Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sleep Training: More Progress

Since my last post, C & I have continued with the "console and retreat" method, and we'd settled into a routine of sorts. S goes down for the night between 7:30 & 8:00, generally without incident. He wakes up at 12:30 or thereabouts, and after about 20 minutes, he puts himself back to sleep. He then wakes up at 4:30 or 5:00 to nurse and goes back to sleep until 7:00 or so. If he sleeps much past 7:00, one of us wakes him up by 7:30 to keep him on a schedule. It isn't an ideal schedule by any stretch, but it is much better than the 3 or 4 times he was waking up, and now, he will go back to sleep without nursing. I choose to nurse him when he wakes up the second time because by then he's gone almost 9 hours without nursing.

Last night he slept from 8:00 until 5:39 without waking up!!!! When he woke up, he didn't cry; he called "mamamamamama," which is as close to "Mama" as he has gotten. He nursed for 20 minutes and went back to sleep until 7:15. I, of course, woke up at 3:00 in a complete panic and lied in bed for 10 minutes trying to hear him breathe on the monitor! I really wanted to go into his room to check on him, but I didn't. I haven't felt this rested in a long time!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mothers and Mothers-in-law

I have a fairly problematic relationship with my mother (but who doesn't, right?), which, in the past, I've discussed with my mother-in-law. My mother recently did something incredibly stupid and very unhealthy, which I'm still angry about (it is one of the few things I'm not comfortable blogging about, so forgive me if I don't go into a lot of detail). C briefly mentioned this to his mother as my mother's actions resulted in me asking her to delay a visit to see us. My mother-in-law, with whom I also have a problematic relationship, promptly called me to let me know she was there if I needed her. While I appreciate the sentiment, I no longer talk about my parents with C's mom--under any circumstances. It is simply too complicated and, quite frankly, comes back to bite me in the ass more often than not. I thanked her and changed the subject. A few days after that she lamented to C that she doesn't understand me, my relationship with my mother, or what I want from her (C's mom). C relayed this to me only because he was as flabbergasted as I was. She implied (and confirmed the implication when C questioned her) that because I have a difficult relationship with my mother that I should just see her as a replacement. I have no idea what to make of that or where she would get that idea from. I love my mother-in-law, but she isn't my mother. I don't want her to be my mother, nor do I, in spite of my problems with my own mother, want her to start thinking of herself as my mother. She's said things like this in the past about my sister-in-law--"J's mother is so terrible; I don't understand why she doesn't let me and our family do more for her. . ." Can she really expect her sons' wives to favor her over our own mothers?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mothering an adult

I've been thinking a lot about the kind of mother I want to be to an adult child, and while I have a long way to go before S is an adult, I'm going to write a series of posts on this topic. I have various issues with my own mother (as well as my mother-in-law), and I want to avoid these issues if at all when S is an adult. I've been contemplating writing a list of things not to do when S is an adult, and that list would include:

  • Do not be passive-aggressive; tell adult S how I feel directly.
  • Do not expect adult S to parent me.
  • Do not force adult S to be "my best friend."
  • Do not make adult S feel guilty for living his own life.
  • Take pride in the fact that adult S is happy and well-adjusted (I am, of course, assuming he will be).
  • Do not expect adult S to put me before his own family.
  • Do not expect adult S's life-partner (assuming he has a life-partner) to put me before his/her own family.
  • Learn to like S's life-partner's family and get along with them to the best of my ability.
  • If unable to do above, do not bad mouth S's life-partner's family to S.
  • Offer help and advice to adult S, but do not be offended if he chooses not to take my help or advice.
  • Do not ask S what his plans for holidays are some 6 months prior to those holidays.
  • Above all, do be loving, kind, thoughtful, and supportive of adult S. Remember, adults often need their parents too.
I think that is a good start, and I may periodically add to it. I want to be the sort of parent that an adult enjoys being around. I want to have an open, pleasant, truthful relationship with my son, no matter what his age is. I definitely do not want to put him in the position of defending me or explaining my hurtful actions to someone he really loves.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Announcing Dr. C!

C successfully defended his dissertation! He now has to make some minor editing changes and file it! HOORAY!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Drive-by mastectomies

Academama brought this issue to my attention, so following suit, I thought I'd pass along the information. Several relatives of mine have survived breast cancer, and I can't imagine them being forced to undergo a mastectomy on an out-patient basis. Please take a minute to sign the petition against this bill.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I need a . . .

vacation. So I'm taking a virtual vacation. If I could be anywhere in the world today, I would be here, walking through one of my favorite parks in my favorite city in the world with C & S. Then we'd go here, so we could look at The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait by Jan Van Eyck, which is one of my favorite paintings. Well, at least I can dream about taking a London vacation.

Monday, July 16, 2007

One step closer

C leaves tomorrow for his defense, so we're one step closer to being a family with one doctorate rather than a family with two dissertations.

I'm actually glad it's Monday. . .

After a horrible weekend, I'm actually glad it's Monday. C came home Friday night, after a much needed night out with "the guys," to discover our cat Minnie was having trouble breathing. After waking me up to consult and making a few frantic phone calls, he took her to the university's vet school, which has emergency hours. On Saturday morning, we spoke with the vet who was treating her; the news was not good. Our sweet little girl has advanced heart disease, and while it is treatable, she isn't expected to live more than a year. She is only 2 1/2 years old. We're both devastated.

We adopted her long before we decided to have children, so in some ways, we think of her as our oldest child. She also has a genetic deformity in her front legs called "curvus radius," which makes her look like a bulldog. She has had a hard time walking since she was full grown, but she has always been an active, lovable cat. Truth be told, she hasn't responded well to S because she prefers to initiate playtime rather than to have an 8-month-old crawl after her, but she still sought C and I out for lots of attention. I feel confident that she will receive the best possible care with this vet (and I feel incredibly lucky to attend this university--we have access to some of the best veterinary care in the country), but I'm heartbroken. We both spent most of Saturday evening in a daze, and when we brought her home yesterday, we both kept checking on her incessantly. C even got up several times in the night to check on her.

On top of this, C leaves tomorrow for his dissertation defense, and his advisor has already told him he should expect to make substantial editorial changes (have I ever mentioned how much I hate this woman?). I have to handle teaching, taking care of S, and getting Minnie back to the vet on Thursday for a recheck. When I called to make her appointment with the cardiologist this morning, I was told that I was being worked in, so I should expect to be there all day long. The appointment time is in the morning, about an hour before I go and nurse S at school, so I have no idea what I'm going to do about that. I don't feel comfortable asking someone to take Minnie to the vet for me, but I don't want S to miss the nursing session either, as I'm afraid that may throw his entire day off. I've decided to cancel my class, so that is one less thing I have to worry about. I really just want to rewind and make Minnie better.

I know there are people who will disagree with me and those out there (my mother among them) who will question going this far for "an animal," but she is so much more than a pet to us. We refer to her and our other cat as S's "older sisters,." A bit weird, I know, but we constantly tell him to "play nice" with his sisters. I do think of these two girls as my babies. We adopted her at a time when we were both beginning to think about having children, and shortly after we got her, my biological clock went into overdrive. She became the baby we didn't have yet, and when we adopted a second cat, we felt like a family. I was antsy all day Saturday because I knew she was in a strange place being poked and prodded; we went to see her for a few minutes, and I felt horrible leaving her. I wanted to be with her, much like I would want to be with S if he was in the hospital. I just wish I could make her better.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sleep Training: Progress

After a rough few weeks, which included an ear infection, a sinus infection, a stomach bug, and a trip to my grandparents, S's sleep was becoming difficult to deal with. On a good night, he would wake up 3 times, and wouldn't go back to sleep unless he nursed--largely because I wasn't willing to let him cry it out for more than 20 minutes. Then one night last week after he had nursed for over an hour and a half, C picked took S from me, walked downstairs, and a battle of wills ensued. I actually slept, although C and S slept downstairs. C and I had a long heart to heart the next day, and we both began doing some research on sleep training, since nothing we'd tried previously seemed to work (although now I would argue it didn't work for us, rather than it didn't work for S). I discovered the "console and retreat method." With this method, the parent puts the baby down drowsy yet awake (which I have to say is virtually impossible with my kid because as soon as he settles in for his final nursing session he is out, but he does wake up almost as soon as I put him in his crib), stays with the child for 5 minutes (if the child wakes up) and soothes without picking the child up, then the parent leaves for 5 minutes. If the baby isn't asleep in 5 minutes, the parent returns for another 5 minutes, and then leaves for 10. Each time the parent leaves s/he stays out for 5 minutes longer. The theory is that the baby will eventually realize that he isn't going to be picked up, and he will decide to go to sleep on his own.

C and I talked it over, and we felt like this was a method we could live with, although I wasn't sure I could go as long as 45 minutes of hearing S cry. I was, of course, imagining the worst possible scenario. So we put this plan into action on Monday night. I nursed as usual and when S was asleep, I took him upstairs and put him in his crib. He immediately woke up and cried. I stayed with him for 5 minutes, and he didn't cry as long as I was there. But at the end of the 5 minutes, he was still awake, so I walked out of his room and closed the door. He cried the entire 5 minutes; then C went in for his 5 minutes. S calmed down, but still cried and wouldn't sleep. C left, and we both braced ourselves for a long evening. Amazingly, S went silent after 7 minutes. We looked at each other without saying anything. I simply couldn't believe it! I waited 5 minutes, and then I slowly opened the door to S's room and crawled (literally on my hands and knees) far enough into the room to make sure he was ok. He was sound asleep, and he slept for 5 hours. He woke up twice that night, nursed for about 5 minutes each time, and then went right back to sleep in his crib. Last night was the best! He slept from 7:30 until 12:30, then C went in and soothed him for 5 minutes, after crying for 3 minutes he went back to sleep. He woke up at 4:15, and I nursed him for about 20 minutes. He was sound asleep when I put him back into his crib. I had to wake him up at 7 to get him ready for our day. He went without nursing from 7:30 until 4, which is the longest he's ever gone! I'm so proud of our entire family. With a little persistence and consistency, I think he may be sleeping from 7:30 until 4 or 5 without waking up to nurse, which is a schedule I can live with!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Being a feminist mother

"Personally, becoming a mother has enabled me to be much more clear and efficient about what I want and who I want to be. And that feels feminist to me, because it empowers me. I'm not as wishy washy as I used to be. I don't fake things as much. I'm more aware of the realities of what can hurt me in some ways, because I'm painfully aware now of the things that can hurt my daughter, but at the same time, I'm less willing to waste my time or energy or let someone walk over me just to avoid a conflict. My mothering has taught me to see myself as the same sort of precious entity that I see in my daughter. So it has helped me achieve the kind of self-respect and love for myself and others that feminism, no matter how you define it, should be aiming to bring to all women."

I'm still not certain I can articulate why I am a feminist and, therefore, why I am a feminist mother. WWWmama posted the above comment on my previous post on feminism, and I trust that she'll forgive me for reposting it. I am reposting it because wwwmama artfully expressed a lot of the feelings I have about being a feminist, a mother, and a feminist mother. I too feel less passive, less willing to put up with crap than I was before I became a mother (not that I've ever had a high tolerance for crap). I simply don't have the time to waste energy beating around the bush. I've always been direct, but I've become more so now that I'm a mother. Now that I have a child, I don't want to waste time figuring things out; I'd much rather know what is going on, which I too find empowering. I'm not as afraid to ask questions or as willing to let things unfold. I want to avoid passing on my less than wonderful qualities to my son, so I've tried to become more aware of myself. I also want him to be an empathetic and sympathetic human being, so I'm trying to be more empathetic and sympathetic myself. I think awareness, especially self-awareness, is empowering. I hope S will develop a similar level of self-awareness, and that like his father, he too will call himself a feminist one day.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I just had to . . .

put up the link to "Got what it takes to be a condom tester?" I'm sure I could offer a fairly insightful commentary on this article, but frankly, I just found it plain funny.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What does it mean to be a feminist?

Further, what does it mean to be a feminist and a mother? I want to pose these questions to those of you who read my humble blog because it is a question I have been contemplating myself.

I've recently heard feminism described as a term with "a lot of baggage," and I'm not altogether certain what that means. I proudly proclaim myself to be a feminist, and I've been called upon to explain why I consider myself a feminist more times than I can count. I haven't completely formulated what I want to say about feminism, myself, space, and motherhood, so I think this will turn into a series of posts. I do want to say, however, that I don't think feminism and motherhood are incompatible. I wouldn't have even considered that notion if someone hadn't posed that issue to me. For me, being a feminist unconsciously informs most decisions I make, including many of the ones I make regarding my son. I think being a feminist or not being a feminist is very similar to the idea of competitive mothering I wrote about a few weeks ago. As women, we feel compelled to defend our choices, and a lot of that defense takes the form of judging other people's choices. Isn't the purpose of feminism to give women (and by extension men) choices?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Countdown to defense

C leaves in two weeks to defend his dissertation! HOORAY!!!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

No more traveling

S and I have returned from our visit to my grandparents. The entire family, including my mom, dad, and brother, was there, and it was wonderful to see everyone. S was a dream on the plane, but I added it up. My little boy has been on 6 plane trips since he was born. We're done traveling for a while.