Month: August 2014

It’s Just A (Very Sleepy) Phase

There is apparently a stage of development for babies commonly referred to as the “4 month sleep regression”, and it is just as painful as it sounds.

The breakdown is simple: your baby is rapidly changing developmentally, learning new skills every single day (mine decided yesterday was the day he figured out that the rattle was fun to shake after weeks of just trying to cram it into his mouth), teeth moving around under the gums, attention spans getting longer… And all the stuff makes them very suddenly aware of their own bodies, which scares the bejeezus right out of them. And so, sleep regression kicks in, and baby starts waking up. Every. Single. Hour. The whole night. For weeks.

At first I thought there was something wrong with him. He had been sleeping soundly in his own crib for 3-4 hours at a time. Then this started. Now I stagger out of bed and three steps to the bassinet, pick him up, fed him a little, and five minutes later he’s asleep again. It’s like he’s just checking to make sure I am still there, that he’s still safe. He was crying in his sleep a few nights ago so I picked him up but couldn’t console him in the usual ways. I had to wake him fully up from slumber so he could see everything was all right. Once he woke, he was his normal happy self again. Of course then I had the unenviable task of getting him back to sleep.

It’s tough with just a baby. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for the parent with more than one child. The old adage, “when the baby sleeps, you sleep” certainly applied the first few weeks at all hours of the day. Now that we expect it, the whole family goes to bed early on weeknights and spends weekend mornings being lazy. And since it’s been 5 weeks since this all started in our house, occasionally the baby blesses us and sleeps 2-3 hours in a row once a night.

It’s been a joy to watch him grow the last little bit: he found his toes, he’s rolling, he’s laughing and blowing raspberries – but man, I will be grateful when both of us can start “sleep progressing” again for good.

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3 Years

Three. I can’t believe it.

Seems like only yesterday at just about this time I was racing through the hallways of Medicine Hat General’s emergency department, nurses and doctors surrounding me, paramedics bringing up the rear with the police. The police that stood outside my room until the CSI team arrived. The police that had to tell dispatch the weight of the vehicle several times before she believed him. The police that agreed I was lucky to be alive.

It didn’t really occur to me until last week that this was approaching. I’ve got something so much more important in my life now that it sort of crept up on me. In fact, I didn’t even think of it until I was calculating my little man’s four-month anniversary and realized it was the day before this one.

This past year has been another lesson in strength and perseverance. I never thought I would be hospitalized again, and yet I accumulated four more weeks “inside”. I never imagined I would get pregnant and successfully deliver, and look how that turned out. I took on and took down my PTSD. I kicked my meds. My husband and I have gone from a downtown, one car, dirty thirties lifestyle to 3 bedrooms, 2 cars, and a mortgage in a neighbourhood where the store across the street isn’t an organic foods place but a Walmart. Change was everywhere, in everything. And I made if through. Stubbornly at times, blindly at others, but I did it.

If there’s anything I can say that having three years in has taught me, it’s that nothing will ever be the same. I didn’t really accept and see that until this year. But I also discovered that I can be the one to change my situation, and I can make it the way I want it to be, can make it better for myself.

I can do extraordinary things. I have done extraordinary things. And I will keep doing them, because I am extraordinary.

An Anxious Time of Night

Most of the time I think I have my anxiety problems left over from the accident completely handled. I’m not on any medications any more, for my mental or physical state. I weaned myself off all of them while I was pregnant with Little Grunt. It took a lot of supplementary therapy (we are talking about therapy twice a week for an hour for the better part of a season), and a period of adjustment to deal with the manageable daily pain. But my hard work was rewarded with a child born with minimal exposure to the NSAIDs and narcotics I was taking. And for the most part, the therapies seemed to have worked.

I am stiff in the joints, but getting back into my swimming this fall will help with that. I don’t have any issues with traffic anymore, and very few left while in a vehicle. I have completely beaten my depression with the odd exceptional bad day that pops up now and again. The PTSD is also mostly gone into recession, my only problems now generally related to the unpredictability of crowds and sudden change. But every so often, panic sets in out of the blue, and it all revolves around my precious baby boy.

I am not saying that it’s his fault – far from it, as he’s actually the reason I am doing so well – and the panic that does well up is always irrational and completely out of context. It hits hardest just after I’ve put him back to sleep in the middle of the night, when I’m lying in bed in the dark loneliness and I can’t stop the thoughts. Thoughts of falling down the stairs while carrying him, thoughts of mishaps in the pool when he starts swimming lessons next month, even thoughts of him just not waking up again. They are terrible, awful thoughts and I would not wish them on anyone. But they come, whether I like it or not.

It’s nearly midnight. I just had to go check on him, lay a hand on his belly and listen to him breathe. He’s sound asleep in his crib next door, wrapped safely in his swaddle. And I stood over his crib for a moment so I could share some of his peace. I know I won’t sleep well now tonight, my dreams filled with confusing and painful images.

But I won’t go back on the medications. Not yet. I can do this by myself. It’s a little rocky sometimes, and it’s tiring, but it’s worth it. He is worth every clean moment of it. If I need them, if it gets bad enough that I feel like I need help, then I will seek it. I’m not shy about asking for it, or admitting I could use it. I was warned that there would be an increased risk of me developing postpartum depression because of my issues before, and I make sure to take stock of my well being to check for signs that I may be slipping that way.

In fact, I would be worried about these panic attacks except that they have been happening since long before Grunt was even born. They are the last lingering icy cold fingers of anxiety that grip me from the accident. They are simply taking a new turn with the arrival of my boy, which comforts me somewhat as I lie here staring at the ceiling in the dark. I have bested the ghosts of bulletproof vans and traumatic pain on nights like these not too long ago, and I know that by employing some of my coping tactics I can best this too.

Wrong Way to Do It

All right: it’s time for me to weigh in on a growing social media trend here in Edmonton. You may have heard of it – public shaming of bad parking in local places, particularly of the “he’s clearly over the line! *finger point*” variety. I don’t care one way or the other about the agenda – my husband has submitted photos, and there are some really bad parking jobs out there – but last night one of the founders used his new fame to rant about a parking situation he feels is continuously appalling. Namely, the set curfew for parking along Whyte Ave, one of the busiest pub and nightclub streets in town.

Don’t get me wrong. All this is still fine, if a small abuse of social justice warrior power. My beef is how he chose to go about posting it, and his comparisons and wording choices involved. (Read the tweets in each image bottom first, then top.)20140802-082653-30413927

He starts off with a little public shaming of the police force. Sure, that’s tasteless, and he doesn’t use the actual police force twitter account to tag them, but so far we are just venting about a frustrating situation. And I’d like to point out something about the “jaywalkers hit” comment – the reason parking on Whyte Ave is restricted and not allowed after midnight is precisely for this reason: drunken jaywalkers deciding to cross the street erratically from between parked cars, making it extremely difficult to see them. The reason for the curfew is to make the sight lines of drivers using the avenue less cluttered when the likelihood of said drunken jaywalking will occur.

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Now he makes a bit of an intuitive leap. Apparently emergency vehicles parked in the street on a busy Friday night of a long weekend immediately means someone died. Oh, and there’s the police twitter account popping up now. Better late than never. He does also mention in another post his it’s a really busy night for the police as there is a riot at some concert in town. Truly, this is then the night to go all righteous anger social media warrior on their asses.

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I’d like to point out here that NO ONE EVER DIED FROM AN IMPROPERLY PARKED CAR. Sure, lots of people have died as a result of being idiots around parked cars, but never has the parked car itself caused the event. Having been the victim of a near death experience thanks to careless drivers while I was properly using a lighted intersection to cross a street, I can tell you that all it takes is one inattentive person behind the wheel of a moving vehicle to take a life. An inattentive person with a parked vehicle usually just results in getting tickets for or, at worst, towing of said vehicle.

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And here’s the Mayor’s take on all this. I’m sorry, but I’m with him. This is not the way to gain sympathy for your cause. If you want to make a difference in the parking situation around your place of business, particularly where the situation may adversely affect you and your customers, the proper course of action is to for a group of like-minded concerned business owners in the area, create a petition for your customers all to sign, and head directly to City Hall with petition in hand to personally address the council and plead your case. Even better if it’s a petition to create more parking in the Whyte Ave area rather than redefining the parking situation of the avenue itself. This? This is not the way.

As I also follow the Mayor’s twitter account I can assure you that he gets more than enough tweets regarding parking, potholes, snow clearance and neighbourhood nuisances to make any sane person cringe. A situation like this where civic duty could be actioned with the proper steps taken probably gets his goat. It would certainly get mine. A student frustrated at the amount of homework he’s been given wouldn’t tweet to the teacher and call them out in front of all their other students about how unfair it was, and just expect the teacher to tell him it’s suddenly not due. That’s not how social justice works.

Do your due diligence. If you want change, be the change. Make the time to make it important to you. Do not whine about it on a social media site and expect dramatic results. And don’t ever, EVER diminish the pain and suffering of others to elevate your cause. That’s not doing it right at all. That’s just making yourself look like a complete jerk.