Monday, January 27, 2014

The Green-Eyed Monster and other Adventures

Probably the best gift we have ever received - any of us - is our friends, the Sehgals kids' book collection. It was probably nearly a hundred books, including tons of Mercer Mayer books, about ten Berenstain Bears, LOADS of random stories, a bunch of Paddington adventures...nothing beats books. And Samara loves her books. She loves these books and all of the others we have. We routinely read at meals, before each nap and sleep plus at random times throughout the day.

I am not always sure how much she understands or what she is actually listening to, but often she will say something, like yesterday, "Mom, dogs eat dog bones." Ok - yes - but why are you bringing this up and where did you learn this? She goes into her room, pulls out a random, the Paper Bag Princess (thanks, Lenore and Diane!) and turns to a page in the middle with bones on the ground. She said, "Daddy said these are bones and dogs eat bones."

Since she was little, long before she spoke, she has been able to go to the shelf and pull out a book we're talking about or turn to a reference in it. She thinks in books. She loves her books.

This morning she saw some new onesies that we had hanging to dry. Elie is finally going to fit into his 6-9 month clothes, so I pulled them out to give them a fresh wash. She said, "I really like Elie's Batman onesie and his Batman t-shirt. Mommy, I really want to wear one of those." "Yes, Sam that must be hard for you, since they're Elie's and they won't fit you." Ten minutes later we were eating lunch and she said she has the Green Eyed Monster and she was jealous of Elie's onesies, just like Sister Bear had the Green Eyed Monster and was jealous of Brother Bear's new bike. Am I nuts that I think that is pretty sophisticated for a three year old?! Pretty amazing to pull the concept from the book, reference it, and name her feelings. I'm so proud of her that I just found out where to get Batman t-shirts in Singapore and I am going to get one for her (90% of her clothes are hand-me-downs, which she doesn't mind...but I'm happy to spend $15 bucks to make her so super happy).

Sleep Training update: Elie has not cried at night for the most part - gone down for all nights with a bit of talking and kvetching and also been put down after feeding in the middle of the night awake, and he goes to sleep on his own. A few nights ago he cried for 20 minutes around 10:30, and since it hadn't been four hours of sleep yet, we didn't get him and he went back to sleep until three something! Naps are still not as smooth, but he doesn't really cry when he goes down, mostly (yesterday he had a long cry, though) - just a lot of whining, and it takes him a long time to finally fall asleep. I have been putting on the mobile when he is tired but not SUPER sleepy and that seems to calm him down, but then he doesn't start to actually put himself to sleep until after that, so it takes a while for him to actually fall asleep. He's been sleeping anywhere from 25 minutes to over an hour. Still not so stellar but I'll take it. And I'm getting so much done. I actually have free time! And at night he seems to want to go to sleep around 6:30, he generally wakes around 1 to eat, then around 5 or 6 to eat, then around 7 or 8 for the day. No turning back now...

And I ran into the couple in my condo who inspired me to start last Sunday, and I swear the mom had tears in her eyes when I told her how much it has changed our lives. Elie is so much happier. I am so much happier and we are enjoying each other a lot. Now I can hear that cute giggle and I want to eat him up.

And he sprouted a tooth!
Happy baby

Happy Birthday Zaydie!

Yummy cake!!

Working out that tooth

Yummy foot!

Elie's friend, Pauline, on the playground. Every noise she made, he giggled

Sam looking at Mr. Moon in the morning. We went to have breakfast super early on the playground behind our house to let Matt sleep (he did that for me the day before - THANK YOU!!!). She dressed herself.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Anniversary of the Great Failed Escape

Last year, tonight, I had had an incredibly busy day - carried my suitcase and my heavy bag with my computer down a flight of stairs, into a car, out of a car, onto a bus, off a bus, around Boston, into a car,  out of a car, into a friend's house, into the car, onto the train, up on the top rack of the train, off the train, up a flight of stairs on the New York subway, and then I walked 40 blocks. I met a good friend from college for dinner. I sat down and relaxed, looking at the menu. Laura arrived and we started to chat. Then I felt like I was bleeding. And I was. A lot. And I was 12 weeks pregnant. I was sure for a few weeks...then months...that I was losing my little fetus. That started the saga that became my ridiculous pregnancy - with a great result at the end. It was also the last day I formally worked until now.

A year is always a big anniversary - a year after a death is big, a year finishing school...anytime you can look back and say "one year ago today was completely different for X reason" is a milestone. One year ago from last week was normal. One year ago from next week was awful. And for the next six months it will be like that. Where was I one year ago at any given moment? IN MY BED, trying not to think about anything and trying not to move. I totally zoned out for the next six...maybe eight months, and since then has FLOWN by (though as I mentioned a few posts ago - not always for good reasons). I'm not sure how I feel about it - but it's significant. One year.

As for a sleep training update, we are doing great at night and he is still a stinky sleeper during the day. Perhaps that's just how he's wired. He is crying 10-25 minutes before each nap, and they range from 25 minutes to an hour and a half. Still better than before, but I feel bad when he cries for 25 minutes and then only sleeps 25 minutes...but on the whole it's better. I am putting him down awake each time he goes to sleep, including in the middle of the night, and in the evening and at night he doesn't cry and during the day he does.

And I'm still a way happier person.

And Bubbie and Zaydie arrived for a visit from Michigan, so Samara is in heaven.

And it's Zaydie's birthday. Happy birthday, Zaydie!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sleep Training Day 3

As I'm still astonished how this is's another post about sleep training.

Last night he slept until 11:30, and then I fed him until midnight and he went back to sleep being rocked for about five minutes. He then slept until 4, and at 4:30 I had rocked him for ten minutes and he was still wide awake. I put him down and left the room. The monitor wasn't on. I went back to sleep. AND SO DID HE (apparently!)!! He didn't wake up until 8:15.

This morning was a bit hectic, as I was picking up something in another part of Singapore, so he slept in the ergo for about forty five minutes. Right when we got back home after picking up Sam from school, I put him in the quiet room, bounced him for ten minutes, he was nearly sleeping and I put him down. He cried for 25 awful minutes and then he slept for more than an hour and a half. In the middle he woke up for about two minutes, whined a bit and went back to sleep. I still just can't believe it.

Tonight I did our bedtime routine and he didn't fall asleep nursing as he usually does. After ten minutes of nursing and a few minutes of rocking, he was wide awake. I put him in his bed and left. I listened on the monitor and he talked to himself and whined for about five minutes and then was SLEEPING. I just can't believe it.

Now we can do dishes in the evening and make normal noises - because if he wakes up it doesn't mean that we have to spend another two hours trying to get him to go back to sleep. Now it's his responsibility to get himself back to sleep and he CAN DO IT. I totally have faith now.

Is it wrong to say that I feel more love for him now?

I'm just so relieved and so happy for him and for all of us.

25 minutes of crying today (though today's not over...but I have faith!!). And he's sleeping SO MUCH more than he was before. When he's awake he is such a happy baby.

When will I get over this? I don't know. But in the meantime I'm so so happy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sleep Training Day 2

I don't intend this to be a sleep training blog, but I'm so happy I want to shout from the rooftops. I learned with my experience with Sam that you never talk about (brag about...) your kid's sleeping - unless it's super troublesome - then you're allowed to complain. And I have also learned that there is SERIOUS and AGGRESSIVE thought against letting your baby cry, so I'm a wee bit reluctant to put it out there that we're doing this, but I also feel like it's working and that's so important for others to know.

As I mentioned, this was what I was obsessing over the last few months and had driven me to near insanity, I CANNOT BELIEVE it has changed so quickly and I have hope that I will be a normal person again! I even feel normal today!

So last night Elie woke up twice, which I'm okay with for now - once at eleven and once at two something. Then he slept until 6:30. Both times he went back to bed easily with me rocking him, but only for a couple of minutes.

For his morning nap, I started settling him at 7:20, I left him at 7:35, and he cried for 35 minutes, but then he slept for an hour and forty five minutes!!! Unheard of!! Luckily our cleaner was here so I could leave him to take Sam to school and also to go get a coffee with a friend (felt like luxury to go without a baby attached!) in my neighborhood. I'm not sure how we will sort this out when I can't leave him sleeping - he might have to wait until 9:15 to nap, which I think will mean that he'll be super overtired...but I will sort that out later.

At noon also he cried for 35 minutes and then had a short half hour nap. I felt bad about that one since it was more crying than sleeping...but there was nothing I could do. At two he was ready again for a nap and cried for 30 minutes and slept for nearly an hour.

Yes - that's a lot of crying, but it's also a lot more sleeping than he had done before. And seriously, he does not seem like it phases him. After a nap he's totally normal, happy baby.

This evening was the biggest win yet. I put him to sleep at 6:25. At 7:05 I started hearing him moving around and talking (I cannot be away from the monitor right now, unless I'm sleeping - then it's off). I said to Sam, "Here comes the crying." We were reading a bedtime story and I was totally ready to become Stressed Mom Pretending To Be Paying Attention To My Three Year Old But Really Freaking Out That My Baby Is Crying. He talked for about ten minutes and then he WENT BACK TO SLEEP with NO CRYING!!! I literally couldn't believe it (neither could Sam).

Ok - we're still on day two, and he cried for 100 minutes today (yeah - I have a spreadsheet - I'm that crazy), and that is HARD as a mom, but there is hope that he will learn how to do this. I'm staying positive.

And during the time that they were both sleeping this afternoon, I found a site that has online yoga classes, and the one that I did was actually pretty ok, and it felt SO good, since I haven't done yoga since bed rest last January. On the way to normalcy...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sleep Training

After my last post, I felt hopeless. I didn't think Little Angel Elie would be able to put himself to sleep...ever. I kinda pictured me patching his tush well into his teen years...waking every few hours and never sleeping a full night for the rest of my life. I felt like I couldn't talk about anything other than sleep, and I felt exhausted physically from my days but also just thinking about my future sleeplessness. I wouldn't say I was feeling depressed...but definitely down.

Saturday I ran into this couple in my condo, and I said, "Hey - I have been thinking about you guys! I used to see you walking around the waterfall all day/night/morning with your baby - and I remember you saying how he just woke all the time." They then told me their entire sleep journey - including hours of bouncing on the exercise ball (sounds familiar...) - leading to blown KNEES! and a back disk injury from rocking the baby so much which led to mummy being in bed for TWO MONTHS!! Holy shit - sleepless babies are honestly dangerous!! Their advice: You have to do it eventually. It's easier when they're younger. You are losing your mind. DO ITTTTTTT!!!!!

I felt strong. Ok - I will start sleep training on Wednesday. (Matt has calls Monday and Tuesday this week until 2am, so I didn't want to do it alone).

Then I ran into that couple in the Botanic Gardens on Sunday pm. "You can be strong! You can do it!" He, more than she, but both of them encouraged me. A lot. Funny to run into them on another part of the island. Maybe the sleep gods are telling me something.

So I brought out Dr Weissbluth's book for review. I have probably read the relevant part ten times. In the last month. One final review Sunday evening told me two things:

1) Elie does not need to be fed or tended to until 4-5 hours after he went to sleep. That was 11pm on Sunday night. So right there, I said to Matt, let's not go to him until 11pm tonight. Matt was game. I was sure he wasn't going to wake since we had decided this. But he did - 35 minutes after he went to sleep. He cried for 40 looooooong minutes but then - holy shit - it stopped!!!! We were sure he died. Do we go check on him? But that ruins everything!! Dr says never to go in. NEVER. We NEVER went into Sam's room - and we still don't, unless it really seems like something is wrong (one morning we found her completely naked - but she still slept through the entire night!). We should not sooth the kids - they should learn to sooth themselves. The crying had slowed we assumed he was alive and we went to sleep. He woke at 11:30 and 3. I fed him both times and then he woke at 6:50am as a happy baby. Rockin' start.

2) Start him learning to put himself to sleep with the morning nap. Fifty minutes after he was awake this morning I took him into his room, nursed him, put him in his sleep sac, bounced him until his eyes started to get sleepy. Then I put him in his bed. He was ok for a few minutes and then screamed for 20. And then he slept AN HOUR!!

Literally yesterday afternoon I had ZERO hope he would EVER put himself to sleep. And then he did. TWICE!! Ok - we can do this.

He had a nap in the ergo from 11:40-12:30 and then at 1:30, after Sam went for her nap and Elie was yawning and rubbing his eyes I tried to get him ready for a nap again. He was almost sleeping, but awake, and I put him down. I hadn't planned to do the afternoon nap too, but since everything else was pretty smooth so far, I went for it. I said I wold let him cry an hour and then I would go and get him.

He cried for an hour. I was just about to go in and get him and the crying started to slow down. I had a dilemma since I had promised myself and him that I would not let him go for more than an hour, but now I was getting kinda sure that if I went in there it would actually be HARDER to put him to sleep than if I just left him. He did fall asleep and he slept for 45 minutes.

Most afternoons I had spent HOURS trying to put him to sleep. Hours bouncing on that fucking ball. And he would sleep for about 20 minutes each time. I got furious. I didn't have time to eat. I was a mean mommy to Sam. I was just pissed (as you can tell from my last post), and I got maybe 40 minutes of sleep out of him on a good day. This day I felt like I was being mildly abusive, but I didn't get angry. I was thoroughly happy the whole day. He slept for 45 minutes.

When I went to get him from his nap I was kinda expecting him to give me a stink eye. Or cling to me. Or SOMETHING, but no - he was just super happy, normal Elie, as if he didn't cry for an entire hour.

Yes - it is AWFUL listening to your baby cry. Awful - like I have to keep myself occupied yet also listen like crazy to the monitor the entire time. (If you're playing me at Ruzzle this week, you are at a serious advantage). It feels like it's not a nice thing to do to a baby, but I just keep reminding myself:

I am teaching him to help himself fall asleep.
It is a skill he will be able to use for his entire life.
It will make him a less tired and happier baby.
It will make us happier parents and our family happier and less stressed.
He is totally safe. He knows he is loved. He will be fine.
(and so will I/we).

So just one day later I feel SO relieved. I know he can put himself to sleep. I know that when I put him to sleep at 7 or whenever, that I will not be going to him again before 11 or so. Though I very much love my child, there is something so liberating about having that time and knowing that it is also going to lead to better sleeping habits for all of us.

Wish us luck - it's only day one.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I have probably written this before, here, but I'm too tired to search and see. I honestly thought that we sleep trained Samara really well and that's why she is a spectacular sleeper. I recognized that she liked to sleep and slept for a long time, but I had NO idea that some kids just DO NOT SLEEP. Elie does not sleep, and I'm super struggling with it.

I'm struggling because I will spend anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, four to six times per day getting him to go to sleep, and then he will nap for around 20 minutes usually. It drives me to insanity to try so hard and fail so many times in one day.

I'm struggling because it takes SO long to get him to bed, and I'm somehow supposed to also be watching Samara. This means that yesterday when I was bouncing him on the ball in his dark room with white noise, I came out to see her wiping her own tush, with a rubber band around her waist (??), a couch pillow on the floor of the bathroom being used as a stool and plenty of things in our house in disarray. Yeah - she's three - but I literally cannot get him to sleep unless I spend that much time in the room, bouncing consistently - once I go out, he wakes and I have to start again. How do I do that in a safe way for her?

I'm struggling because my back aches from holding him so much. And I'm guessing my muscles are also tight because I'm angry a lot of the day. I get so angry that he gets so close to sleeping and then a neighbor drops a fricken pin and he's up for ten more minutes...until a loud truck drives by and then we start over again...

I said I would only try to put him to bed for 20 minutes and if he's not sleeping then I will take him out, wait an hour or until he seems like he can't handle being awake anymore and try again. The problem is that at 20 minutes (and 30 and 40) he always seems like he's ALMOST there and he's so so tired. If I take him out it's not fun either, since all he does is whine and want to go to sleep.

If I just went on putting-to-sleep strike (and I consider this daily), he would literally never sleep. It takes SO much effort to just get him to fricken fall asleep!

And then he doesn't stay asleep. The short naps kill me. I'm trying to just not notice what time he goes to sleep and be happy if he sleeps at all. It's all about expectations, right?

At night he wakes up every one to two hours. Matt has been on duty the last few weeks before 1 am, and he gets him back to sleep - sometimes it takes five minutes and sometimes it takes 45 minutes. Then after 1 am it's me, and I usually feed him between 1 and 2, around 3:30 or 4, then who knows on and off until Sam starts screaming "MOMMY!!!!!" between 7 and 7:30. If I get three hours of sleep, say 9:15pm-12:15 I feel like a real person. It's quite pathetic. And it's totally not sustainable.

We have had 2 nights in the last few weeks where he woke up only four times. Those were amazing. How pathetic is that?!

I asked the doctor what to do and she said he has a "Type A" personality and those kids don't like to fall asleep and they have a hard time staying asleep. They're just super intense. Moving all the time. He doesn't bend/fold to sit - he is always standing and always moving and super stiff. He's the most uncuddly baby (that's not the say he's not cute - he's SUPER cute - just not cuddly). I guess this is all part of it. She suggested focusing on the nights and not worrying about the naps. She said at night not to go to him until he needs to eat - 7-8 hours after he goes to sleep - around 2am. Then she said he will wake on and off after that and we can do what we want. For naps she said do anything that works - including putting him in the carrier and walking around (god forbid he could fall asleep in his stroller...he has only done that a couple of times with TONS of opportunities).

Matt and I always heard about couples who didn't sleep after they had a baby and we just never related. With Sam, we slept from about 8 weeks, with a few wakes here and there, plus we had a helper, I had a job to escape to everyday, a commute to listen to podcasts on - and not think about my kid a little bit...we just really didn't feel that Samara made our lives more difficult - we thought they were just so enriched. I'm sure we will feel the same about Elie but right now I feel like I'm not me - I feel like an evil bitch half the day, I feel so tired that I can't form sentences. I can't read books. I have no interest in talking to friends, since I can't even think of what to talk about and I don't want to complain (that's no fun for anyone...), so I don't.

So I sit here, isolated in my total sleeplessness. The best part of it is Matt. He is a super champ, as always. He has been coming home from work around 6:45 to completely take care of Samara. He takes the shift until 1am. He gives me back massages. He yells at me if I do dishes after 7pm. He is thankful for any dinners I can pull together. He tries to take the kids out of my hair on the weekends.

I know this will pass, and I keep reminding myself. Probably people don't die of having a baby and not sleeping. They end up sleeping. The kid will be fine. We will be fine. But man, it's hard right now, and while I don't want to wish the weeks and months away, since I want to try to enjoy having this baby, I kinda just want it to end.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Losing that Baby Weight

While pregnant with Sam I really got a big belly but not much else. It went away (well - the belly kinda stayed, but at least I could fit into my clothes) pretty quickly. I don't know if it's because I'm three years older, because I was in bed for MONTHS, or what, but with Elie, I got a little bigger in a few more places (ass, legs, etc). I wasn't too worried, but it is kinda inconvenient to not fit into any of your clothes. turns out that I found the perfect solution to getting my body back! Have a baby that doesn't sleep!! I walk MILES per day in my apartment. I bounce on our exercise ball for about four hours per day. I walk back from downtown as much as possible because it means that he MIGHT nap for just a few minutes in the ergo carrier. I don't have time to eat lunch and by the time it's evening, I don't even want dinner, I'm so tired.

Don't forget breastfeeding about every two hours for the entire day, including night, for the last five months. That must burn some calories - and I only feed him about half the times he wakes up at night - usually when I just can't handle trying to put him to sleep AGAIN and I'm losing my mind.

Hey- the muscle tone is also pretty grand. My arms are super toned, as I spend hours per day patching the baby's tush, while don't all that I can to not move his position the second his eyes start to get drowsy. Yeah, sometimes I feel like my arms are so tired they will fall off, but no matter - if he's about to sleep, I don't matter. The legs also feel pretty good after bouncing for hours per day. Oh, the abs - yes - getting that core back is easy when you spend up to two hours per day leaning over your baby's crib to patch his tush or the side of his leg while he jerks awake and tries to fall back asleep (forget about the back ache - that's for another post).

So...I can fit back into my clothes.

But...I might wither away if this continues too long...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Alas, Elie woke after 30 minutes of sleeping but I'm letting him kvetch while I post these...

Jer and Sam in the Botanic Gardens

Sam, Elie and Brownie in the back seat of a taxi


Elie's first swim (not too keen...yet)

The kids' new ride (cheap off another ex-pat)

Jer really played Sam's games (check out their pockets)

Elie loved prawn mee!

Eli and Sam on the MRT!

Eli and Sam holding hands at Tekka Market, Merle in the front

Happy 36th to me!

Cute big sister stuff

Visitors and Lack of Sleep

Since my last post, we have had a great time with Jeremy, Elisheva and her mother, Merle. The day we arrived back in Singapore from Perth, Jeremy came in. As I have blogged about before, Jeremy is the best guest ever. He clearly outlines his trip expectations, they're usually things that appeal to me, he leaves lots of "what's best for you guys" space, and he goes away everyday to get some work done. He also spends a lot of time and energy playing with Samara (which is fun, but it's also exhausting, and I love having a break, and she LOVES playing with him). He sent his document of expectations before his arrival, we discussed what was possible when, we had a plan and we went about it. We ate lots of hawker food, we visited different parts of Singapore, swam...not too much new but it was fun. We had a low-key new years, with Susie coming for dinner and all of us in bed by 11 (though Elie made sure we didn't miss the exact moment of new year...and 1am...and 2am...).

I'm for a low-key new years - or anything - anyways, but as I have probably mentioned, my younger brother, Kenny died on New Years in 2003/4, so this was TEN years since, which was a bit remarkable. Always a killer of plans to do anything fun for the occasion.

Jer left on the 1st, and on the 2nd, one of my best friends since I was about ten, Elisheva, and her mother came to visit. Eli lives in New York and her mom in Toronto, and I was lucky enough to see Eli the night I arrived in New York last January, so we have recently caught up, but it's been a very intense year for her as her father unexpectedly passed away, and it was special to have more time with her and also to see her mother, whom I haven't seen since Shana's wedding in 2002, I believe. Elie started sleeping particularly badly the week they arrived, so I was only about 30% present for their visit, but what I had of it was lovely. They did a full bus tour of Singapore one of the days, then we had a nice dinner at Blue Ginger and walked to the train through Chinatown, and the second day we went to Tekka Market, walked through Little India and swam and took it easy at home. I feel so lucky to have had them come visit - it's amazing to share our life, which feels a bit like a bubble since so many important people in our lives have no idea what it's like, and we have been here for nearly seven years already.

Other than our visitors, the thing that has taken all of my energy and time is Elie's sleeping (or lack of sleeping). He was sleeping from about 7 until somewhere between 1 and 3, and then he would wake up again at between 5 and 7. He has never been a good napper, but I was shlepping him and he was sleeping in the ergo. Then he started waking up between 9 and 11 and won't be settled without eating (though he eats for a good half hour, so I believe he might be hungry...). He then wakes again around 1 or 2, then around 4 or 5 and eats each time and won't be put back to bed easily (i.e. lots of crying in the middle of the night). During the day he is going to sleep easier, but he only sleeps for 30-40 minutes. ONCE he slept for nearly two hours, and that's only once. I want to sleep train him, as we did with Samara, where we will leave him to cry and learn how to sooth himself, but he can't stay asleep for more than five minutes if he's not swaddled, and I can't leave him crying swaddled (and he will break out of it in a minute anyway). I literally don't know what to do, and since it doesn't seem to be getting better (though it got WAAAY worse for a few days and now we're back to normal badness), I don't see an end, which makes me stressed. It's hard to go for WEEKS/MONTHS with no sleep. Last night I went to bed at 8, sleeping by 8:15, but then was woken up at 10. I will continue to go to bed super early to catch as much as I can, but I'm not sure how much longer I can take...and he's nearly five months, so he shouldn't be this bad!!

I was going to throw some photos on this post, but most likely I won't get to that in days, so I will post this and hopefully get the photos soon.