No one is going to kick your butt for you. Unless you pay them to, that is… but still even then, no one will be showing up at your house on a daily basis making sure that instead of sitting in front of your laptop Facebooking you are using your hand weights or taking baby in the stroller for a jog. This you have to do for yourself. It can be hard I know this for a fact. But when the going gets rough, you have to keep up with your daily exercise regimen and healthy eating more than ever to combat the blues and have enough energy to still give your baby the very best even though you are completely drained. The only thing (other than some TLC from your loved ones) that will get you through the rough patches is consistency and a good calorie burn.
(Mia on a morning run with Mommy; she loves to get sips of water from my Camelbak water bottle)
If you have ever had an experience like I’ve been having, you’ll know what I’m talking about. All of a sudden six weeks ago my perfectly scheduled baby started resisting naps and waking up at least once or twice during the night. I figured she was gearing up for her six month growth spurt, or was possibly beginning to teethe. I didn’t pay too much attention, just kept things as consistent as possible with her routine, and ploughed on. About a month ago, things escalated as her naps grew shorter and shorter, and some she refused all together. She began waking during the night, more than once, something she’s rarely ever done.
I’ve always been a fairly good fan of letting the baby cry it out for a bit, but this was getting ridiculous. I tried altering her schedule, tweaking with her feeding times and adding another feeding, but nothing was working. During our trip to Seattle three weeks ago, everything seemed to click as she fell back into her old regular schedule without a single hitch. She was sleeping 10 hours at night, having 2-3 great naps each day, and eating right on schedule. It was amazing.
The DAY we got home everything changed. She was up every hour through the night. I thought at first she had caught a cold of sorts from the airplane and airports, or from one of the many friends or family we spent time with, but the sniffles lasted only a day, and her fussiness continued. We decided she must have an ear infection or her ears didn’t pop on the final decent, but after a trip to the pediatrician assuring us that she was a million percent healthy, I was at a total loss. Going on three weeks practically no sleep, and the last week of almost less then no sleep –she wasn’t napping, and waking up every hour to hour and a half through the night, I was breaking down.
I consulted with my naturopath, I consulted with all my mommy friends, I talked to everyone I could think of who might have an answer. How could this be happening to ME? People used to pay me to get their infants on schedules and sleeping through the night, and here I was feeling more helpless than ever. I had a sneaking suspicion that my little one needed more in her tummy. Although I had determined to wait at least nine months until starting her on solids, I could see this was not going to happen. With the encouragement of a dear friend and Babywise II in my hands, I carved through the next two days with what felt like a plastic spork and a prayer.
First and foremost I started Mia on cereal, because that is what we’re told to do: http://tastybaby.com/api/Index.cfm/products.details/i/5395/o/ I have my own theories on not starting babies on cereal first, but I was too tired to review my research and get a strategy together that I thought I wasn’t going to have to implement for another couple of months.
She took to the cereal immediately and even her next nap after receiving the cereal was better. She slept only waking three times that night, had two great naps the following day, and woke only two times the following night. The next day, three great naps, and a super happy baby! I have many theories on baby’s first food… and I am not going to get into any debates about cereal first and/or what most pediatricians say… I’ve been doing my own research for a while, and let’s just say Mia is just loving butternut squash and avocados and I am now “okay” with not waiting any longer to give her food. She is a very busy, active, alert and strong baby. Her needs are obviously growing, and I am going to follow my intuition on what she needs. More on that later ;)
Here is a great site about homemade baby food however… I can’t wait to start making Mia some really tasty meals in a few weeks!
The hardest part was realizing I was at the point where I have to let her cry it out, during naps and at night. She was exhausted. I had a fatigued baby, not just a tired baby. This required me helping her sleep in any capacity I could. I loved the advice I got from Pick Nick’s Brain: Mastering Naps & Schedules on www.thebabysleepsite.com.I have been using her advice and ebook for a while, and always recommend this information to my clients, but everything suddenly became very clear when I washed away the past, and started from scratch with Mia three days ago. The change isn’t in full effect yet, but I can see it coming. Between that and what I am recalling from my days as a Nighttime Baby Nurse and Sleep Consultant, everything is starting to click. Just because I had all that experience didn’t make everything go easy, as you are reading. It is difficult! And when you are “in the trenches” not getting sleep and still having to function through 16 hour days, the pain is very real.
During this super rough time, it is crucial that you take care of yourself. You must get in some form of exercise every single day, even if you have no energy, can hardly keep your eyes open, feel like dying, etc. Even if all you do is a 30 minute walk with baby in the stroller… get your exercise. Keep your blood flowing, your serotonin as high as possible, and a positive body image while you feel so depleted. Make sure you are taking your prenatals, and giving yourself optimum nutrition. During this time eating is going to be on a practically prescription basis. Exhaustion requires energy-giving foods, and a balance of cooked and raw foods. Complex carbohydrates to get you through the day, zero simple sugars, caffeine and starches, and stay hydrated. It was very hard for me to muster the daily energy to keep up with my yoga, weights and running… but afterwards, it was the high that got me through the hours of the day and sleepless nights, and it will get you through too. Once you are taking care of yourselfyou’re your needs, you will be able to think clearer to meet your baby’s needs and figure out what needs to change. Remember… When the going gets rough, GET GOING!!!