Thanks-be-to-giving the Baby Her Own Crib - Sleep Chronicles and the Fiften Month Frenzy

So despite our fondest wishes to eliminate the dourest of months in recent history, November 2016 happened. Chaya actually was fourteen months for part of that.

Then she was fifteen months.

Now she's fifteen and a half and a rip-roarin' no-way-I'm-a-babe-even-with-power toddler. Holey moley where did my baby go? Toddler Chaya may have eaten her while making dinosaur noises and running around the house throwing her hands in the air! Where did my toddler go? Chances are to the most dangerous and messy thing she could find. I'm sure I'll hear her barking soon to summon handmaiden mommy for help climbing the Xerox machine.

And life gets more intriguing by the minute.

Toddler waddler is waddling like a pro these days. And boy did she have fun in San Francisco.

Her Grandma's new house has stairs and then some. Nice deep and loooong stairs. There was also a soon-to-be-dearly-departed puppy: Meg, longtime companion and family puppy in Grandpa Tom 2's family home. Boy did Chaya love Meg. Meg - who was suffering terminal illness and biding her time before euthanasia after one final Thanksgiving with the family - was a little less certain about the rabid toddler beast. We had to pull her off the saintly sweetheart several times. Chaya knows how to say "DAH" and point like she means it.

Yes, we had a really poignant trip to San Francisco for the holidays. In addition to the canine cancer, there was a very heart-aching loss in the Wright family: Great Grandpa Wright, the patriarch of that side of the family passed on a week before Thanksgiving. I'm heartbroken he missed Chaya that one last time. He loved her so deeply. It's an honor to have had him in her life.

We were also short one future-sister-in-law/mother-of-Chaya's-non-existent-Wright-cousins, as Zach and his girlfriend had recently parted ways. To add a smart to that uncoupling, they had to put down their dog after being unable to break him from having dangerous aggressive spells (the dog, not Zach, who manages any aggressive spells at the track on his juked up motorcycle). Zasch's birthday wish for the year was to erase November 2016. Aside from Chaya really starting to take off, I have to agree we could use a big can of white out on that accursed month.

But those who survived came together and honored the legacy of those lost with their own fresh life and fond memories. There was an amazing amount of wonder and discovery and love. And Chaya featured heavily in all experiences. She held up to her role as breath of future promise with very few tantrums. Despite being sleep deprived and too distracted to eat all that much, Miss Chaya was wonderfully diverted and taken with all the attention.

To the point of, of course, not particularly noticing the hunger or sleep debt until a typical toddler crash. As sweet as she is, she mostly saved the tantrums for mommy, but kept on trucking admirably up until her midnight breaking points. In exchange, she received a mini baby lifetime of new sensations and experiences. She even got to visit her first aquarium and take a trip to the Marin Headlands.

And of course that returns us to elaboration on the baby basics.

Nap Battles 15.0!

It's been just about a year since the accursed sleep regression threw everything into the abyss. And just a little under a year since we officially Ferberized the little Furby. Things have gotten so much better since then, it's surreal. But there are always little issues with baby sleep.

Vacations and well-slept toddlers are oil and vinegar; that is, if the vinegar is rice vinegar and the oil is petrol. This trip was no exception. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. Is it my attitude that prevents Chaya from being an easy-napping toddler? If I were just more easy-going, would she relish long car rides, sleep anywhere, and never fuss at the loss of some key component of a reliable routine. Then I remember most of my friends with babies who do these things also keep them up all night still. Babies are different. We have our battles.

It would be an exaggeration to say it, but this feels pretty true right now: basically, a year of sleep training and a painstaking month of nudging back Chaya's schedule to account for the time change was rapidly undone in less than a week of vacation.

Two steps forward and giant baby leaps back, of course.

Before the trip, we were pushing her schedule later and later again. We were doing so mostly unintentionally. It appeared we might be hitting up against the 2-1 nap transition. This is a time that typically occurs between 15 and 18 months, though most of Chaya's friends have pared down to one nap a few months ago. It's kind of one of those awkward transitions where a toddler can stay awake for longer periods of time and will stay awake longer between sleep to the point that you can't fit all the sleep into a single day. But it's also often a time where a looong stretch of being awake can derail night sleep anyways. So babies often go back and forth, and things just get a little screwy.

No matter how she distributes it, Chaya routinely gets 13 hours in a 24 hour period. If she's recovering from an ailment, slightly more. If something is actively wrong, slightly less. If she gets a good night's sleep, one of her naps will be middling. If she gets two longer naps, she'll take a while to fall asleep or wake up early. It's just awkward enough that we have grumpy baby with a bad bit of sleep at some point during the day. And it's just enough that her schedule seems to nudge further and further apart to a point where getting her sleep into one day feels awkward. So, this was where we were going into things.

I swore I'd be a little more flexible during the trip, but to try to keep some semblance of routine just to help Chaya not go totally off the rails. I'm told going off the rails kind of sucks. I've confirmed that it ain't ideal.

The trip began with a decent stockpile of sleep. And Chaya continued to show her ambivalence to the two-nap tango by staying awake and babbling for about five hours after she'd woken up. This is pretty long, incidentally. Her first nap is usually about 3.5 hours after waking up. Sometimes 4 hours, if she's woken up early.

 And when she did fall asleep, there weren't many tantrums or major exhaustion signs beforehand. She babbled. She rubbed her eyes. She looked a little tired for about ten minutes. Then she zonked. Just to continue proving that a longer wake up time might be good, she seemed to actually sleep in the car. For more than thirty minutes. This is fairly unheard of.

Unfortunately the car ride to SeaTac is only so far, so we didn't have much chance to see how long she might have slept. She woke up as we were dealing with the parking situation.

And that was it for her naps that day. She was far too entertained playing on the plane. She loves planes and people and the bajillion distractions mommy and daddy offer her There was fussing on the ride from the airport, but no sleep. And she was seriously hyper and distracted by her wonderful Grandma and aunties while mommy and daddy rampaged around the common room trying to find the Pack and Play (seriously, we NEED that damned P&P, even as much as Chaya hates it), and otherwise prepare the room for sleep. She crashed early after an impromptu standing dinner of "artisanal goat cheese that mommy handed to Chaya while holding her and making conversation with the rest of the family before bedtime"

Day Two wasn't so bad either. Chaya woke up early, but within the range of normal. She took a middling morning nap after a bit more fuss and complaint. She frolicked with her grandpa and Great Aunt Cathy.

She fought her second nap tooth and very sharp baby nail. But she eventually crashed for another middling sleep. Both naps were concluded with an hysterical baby howling until I went and got her. We put her down a little earlier than usual. She fussed at bedtime and cried a bit when I tried to put her down, but eventually crashed after about an extra half hour.

Through the night she stirred crying a few times and seemed restless.

Day Three she woke up at 4 a.m. and fussed, then cried, then fussed, and then went back to sleep after about an hour. She woke up at 6:30 a.m. and decided that was about enough for good naps. Weary of the exhausting nap ritual and in honor of the wishes of the rest of the family to get out on an excursion earlier than later, we decided to try her morning nap on the way out to the Marin Headlands. Hey she'd surprised me with that long carseat nap on the way to the airport.

She resisted. I suggested we hike with her in the boba, hoping she might crash. And about forty minutes later, she did sleep. For twenty minutes. On her home schedule, she would have made up for that in her afternoon nap. She didn't. The nap wasn't the worst, but was more like 45 minutes. Meaning she was up super far from her normal bedtime. But that was convenient, because Andrew was going out for the evening. We put her down early so he could do his part of bedtime. She took a decent amount of fussing to fall asleep.

She woke up an hour later. She eventually got back to sleep. Then woke up again. Then again. You get the motif. Have another baby picture.

Day Four... And then made a permanent howling go of it at about 5:00 a.m. Both of her naps were short and ended with hysterical howling. In the evening, she fussed and cried, but eventually fell asleep. For a few hours. Then stirred on and off until 2 a.m. at which point it was hysteria. I sang to her for about forty minutes while she twitched and struggled and hit me in the face. She fell asleep. I put her in the P&P, she started howling. I waited to see if she would settle herself. It was agony. There were hints she might, but quickly erased. I went back and sang to her for another twenty minutes. She was far more wont to fall asleep, but stirred and howled every time I put her down. I finally brought her to bed with us at about 4 a.m. She never sleeps with us. We wake her up. She wakes us up. But she was already asleep in my arms. She perked up as I landed on the pillow, said "DADA!" Andrew said hi and I murmured to be very quiet. She then slept fitlessly until...

Day Five...5:30 a.m., at which point she said "DADA!" again, and began happily hitting me in the face. She was actually in a shockingly perky mood for having gotten about three hours less sleep than usual. The ride to the airport was minor agony, however. She did not sleep, but she kept nodding off, jerking awake, fussing and repeating this. For about the hour it took to get to SFO. We nearly missed our flight due to the traffic, but made it.

And she slept on the plane. Kind of. She started nursing and closed her eyes and slowly drifted away, occasionally jerking and nibbling my exposed nipple. After thirty minutes, she jolted awake crying hysterically for about four minutes, before changing sides and starting to nod off again. She stayed that way for another half hour. We rushed the clock getting home and put her down for a nap, with some protest, but far less, at home. It was a shorter nap. And she crashed at bedtime.

Now we're home! The good news, she doesn't hate her crib. She wakes up in her crib and typically plays (with exceptions - see below). Sometimes she goes back to sleep if she wakes up early. I suspect part of the problem is that she does stir when she's sleeping and napping. Usually just a little, and enough to move a bit and go back to sleep. But enough that she was aware she wasn't home, and to be scared by this in her half awake state.

Anyways, things are not back to "normal" yet. Her naps improved again and she was getting thirteen hours of sleep, but the last few days, she's been waking up early again. Grumpy through the morning. Often acting very tired after her naps. Usually perking up just before her next nap or bedtime, so I can't quite believe she's ready to sleep.

Last night she was tantrummy all afternoon, yawning and glazed before dinnertime, but a bundle of energy at bedtime. She cooed and played and pummeled me in the face when I was singing to her. After I put her down, she played for about ten minutes before growing absolutely hysterical. We waited a half hour. Andrew went in and held her. She eventually calmed down, until he put her down. I am assuming this was the accursed "sleep training redux" that I'd been wary of, but also gave her some motrin just in case. She immediately fell asleep when I picked her up. But she woke immediately upon being set down. She settled after about ten more minutes of baleful howling at the edge of the crib. An hour and a half after bed time.

I guess she still has a deficit she isn't quite making up as much as moving away from. I guess sleep training is ongoing. Andrew and I were deliberating on what to do (this is only the third time she's not soothed herself to sleep without interference and before this trip). We agreed, that our relationship just wasn't at a point where we could go back to bedsharing mommy-baby and daddy in the Bachelor pad. So we're working on waiting her out a little bit more. And steeling ourselves for some grumps

 And I guess as long as she's waking up early, waiting four hours before her next nap actually doesn't nudge out her schedule. But the more day sleep she gets to make up for the bad night before, the less night sleep she seems to get the coming night.

It's nostalgic really. Awwww remember when I was verging on psychosis because I never got more than 90 minutes of sleep at a time? It must be the Christmas season again!

As for me, I'm nearly weaned off of the domperidone and paying a bit of a price for that. People don't really warn women about the longer term postpartum stuff. Oh you hear about pregnancy. You hear about the horrors of labor. You might even get some resources about the first couple of months after giving birth. But what about at six months PP where your thyroid maybe goes crazy and you start losing hair? What about the rips and ruptures that you don't even realize until you're a year out? And what about the hormonal hora that is weaning!?!

I'm not weaning. Chaya nurses roughly fifty times a day recently. But the slow withdrawal of extra progesterone basically mimics weaning. And it sucks. I know women who've gone to the hospital thinking they're having heart attacks. Mood swings. Weight gain. Weight loss. Total emotional derailment. And of course nearly ever pregnancy symptom you can imagine. I feel like I'm pregnant with the flu (except my hands and feet are still cold and I can stomach vegetables, so not my prior pregnancy).

But I'm so happy to be home. And so happy to have a crazy fifteen month old going on fifteen years.

This too shall pass and that's bittersweet!

In the meantime, I'm so glad to have a separate room for the hubba-hubs to sleep in, and a nice big safe crib for my little one to toss her bunny about in.

Happy holiday season!

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