Friday, May 21, 2010

Changing the Paradiggum

There was this commercial several years ago in which a bunch of people are sitting around in a conference room and one guy is all gung-ho and trying to get everyone else on board and he says “Sometimes you have to change the paradigm [which he pronounces paradiggum]...think outside the box.” And that has become part of the Blah Blah family lexicon, that “changing the paradiggum.”

And yet fixing one problem sometimes creates another.

Case in point: Miss Celie has been having sleep issues for some time. A (not so) brief history:

Stage One: We started out as co-sleepers. This was very sweet when she was an infant. I would just scoop her next to me and we would sleep with our heads close together all night long. I set up the Co-Sleeper next to the bed, more as a bed rail than anything since she didn’t actually sleep in it, and I slept in between Celie and Sweet Dub. This worked just fine until…

Stage Two: At some point she learned to roll over and keeping her on the side of the bed, even with the Co-Sleeper, wasn’t working. Sweet Dub was no longer worried about rolling over onto her and squishing her in the middle of the night, so we would then go to sleep with her between us. This worked for a very short time, because:

Stage Three: She began crawling and then walking, and would practice in her sleep, flopping around and kicking Sweet Dub in the head. He would wake up, irate, and stomp to the couch and sleep there for the rest of the night, while I would sleep like a rock, oblivious. Not very fair to him, and yet because she was still waking up to eat in the middle of the night, I was too tired to do all that much about it. However, eventually we moved on to…

Stage Four: We’d put her into her crib in the room she shared with Viva at the beginning of the night. At some point she would wake up, I would feed her and/or change her, and because she is a high-need baby (read: loud), I would have to remove her from the room so as to allow Viva to get some sleep. At that point I was so drunk with sleep deprivation that I would stumble to the couch and lie down with her there or just take her back to bed with me. In the latter case, within 30 minutes or so Sweet Dub would get kicked in the face, exit the room and go back to the couch. And I would continually wake up because I was getting kicked and banged into by my very active sleeper. All was not well in Blahville.

Stage Five: Last week, we committed to sleep training Celie and moved Viva across the house into her own room. Bought a rocking chair and hunkered down to battle. The first two nights were rough. She woke up every couple of hours howling. But then…the heavens parted and the sun shone down and she began sleeping through the night. Regularly. For the first time in her nearly 19 months of life.

And now, we are paying the price. She is furious with me. She follows me around screaming at me. She cries, she throws things, she hits. I was reading a pamphlet yesterday for something I’m writing for work and I came across a list of typical behaviors for young kids who have experienced trauma (I am not making this up):

Difficulty sleeping
Excessive tantrums
Defiant, won’t cooperate
Difficulty staying still
Aggression or acting out
Depression or anxiety
Low self-esteem
Inability to trust others
Separation anxiety
Cries a lot and won’t be easily consoled

I could put a check mark next to almost every single one of these. And last night I had to go to an event after work and didn’t get home until after she went to bed. This morning she was a mess, falling apart every five minutes and screaming when I put her in her car seat. At day care, she was fine sitting on my lap on the floor as I talked with her caregiver. I asked if she had been acting out at all. No, she is as she has always been at day care – she’s one of the easy ones, they wish they had 15 kids like her. And then when I got up to leave, Celie fell to pieces. She clung to me screaming. All of the teachers looked shocked. “I’ve never seen her like this,” said her beloved E, who has been her primary caregiver from the beginning. She had to pry her away from me and walk outside with her to wave goodbye. It was not a good way to start my day, to put it mildly.

So I get it: Celie misses her mommy. A lot. And it makes her angry and sad. We have been very much on the go these days, even on weekends, what with T-ball games and birthday parties and going up to visit my ailing grandmother. Celie’s not getting a whole lot of one on one time, and now she’s not even sleeping with me. Where we used to wake up all snuggled against one another and she would pat my face and give me kisses, now she wakes up alone. One of us goes to get her and cuddle her immediately, but it’s still a loss.

And now I have written this epic post, is there a resolution? Sleep issues solved, separation issues drastically heightened. There are no easy answers except take some time off and be with her. This, during a busy season at work when my husband has just been laid off. I need my job. But my baby needs her mama.

For the record: I know I am a good mom. I know I am doing the best I can on this hamster wheel of modern life. Today I am buying a lottery ticket and hoping for the best. Maybe I could stay home with her for a while.

P.S. She is very sweet when she's not mad at me:

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