This is my Reality.

I don’t have a good sleeper.

I don’t know what a good sleeper is.

I don’t know what it’s like to get 3-6 hour stretches of uninterrupted sleep.

I don’t know what it’s like not to be exhausted.

I don’t know what it’s like to not feel like a zombie.

This is my reality.

I do know what it’s like to cry with my baby at all hours of the nights.

I do know what it’s like to question if he’s in pain, gassy, hungry multiple times a night.

I do know what it’s like to be told that I’ve put my son to sleep too early, too late, starving, incorrectly, and any other way that diminishes my credibility as a parent.

I do know what it’s like to be told I need to stop cosleeping because I may roll on top of him and kill him.

I do know what it’s like to be told to just “let him cry it out, he needs to learn.”

I do know what it’s like to scream, cry, blame myself because I just have a bad sleeper.

I do know what it’s like to doubt myself on a regular basis. Have anxiety attacks as the clock creeps towards bedtime. To want to just give up when it’s been two hours since the process has begun.

This is my reality.

Luca is a bad sleeper.

Luca had (has?) painful reflux, a cow milk protein allergy, a reaction to tree nuts through breast milk.

Luca screamed for the first six months of his life during every single moment of sleep.

Luca became afraid of sleep.

Luca could not handle sleep training. He would scream for hours, get so worked up he’d puke, finally say mama to stab my heart, and then cling to me thinking his life was over.

Luca is terrified of his crib.

Luca cannot sleep now unless he’s touching me.

It sometimes takes hours to even get him to sleep.

This is my reality.

Here I am at 11:45 at night. Have been trying to put my stubborn son to sleep since 8 pm. Have tried nursing, a bottle, white noise, lullabies, rocking, just about anything possible to get him to sleep.

Have tried moving bed time earlier, moving bed time later, filling him up before bed, moving feeding times around, scheduling, going with the flow, sleep training, co-sleeping- again just about anything possible to get him to sleep.

I cry most nights. I beg him to please just go to sleep most nights. I feel like a shit parent most nights.

Again, this is my reality.

But still I wake every day at 8:30/9 and I parent my son. I feed him breakfast, we play, he learns something new, we fight a nap, we have lunch, we play, we learn something new, we go out, we fight another nap, we play, have dinner- do you catch my drift?

My reality is that I do the damn best I can for my son. I be the best mother I possibly can for my child. I cry a lot because it’s all I can do when the frustration hits when he squirms and screams in my arms to fight sleep. When he wakes up 5-6 times a night shrieking at night, inconsolable because of reasons no damn doctor can explain except for teething and separation anxiety. I cry because no one knows the true struggle of raising a baby that NEVER seems to sleep but they so often can give opinions on where and how he sleeps; on parenting a child they just haven’t experienced because like I’ve said before Every. Single. Child. Is. Different.

This is my reality. This is my life of getting minimal amounts of sleep, doubting my parenting, crying with my child through the night, trying to keep my sanity while working & going to school, and just trying to not run away.

It’s a reality that is so not talked about. We hear so often “Oh is he a good baby, sleeping through the night?” I’m sorry, is my child bad because he doesn’t? Is there something wrong with him because he doesn’t? Do you feel I’m a bad parent because my child doesn’t? Do you see the line of doubt you place into parents heads with these assumptions on how a child is meant to act?

We don’t talk about the harsh side of parenting; the painful, gut-wrenching, pull your hair out, try not to yell at the world side. The side when you want to run and leave this child behind just for a second of quiet, peaceful, eight hour sleep. The side where you need sleep to function but you feel this painful bought of guilt every single time you ask someone to rake him just for an uninterrupted hour of sleep. When you feel guilty because this is the life you grew, the life you swore to protect and nurture but you feel like you’re falling apart because you cannot function. You cannot biologically function without sleep. But you feel like a failure for admitting that, don’t you? For admitting that you need something that takes time away from your baby.

This is my reality. This is so many parents reality and yet we hide within mom groups where moms spout opinions on babies they barely know. Where moms shame other moms because they choose other practices. Where surviving becomes shame because you did something that another mom deems unethical, dangerous, downright selfish. Where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

We hide behind the shadows of the moms who know it all because we’re afraid to admit we don’t.

WE. DONT. KNOW. IT. ALL.

You could have raised 10, 15, 20 children and let me break it to you- you still don’t know it all.

Do you know what you know? YOUR children.

Do you know what you don’t know? MY children.

Let’s talk about the ugly side of parenting. The painful side of parenting. The scared, lost, and afraid side of parenting.

What is our actual reality?

This is mine, and I can’t hide it anymore.

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@animalmama_408

Mom& Baby Work To Sleep- Night #1

If you have been following our journey it should truly be no surprise when I say that I have tried every single outlet in putting my 10 month old to sleep. We have nursed, rocked, co-slept, bed-shared- just about any way an exhausted parent could think to get their equally exhausted (though will fool you by acting like an energizer bunny) to sleep. Nothing seemed to work when Luca was in the midst of fighting his sleep.

That is until mommy started working out again.

When you have a clingy baby- due to a developmental leap, teething, an illness, maybe it’s just their character, who knows- it is their most important need to be held. During this time when mommy leaves the room the entire world has erupted and they can no longer survive because you had to go and use the restroom and they just could not come. I mean c’mon mom, do you really need your privacy while using the toilet? Selfish.

When it came time for me to get my health back on track it just so happened to fall during a time where my child was going through a large developmental growth spurt as well as pushing as many teeth as his poor mouth could handle. Motrin, we thank God for you every single night. Of course if I walked more than two feet away from my child, placed him in a crib- even with more toys than he could dream of- or said mommy needs some time, we would throw an absolute meltdown. I’m talking throw our heads back like a demon was being exorcised out of us, throw our hands in the air and scream loud and shrill enough to make the neighbors think we are being tortured. No one ever said babies weren’t good in the dramatics. So what else was I supposed to do but be clung to by my baby sloth.

This is where baby wearing is a perfect idea.

I chose to baby wear little Luca during his dramatics- he got a comfy spot attached to his momma and I remained with two hands to continue to do whatever I needed to do. So I chose to workout during these times. I would find easier workouts, especially because I was completely out of shape. (Really I still am, but the huffing is improving I swear!) I even found some baby wearing workouts that I decided needed to be tried.

And could you imagine what happened whenever I started to really move? The little bugger would yawn, close his eyes, and drift of too sleep. Be stilly my heart.

Thus came the idea of working out in the evenings to lull my stubborn, all too curious little boy into sleep.

So, every night I will choose a new video or a mixture of previous videos to workout to and document the results. It’s so stressful when your child fights sleep. Through the last ten months I can not even count the amount of times I googled “my -insert month old here- will not sleep”, “why does my child hate to sleep” “What did I do wrong?” “Will banging my head into the wall- ” WHOOPS totally did not google that…..

But truly, as new moms we are given this ideologic notion that if we train our babies they will sleep better. If we do this, if we do that, they will finally sleep through the night. Newsflash- some babies just do not fit into this construct we’ve placed them all into. Another newsflash- every single baby is unique even within the same family. One thing may work for your first but not for you third or fifth. So we take it as it goes. But we all need a little help to get through the long and harrowing nights when our brains are turning into mush, we’ve run out of seasons to binge on Netflix, and our babies won’t sleep in their crib but are trying to jump of the bed and giving you a heart attack. I’ve been there, more than a few times a week, and I’m here to say it’s okay. It’s okay to do what we need to to survive their first few years. So breathe, grab a glass of wine, a baby carrier, and saddle up that energizer bunny because if they won’t sleep the least we can do is get in some mom time.

Night #1:
Our night began like usual with our bedtime routine. Pajamas, a bottle, quiet play with the lights dimmed for about half an hour. Some nights do include a bath, but we had one yesterday and I do not like to give one every single day unless he’s really dirty. We gave our night time kisses to his grandparents then to mommy and daddy, laid down and sang a few songs together in the darkness.

In my mind this is how our bedtime routine went tonight.

Tonight, my child is a ball of drool and nubs of teeth wrestling to make it to the surface first so we gave some motrin, a bottle, nursed a bit, then tried to rock him so that he would stop fidgeting and just give in to sleep. Peaceful, quiet sleep. Well, Luca had other plans.

So I grabbed my handy-dandy (peep that Blue’s Clue’s reference) baby carrier and proceeded to zip it into place. A noise was heard, a familiar noise that has led me to say phrases I never thought I would say in my wildest dreams. Yes ladies and gents, my little pooped. He pooped in the last nighttime diaper I had for the evening. We are off to an already good start.

Some wrestling, some crying, a bit of crawling away from mommy while she tried towhee his little tush, and a fresh, clean diaper later we are ready to party. We strap my little monster into the carrier and put on a fantastic 15 minute “Walk a Mile At Home” video. We begin.

It’s truly a nice video with very simple steps that mock going on a walk outside except instead of being in workout pants that flatter my butt and a top that makes me feel like I am not a mom, I am in my sweatpants, a messy bun, no bra, and a ratty old tank top. What I do in my home is my business and I dare anyone who has another opinion to bite me. Literally, bite me.

As we begin my child squirms a bit, giving off his last bit of fight he has left in him to the mean old sleep monster. I have to call it that because he acts as if sleep is the worst thing in the world. I love sleep. I would marry sleep if it were legal. This all must come from his fathers side, but we will not tell him that. Two minutes into this lovely workout I he falls asleep. As I continue I start to wonder if I really want to keep going. It’s late, I could catch up on some television shows, I could drink a glass of wine, I guess I could go to sleep and take advantage, but alas I keep going.

I make is 11 out of the 15 minutes.

WOO! An accomplishment if I ever did see one.

Half an hour later he is still asleep. Will it last? We shall not know until tomorrow when we do this again.

Now this momma is going to lay down, have some water (I’ll tell you what I want you to believe), and maybe just maybe get some sleep.

To the moms who are still waking every 20 minutes to 2hours a night I salute you, I wish you well, and I hope that in all the things I try in my journey you find some solace in knowing you are not alone. Never, and I mean never, blame yourself because you tend to your baby. Never blame yourself because they just won’t sleep. Some babies just don’t sleep. Some babies do not sleep through the night until they are two years old and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, the mother did wrong. Stop listening to those who insinuate you’re doing something wrong because your baby doesn’t sleep through the night. Stop listening to those who say they’re hungry, let them cry (even when you have tried and they literally scream for HOURS, then vomit, then scream like they are dying every single time you come near their crib),you’re not doing enough.

You are doing the best that you can, I promise you that. We never know the baby we will be given. There is no mold that they all can fit into. They are all so very unique in so many ways. Take a deep breathe, snuggle that stubborn baby- it will be okay.

Give Yourself a Break

I can honestly admit that before I had a baby I was never very active. Going to the gym always seemed like such an ordeal and working out at home was so hard when three dogs were running around tripping me whenever I went into a squat. I struggled to keep myself away from the carbohydrates, sugars, and getting in at least a gallon of water a day seemed to be quite the dilemma of my day to day life. Somehow I would be able to lose weight, but looking back I realized it was in the most unhealthy way possible. Not only was I struggling with supplying my body with the nutrients it needed to function, but I was also dealing with an underlying eating disorder that depleted me of vitamins and nutrients I needed to survive.

So what was stopping me from becoming a healthier person? Excuses, mental anguish from years of being bullied, and of course the satisfaction that I could live this way and still manage to lose weight.

Well then I had a baby.

When you give birth to a baby your hormones like to play sneaky, little tricks on your homeostasis. Homeostasis, you ask? Well the biological definition is all the systems in your body working together to keep equilibrium. However when I think of this term I also like to think of the psychological effects that can deter your equilibrium. Your hormones, though produced by a system in your body, tend to effect you mentally- especially if you’re a girl, hello PMS. When you give birth to a baby there is a large level of progesterone that depletes itself rather quickly once the baby is born. This, in case anyone reading this still believes post partum depression to be a psychological disorder, is what causes Post Partum Depression. Your body is going through a large withdrawal of progesterone, and it really does not know what to do. The withdrawal of progesterone causes your mind to warp right into a state of depression that can sometimes last for the “two week blues” or a few months to years down the line. It’s normal and nothing to ever be ashamed of. You created and gave birth to a human being, you’re allowed to take however long you need to get your body back to a state of “normal”, whatever that may be

Now back to homeostasis. Apart from the mental and hormone aspect of post-baby syndrome, our bodies change in even more ways. Our hips can remain as wide as they were pre-birth, our periods could change in drastic ways, our sleeping patterns change, we become more in tune with another human than we ever thought possible, and it can become much harder to achieve, or maintain, a healthy weight.

When I was pregnant I gained a normal amount of weight, however, before little Luca was conceived I had managed to successfully lose and keep off 206lbs. However, much to my dismay, the scale would go up every few weeks at my pre-natal appointments. I would watch as all my hard work appeared to deteriorate before my eyes. I was gaining back the weight I had worked so hard to lose. It was then that I decided post birth I would workout routinely, eat better, and lose the weight, plus more, to be in the best shape ever. As I am writing this we can all tell that did not go according to plan.

I came home with my newborn elated but exhausted and felt like I was glued to the couch for the following few weeks. Cluster feeding, reflux issues, cows milk allergy/intolerance issues- there just wasn’t time to sleep. There was barely time to shower, brush my teeth, and eat. The pounds quickly melted off and before I knew it I was only 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I was ecstatic. Maybe my body had not betrayed me.

Cue in PostPartum Depression mixed with a baby that cried for six hours a night.

My weight fluctuated. I would lose five then gain back seven. Sugar became my best friend through coffees with syrups that just weren’t necessary, quick snacks to eat so I could naps before he woke. It became a long process of feeding my body what was easy rather than what it needed. And working out? What was that again? There just wasn’t any time.

Through his last ten months I got lectures on his sleeping habits, his eating habits, what I should be doing as his parents because somehow I wasn’t doing a good enough job for anyone. I was losing myself slowly, falling into the daily cycle of trying to get him to sleep, trying to get him to eat enough, trying not to hate this body that seemed to be growing instead of returning to its previous size. My days blended together and I felt as if I was about to lose it, but I had to keep it together because he needed me, and apart from all the opinions and sanctimonious parents- he was a damn good, well taken care of, happy baby. I had spend the last ten months abusing myself because I began to doubt not only my ability to be his mother, but my ability to find myself again.

So, though ten months later, I have found that I can not only be his mother, but I can also be the person I know I need to be. It’s okay for our lives not to revolve around our children 24/7. It is okay to remember that if we are not in the best mindset, we cannot properly care for our children. So take the time to workout, take the time to drink a proper cup of coffee, and if you need to take a nap with them in bed with you (the horror, I know) do what you need to do. They’re only this little for such a small amount of time, and one day this will seem like just another period of life. Soon you’ll blink and they’ll be less than 2 months away from turning a year, or entering their terrible twos, or a day I dread- the day they enter kindergarten. We do what we need to do to survive. We keep them safe, alive, and happy- we deserve to not forget that we are human and sometimes we just need five minutes.

My advice to new moms:

Sleep when they sleep- I hated people telling me this when I was pregnant. How could I sleep when he slept? When would I shower, eat, do anything else that didn’t involve my newborn? It’s okay to not shower for a day or two (trust me you’ll blink and question when you’ve taken one last. Have you seen that episode of Jane the Virgin? When they try to trick her into taking a shower? No? Well go watch it. Season 2, episode 2).

Get a baby carrier- I love my baby carrier. I had an exceptionally clingy baby and when he would get this way I would put him in a carrier or wrap and wear him around the house. He would fall asleep almost instantly (especially as a newborn), or would coo inside and snuggle against my chest.
I had this one: https://www.lillebaby.com/baby-carriers/completetm/complete-all-seasons/lillebabyr-completetm-all-seasons-feathers.html

And this one: https://mobywrap.com

Honestly Moby Wrap makes an AWESOME new half carrier, half wrap. So next baby.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself- I did. I lost myself completely when I had a baby. I rarely went out, rarely did anything. Take some time to workout, drink coffee, talk on the phone. If you don’t have a significant other around see if you can have someone come over for a bit and watch baby even for as little as an hour. A happy and healthy mama is always best for baby. We do what we can, we survive how we need to.

Don’t say “I would never do that…”- Pre- baby I would always say I’d never do what other moms do. I’d silently pass judgement thinking I was much better because I would never do something with my child. Hell, I swore I’d never give my son a pacifier (cue night two of life when he wouldn’t calm unless sucking). You never know what will happen.

Moms, it’s time to give ourselves a break. We brought these beautiful humans into this world, gave them our bodies for long nine months, and went through a ton of pain to give them life. We deserve to give ourselves a break.

ALSO- I found a fantastic workout group that does workouts while wearing babies!

Enjoy!

Update

We took a small break.

I needed to get things in my own life under control before I threw myself back in blogging. I needed to get myself over a horrible self-hating period to be able to enter the world of vlogging. I needed to embrace my family and watch my no longer tiny bundle grow into a consistently mobile little stinker.

During this break we:

Watched Luca grow! Now at almost 10 months old, he’s over 20lbs, 29 inches long, and is constantly on the move. He learned to crawl about two months ago and has not stopped since the moment he could figure out how to move himself out of a spot. Now we are trying to walk and I just don’t think I’m ready for that. It doesn’t even seem like he was born so long ago, let alone that we are trying to plan what to do for his first birthday.

We took Luca on his first airplane ride. As a family we ventured to Arizona from New York (roughly a 5-6 hour flight total). We had a little layover in Chicago, but overall he did phenomenal. He slept for both rides on the way there and then for most of the first plane, and the entire second plane, on the way back home. Everyone loved him on his adventure. We were constantly complimented on how well he behaved, and of course my loving little boy flirted with ever single woman he came into contact with. Oh my future.

Luca also survived his first road trip. While in Arizona we made an impromptu trip to California. I have never been so in love with a state in my life, and if given the chance I would move to California in a heartbeat. The oceans were stunning and the people were so relaxed- I could most definitely see our future somewhere along the west coast. The car ride for the most part was okay. He napped here and there but he is still a baby so he did get a tad bit tired of sitting in that darn carseat. When you take a baby on a road trip just know that the 4 hour estimated time of arrival doesn’t include the multitude of stops you will make to take them out, and of course when traveling with a man who has a tiny bladder, pee stops- they are frequent 😉

In the last few months I think Anthony and I learned a lot as a couple. We didn’t give ourselves a break much when we first brought Luca home from the hospital. We threw ourselves into parenting that we forgot about each other and that our lives don’t have to be 100% consumed by our child 100% of the time. We still have a long way to go, but I believe we are on a much better track now than we were when little dude first came home. All great things in life require hardships and effort, and if both are willing to put it in then it will work.

As for our future.

I’m beginning 2018 with the intention of removing most of the negativity I brought with me in 2017. I want toxicity to be as minimal as possible in any shape or form. People who I believe are not worth the stress, and who pretense themselves under a title just to be able to give abuse and negativity no longer deserve a spot in my heart. People who do not show the same amount of care and love that we do no longer deserve my effort. My goal is to live for MY family. Anthony, Luca, and myself. My goal is to embrace the now and begin to see the positive so the negative doesn’t allow me to miss anymore.

I also want to end this year finally reaching a weight that I feel comfortable at. Since I gave birth to my son I have gone through an awful time of hating myself. My body, my appearance, just about anything about myself. I’ve been so harsh to the body that gifted me the best blessing, and I have harmed my heart in so many more ways than one. I need to remember that I am still human at the end of the day and as they say Rome was not built in a day. I will get to where I need to be to feel confident about the way I look. The scale may show a number, but confidence is within, and confidence is truly what makes the person.

As a family we are moving forward in a positive direction. We will talk more, understand more, judge less. We want to grow together instead of growing apart.

I’m sure there is much more, and I promise there will be many blogs, and hopefully vlogs, in our future.

Enjoy our adventure as we finally apply, and hopefully (GOD HOPEFULLY), get into vet school. Enjoy our adventure as we grow as a family. And enjoy my adventure as I grow into the person I want my son to look up to.