Tuesday, October 30, 2012

7+ Months ... 32 Weeks

7 months ... and several days

aka 32 Weeks
This is what it looks like if you take anything out of her white-knuckled grip - even if it's just to help!

So I'm seriously belated in wishing my baby girl a happy 7 months! We went to the doctor on Friday for her flu booster and got her weighed - she's packing 16 lbs and 12.5 ounces of punch these days.

She seems to be all about her mama the past week, which, of course, I adore. She smiles her toothless smile from ear to ear when she sees me and is always looking for me if she knows I'm in the vicinity. That's not to say she doesn't also love her daddy, or her Grammy, or any nice stranger who tells her how cute she is. She is very interested in interacting with Gizzy. She's not the gentlest petter - like when she grabs fists full of fur and yanks with all her might - but Giz sometimes gives her licks back. She (Francie, not Gizzy) still claps her hands a lot. And throws her arms around - I call it "rolling up the windows," kind of like I do when I go over a baby jump on my skis. She sits up like a boss, and can reach a bit further forward each day. Baby yogi master. One time on her belly she sort of figured out how to get her legs under her hips, but she's still really nowhere near crawling. If she's on her belly for more than 10 seconds, she's working to roll right onto her back. Our pediatrician told me babies learn to crawl from a seated position, but I read online yesterday that babies learn to crawl from their tummies. So naturally, I'm worried that she hasn't yet reached this milestone, because what mama doesn't think her brilliant child should be on the advanced end of every learning curve?!? She doesn't do much standing. If we try to put her on her feet she just sort of lifts them up and sits back.

She's as vocal as ever. My favorite is when she looks at me and makes a sort of "uh?" like she's asking me a question. Alex thinks her first real word is going to be "hi" because apparently that's what I say to her all the time. Alex keeps saying, "I can't wait until we can understand what she's saying. She's going to ask so many questions and it will be so cute!" My internal response is something to the effect of, "Oh shit, once she starts actually talking she's never going to stop. Will I ever get to enjoy silence again?!?" Still no teeth, still no hair. She eats like a champ - after each bite she squeals to indicate she's ready for another one. I sort of wish we would have done "baby-led weaning," but figure she's at least getting to indicate whether she wants more, or can refuse (as if; she's a Closeman, and we don't decline food). She usually eats some baby oatmeal + fruit in the morning and some sort of veggie in the afternoon - so far we've stuck with the basics including carrots, yams/sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, delicata squash, apples, oranges, bananas, avocado.

As for sleep, she's in our bed all night every night these days. We got really into "No Cry Sleep Solution" for a week or so, which helped us improve our bedtime routine (walk the dog around 7 p.m., give F a bath, put her in a clean diaper and jammies, maybe read a story or play guitar, then nurse her to sleep). But we just got comfortable again with the whole co-sleeping thing. No sense fighting what seems to be working for us for the time being. I've gotten better at sleeping on my back or side, so that I can nurse on demand (for that opportunistic little milk monster). So as all things go, we're in a part of the cycle where things are plugging along okay, and we're not at all anxious about her sleep. I'm sure that will come again any time now.

I'm headed on a vacation next week with my besties - a trip we're calling "Purdy 30." We've been planning it, in theory, for six or seven years. Originally when we said we wanted to go on a trip for our 30th birthdays together, we thought we'd be way richer and more adventuresome - gallavanting off to Italy or the Carribean or something. No, no. We've settled on Monterey, CA. Not that it's not a wonderful destination. But it's very ... close. Then again, I have a 7-month at home, Rach has a 1.5 year-old with baby #2 on board. Erika lives in the Bay Area and has her own life, and Katie down in Orange County with wedding planning. We all work and have responsibilities and are so NOT rich, so we'll take what we can get. Besides, it's really about spending time together, pretending to be grown-ups with spa days and nice dinners out and chatting over wine. I have a serious case of senioritis because I'm so excited for our vacay. Then again, every so often I get a wave of nausea/diarrhea (read: anxiety) because I just don't know what to expect in missing my baby girl. "I'm not going," I told Alex last night. "I don't even like them that much anyway." He cracked up, and reminded me how ridiculous I am. Maybe that's where my little Drama Queen gets it ...

Remember how I said 6 months was my favorite? Can I change my answer. Seven months, 7 months is my new favorite!

A pre-Halloween dress-up sesh. This little cow lover her milk!


Little Bear and Big bear.

Why I like to co-sleep.

Neked time.

Grandpa's make me smile.

Baby Girls

My best friend found out she's having a girl!

And another one of my closest college girlfriends just had her baby girl!!

There are six of us college girlfriends (aka the Women's Retreat), five of whom are married and in some early stage of the reproduction process. That's right, we're (almost) all breeders now.

I was first, with Francie in March. Amy was next, with Peter in August. Gretchen just had Kennedy last week. Anna is having a girl in January. And we just learned that Stac will be having a girl, due in March. As for Peter - it's either "Poor Peter" for having to be surrounded my girls, or "What a lucky guy", with so many potential girlfriends.

It's exciting to be in the same phase of life with so many of my closest girlfriends. Although we live spread out across the country (Portland, Yakima, Eugene, Denver, Big Sky, and Kathleen in NYC), we manage to get together at least once per year, and maintain most of our communication via text/email. And now that pregnancy, labor, and motherhood are a common factor, we have more than ever to talk about. As if we were short on words before. Ha.

I'm so excited for my girlfriends and the adventures in store for us all as new moms. I was confident in our friendships prior to each of us getting knocked up, but now there's really no getting rid of each other :)

This is the "congrats" photo Francie sent to Stac, as soon as she found out her mama's BFF was having a baby girl. Now if only we lived closer, these two would be forced to carry on the legacy. Then again, maybe we're all safer with them growing up far apart.

And this is the adorable Baby Kennedy, just over a week old. Can't wait to meet this fashionable little bundle! And neither can Francie - she can't wait to touch her face and stare at her creepy-style.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Day in the Life - Workday Edition

Did one summary of a non-work day, and now to recap last Monday

Monday, October 22nd

1:11 a.m.
Squawks from the nursery. Alex retrieves the Bean from her crib, I feed her side-lying in our bed. Not too shabby, she made it 3.5 hours between feedings.

3ish a.m.
Squawks from my (little) bed buddy, I replace her Soothie, we're both still mostly sleeping.

3:30ish a.m.
More squawks. Replace Soothie. Still squawking, so I just give her the boob.

3:57 a.m.
"Can you please help me?" I plead. Alex attempts to cuddle-and-Soothie her, but she's soaked the bed with pee (I JUST washed the sheets) so he gets out of bed changes her diaper. I roll over and relish the temporarily empty bed - there's ample room for me to move! It sounds like there are elephants tromping through our room. Alex is so not quiet in the middle of the night. And now she's wailing. I take her back and try to placate her by nursing her in bed. She's mostly asleep, but seems really uncomfortable and is grunting and tossing and turning a bit.

4:27 a.m.
She's finally calmed - no more suckling and her hands are behind her head, which means she's out. I'm officially awake, listening to the rain. Contemplate just getting up for the day. My alarm will go off in less than 1.5 hours anyway. Poor Alex has to wake up in 30+ minutes.

4:38 a.m.
Laying in bed with the Bean between me and her heavy-breathing father. On my phone, checking email, news, Facebook. I'm struck by the feelings of inadequacy I get from FB on occasion - "we should have gotten photos taken when I was pregnant," "ugh, she's way skinnier than I am and her baby's younger!", "crawling already? Is Francie supposed to be crawling?!?"

I really should get more sleep, wasn't feeling that well yesterday. Another cold, maybe.

4:45 a.m.
I put the phone down and try for a bit more shut-eye.

6 a.m.
Alex kisses us goodbye. Alarm goes off. Give the baby my boob. Hit Snooze.

6:09 a.m.
Alarm. Snooze.

6:18 a.m.
Alarm. Snooze.

6:27 a.m.
Alarm. Snooze.

6:36 a.m.
Alarm. Pry my eyes open. Turn on bedside lamp. Turn off alarm. Replace boob with Soothie. She's fidgeting, and thrashing, so time for a little help to wake up.

6:41 a.m.
Check texts, Facebook, news. I hope the fluorescent lights of my phone will help wake my brain up.

6:55 a.m.
How is it almost 7? I have 20 minutes to get ready and hit the road. Chris will be here any minute.

7:25 a.m.
I'm on the road, a bit later than I planned, which is typical for me. The roads look kind of nasty, from the steady rain. Why are my favorite a.m. radio hosts not on today? I play Macklemore from my iPhone for part of the commute.

8:01 a.m.
Settling in to work. Checking email, Michael's schedule, starting my To Do list for today. MUST COMPLETE PAPERWORK FOR CCC-SLP APPLICATION!

8:41 a.m.
Did the schedule. Seems like a slow day - for some reason I don't have any outpatients scheduled? Michael is in with one of his outpatients. I attempt to eval one of our inpatients, but first time I tried he was peeing, and the second time he was getting dressed. Nothing like trying to talk to a man when he's neked. Made arrangements to see him at 10 a.m. Plus, I have another patient scheduled to come see me in 15 minutes.

8:52 a.m.
Complete outpatient note from last Thursday. Have to dig deep in my brain to remember this patient and what we worked on. Thank goodness I write everything down. Exchange texts with my college girlfriends about engorged breasts and feeding, etc.

9:59 a.m.
Finished up with my favorite patient - a man with severe aphasia and apraxia of speech. Starting my note on him, thinking about how I should be using this time to pump, but I think I'd rather try and see my other patient first and then write both notes while pumping.

10:31 a.m.
Attempted to complete cog. eval with a patient status post liver transplant who I've been seeing for dysphagia. No such luck. He was basically obtunded. I know I need to pump, but time is getting away from me.

11:58 a.m.
Just now pumping for the first time. Spent the last hour-plus with Michael in his office completing paperwork for my license and then discussing his upcoming trip to Thailand/Cambodia/Laos. And also looking at pictures for the website from his trip to Machu Pichu last year. Have yet to actually discuss my pumping needs with my supervisor. Instead, I just lock and close the door with a bright yellow "Pumping" post-it note on my door and call it good.

12:08 p.m.
5+ ounces so far (4+ on the left, 1 from the right). Eating lunch, leftovers from dinner last night - delicata squash and quinoa salad.

12:20 p.m.
I'm calling it done. Need to go see another patient during lunch and I'm tired of sitting here like a milking cow. 8 ounces in 22 minutes (5+ on the left, 3 on the right).

1:19 p.m.
No patients to talk about at Team Meeting today. I'm about to run upstairs to get myself a Coke Zero before seeing my 1:30 patient. I'm feeling a little bit bored and restless, truth be told. Too much time on my hands today means all I'm thinking about is food - what I would rather be eating, and how I shouldn't eat anything for several weeks on end so I can get back comfortably into my old clothes - sure, most of my pants fit (not tops, boobs are still way too big), but they certainly don't fit right. As a matter of fact, I'm researching CrossFit, P90x, and 30-day yoga challenges as we speak. How do working moms find the time/energy to exercise on the regular?!?

1:32 p.m.
Headed to retrieve my patient. A young male, in his 30s, who has had not one but two strokes - he has right hemisphere dysfunction. I'm working on awareness of deficits, orientation to person/place/time, attention to the left side, and memory strategies (e.g. keeping a dayplanner).

2:45 p.m.
Still drinking my giant soda. Hoping it will give me the energy/motivation I need to see me through the rest of the afternoon. I keep thinking about the errands I would like to run on the way home - returns to Target, rug/runner from Home Depot, some Halloween costume accessories from Michael's. But the debate is on tonight and I want to hang out with my favorite little bean.

3:06 p.m.
Multi-tasking mama. Talking to Home Depot on the phone to see if they carry the runner that matches our rug (they do!) and paying over the phone, meanwhile finishing charting on my a.m. patients.

3:36 p.m
Counting words in a short article about polar bears and their endangerment related to melting ice caps. Calculating the proportion of words read correctly - patient with left neglect and requiring orange highlight plus verbal cues to attend to words on left side of page. Coordinating tomorrow's schedule by phone with Christine. They got slammed in Portland today and might need my help over there tomorrow.

4:50 p.m.
As my days usually go, I get a rush of stuff to do at the end of my workshift. I was technically off 20 minutes ago, but am just now pumping for my second time. Better now than at home, when it just doesn't seem to happen. Sounds like I'm coming to Vancouver in the morning tomorrow, and then heading to Portland in the afternoon to help out with a busy inpatient load. I'm missing my baby girl, but have a few errands I want to run on the way home.

5ish p.m.
Done pumping - 4 oz left and 2+ oz right in <15 minutes. Throw my things together and dash out the door.

6:47 p.m.
Errands completed (dumbest employees ever at Jantzen Beach Home Depot). Finally home. Get to see my adorable baby girl in her floral overalls. "Talk" about our days and then nurse her.

7:06 p.m.
Watching the debates. I hate Romney. Seriously. Mittens is infuriating.

7:23 p.m.
Just made my lunch. Lots of restless energy and not paying enough attention to my child. She still seems to love this obnoxious plastic contraption.

7:28 p.m.
Take the Bean's 31 week photo. Shit! I forgot to get her weighed last Friday on her 7-monthday!

7:44 p.m.
Take the hambone for a walk. Baby it's cold outside. Hat and gloves and coat required.

8:09 p.m.
Bath time for Beano! Tonight were trying out the sink rather than me bathing with her in the big girl tub.

8:21 p.m.
New diaper and PJ's, she's screaming and I'm laying her down to nurse her in our bed. Make it less than 3 minutes before stressing over her cries at the slow, paltry milk flow of the right boob and log-roll over her to feed from the left side.

8:31 p.m.
Her suck-suck-wail gets to me, so I trade nipple for new Soothie. Maybe she's not actually hungry but just wants to suckle? Maybe she has a burp on board?

8:46 p.m.
Called in for backup. Alex plays guitar for Francie in her crib (Blackbird and Let It Be). She still fussed so I'm nursing again. This time she's actually asleep. But I'm gonna wait it out to ensure she's good and out. I love the way her little hand touches my belly and her body curls inside my spoon!

8:55 p.m.
And she's officially out cold. I just LOVE her. Time for a shower and heading toward bed.

9:31 p.m.
Hair washed, teeth brushed, PJ's on. Time to catch up on FB, news, and texts. It's true, Obama, we don't have as many horses and bayonets. Zing! My eyes burn and it's time for me to try for shut eye. 

9:47 p.m.
Squeeze in a cuddle with the hubby. Here's hoping the Bean wakes me no earlier than 1 a.m. ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Day in the Life - TGIF

I saw another blogger do this, and thought it would be a great way to document my current day-to-day life. Here's my diary from last Thursday/Friday, a non-work day.

Thursday, October 18th, 8:32 pm
Ate a bowl of Life. I really want dessert, but this will have to suffice. Alex is at soccer. It's my night off. It's my evening to curl up on the "day bed" with the sleeping Bean and watch some boob tube on my iPad - Parenthood wasn't on this week because if the presidential debate, so I defer to watching the 2nd episode (which shows that I already watched the pilot) of Nashville. I know, I know.

8:38 p.m.
Seriously, I want dessert. Need dessert. I'm probably just thirsty. I get up to get another bowl of cereal, but then recall how skinny I was in those wedding photos I was just looking through, so I chug water instead.

8:45 p.m.
Feeling restless. The baby is still asleep. I decide to finish painting our homemade tombstone/RIP Halloween decorations instead. I get the monitor to put in the guest room with Francie. She wakes up, looks at me, and squawks once for the Soothie. I spoon her back to sleep and resume watching Nashville. You win some you lose some.

8:55 p.m.
I think about how I want to use my day off tomorrow. My To Do List and my Want List are a mile long: finish the RIP decor, buy a new bra, return all that shit to Target, get a runner and grey paint at Home Depot, write baby Kennedy a note, finish making onesies, plan November finances, call Direct Loans, visit Dee and Harlow, print photos for frames, meal plan and grocery shop for next week, go for a jog ...

9:40ish p.m.
I fall asleep cuddling Francie, sometime before the end of the TV program.

10:20ish p.m.
Alex gets home from soccer. I wash my face and brush my teeth while he lets out the dogs (Nesta is staying with us) and makes his lunch. I crawl into bed, grateful I don't have to be anywhere in the morning, feeling guilty I'm not doing more to help Alex get ready for Friday.

10:40 p.m.
Fall asleep alone in bed. Where's the baby?

11:11 p.m.
I wake up to Francie squawking. Alex puts her on the floor beside the bed - we've set up a little futon. I move down there, nurse her on the right while side-lying, and fall asleep.

Friday, October 19th, 3:38 a.m.
Four hours of sleep in a row?!? Francie squawks to wake me. I scoot her to the other side of the "bed," and nurse her on the left side.

3:45 a.m.
I have to pee. Badly. Trade the Soothie for my nipple. I go to the bathroom and crawl back into my own real bed, Francie still asleep on the floor.

4:55 a.m.
Reach down from bed and replace Soothie.

5:16 a.m.

5:17 a.m.
Alex is up. He hands me Francie, she needs a diaper change. We crawl back into bed together (me and the baby), to nurse and cuddle. I nurse for 8 minutes, then trade the Soothie for my boob,

6:45 a.m.
Squawk. Soothie/nurse.

7:25 a.m.
Squawk. Soothie/nurse.

8:01 a.m.
Squawk and nurse, 6 minutes left, 9 minutes right. I read the news on my iPhone and smile at how much I love the months before a presidential election.

8:37 a.m.
I can't believe I'm still lounging in bed with a sleeping baby! This is the life. And when I reflect back on my "day in the life," I'm going to wonder why I thought parenting was hard if I got to watch TV, laze around in bed, and sleep a full night. Decide to start my day with Scandal - I love this show!

9:10 a.m.
I wake Francie up. I can't wait any longer to hang out with her, plus she's stirring anyway. She's happy to see me. We chat, change clothes. She poops on the changing table when she's neked. She has to work at it, and even cries a few times when the turd starts to turtlehead.

9:40 a.m.
A friend from work calls about childcare. We are planning a baby exchange/child-share. We chat about how each of the babes have colds. I start to worry about having someone new watch my Bean. Then I worry about whether or not I'm a good enough mom to take care of someone else's precious cargo.

10:00 a.m.
I put the Bean in the Beco, and get a hat and socks to keep her warm outside. I feed the dogs and wrangle them into their leashes for a walk.

10:30 a.m.
It's (finally) time for breakfast. We are out of milk, but I've already poured my cereal. So I use the random almond milk that's in our fridge. The bean is squawking. It's time for her second breakfast. I should give her oatmeal, but my boobs feel full so I'll nurse her instead.

11:00 a.m.
She fell asleep nursing. Sure, I guess I'll finish Scandal. She's gonna wake up if I remove my boob anyway.

11:35 a.m.
And she's awake again. She did give me enough time to load the car with everything that I borrowed to return to a friend this afternoon. I can't believe how much she lent me for when Francie was a newborn - a swing, a vibrating chair, the Bumbo, a maternity pillow, My Breast Friend, clothing for newborn through 3 months, a bassinet ...

12:01 p.m.
I sneak in a shower. Put diapers in the wash . Feed Francie oatmeal. Feed me sandwich. She plays on the floor in the living room while I quickly pick up the kitchen.

12:47 p.m.
I get us ready to leave for my friend, Dee's house. Francie is none too happy to sit in her carseat. I think she just wants to play.

1:01 p.m.
Apparently I'm almost out of gas. Like, beyond empty. I stop at the corner station, the one who seems to have the very most expensive prices. But I don't think I can make it to another station to fill up. It's officially winter in the Northwest.

2ish p.m.
We are enjoying ourselves at the Huff household. Harlow is as cute as can be, and it's a treat to catch up with Dee, just us two. It's been too long.

3:30ish p.m.
I'm loading my Volvo with all our new baby goodies. Dee surprises my by dressing Francie in Harlow's Halloween costume form last year. I crack up when I see my little cow - she does love her milk!

4:23 p.m.
We pack up and head for home. Gearing up to deal with Friday traffic. Alex should be on his way from West Linn by bike about now, too.

4:58 p.m.
Home again home again. Car unpacked, new round if loaner baby gear. I hang the diapers up to dry. I let the dogs out to pee. We narrowly missed driving home in the pouring rain. I worry about Alex on his bike commute. The baby is still asleep, passed right out on the car ride. I grab a granola bar and some water and read the news (yes, yes, I'm acutely aware of how frequently I use the iPad). Waiting for my hubby to come home and decide on evening plans. Don't feel like I've gotten even one thing on my list done yet. I'm going to enjoy sitting on the couch, and silence other than rain.

5:21 p.m.
Daddy's home!

6:19 p.m.
Alex is hungry, but we don't have any plans for dinner. He orders a pizza from Costco, because I have some photos to pick up. He makes me promise we won't run any errands. The Bean is still asleep. I'm tempted to wake her or she'll never go to bed tonight!

7:44 p.m.
Eating pizza from Costco. Didn't get my pictures after all, because apparently I forgot to complete picture order. Swiss cheese brain? It's time to nurse.

8:24 p.m.
Just returned from a walk with the dogs. Francie is checking out her new toy. We rented a Redbox, and fortunately Francie is distracted enough by her new toy that she doesn't bother to get distracted by the television.

9:07 p.m.
Enjoying the evening with my hubby. I guess the dogs are enjoying their Friday evening, too. We try to watch a movie, but I make it maybe 8 minutes in before deciding that I'm too tired and should head to bed with the baby. G'night!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tired Bones

I'm exhausted. Legitimately TIRED. Like, actually sleep-deprived.

Not in the I'm-still-in-college-and-I-just-partied-my-balls-off-and-had-to-wake-up-early-to-work-at-the-coffee-shop sort of way, but more in the my-baby-interrupts-my-sleep-cycle-every-hour kind of way. In fact, I've felt tired in a similar fashion before - it's called a trans-Atlantic red-eye. Even my organs and bones feel tired. Between my baby and my alarm, I'm a survivor of torture (melodramatic, no?). On the weekends, part of me avoids going to bed simply because I know I will be awoken every two hours, at least.

I wouldn't describe Francie as a bad sleeper, exactly, because she appears to be getting the right amount of shut-eye to grow and play and learn. It's that she's a disruptive sleeper. It's that she needs a Soothie or a boob in her mouth during the night hours. It's that she wants to be curled up next to her mama in the master bed. It's that there is just not enough room for daddy, mama, and baby in our Queen. It's that since becoming a mother I turned from a hard, solid-like-a-rock sleeper to a light-as-a-feather sleeper. It's that I have to wake up at 6 a.m. in order to nurse, deal with the dog, and get ready for work. It's that I actually need about 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep to function well, rather than 7 hours of two-hour increments.

Which brings us to our most recent parenting endeavor - we are working to improve our "nighttime parenting" skills (read: "sleep training" for attachment parents). After a handful of disagreements turned fights, a few nights sans-hubby in the guest bed, and a week of bleary-eyed caffeine-dependent work, we finally decided that we have to actually do something about the sleep situation. We reviewed our options via interweb search and perusing the parenting section at Powell's books. We discovered several approaches to handling sleep issues, many of which don't jive with me.

We talked about teaching Francie to sleep in her crib rather than in our bed (sad face).
We considered phasing out side-lying nursing (double sad face).
We briefly mentioned the impossibility of ignoring her cries (hell no).
I suggested sleeping in separate beds (Alex balked).
We realized the importance of keeping a more regular schedule and sticking to a consistent bedtime routine (bor-ing).
And we determined that our goal was for her to wake no more than one time per night for a feeding while continuing to co-sleep (compromise!).

At Powell's we treated ourselves to some parenting books - Alex got one about infant sleep by Dr. Sears, and I got "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. I'm already half-way through reading my book, and for the most part Pantley's parenting philosophies are consistent with my own. I appreciate that she doesn't discuss my child like you might my dog. We aren't as much "training" her as we are improving our "nighttime parenting" skills. Pantley recognizes that all children and their families are varied and have different needs - there's no one-size-fits-all approach. I appreciate that she doesn't use scare-tactics such as "if you don't start training your baby by four months of age to sleep 12 uninterrupted hours per night then they will always sleep in your bed, forever suck on a pacifier, breastfeed at age 15 and never move out of your home." The thing I appreciate the most is that Pantley reassures her readers that the majority of babies - regardless of parenting styles - do NOT sleep for several hours on end without a peep throughout their first year (I remind myself that I once had a child who slept through the night - until I returned to work; but can I blame my baby for wanting to spend more time with her absent-during-the-day mother by sleeping beside me at night???). As someone recently said, babies are little beings with lots of need. I appreciate that Pantley incorporates "gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night" for families who choose to breastfeed exclusively. I read one other book that required you give your child bottles for the duration of the "sleep training" regimen. I appreciate that she recommends flexibility with nap times, bedtime routines, etc. We know a couple who bolted for the door the first time their baby began to rub her sleepy eyes, whether they were in the middle of dinner, on the phone, or out with friends celebrating a birthday. We do not want to be that couple.

What I most appreciate is that Pantley doesn't advocate for teaching your baby to self-soothe by ignoring her only means of communication - crying. Proponents of cry-it-out (CIO) argue that NOT teaching your kid to self-soothe is harmful. I politely disagree - I think you can teach your child to self-soothe while simultaneously responding to her cries. Truth is, what is most important to me is not only teaching my child healthy sleep habits, but teaching her that her parents represent trust, security, and comfort. For those critical of the "indulgence" of co-sleeping - I not-so-politely disagree. I don't think there is anything indulgent about responding to a child's wants or needs. I don't think love is indulgent. Doing certain things out of "love,"  yes, but not love itself. But that's a whole different story (one that reads something like this: Yes I'd like to provide my child with everything she wants/needs, as I am able. No that does not mean I will giver her every ice cream cone she begs for or toy on her wish list. "Wanting" requires further examination - it's a parent's job to decipher what a child truly wants - is it food because s/he is hungry? is it because s/he is tired and wants energy from the sugar? is it because s/he is bored and wants the stimulation of a new toy? is it because s/he really wants attention, and asking for a material object is his/her means of getting said attention?)

I diverge. Back to the topic at hand. Sleep training. I'm not anti-CIO because I'm afraid of her tears, or some unlikely irreversible damage that a week of crying before bed might have. I just choose to prioritize her need for comfort during the night hours over my desire for uninterrupted sleep. This isn't forever. At some point she'll be inspired to sleep independently. Or I'll get closer to a breaking point and implement a more rigid approach to sleep training. Or she'll be at a more appropriate age to handle the matter with a bit of reasoning. Or maybe it'll somehow just work itself out, like things usually do. So for now, I'm riding the no-cry sleep solution wave, even if it seems too sunshine-and-butterflies-and-marshmallow-clouds to be true.

One of the most interesting encounters in all of my middle-of-the-night infant sleep research was an article written about the cultural script of asking whether a baby "sleeps through the night yet." Just like when you're dating people ask when you'll get engaged; when you're finally engaged, everyone wants to know the wedding plans; once you've tied the knot, people ask about your plans for a family; when you pop out that firstborn, "When will you have another?" I ask you, is it ever enough?

And as life would have it, our plans to track eating/sleeping/behavior and implement a bedtime routine have been side-swiped by a runny nose turned mild croup. That means we sidelined our attempts until she loses the barking seal cough and yoda-meets-Darth-Vadar stridorous breath sounds. My poor little Bean. And this mama has to work rather than stay home and cuddle her back to wellness :(

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Remember that day where I first had to escort a patient to the ER after demonstrating respiratory distress following an xray swallow study, and then later another patient of mine coded when I entered his room? Well this week wasn't all that far off, only this time it had to do with suicide rather than respiratory failure.

This week I had not one but TWO patients in a row express suicidal ideation - neither of them had "legitimate plans," as the mental health provider so graciously called it - but both expressed desire to end their lives, one via cutting and the other via gunshot.

Let's just say that I'm not impressed with how these cases were handled. Veteran suicides are a hot media topic, supposedly something this society takes very seriously. With the first veteran - a combat veteran in his mid-40s who had a history of suicide attempt - I informed my supervisor, who then contacted the neighboring mental health department. Where my supervisor was given a magnet. A magnet! Oh yeah, and a keychain. Both with contact telephone numbers should a homeless veteran need assistance. (Did I mention my patient did indeed have a home - and a family to take care?) And a recommendation from the LCSW for the veteran to visit the ED, should he have "legitimate plans" to take his own life. The ED that's in PORTLAND. And what constitutes a legitimate plan? I asked this patient if he felt hopeless. He did. I asked him if he had thoughts of harming himself. He did. I asked this patient if he had a plan and/or means. His response was more vague here, but I'm not the mental health expert, and I'm not about to take any sort of indication like this likely. Being that the magnet/keychain/ER solution did very little to make me comfortable sending my patient on his way, instead he agreed we could contact his non-VA psychiatrist via telephone and make a safety plan. The psychiatrist also agreed to check-in with the veteran the following day. As far as I was concerned, sending him back home with his family (who were all out in the waiting room) with a plan to follow up with his mental health provider was just barely enough for me to stop thinking about him when I was home with my own family.

The second patient was a bit more confusing. He was put on my schedule at the last minute because I was covering for my supervisor. He was a gentleman with aphasia (language disorder) who was supposed to be relatively straightforward. Instead, he was very agitated when I met him, escorted him back to my office, where he proceeded to complain (I think, again, he had aphasia, so his spoken output was limited to non-substantive words like "it" and "this") about not wanting to come to the doctor anymore and not having anything. He was pointing to his head and indicating "ever since this." I got a bit of a pit in my stomach thinking he, too, was trying to tell me he didn't want to live. I didn't have an easy means of communicating with him yet, and most definitely had not yet built a rapport - and then he gestured holding a gun to his his head and pulling the trigger. That was a pretty clear sign. He later said "I just want to die." Again, that doesn't leave much to the imagination. It took me touching base with several different providers before finally reaching his psychologist - who then told me, "He won't really kill himself. He always says this." We deferred speech-language therapy for the afternoon, and the veteran proceeded forward with his therapist.

Needless to say, when Friday rolled around and one of the new outpatients had a history of depression and suicidality, I told my supervisor that I was busy during that time slot because I did not want to make some sort of "third time's the charm" thing happen.


Saturday, October 13, 2012


We are both 30!

She, weeks. And me, years.

I haven't written much about her recent developments, but she's still all sorts of fun. A couple weeks ago she learned to clap her hands together. It's unclear whether she understands pattycake, per se, but her Grammy swears she does. She is getting stronger at maneuvering around while seated - she can reach really far forward and then get herself back up, but she hasn't figured out how to get up if she leans backward. Or how to get from a laying to a sitting position. She's less fussy on her tummy - because she can army roll onto her back in 0.7 seconds flat. She started being more vocal again, cooing, babbling, and lots of screeches. She's developing a new smile, a closed one that totally obliterates her tiny Magoo eyes. She fiddles with her feet until she gets off her right sock, at which point she is satisfied. And as of this weekend she's transitioned from her 6 month to 9 month clothes.

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