Tis’ the season for sickness

I have been waiting for months to get my data for my dissertation. It finally arrived on Sunday night. On Monday morning Avery woke up way too sick to go to daycare. I did what little work I could while caring for a sick child, but it wasn’t the productive day I’d been so excited for. And now, on Tuesday, Avery’s well enough to go to daycare, but I’m sick. My head is a little foggy for the detailed stats I want to be doing…

#momlife.

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Fertility tracking

I have re-downloaded Fertility Friend, the ovulation charting app that helped us to inseminate efficiently the first time. I tried taking my temperature this morning for fertility tracking, but the battery was dead in my basal thermometer. I’m surprised I even kept it after we made one baby and deciding we were one-and-done. I bought a new battery and plan to start charting temps asap, but it’s very different this time around. In case you haven’t used temperature charting before, the rules are simple but tough to follow: take your temp IMMEDIATELY upon waking, at the same time every day, and put your daily temp on a graph to watch for the rise in temperature associated with ovulating. These days, I sometimes wake up in my bed, sometimes in Avery’s, sometimes at 5am, sometimes at 7am, and I’m up through the night, too. I don’t think I can depend on just temping.

So today I bought the digital ovulation monitor that I used last time for our actual inseminations. It’s a $50 device that comes with 10 ovulation tests, and it’s another $40 to get all the refill test strips I would hopefully need throughout our next round of TTC. It’s expensive, but what I like about it is that it distinguishes between the days leading up to ovulation and the actual day before ovulation (when the lutenizing hormone peaks). It’s really, really handy for the at home inseminating families who don’t have ultrasounds or meds to guide them. When I got the hang it of it last time, I was able to give our donor several days notice for the upcoming ovulation/insemination. And it’s better than temping for me these days, with the #momlife that I wasn’t living last time we conceived.

So that’s where we are with TTC right now. We’re tracking my cycles, and planning a get-together with our donor and his wife for early in the new year to talk about it. We hang out with them a lot, but always with kids in tow, which doesn’t give us the space to talk about making babies… This time we’re coordinating a childless double date, and I’m excited for multiple reasons!

Working backwards from baby

My wife and I have been waffling on when to have baby #2 (and some days we even go back and forth on whether or not to have another child at all). But it seems that we really thought about timelines for the first time last night – when do we want to HAVE baby #2? When’s the best time to disrupt the flow of our lives so that it will cause the least waves?

Originally I had thought that I’d love to be done school and have a job first, so I could get a paid maternity leave. But the issue of disrupting my professional trajectory is a very real one – when I had Avery I completely lost my passion and drive for my PhD and my CV has become outdated and unattractive to potential employers. If that happens again, I will not want to be newly employed by a company I hope to stay at long term when I go through my “mothering-is-everything” phase. So we have decided (and I say that word without strong conviction) to aim to have a baby shortly after I’ve defended my dissertation. Since I aim to defend in early summer 2019, and we don’t want any more birthdays in July and August (there are 7 immediate family birthdays in these two months already), we’re looking at trying in January. BUT I highly doubt that will happen because I haven’t been tracking my cycle and we haven’t even talked to our donor about it, let alone get our donor contract renewed.

Suddenly it feels like 9 months is a long time, when I don’t want to be sitting around between PhD and career for longer than I need to.

Nightmares

My child is amazing and wonderful and all I could ever wish for, and she is also a challenged (challenging?) sleeper. I have built this blog on that premise.

We’ve been through the 4-month sleep regression that lasted until she was 1, and then the 18-month sleep regression that lasted until she was 2. But the onset of the sleep regressions was only noticeable by the increase in already frequent wake-ups, or by the extension of already lengthy and trying bedtimes, so we basically consider her entire life so far as one giant sleep regression from her first night of life, when she slept for a magical 5 hours and I woke in a panic that she hadn’t been fed in so long. That amazing first night of her life was one of the best sleeps we’ve had.

Of course she has slept through the night since then, on and off. Weaning helped a bit, and then simply growing up a bit and becoming a 2 year old helped a bit. But even though things are easier and better at night than they used to be, there’s always something that comes up and fucks with our sleep. From night terrors to colds and flues to our newest experience, nightmares.

Avery has been waking up crying about weird things, in a delirious, semi-awake state. The other night she woke up crying about her plate being dirty. Another night she woke crying about her toys missing. Thankfully the content of her nightmares so far doesn’t seem to be terribly upsetting or disturbing (from a rational, awake-person’s point of view), but we all know that bad dreams seem so much worse when we first wake from them, with the stress hormone coursing through our blood. So I understand that Avery’s legitimately upset about the dirty plate dream, or the dream about all of her toys going missing. And so, I go to her bed and reassure her, and cuddle her back to sleep. Recently, though, she went through a week of multiple “nightmares” a night. Just another reason why sleep continues to evade us.

Maybe when she’s 14 and in the sleepy teenager phase, we’ll get a good night of sleep.

A toddler growth spurt

Oy Vey, it has been a while since I wrote, by my standards (a whole 2 weeks!). I haven’t been in a writing mood, which is weird for me. But here’s an update.

Avery has been going through a growth spurt. I kind of assumed these would be gone – or less life-disrupting – by the time she was two, but apparently I was wrong.

The first sign is the eating. Avery has been a picky eater for months and months and months. We had to rely on trickery to get vegetables into her. But for the past two weeks she has been eating everything in her sight. As an example, here’s what she had for an afternoon snack today: a cup and a half of sweet potato crackers, a peach, a pear, a banana, a hot chocolate with whipped cream, and a piece of toast. And she was beside herself cranky from hunger at 4:30 but she didn’t get dinner till 5:30. She then ate a full dinner of weird things (panko crusted baked tofu, pad Thai, and two adult sized portions of steamed green beans. And of course she had bedtime snacks). It’s out of control. We went to a family member’s house on the weekend and she had eaten through all the snacks we’d packed on the drive there, and then ate our family member out of house and home while we were there. The eating part of this growth spurt is definitely a welcome change, because we don’t have to worry at all that she’s getting enough nutrition.

The not so great side effect of this growth spurt is the clinginess. She is extremely possessive of me right now. When my wife gets home from work Avery suddenly turns into a whiney monster who will literally pin me down rather than have me do anything else besides hold her. I love my strong attachment with my daughter, but even I start to feel a little suffocated when she’s wrapped tightly around my neck, pinning me to the couch or floor, and if I stand up letting out an ear piercing whine/cry. I give her hugs because I don’t know what else to do, and it’s always just 4:30-bedtime. Right when my wife gets home. It’s unfortunate.

On that note, we are still going strong with no daytime naps. She’s definitely tired in the afternoon (and that probably has something to do with the clinginess), but she’s functioning fine, and bedtime is a 15 minute joyful cuddlefest now, instead of a 90 min frustration-fest. She napped twice in the past two weeks when we were on long car trips, and those bedtimes were horribly long. No naps it is. I’ll post more about that later.

I plan to do Blogmas, which is a daily blogging challenge in the month of December. There will be plenty of updates to come, including updates on our TTC plans!

The end of the afternoon nap

I always assumed that Avery would need her afternoon nap until she started kindergarten. She was always such a high sleep-needs baby. But the length of time it had been taking for her to fall asleep for naps and bedtime lately was problematic. It felt like she was being forced to get too much sleep. So I cut out my 26-month-old’s last remaining nap of the day, and here’s what happened…

She was happy, relaxed, and well behaved all day. We watched Frozen and relaxed during what would have been nap time – now renamed quiet time. She asked to go to bed at 7pm, lights were out by 7:30, and she was asleep by 7:45. The past few weeks had involved going to bed at 7:30 and not falling asleep until 9pm. It worked!!

We’ve now gone 3 days without a nap and it has been the same result every day. She’s tired by bedtime, but not an emotional wreck like she used to be when tired. She’s just tired enough to be ready to actually go to sleep when we want her to.

We’re not going to withhold a nap if she wants one, or if she looks like she really needs one. And we don’t have a hope in hell of keeping her awake on a long car ride (which we do most weekends to visit family). But for our general routine, the dropping of naptime has been a successful change!

And here are some pics of our wintery, festive fun, just getting started!

The fight… with my 2 year old

We’ve been encountering some counterwill at toothbrushing time lately. We have brushed Avery’s teeth every day, morning and night, since she was 4 months old. But suddenly, she does NOT want to give us our turn to brush her teeth after she has had some time with the brush. We’ve managed to regain control of the situation thus far by threatening no books at bedtime if she doesn’t let us have our turn to brush her teeth. But tonight, that didn’t work. Tonight, I was caught in a 20 minute battle with a 2 year old who did not want to give up her toothbrush. She decided she was fine with going to bed alone and without books if it meant I wasn’t going to get a turn with the toothbrush, but her sneaky plan was just to never finish brushing her teeth. She was sobbing the entire time we were in this battle of wills. I was calm. I was trying to be very clear with what was going to happen. But at 15 minutes into the battle with my 2 year old, I lost it. I don’t normally yell as a parenting tactic – it’s just not in my comfort zone. But I yelled. I let the situation escalate. I ripped the toothbrush from her hand and hauled her tantruming body to her room and used my body to block her from opening her door and leaving. She screamed a blood curdling scream. I put my hand on her back and tried to get her to take deep breaths. “NO DEEP BREATHS!” she screamed. I finally got her to say that she would let me brush her teeth so we could go to bed and read books.

When we got back to the bathroom, however, she took back her words and refused me the toothbrush yet again. I yelled again. I yelled loud this time. And it wasn’t just an emotional outburst, but a calculated tactic. What if a loud yell was what she needed to listen? But my loud yelling was met with more screaming and crying. I gave her a time out, right where she stood. More like I gave myself a time out. I left her there in the bathroom and closed myself in my bedroom. She came banging on my door, crying for me.

It was a horrible, muddy, messy situation. My wife stepped in and saved the day. Avery let my wife brush her teeth. I met her in her bedroom and we turned out the light together. She grabbed a stuffed animal from a drawer and cuddled it. She NEVER does that at bedtime. She always gets her cuddles from me. She needed comfort, and wasn’t turning to me for it. I looked her in the eyes and said I needed to talk. I told her I was sorry that I yelled; that I shouldn’t have yelled like that. Then I asked if there was anything she was sorry for. Through her dwindling sobs, she said “yes. Sorry for not letting mommy brush Avery’s teeth.” I said “I love you.” She said “I love you.”

I felt like shit for how things escalated. I cried my way through her bedtime stories. Parenting is hard.