Monday, September 06, 2010

Surviving Motherhood



Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but motherhood has been on my mind lately.  Now I have to say, Lamp is quite the sweetheart.  I was struggling a few weeks ago, but things have gotten a lot better (knock on wood).  She's a delightful baby.  So this isn't so much about Lamp, but I've still been intrigued with this idea of survival.  Especially when it comes to babies.  When I'm struggling with motherhood it always helps me to talk to other moms.  And in this conversing, I've heard some interesting tales of survival.  

One family told me about duct taping their daughter's car seat to the dryer while it was running because that was the only way she would sleep.  So for a whole week they slept by the dryer while it ran all night long so they too could get some much needed rest.  Another friend left a comment on my blog about putting movies in her dvd player before bed, because when her son was up in the middle of the night she would watch entire movies while trying to rock him back to sleep.  Personally, our most extreme example was the fact that Beanie slept well when there was loud, white noise in the background.  So we recorded a blow dryer sound and made it into a 40 minute track on our ipod.  We played that sound with the volume on full blast for every nap and at night, all night long.  And since she slept in our room we all had to sleep with a super loud static sound playing all night, every night, for a year.  A YEAR.  At the time we were just doing what we needed to do...in hindsight it was brutal.  

With all the sleepless nights and hours of crying (mom and baby) and crazy hormones, sometimes I think it's amazing that any of us make it through parenthood.  So I'm curious...when it comes to your babies what have you done in the name of survival?  I want to hear your crazy tales and how you made it through.    

22 comments:

  1. I can remember when I was pregnant with #4...being so so sick, but #3 (a 1 year old) would not sleep. I was so tired that some nights I actually climbed in the playpen and slept in there with him...just to keep him happy.

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  2. Oliver pretty much cried all day for three months when he was first born. nightmare. I remember trying to get MAx to take his nap but he couldn't sleep while Oliver was screaming and the only way Oliver would stop crying would be if I stod while I rocked him back and forth and sang. Do you know how many songs I sang in a row? Many times I would get out my little pocket sized hymn book and sing hymn after hymn after hymn until they both fell asleep. Sometimes it was like 20 hymns. It sure beat having to come up with song after song or singing the same one over and over.

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  3. Co-sleeping! I did it with all three of mine. Its the only way I could survive...they nurse and I fall right to sleep.

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  4. I have a really great partner, so this is really about "parenthood." When my nine month old was a colicky newborn, we developed this big ol bag of tricks for getting her to sleep. This is because nothing worked consistently but everything worked sometimes. Some of the things that worked more often than others are: holding out one high-pitched note as long as possible over and over near the baby's ear (sometimes a harmonica instead), jogging around the house while carrying her, and of course the time-tested non-stop nursing with the baby sleeping in spurts on your chest. Probably my favorite one (that we still do sometimes) was singing at the top of our voices in the car all the main parts to a song (meaning vocals AND music). The best was the one time my husband and I together managed to sing most of the parts to Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." By the end she was out cold.

    (I hope you don't mind me commenting even though I don't know you. I love finding good mom blogs to commiserate with.)

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  5. My goodness I can relate. We always think back on that first year as pure survival. We lost touch with longtime friends, barely made it out of the house, and (ha) even bought white noise tracks off of itunes so we'd have entire CDs of hair dryers, washing machines, car noise, etc. What's interesting is that we all think every other mom has it together but when we open up, we realize we're all struggling. (Another reason mama-blogs are great!)

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  6. All my boys have had painful reflux, but E was the worst. Doctors dismissed it as 'colic', so for over a year {a YEAR!} he cried day and night. Once, he cried so hard he turned blue and passed out. I thought he had died. It was terrifying and emotional and bone-deep tiring. He would sleep in 20 minute chunks if I sat in a reclined position and laid him on my chest. Or if walked the floor endlessly with him. I would have tv or dvd's playing in the background just to try and trick my mind into thinking I wanted to be awake in the middle of the night, but mostly I remember hiding in a closet with the baby so as not to wake the household and alternating between praying and sobbing. To this day, if someone mentions E's first year, my breath catches and I have to try hard to remember how I had the courage to have more children.

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  7. Jill--Oh man. See those are the moments other moms never see...thanks for sharing.

    Likely and MS--oh geeze. Nightmare! I have thought over and over if Heavenly Father sends me another fussy baby I'm done! Having a fussy baby is hard, having a fussy baby when you have other kids is impossible. MS--a WHOLE year?? Seriously, it's amazing you went on to have other kids. Truly.

    Rachel--amen. That was also how I survived Beanie.

    MJ--I know what you mean about a bag of tricks--none of them work all the time, but something works most of the time. I love that singing at the top of your lungs actually worked!

    Carrie--exactly. I think we're so lucky to have mom blogs as a means of connecting to other moms and knowing we're not alone and that other moms have their struggles too.

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  8. Amy -- it was nice to "meet" you and Bracken yesterday for a minute via the good old webcam. Glad you're adjusting to your new little lamp and I hope things continue to go well.

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  9. we just had our third. she's a bit fussy and hard to settle (to put it mildly).

    she likes the white noise app on my iphone though. that sucker is loud.

    she also likes a vacuum sound on youtube. or being held all day.

    newborns are just exhausting!

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  10. Ah- what a question youve raised! I tell my hubby everyday that I couldnt do it without him. Seriously being a mom is hard but when you have a colicky child its harder still! Im glad to read others comments as it really helps. My first son was PERFECT! LOL ate well, slept well, etc that I was totaly unprepared for #2. He was colicky for a year or more. Never napped, didnt sleep more than 2-3 hours at night( up crying the rest of the time) I commented to the doctor how he could survive on such little sleep. It was a miracle we didnt get fired from our jobs. We took turns because literraly for 18 months the kid didnt sleep. Hes now 2.5 and still has a hard time.
    What got us through- was white noise, singing, and bouncing him while walking around. He didnt like confinement so carseats, car rides, rocking didnt work. It was the methodical singing, while bouncing up and down for hours that he would finally sleep. We also had to pat his bum while he was on his stomach to sleep so he bounced. And if you stopped expect him to wake. Those arm muscles were very developed!
    (Thanks for letting me read :)

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  11. Katelyn lived in a Moby Wrap for the first 8 weeks of her life. People in NYC were surprised to see that she indeed have a face after two months because they never saw her. I still felt pregnant, but it was literally the only place that she would be happy, and it gave me my hands free for Aubrey. It was the best way to get her to sleep too. It was exhausting to haul her around all day long and find myself at midnight putting the Moby Wrap BACK on just to get her asleep, but whatever works right? It really did work like a charm. And, we bought a noise machine from Walmart. We do shut it off when we go to bed though.
    I'm glad things have gotten easier with your little one. It really is a good thing that babies come so dang cute, because they are so dang hard.

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  12. Oh man! Sometimes Collin and I play the "remember when" game when we look back on Violet's first few months. Thankfully we can laugh abbot about all the craziness now! And it was crazy.
    She was a sad girl. The only way she slept was swaddled tight in her swing with a pacifier and white noise blaring from the iPod. We went through D batteries like sliced bread :)
    As hard as it was I feel like I'm reaping the rewards now. She's such a joy and I would do it all over again! You're a great mom, hang in there :)

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  13. we put our newborn in a carseat and swung her until she sleeped. sometimes, it seemed like she would fly into space--we would swing so hard out of fatigue and anger. yes, anger. i'll admit the lack of sleep made us extremely edgy, and i'm glad we had some gospel principles to help us get thru the craziness. if you're wondering why we didn't use a swing, we did. the carseat just had more "confinement" that mimicked being snug.

    i also happened to have the child who hated swaddling, so everyone's surefire solution to swaddle was like a slap in the face for me every time i heard it. i eventually gave up my ideals of "no co-sleeping" and just did it. it helped all of us sleep.

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  14. I have to admit, I've never done anything drastic or crazy. Just the text book suggestions: swaddling, shooshing, etc, which isn't really like me. I mean, I go to all sorts of extremes to sleep. But for some reason, I never tried anything crazy with my newborns. I've gotten some rad ideas now though, thanks to this blog.

    Love it.

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  15. We have the world's loudest vacuum. We were so shocked that we laughed the first time we turned it on and the babies' crying instantly stopped. It lost its effectiveness after a while, but while it worked... mmm boy.

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  16. Hi Amy! Fabulous blog! (this is Julia, by the way) As far as babies go - we've been pretty lucky - other than sleeping numerous nights for the first few months in a recliner and playing online games for a few hours in the middle of the night with our oldest, or a few middle of the night drives to put baby to sleep in carseat - (and no, we didn't try to transfer - once asleep we left them asleep out of sheer sanity for us) we haven't had to pull too many tricks with them (I do realize I am hugely blessed with that - I don't think I could handle what you and some of the other moms have had to handle). It's when they've gotten older that they turn beastly on us and I kick into survival mode.

    I think one of our craziest survival stories was when the three girls were young - 3, 2, and newborn and every time we got in the car they would just scream and fight and pull hair - it was awful - and we didn't wan them picking on the baby. So in a moment of sheer desperation my husband grabbed a hunk of cardboard and shoved it between their car seats. (We had a station wagon at the time, so all three car seats were in the back seat) They couldn't see or touch each other - we drove around like that for years until the station wagon died. Of course we got to the point where we just carried the cardboard in the back in case they started to go at it, but for a while it was quite permament.

    Some people thought we were brilliant, some people thought we were horribly mean, but all I can say is for the peace it gave us anytime we were on the road it was SO worth it.

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  17. I'm still loving these stories...

    Amanda--Totally get the anger part. It's FRUSTRATING when you have THAT baby...the baby that doesn't just sleep even though they are dead tired and you have to do a whole song and dance just to get 20 minutes of snooze time.

    Jen--It really is great when you can look back and all those crazy times are a distant memory. It's hard, but so good to remember that it all passes....somehow.

    Molly--maybe you were just lucky and your kids didn't need all that crazy stuff?

    Deb--Love it. I remember thinking "yeah right, like I'm going to turn on a blow dryer or vacuum to get my baby to sleep..." Of course my smug attitude went out the window when Beanie slept for 2 hours at a time with the blow dryer running while swaddled tightly in the swing.

    GoofyJ--I LOVE this story. I think that's hilarious and brilliant. And pretty much any parenting tactic that keeps you from wanting to beat your children I think is brilliant...so whoever thought you were being mean should reconsider. (And lucky you for having great babies! No wonder you have 6... :) )

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  18. ah! so happy i made the blog! oh those long nights with an aching back from rocking, rocking, rocking...but at least i got a lot of chick flicks in.

    and white noise - such a blessing, such a curse. atticus has slept with a white noise machine since he was a few months old. i decided to get one after a full day of rocking him and he only fell asleep once i turned on the vacuum and rocked him in the glider for a couple HOURS with that blasted vacuum blasting in my ear. i left it on so long it blew out and shut off and was too hot to touch!!! i'm not even sure it ever turned back on, come to think of it.

    also, real quick - i thought of you when i saw this on etsy, since you're a master seamstress (boo on not getting the serger!) and like to remake old shirts into beautiful creations. check this out! if only i had a little girl!

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/55875860/the-upcycled-t-shirt-dress-icons-no-2

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  19. oh yeah...and how much kids hate carseats when they're real little and all those blasted times of driving around with my radio playing static SO LOUD i had a raging headache but a quiet child. so take your pick - headache from crying child? or headache from raging static?

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  20. I'm curious, do you have to put on the loud white noise for Lamp as well, or does she sleep in silence?

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  21. okay, I don't have any stories that compare but I still feel like I'm surviving... barely. Hmmm- don't know how I feel about that :)

    At least this gave me a little perspective and will hopefully help me feel less sorry for myself when I think I'm having a hard day or night!

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  22. Came here because the baby in the photo, obviously a spoiled brat, was or is me. One of my nieces would only sleep in a moving car, so the poor parents took turns driving around Rome as the baby slept. They decided to have only one child -- given that gasoline in Italy is so expensive.

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