and doing so great, and he is having full, grown-up conversations and showing ability to reason with logic and starting – ever so slowly – to process his emotions more maturely, and he is growing like a weed (finally hit 30 lbs on our bathroom scale!). And Ellen is rolling over (sporadically), eating solids, sitting up unsupported, laughing, and also growing like a weed…

It is all so, so good. I just wish I could stop feeling so sad. Knowing Ellen’s “firsts” are my last “firsts” makes me feel desperate to soak all of them up and savor them, but no matter how much I soak and savor, it just doesn’t feel like it is enough.

That sounds awful, to say that what I’m getting from my children isn’t enough. How do I express just how enough my kids are, yet still explain why I need more? Lewis and Ellen are more than a dream come true. Every little bit of them is so satisfying and sweet, and I couldn’t love them more, even when they challenge and exhaust me. But they’re so good – so enough – that they make me want more of their sweet goodness. And the only way I can think of to get more enough is to have more of those chubby miracles to give me more of that good stuff.

Like I said, I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m all over the place, feeling so many things.  It is such a challenging emotional combination – Loss and fullness, painful deliciousness, over-the-top satisfaction and deep-in-your-soul craving.

What a mess!

I keep thinking to myself, “just one more. If not one more baby for our family, then one more pregnancy as a surrogate. Then I’ll be ready to say goodbye to this. Then the craving will end.”

But there is no guarantee, is there? Maybe I’ll never feel done. Maybe I’ll never want to stop. Maybe at some point, I just have to accept that I’m done – listen to my head instead of my heart. Maybe that time is…. now?

Roly Poly

Ellen rolled from back to front last night! We knew it was imminent, and yesterday was the big day.

I’m a little bummed though, because no one saw it happen! We were all right next to her, but no one was looking. I had put her down on her back, and a couple minutes later I looked down and she was on her tummy.

Like magic!!

She likes to be on her tummy, so she didn’t get sad or make any noise when she landed. She was happily playing like it was no big deal.

Super proud mommy!

Other updates: Lewis is doing awesome at potty training. He wears undies some days, pull ups others, and he only infrequently has accidents.

Ellen is sleeping terribly. We had a good week of 1-2 wakings (mostly 1!), and now we’re going on a week of 3+ (mostly 4) wakings. I am suffering through it, but boy. It isn’t easy.

We’ve had some battles with Lewis’s bedtime lately. He has been taking forever to fall asleep and getting up out of his bed when he isn’t supposed to. Those are new problems, which means we are back to the drawing board, looking for new tricks and techniques. It is getting better with some hard work. Just like everything else we’ve faced, we will figure this one out too. There’s always a new challenge with kids!

That’s the major stuff. And it is all I have time for. Time to get the day rolling!