Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Typical Day in our Not So Typical Life...

It’s 4:00am…do you know where your toddler is?  I am pretty sure that the entire neighborhood knows where mine is.  I mean, what gives?!  Ok, I recall the 13 months I spent getting up every 90 minutes, dealing with a colicky, refluxy little boy who was only comfortable sitting up over my shoulder.  Yes, I am grateful that Jax now sleeps an average of 9 hours straight.  But now it has been 19 months, and I am pretty sure that what I am dealing with is a conditioned waking problem. 

Yes, as a trained behaviorist, I know what would “extinguish” this behavior.  The problem is, Jackson literally won’t go back to sleep for a minimum of 4 hours, usually 5, once he has awakened like this.  And, by “like this,” I am referring to the frantic hysterics that have been occurring in our house every day before 5:00am for the past month.   As I have mentioned before, my hubby works nights and gets home at 3:00am.  Allowing Jackson to scream hysterically for several hours does not allow anyone to get any more sleep around here. 

So once again, I drag myself to his room.  I signal him to “calm down” before I open the door.  The screams die down and he waits.  I stand there for a few minutes before I go in, milk sippy in hand.  I slowly open the door to see Jax’s little cherub face peeking at me, smiling.  But Hark!  Is that urine I smell?  Drat.  I check Jackson’s diaper, but thankfully the diaper has held.  But now, my little dynamo is wide awake, saying hi to me, and signing “milk”. 

I offer the sippy, and it is rejected.  “Let’s go turn on Sesame Street,” a little voice whispers.  I am not sure who this voice belongs too, I started hallucinating ages ago, so I truly have no idea who speaks to me during the dark disquiet of our Rooster Club mornings. 

Another voice, more forcefully proclaims, “No!  We can’t teach the baby that whenever he wakes up, he gets to watch tv!  We will sit in this dark room, and try to get him to sleep, no matter how long it takes!”  Ugh, not that voice again. 

So, we sit in the rocking chair in the dark for 45 minutes.  We rock, we shush.  Jax yawns.  He rubs his eyes.  His eyes close, and for one blissful moment,  I think I have actually succeeded!  I picture myself lying back in bed…no such luck.  Jax starts poking me.  The dog next door barks, and it’s all over. 

The voice insists.  “Try putting him in bed with you…”  This has never ever worked.  I had planned on co-sleeping, but I hadn’t planned on a tiny preemie who resisted lying down.  But I am so so tired today.  We creep into my bed and the minute we lie down, Jax starts protesting.  I close my eyes, wondering how my husband is sleeping through all the noise.  (He was off last night, but clearly 13 hour of sleep is not enough for him). 

Annoyed, I tell Jax that it is still sleepy time.  I deposit him back in his crib with his milk, and stumble back to my room.  He stands there in startled dismay for approximately 10 seconds.  And then the screams begin. 

Amazingly, my husband wakes up.  He takes Jax for 10 whole minutes before I get up to point out that the baby is fussy because he wants to eat.  We make breakfast.  I eat, something that does not occur most mornings until the baby goes down for a nap.  The dog starts complaining.  He needs to poop.  Hell, so do I but I can only go at designated Jackson-free times!  It turns out that most of us need to poop, and some of us wear diapers.  (Mental image of myself wearing a diaper comes to mind.  I am actually liking the idea.  Then, when I finally get to rest, I can pee without getting up.). 

From his reclined position on the couch, my husband starts commenting loudly, “uh oh!  Someone pooped and it wasn’t me!  Gross!  It stinks in here!  If I try to change that, I’ll throw up!” 

I do not respond.  Seriously?!  A little poop brings the longshoreman low?  Whatever.  After three or four repetitions of these comments, I grab Jax, change him, and get him dressed.  (Really?  It wasn’t even a loose poop!  In fact, Jax ate like 6 tangerines yesterday.  It is probably mother’s love, but I think his poop smells like orange blossoms).  We head out to walk the dogs, while Mighty Hubby, who lasted about 40 minutes, heads back to bed citing that he “must have a fever or something”. 

Well, it’s 7:45am now.  We have walked the dogs.  I have now collected and disposed of the crap of two dogs, and my son.  We have eaten, emptied the dishawasher, and started a load of laundry.  I have made it as long as I can.  Yes, I am a drug addict and my drug of choice in the morning is caffeine.  I am now going to spike my blood sugar and adrenaline with some nice hot coffee.  Sweet dreams, dear hubby, sweet dreams…(Insert here:  Mental image of a pillow accidentally finding its way over his nose and mouth…. ).  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Over the Edge


It’s Friday the 13th.  A regular day for most of us.  But for me, today marks a milestone that lots of people surely thought I had already surpassed.  You see, today is the day that pushed me over the edge.  I am certifiable now, people, believe me.  Let’s recap. 

4:40am on the dot:  Jackson wakes up from a deep sleep and goes from his little boy dreams to full blown hysterical screaming.  My husband, who has just come home from his night job, tries valiantly to console him.  The earth-shattering shrieks get louder and louder.  I am certain someone in the neighborhood is calling the cops.   

Where am I?  Oh, I am stumbling around in the bathroom valiantly trying to fill up a test tube with my own spit.  (This is due to a hormone test I am taking, and because it cost $250 big ones out of my pocket, I ain’t messing it up!).  I am working spit into my cheek and spitting repeatedly, wondering why it is taking so long for me to produce enough saliva to fill up a test tube, when my husband bursts in. 

5:00am:  “Sorry babe, I tried,”my husband says, shaking his head.  He then proceeds to go back to sleep immediately.  His ability to fall asleep within 3 seconds of his head hitting the pillow amid loud anguished screams makes me want to smother him...but I digress.  I approach the baby’s door, from which tortured wails are coming.  I know there is no way in hell I will be able to get this kid back to sleep, but I’ll be damned if I am up and making breakfast before the rooster crows.  Again. 

5:15am:  I am making breakfast for Jackson before the rooster crows.  Again.  True to form, he is all adorable smiles and giggles as I manage to get him into his high chair and make him French toast and banana.  He even says “Nana!”  when he sees the banana, which makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  Then, Jackson makes a high-pitched whine, and points to the tea pot. 

The tea pot.  My savior.  It brews delicious and highly caffeinated black tea, which I lace liberally with honey.  It wakes me up.  It starts my engine.  But today I can’t have it.  In fact, I can’t have any caffeine, and I had to avoid it starting yesterday, because it will throw off the hormone test.  Other things on the list of banned items:  chapstick (of course my lips feel like they are cracked and bleeding right now) and dirty bedsheets (I used the last of my strength to change the sheets last night), and alcohol.  Knowing that I can’t have my glass of wine at the end of what is already turning out to be a challenging day makes me wring my hands in despair. 

But wait, it’s ok!  I can trick myself and my caffeine headache by making some nice herbal tea.  Everyone likes herbal tea.  I have tons of it left over from my pregnancy because I couldn’t seem to find one I liked.  Nothing has changed.  I still hate it all.  As Jackson proceeds to swipe all of his breakfast onto the floor and then demand milk from a bottle, I struggle to choke down my non-caffeinated beverage. 

6:45am:  How has the time passed?  With Sesame Street of course!  Yes, I am supermom, who resorts to tv because she is too tired to move.  So, I drag myself up, migraine and all, and proceed to get the dogs ready for their morning walk.  My friend told me morning exercise will make me feel better.  Damn them for being someone I really admire, so here we go. 

7:00-7:30:  I somehow get a reluctant chihuahua, a rambunctious weiner dog, and my toddler down the stairs, and we walk the dogs.  Amazingly, I start to feel a little better!  I pick up three loads of dog poop, and feel my chest swell with pride for being a responsible dog owner.  I actually enjoy the sunrise and feel gratitude for living in such a beautiful place.  Then, I manage to get all of us up three flights of stairs without killing any of us.  I feel a major sense of self-efficacy. 

7:45am:  I determine that Jax might actually hang out in the living room for 5 minutes so I can take a shower alone.  Commence shower.  Enjoy every stinking minute of it!  I run out, buck naked, because it is suspiciously quiet in the living room.  Jax must be up to no good!  I check, but nope.  He is right there, watching the rest of Sesame Street.  I take my time (e.g, 2 minutes) to get dressed and brush my hair. 

7:50am:  Feeling somewhat relaxed despite my pounding head, and triumphant over my solo shower, I meander into the living room and stop cold.  What is that horrible stench?!  What are those brown smears all over my leather ottoman?  Ohmygod.  It appears the dog has made a nono.  All over the fluffy area rug.  And the baby has stepped in it.  And it has been smashed into my rug.  And somehow, it has also been smeared on the ottoman. 

7:51am:  I erupt into a barrage of swearing.  I hate these dogs!  I hate everything!  My head hurts!  I want coffeeeeeeeeee!  Arrgh!  The things that come out of my mouth are horrible, violent, and nasty enough to make a longshoreman blush.  (My husband is a longshoreman.  At the very least I would expect that my tirade would wake him up so that he can help me out...but I ain't living on Fantasy Island here, am I?).  

7:52am:  Fueled by a massive dose of adrenaline (and wondering how this stress-capade is going to impact my cortisol levels), I manage to secure the baby in his high chair, remove his shoes, scrape the poop out of all the little grooves and ridges (damn stride rites), sterilize the shoes with Lysol, and roll up a 10 x 10 area rug and drag it out to the balcony, swearing like a drunken sailor all the while. 

8:00am:  I feel remorseful.  I have just completely imploded in front of my son, who luckily does not seem to notice that mommy has just lost it.  In fact, he looks sleepy.  Nooo!  He can’t fall asleep now!  We have that uber-expensive Gymboree class to get to!  We absolutely cannot miss yet another class because he fell asleep.  He wants to wake up at 4:00am, fine!  But we are NOT missing another class or event! 

8:45am:  I have now managed to eat, get us both ready to go, and we are in the car blasting music and talking talking talking.  Anything to keep him up until we get to class.  He babbles happily until we are approximately two blocks away.   Then, he passes out.   

9:30am:  I park the car in front of Gymboree feeling like the undead.  As I try to stop thinking about coffee, tea, and coca cola, I witness all of the other perky-looking moms and their happy, well-rested kids parading into the facility.  I gently remove Jax from the car and try to rouse him.  No response.  He is out like a light.  I am determined.  We enter the facility and everyone who works there expresses amazement.  No one has ever seen Jackson asleep.  Or even standing still for that matter.  I rub his cheek and muss his hair a little so wake him up.  Once he hears the music and sees his little friends, he will be just fine.  

9:31am:  Loud screaming and headbutting ensues, much to the shock of the other parents in the group.  Their children have obviously just woken up.  They have no idea about the hell I have endured before 9:00am.  Thankfully, Jax likes music class more than he likes to protest.  He engages and seems to have fun.  

11:00am:  We arrive back home.  Jax proceeds to run around the house screaming for an hour in an overtired, overstimulated frenzy.  The noise finally wakes up my husband.  It's a miracle!  

I attempt to make Jax lunch.  My husband asks what happened to the living room.  I give him a look that should, by all rights, cause him to go up in flames.  The baby throws most of his food on the floor.  I clean it up mechanically, and my husband decides he is still quite tired, and heads back to bed.  Mentally, I am tarring and feathering him, but he brings home the bacon, so I can't complain.

1:00pm:  Jax finally goes down for a nap and I collapse on the couch, unable to move, eat, or muster the energy to take a pee.  A few hours pass.  You might be wondering where my husband is at this point, (and so am I).  He’s sleeping so soundly I can hear him snoring out here in the living room.  Yes, he works nights, but last night he was off at midnight.  He’s now been in bed for 13 hours.  (Mental image of tarring and feathering morphs into image of burning at the stake).  

3:00pm:  Jax is up, and we proceed with the rest of our day.  Snack time, clean up, spit in a test tube for 30 minutes.  Collecting one’s saliva sucks.  I feel totally unglued.   I need caffeine, or at least some wine!  Instead, I force us to the park, hoping to tire out the baby.  It doesn’t work, but we do have fun.  

5:30pm:  I am dragging.  I fix dinner:  chicken nuggets, green peas, bread and butter.  With one fell swoop, it all lands on the disgusting floor, while the baby calls, “Oscar!  Oscar!”  Our dog runs over happily, eats the nuggets, steps on the peas, and nearly trips me hovering around the high chair. 

6:00pm:  Bathtime.  Jax decides it is fun to repeatedly throw the sponge at me, soaking both me, and the bathroom.  I bang my head on the heavy glass door peeling him off the floor of the shower, since he has now decided that lying there and screaming while squirming like a slippery eel is more fun than simply getting out of the shower by himself. 

7:00pm:  I have manhandled the baby into his pajamas.  He starts frantically signing “milk”.  I offer a sippy cup.  He throws it, and give me "the look."  I know that look.  He is gearing up to flip out big time.  At this point, I concede defeat.  He has won...again.  I trudge to the kitchen, bleary-eyed and disoriented.  I make a bottle and hand it over to my tiny tyrant.  (Did I mention I’m a former early childhood specialist with 15 years of behavioral training?). 

8:00pm:  We have watched an hour of Sesame Street and The Wiggles (who I am now starting to find physically attractive...especially Anthony Wiggle.  Oh Yeah. Anthony Wiggle can make me a fruit salad any time).  Jax yawns.  Thank God!  We read Good Night Moon, and I place him in bed with some books.  Thankfully, 8 months of sleep training has at least afforded me an awesome bedtime routine.  Jax quietly looks at some books and drops off to sleep.

9:00pm:  I have spent the last 30 minutes collecting my spit in a test tube.  I stumble around, like a demented ballerina, and then I find myself in heaven…my bed.  I close my eyes until…

4:00am on the dot: Jackson wakes up from a deep sleep and goes from his little boy dreams to full blown hysterical screaming….Oh well.  At least today I can have coffee!