My Two Year Old Was An Easy Baby And Is Now Slowly Trying To Kill Me

My toddler was the best baby. He started sleeping 6-8 hour stretches at around 4 weeks old. He hardly ever fussed. I took him everywhere and he adapted to everything and was always happy to be out and see new faces and things. He was always the only happy baby at every mommy lunch we attended. I hardly ever needed to take him out of the carseat or stroller to hold or console him. He barely fussed on long road trips. You get the picture.

I’ve already written here about the wild transition we had into the toddler bed and out of napping.

That’s sort of settled down. He almost never naps at all now, but still goes upstairs for naptime.I guess I could write about this in more detail one of these days, but I put together a few “quiet boxes” of things like puzzles and books and Mega Bloks and he looks forward to Quiet Box time and will stay up there for a full naptime. Most of the time. So, that’s good.

But lately, every other waking hour of the day he is trying to slowly kill me.

He’s been challenging me, fighting me on EVERYYYYTHIIINNNG. And it makes me furious, because we have routines. I am a creature of habit and I like our routine. I feel like I’ve been trying to do everything right and yet it somehow must all be wrong, because he is driving me insane.

I google for advice with this stuff. I look at all the Baby Center forums, all the random pages. I worship “Toddler 411.”

They say: toddlers like to know what to expect, so have routines. They need structure, so warn them when you’re about the leave the playground. Give them a count down. So they know what to expect.

You’d think he’d know by now that when it’s bedtime we change from our outfit into some fucking pajamas. But, nope. Not last night. Last night it was a huge surprise. A terrible inconvenience, really. Despite telling him 57 times “It’s almost bedtime, buddy. Almost time to brush our teeth, change your diaper, put on jammies and go to bed!” the boy had a meltdown. Over putting on pajamas.

They say: toddlers want autonomy so try to give them choices.

I say: “you can wear your truck jammies or your blue stripes.” He grabs both pairs out of my hands and throws them. I open the drawer and tell him: “Fine. Chose some jammies. Go ahead.” He throws himself on the ground and screams “NOOOOO JAMMIES! WANT STRIPE SHIRT!” (the non-pajama shirt he’d been wearing).

Then, this morning. Nonstop. Asking for things we normally don’t do. For breakfast he usually has something starchy (waffle, oatmeal, toast) and fruit. Today he scarfed down his oatmeal, yelled “NO!” about the fruit and then demanded Cheerios and milk. My biggest rules about food are that he has to try things and that he can’t have the same thing all the time. So if he had oatmeal for breakfast, he can’t have it for lunch. If he had apple in the morning, he can have a different fruit. Not too complicated. But not this morning.

Then, there’s clothes. We’ve always changed into “comfy pants” (sweatpants or leggings) for naptime, and worn jeans or cords or chinos if we’re going to school or the park, but lately he’s obsessed with comfy pants. All day long. Want comfy pants. Want different comfy pants. Take off comfy pants. Put on comfy pants.

We had plans to go to a bounce house place this morning, so I thought he’d be excited to have a comfy pants day. Nope.

They say toddler might just be looking for extra love and attention. They say to get down on their level so you’re not talking down to them. So I get down on his level. I hold him. I kiss him. I tell him it’s ok, that I love him and he’s a sweet boy and it’s going to be ok, but we need to put on pants if we’re going out.


They say give clear consequences or try bribing. They say try distracting them in a fun way. (I’ve noticed his teacher does this a lot).

I tell him if he wants to go play bounce, he has to put on pants and shirt. We struggle some more. Somewhere in the middle of giving clear consequence warnings and playfully picking him up and tickling him up, I get the outfit on him and he doesn’t take the fucking pants off.

I get the baby changed and into the carseat and give him a paci. He’s due for a nap, which is pretty hard with all this insanity. I pee and put some fucking lipstick on and say “OK, let’s go to the front door and put your sneakers on”

Toddler comes to the front door wearing a man’s baseball cap from his dress-up box and immediately grabs his boots instead of his sneakers. I try to let the boots slide, but I want to keep dress-up clothes at home and suggest he wear his own little baseball cap. Another fight.

Then he wants his coat. It’s in the 60’s today and he won’t need it. Another fight. I let him wear the fucking coat.

Then I turn the alarm on and gather everything and open the door and he refuses to move and laughs at me.

I mean, really? My head is roaring: “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?” (My inner monologue for boy formerly known as the Best Baby Ever is now “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?”)

I warn him. I say if you want to go play bounce, we have to leave now… Crickets.

He’s lying on the floor. I say if you want to go to naptime, we can do that now.


The alarm goes off because the door has been sitting open. I reset it and pick the boy up like a football, carry his 29 lbs upstairs and throw him in his room and slam the door shut.

Then I call my husband and yell for a little bit while toddler is upstairs screaming and banging on everything.

We’re running late. He’s a little over 2 1/2 years old. I’m 37 going on 107. If he continues freaking out, do we stay at home? Will he understand that consequence in a way that will help him learn to deal with his emotions and impulses? (I yell all this at my husband on the phone.)

After listening to the boy scream “Mommy! Mommy Mommy!” for a few minutes, I decide to check on him and if he shows some contrition, we will go. Also, we have plans to meet a new friend at the bounce place and I don’t like being the asshole who cancels at the last minute. And I don’t want to be in my house anymore.

I go upstairs and ask if he’s ready to behave. He’s a mess, sobbing, snot everywhere. He holds his arms up and sobs “Mommy carry you? Go downstairs?”

We go to the fucking bounce place and it’s ok. Now naptime is almost over (despite climbing and running and bouncing and going down slides like a maniac for almost 2 hours, the boy is of course WIDE AWAKE upstairs). And I feel like I’ve been beaten with sticks.

I need a break. I need help. I need for this nonsense to stop. When is my son going to stop acting like such an asshole?


“Every Pregnancy Is Different” (something people tell you that is horrifyingly true)

I started this draft way back in March and didn’t manage to finish it largely due to chaos during my quiet time. I looked at it again after finally giving birth in May and decided to try to get it done and post it to commemorate all the disgusting and mortifying details of my pregnancies so that my boys can read it someday and learn to be extra nice to the possible mothers/birth mothers/surrogates of my future grandchildren.

This was me in March:

I’m trying to get this all out so I can stop grossing out all the well-meaning people who politely ask how I’m feeling. Though I usually manage to sheepishly answer “I’m ok, thanks,” any lull in conversation inevitably ends in me awkwardly detailing all of the body parts I’ve been scratching at 3:30 each morning.

So, I’ll try to get this off my chest.

I’m 25 weeks with my second and fuck yeah, this pregnancy is different.

With my first pregnancy I felt mildly hung over for the first trimester, but experienced no major nausea or vomiting. I had very painful heartburn because I had been taking 3 kinds of reflux medications and I stopped them all cold turkey, but that was it for the first trimester.

The second trimester I had a lot of sciatic pain and needed to wear a support belt if I was going to be walking even a short distance.

The entire third trimester I had pelvic bone pain and had to sleep with a full body pillow for comfort.

And leg cramps. I think they started around 5 months, when I woke up screaming from a charley horse so bad I was limping for days. I spent a lot of time trying to stretch out my calves before bed.

My bladder was in a constant state of engorged confusion for almost the entire pregnancy. From about 14 weeks on, I would pee, then get up and pull my pants up, then sit right back down because I had to pee again. Every time we left the house, my husband would wait by the door (so stoic, so resigned), while I peed, put lipstick on, peed again, put my shoes on, peed, put a pack of gum in my purse, and peed again. Every time we drove anywhere I would suddenly feel like I needed to pee right away and then the baby would shift position and the feeling would pass. And of course I had to go about every 2 hours in the middle of the night, which was extra special toward the end because I had to unwrap the body pillow from around myself, climb out of bed, do the “am I done? wait a minute, not quite” routine, then climb back into bed and get the body pillow repositioned properly. After giving birth for the first time I was in excruciating pain from an unmedicated episiotomy and stitches (I had to scream at them to finally give me a local, 30 minutes into the 45 minutes of stitches), but the feeling of fully emptying my bladder for the first time in nearly 9 months was glorious.

Despite all this discomfort during my first pregnancy, my skin, (other than some itching somewhere toward the end of the second trimester), was fabulous. Glowing and clear, with zero pimples or blemishes.

For pregnancy #2, I had pimples and red blotches on my face the entire time. Red flaky patches on my face that responded to nothing; not argan oil, not coconut oil, not anything I tried or bought at Sephora. And so much itching. At one point in February I bought 5 different types of anti-itch lotions and ointments to try. (The cashier at CVS looked like she was about to abandon her post for a full-blown Silkwood Shower after I left.) I woke up at 3am and 5am each morning not just to pee but to scratch myself and apply powders and ointments.

My only major first trimester symptoms for pregnancy#2 were total exhaustion (which continued), and looking undeniably pregnant at an absurdly early date. I was wearing maternity pants at 4 weeks along.

At week 13 the fatigue lifted and I felt like I was 50 lbs lighter, not pregnant,
20 years younger and almost athletic. This feeling lasted exactly 7 days.

Then the constant fatigue returned, along with a new treat: occasional odor-triggered morning sickness for about 6-8 weeks.

Me: I’ve been nauseated in the mornings but it only started at 14 weeks.
My doctor: Really? That should be done by now. That’s unusual.
Me: Yes, that’s why I’m telling you.

And I had 2 big upper-respiratory infections that caused such persistent coughing that I ended up on antibiotics. But with my first pregnancy I barely ever took a Tylenol.

So there you go, boys! I love you!

(It occurs to me that this would all make a great Venn diagram. That would be a really fun math project for my sons to do when they are older. Rainy day project!)


Birth Story #2

I always think birth stories are fun (here’s the first one), so here we go.

Second pregnancy, second time with gestational diabetes. All sonos and bloodwork had been fine. Every single sonogram tech said the baby was very, very active. “Stop playing soccer, Baby!” “This one’s WILD, Mom.” After the diabetes diagnosis I was monitored closely by the high risk doctors, going twice a week for sonos and NSTs. Through the end of my first pregnancy I had managed the diabetes with diet only. This time, I was put on medication after a few weeks and the dosage was increased a few times.

At 35 weeks, one of the doctors sent me over to the hospital for more extensive fetal heart rate monitoring because they had seen two decelerations.

I stayed on the monitor for hours and hours and hours, draining the battery on my phone and watching a “Sex and the City” marathon. They wouldn’t let me eat in case they needed to do an emergency C-section. The phone in the room only worked for local area codes and I had to borrow a nurse’s phone to tell my husband to leave work early enough to pick up the 2 year old. They finally had a nurse hold the monitor in place and we got a continuous tracing for 20 minutes. She said he was a very happy baby and had a happy heart rate. They sent me home. That was a Monday.

The next day I saw my regular OB and had a cervix check:  long and closed. Concerned about having another excruciating induction, I asked her what dosage of Evening Primrose Oil I should try to start softening the cervix. She said there was no proof that stuff worked and that I shouldn’t try anything to encourage labor to start because the baby would definitely be in the NICU if he came before at least 37 weeks.

Two days later I had my Thursday appointment at the high risk place. Everything looked fine but the baby was breech. I worried all weekend about that, (scaring myself with Google: DID YOU KNOW THAT IF BABY IS BREECH BY 36 WEEKS IT IS VERY UNLIKELY HE’LL TURN AND THAT THING THEY DO TO TURN HIM CAN KILL EVERYBODY?). I tried to crawl around on my hands and knees a lot, cleaning up my 2 year old’s crayons and MegaBloks and spot-cleaning my floors with baby wipes.

The following Monday at the high risk office I was 36 weeks and though the baby was head-down again (YES), they saw some more problems: the fluid was on the low side of normal, there were some issues with the blood flow through the placenta, and the baby’s growth rate had dropped from 44th percentile to 19th percentile. They were measuring 5 lbs 4 oz when he was supposed to be around 6 lbs. In my experience (and from everything I’ve heard from lots of people who’ve given birth), they usually overestimate fetal measurements, so I knew that meant the baby was likely not even 5 lbs at all.

They sent me right over to the hospital for extra monitoring again and said I might have to have the baby that day. I waited in the hallway outside labor and delivery, shaking and crying, frantically texting my husband, and went to find a seat. It was busy; there were lots of happy families with balloons, waiting to hear their good news and not offering me a seat. I sat down a few seats away from a grandmother-to-be, who turned to me and snapped “Someone is sitting there.” I replied, shaking and crying, “Well, now I am.” I was called right up to the desk by the very kind lady doing admissions who remembered me from the week before. While I signed a few forms and moved to the admissions door I heard the grandmother-to-be loudly complain about my rudeness, saying I shouldn’t be allowed to have a baby, that I’d be a terrible mother and she felt bad for my kids.

I was hooked up to the monitor again for the rest of the afternoon. They also wanted a sono to check the fluid and blood flow. My husband got ready to leave work early to pick up our 2 year old. He warned our baby-sitter and a good friend that we might need them soon to tag-team babysit. After another afternoon of monitoring, they said I could go home but would have to come back the next day. They didn’t see the same issues with the fluid and blood flow that they’d seen in the office.

Sometime during all this, daycare called to say they thought our 2 year old had pinkeye.

Tuesday morning we all piled into the car with my hospital bag and my husband dropped me off at the hospital before taking the 2 year old to the doctor to be checked for pink eye. It was allergies. My husband dropped him off at daycare, then went to get him Children’s Claritin and eye drops, then groceries, then to get copies of our house keys made. I got hooked up to the monitor again.

I started being monitored at around 9:30a.m. By around 4:00pm they advised me that it would be best to get the baby out right away and we called my OB to discuss the induction plan. We decided to start with Cervidil for a gentle start.* I had very low expectations, but I knew I wanted to avoid Pitocin (or at least get an epidural BEFORE the onslaught of Pitocin contractions). I really wanted to avoid a C-section. I’ve had a lot of people tell me their C-section recoveries weren’t that bad, but I didn’t want to take the chance.

Before they started the induction they did another sono to make sure baby’s head was still down and they did a test to make sure my water hadn’t already broken. I hadn’t had that one done before, and I asked the young woman doing it is it was anything like getting your membranes stripped and she assured me that it was very painless.** She was right. (They take a swab and check for fern-like patterns under a microscope. This was the fun science lesson portion of my birthing experience!)

There was no sign of leaked amniotic fluid, so they inserted the Cervidil at around 5:00pm and my husband and I hung out, watched TV and played with our phones/iPad. By 7:30pm I was definitely having contractions. By 9:30pm they were getting pretty strong, but they said the baby wasn’t reacting well. They removed the Cervidil and I was relieved to feel the the contractions continue. They got more and more intense but they were still pretty short. I wasn’t dealing with them very well, though, and I asked for an epidural. My cervix hadn’t ripened very much, so they said they wanted to start me on Pitocin to try to move things along more. They moved me to a delivery room and I got my epidural, then they started a Pitocin line. One of my favorite episodes of “30 Rock” was on TV while I got my epidural. I totally forget which one, but I was very pleased about the whole thing. This was by around 11:00pm. The epidural started off great. I was completely and totally numb. After awhile I started to get itchy all over and my catheter bothered me, so I didn’t get much rest. The nurses kept coming in to reposition me and adjust the monitor because they said the baby wasn’t happy.

Luckily the epidural and Pitocin worked and things progressed pretty quickly. I quickly dilated to 5cm. The doctor came in to break my water and said she was very happy with the way it was going and that I wasn’t going to need a section. Very soon I was dilated to  8cm. My main nurse started getting everything out and ready for the delivery. So many packages of things ripped open and spread out on the table in front of my bed. The epidural and itching had worn off quite a bit and by 5:00am I was begging to push. Baby #2 came out after only 2 pushes at 5:08am. He screamed before he was even fully out, so we were very relieved about his lungs, but this recounts what happened next.

Compared to the terror of my first birth, I was actually very pleased with this experience. I wanted to avoid a C-section. I wanted to experience “real” contractions (i.e. not Pitocin contractions), and to avoid an episiotomy or tearing. I got all of that and I got a very sweet new baby.

*Cervidil doesn’t appear to have a slogan, but I think “Cervidil: For a gentle start” is a perfectly sound option. Even better: “Cervidil: Ripening cervixes artificially since 1995.”

**I had my membranes stripped at my doctor’s office two days before my last induction and it was so painful I considered posting a Facebook status: “Stripping the membranes: not as fun as it sounds,” but decided that was perhaps a bit too disgusting. Two years later, I still think that’s funny, so here we are.


Latch Issues, Etc. But Also: I Really Hate Lactating

Long story: I had my new baby a little early. I will probably write up a birth story one of these days, but the gist of it is that the high risk doctors monitoring me (gestational diabetes) saw some issues, so I was induced at 36 weeks. Then, New Baby was in the NICU for 9 days with hypoglycemia.

I wrote two years ago about my nightmare experience trying to breastfeed my first son.

Throughout my second pregnancy I thought that I would try to do it with this baby, but I gave myself permission to give up if it didn’t work out. My 2 year old drank formula for 11 months and he’s fine. He’s very bright and he’s hardly ever sick. We know lots of kids from playgroup- some exclusively breastfed, some not. Everybody is FINE. Don’t get me started about the breastfeeding vs. formula debate. Both my kids are growing up in an educated household (three masters degrees between us), in an affluent suburb of a cosmopolitan city. Everybody is FINE.

The main thing I wanted was to have the opportunity to hold my new baby and nurse him right away. I wanted that moment. If he was a pretty good latcher from the beginning, I would try. If not, I decided I wouldn’t bother and that was OK.

Well, New Baby was born with a very low sugar level of 36. Normal glucose is 60-120. But this time, they gave him right to me to nurse and I had that moment. He didn’t latch great, but he tried: we had our moment and it was lovely. Then they tested his glucose again and despite the nursing, it had dropped to the dangerously low level of 19. He was immediately given a bottle of formula and rushed off to the NICU.

When you have a late-term preemie in the NICU for hypoglycemia, you pretty much no longer have a choice about breastfeeding. Everything I read about his condition said breastmilk was the best treatment. I wasn’t on any medication that interfered with nursing and thus had no acceptable reasons not to do it. I had been ready to abandon the pressure, but now the pressure was on. I was forced to share a hospital room with a very nice lady whose baby was healthy and in the room with us. The NICU nurses asked me if I planned to pump all night. I said no, then sat on my bed with the privacy curtain pulled all the way around me and tried to cry as quietly as possible as I pumped for 40 minutes at a time and got almost nothing out of me.

Finally, one of the NICU nurses let me pump right there in the NICU next to my son’s isolette while she fed him a bottle. We chatted about our toddlers and the colostrum finally started flowing out of me. My milk came in shortly afterward and I’ve been fighting off engorgement and plugged ducts non-stop ever since.

I barely tried nursing him while he was in the NICU. Forcing him seemed pretty abusive and counterintuitive to me. He was tiny and had low blood sugar. He tired easily and needed to eat. I wasn’t about to force him to get his food the hard way. I figured I would keep pumping as long as I could stand it and then consult with a lactation consultant in a little while. I fed him bottles of my milk and snuggled him and let him get the rest he needed to grow.

I settled into a routine of pumping and driving to the hospital to feed him until he finally came home and things got complicated.

It’s very difficult and painful to maintain a strict pumping schedule while also trying to be an active member of your family that now includes a newborn and a 2 year old. I couldn’t sleep when the baby slept because I would always have to pump. My husband would start to do the dishes and I would frantically remind him that I needed him to be available for when I pumped because as soon as I hooked myself up to the machine, the newborn would fuss or the 2 year old would wander out of the living room into the kitchen and start yelling for crackers from the locked cabinet.

Every time we wanted to go for a walk, everything we wanted to do: we had to plan around pumping. And even with all the planning, I was always full and uncomfortable.

I had a consultation with a lactation consultant who weighed New Baby before and after he nursed to see what he was able to remove form the breast. After an exhausting hour of latching and re-latching and waking him and burping and re-positioning, New Baby had gotten about an ounce out of me. One lousy ounce. And this is with a nipple shield, too, which I didn’t want to use to begin with because I had hated it so much the first time. She said New Baby might have a tongue tie and I consulted with a pediatric ENT to see about getting him a frenulectomy. The procedure hadn’t helped with my first, but I was willing to give it a try. Of course, the doctor said his tongue tie was so mild that doing the procedure probably wouldn’t make a difference and I should probably just wait until he matured and grew more. Then, maybe, just maybe he would magically be a good latcher.

I halfheartedly tried to nurse him at home, but it sent a mixed message to my body and made me even more engorged.

I realized that I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to nurse, I don’t want to pump, Two years ago I agonized over my decision to quit nursing my first son and two weeks ago I did it again. And I finally realized that I just plain hate lactating and don’t want to do it anymore. If I enjoy doing something, I do it. I find a way to do it as much as I can. I don’t enjoy nursing. I know plenty of women for whom nursing is a deeply pleasurable and meaningful activity. For me it is frustrating and uncomfortable. Yes, I’m still a little sad. I’m sad I won’t experience the ease of being able to feed my child whenever and wherever. I’m sad I’ll have to spend another fortune on formula and that I’ll always have to remember to pack some formula with me wherever I go. But I already pack snacks and toys and diapers with me wherever I go, so I’m used to it.

Now for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to slowly wean from the pump and every moment is still excruciating. I’m trying to do everything the Internet suggests (wait longer and longer between pump sessions, pump for fewer and fewer minutes, put cabbage leaves in your bra, use ice compresses, avoid hot showers), and I’m definitely pumping less, but I’m constantly uncomfortable and furious about the whole thing. I want my body to belong to me again and I refuse to feel guilty anymore. I want to be able to feed my baby a bottle and then snuggle him as much as I want without my chest hurting and without having to put him down so I can pump. I want to enjoy nice bras again and to wrestle with my two year old without hurting and to sleep when the baby sleeps. I want to try wearing New Baby in a sling or a wrap without my chest hurting. I want a Jack and Coke on the rocks. I want to sprawl face-down on my bed. I want to stand under a hot shower and not have to turn my torso away form the water. I’m tired of hurting. My breasts have hurt for a month straight.

The baby is gaining weight and doing well. He cries when he’s hungry and tired and was a perfect angel at two doctor’s appointments today. The top shelf of my freezer contains nothing but breastmilk and I plan to ration it out slowly so he’ll still have been given about 2 months of breastmilk, even if the second month was mixed with formula. Last night, New Baby gave us two delicious 4-hour stretches of sleep between feedings.

Three weeks ago I pumped 30 ounces. Yesterday I pumped 12. I’m almost there.

More Thoughts on Transitioning to a Toddler Bed (Update)

Shortly after I wrote the previous post, my boy came down with some sort of mild stomach/fever virus. He was sort of like himself, but exhausted, with little appetite and just a tiny bit of diarrhea.

That week he napped like a perfect little angel. Like, climbing right into the bed and lying down in snuggly sleep position before I even finished “Twinkle Twinkle.” Falling asleep almost immediately. And doing the same thing at bedtime.

On the 4th day he must’ve felt better because he didn’t nap. But he also played very nicely and quietly in his room for almost 2 whole hours without taking everything off his bookcase or trying to climb his dresser.

And now he’s back to averaging 5/7 days. And when he plays with the very few little toys we left in the room, he brings them into his bed and leaves them there as he falls asleep. He doesn’t always nap at daycare, but when he’s at home he will gladly go upstairs when we say it’s naptime. At bedtime, he could be running back and forth across his bedroom like a madman but when we turn out the lights, he jumps into bed like magic and happily flops onto his belly. But I’m not putting the diaper pail or hamper back into his room anytime soon.


Thoughts On Transitioning to a Toddler Bed (Or, how every nap time is now a frat party)

I haven’t written in forever. I’m 7 months pregnant. I’m uncomfortable. I have Gestational Diabetes again. I used to mostly write during nap time and my son has been aggressively flirting with saying goodbye to nap time for quite awhile.

One day back in October, my son was having a hard time falling asleep but I decided to go down to the basement and try to do some writing. He suddenly started yelling and I glanced at the monitor to see that he had managed to swing one leg over the side of the crib and was looking up at the camera in a panic.

We managed to keep him contained in his crib by using sleep sacks for every nap and bedtime. That worked from October until about a month ago, when he regular started wiggling out of the sleep sack and throwing it out of the crib. The sleep sacks were worn backwards to prevent him from unzipping them. I was ready to go that extra mile of backwards AND inside out sleep sacks, but it wouldn’t have mattered: he was wiggling out of them fully-zipped.

By then he was still napping an average of 5/7 days. 3 hour naps. 3 hour naps, 5/7 days.

At first it seemed like he had forgotten about the possibility of climbing out. Until the no-nap afternoon where I watched him sling his leg over the crib rail several times, while looking directly up at the camera and laughing maniacally. That very night we converted his crib to a toddler bed. We braced ourselves for the worst, but all he really did was fall asleep on the floor in front of the door. I cried, but my husband went up to transfer him to the bed and he stayed asleep all night long. He’s gone to sleep in his bed and stayed there every single night. In hoped of getting him more excited about his bed, I got him an adorable quilt and pillow from the recent (very conveniently-timed) sale at The Land of Nod. I know I was supposed to take him shopping and let him chose his own bedding. I tried this, but he really didn’t seem to give too much of a shit. So I picked what I liked. He’s very excited that P is for pillow and Q is for quilt. He’s just not excited enough to actually stay in the bed for nap time and go the fuck to sleep.

At his 2 yr well visit back in February I mentioned that he’d been fighting naps and the doctor recommended I keep putting him down. Sure- I still need the break and I believe very strongly that he does, too. And I love the idea of having nap time as a household policy. The very wise Checklist Mommy does this and after reading her post on the subject, I knew that was something I also wanted to do with my family.

Unfortunately, it has been a very wild experiment in exploration and curiosity. And determination. And toddler-proofing. And furniture placement. And organization.

Before the crib-to-bed switch my son’s spacious, but oddly-shaped room had a Dutailier glider chair, 2 hollow little side tables with removable lids for extra storage, a tall bookcase, diaper pail, tall lamp, laundry hamper, video baby monitor camera, and wide dresser/changing table. All changing paraphernalia was on top of the dresser.

We have made some changes and moved some things and removed some things and moved things and removed more things. My son’s determination and curiosity know no bounds, apparently.

Here is a run down. Please make yourself comfortable.

Before the transition:

– Moved plug for video monitor camera behind dresser because he was already unplugging it all the time.

– Moved Dutailier rocking chair out of room. Replaced with IKEA armchair and moved from inside non-dormered alcove to against the wall, between bookcase and window.

– Put childproof latches on inside of all dresser drawers (This was done as soon as he started crawling- well over a year ago, but still).

– Bolted bookcase to wall and floor.

– Bolted dresser to wall and floor.

– Taped long cord of tall lamp together so he wouldn’t try to wrap it around himself.

Modifications that became necessary after the transition:

– Moved chair away from window and bookcase. Because he was climbing it and hanging from the top of it and grabbing things. And sitting on the arm of the armchair and kicking at the window.

– Moved all extra diaper cremes and other extra toiletries from canvas box on top of dresser and second to highest bookshelf into top dresser drawer.

– Moved extra diapers and wipes packages onto top of bookcase.

– Moved Diaper Dekkor pail out of room and immediately replaced with expensive, steel Ubbi diaper pail after he broke into it and took the bag out (yes, with the childproof lock on the lid).

– Moved brand-new Ubbi diaper pail out after he broke into it and took the bag out 2 days later.

– Moved laundry hamper out after he emptied it every day and ran around with it on his head while yelling, “umbrella!”

– Moved extra storage end table out after he opened lid and scattered its contents (a stash of clothing and shoes in his next size) all over room.

– Removed the end table we kept to stack most-read books on next to his armchair after he repeatedly threw all books on the floor, removed lid, climbed in and out of box, put lid back and stood on lid. At one point with the laundry hamper on his head. The final straw was when I discovered he had been chewing on one of the pegs from the inside of lid.

– Removed rolling cart of 3 canvas drawers after he toppled it, scattered its contents (extra sheets and changing pad covers) all over the room, sat and stood in the drawers, brought the drawers into bed with him and put his stuffed animals in them.

– Removed bag of miscellaneous toys that he appeared to not actually play with, but instead just threw around.

All this and still no nap, (OK, 2 naps in 3 weeks), but more exploration.

More modifications we are contemplating:

– Empty another dresser drawer to store canvas box containing washcloths and another containing diapers and wipes. Because he keeps taking them off the top of the dresser, emptying their contents and wearing them like hats.

– Tape cord for video monitor camera to back of dresser and center wall behind dresser because he can now reach it and pull even though it is plugged in behind the dresser that is bolted to the wall and floor. (OK, this one I am no longer considering and will do ASAP, probably tomorrow morning as soon as I give him his breakfast).

– Consider removing almost all books from bookcase because he now scatters all books from bottom shelf.

– Research possible methods of preventing him from opening his dresser drawers even the 3 inches he can currently open them. (Duct tape? Is this possible?) Because he keeps pulling all his pajamas out. And he started to try to climb the dresser.

Sooooooo…..Comments? Suggestions? Anyone want to come over at 2:00pm tomorrow and every day thereafter?

On Anxiety as a Parent (or, how I might need to start doing yoga or something)

I’m not proud of it. I fight it. I try really hard not to let it consume me.

I’ve been known to have some issues with anxiety and when it comes to my son, I am admittedly, regretfully, an anxious nutcase.

I’ve written extensively here (and blathered on and on to every single person I ever speak to) about my anxiety regarding his developmental milestones.

That’s calmed down a bit and now my anxiety is mostly related to safety. I hate it! I keep thinking of “25 Rules for Moms with Sons” – a blog post I read when my son was a newborn and was shocked to find inspiring and touching (it’s uncharacteristically mushy for me). I don’t want to be over-protective, so I try to give my son space and let him explore and then I wake up almost every single morning at 3:30 or so, from some sort of appalling vision of my son falling down stairs or stumbling off of jungle gyms. And I have to remind myself that it didn’t happen and he’s OK and he’s sturdy and much more careful and resilient than I give him credit for.

I’ve realized this week or so that it’s been over TWO YEARS of these panicked 3 a.m wake ups.

When I was around 12 or 13 weeks pregnant (more than two years ago!), I started waking up, anxious that something was wrong with the fetus. I was sure that there must be something wrong. I got pregnant very easily and nothing is ever easy for me. I thought it couldn’t be that simple. Something had to go wrong. (Never mind the sciatica and heartburn and pelvic pain and gestational diabetes and every other disgusting and uncomfortable thing I ended up having). I told my midwife about the wake ups (too embarrassed to reveal the anxiety stuff) and she said “Oh, that’s just nature’s way of preparing you for wake ups when the baby comes.”

At the time I found that wise and reassuring advice, even though the wake ups continued and soon became more aligned with the constant, inexorable need to urinate.

But then my stair fixation began. I wrote about the stair nightmares in my baby proofing post but I didn’t say where they came from. I realize that having recurring nightmares about dropping one’s baby down the stairs is pretty clearly based on general anxiety about parenthood, but when we moved to our new house OUR DOG ACTUALLY FELL DOWN THE STAIRS. It was 5:00a.m. and I was up to get ready for my commute into work. The dog ran upstairs to see my husband, and when I shushed him out of the room he slipped and tumbled, horrifically, all the way down the stairs in the dark while I screamed like a horror movie star.

I regularly had graphic, violent, nightmares about the stairs until just a few months ago, when it became apparent that my son was actually very careful about crawling both up and down.

20130916-143917.jpgNot scary at all, right?

When I ecstatically wrote about how my son finally started walking I included the picture below. But the night after that was taken (at a picnic in a state park with a few friends) I woke up in a cold sweat, suddenly realizing all of the dangers we had magically avoided: he could’ve fallen into a pit, he could’ve fallen onto broken glass, he could’ve picked up a rusty nail, he could’ve fallen and hit his head on a rock, he could’ve been snatched by someone on a bike and whisked away. I was able to calm down by forgiving myself for this one incident of excessive toddler freedom. It was our first outing in a park as a new walker and I let him go too far.


Gleefully wandering into multitudinous imagined dangers.

Lately my nightmares are usually related to jungle gyms from the many playgrounds we visit. I specifically freak out over any footbridge with a very widely-spaced railing, or the spot on every jungle gym where the bigger kids can climb down a fireman’s pole or climbing wall from 6 feet up.

My normally cautious son likes to run haphazardly across the footbridges while squealing with glee. He has a terrifying habit of carefully getting onto his belly like he’s going to crawl down stairs… at the exact spot on the jungle gym where there are no stairs and only a 6 foot drop and fireman’s pole.


Careful! CAREFUL!

And I’m getting nervous again because I see him watch slightly older kids WALK up and down the stairs instead of crawling and I see the wheels turning in his careful little nerdy brain. He knows you’re really supposed to WALK up and down stairs instead of crawl. And he’s thinking about how that works.

So I wake up in the middle of the night with a vision of my son tumbling forward down the stairs as he tries to walk down.

And falling feet first from the top of the jungle gym the one second I’m looking away because he thinks there will be stairs under his feet. (This almost happened the other day. This has almost happened several times and my heart literally hurts each time.)

And running across a footbridge, stumbling and falling sideways through the widely-spaced rails.


This is an excellent footbridge with well-spaced rails.

It’s becoming clear that (obviously) the nightmares go away when things happen in real life to make the situations seem less scary.

It’s just really hard to allow those things to happen. Am I really supposed to just let him jump from jungle gyms? I don’t see how his actually getting a head injury would help this situation.

But something has to change because I know it never ends. If I’m not waking up at 3:30a.m. with a vision of him falling off a jungle gym it will be something else:

Getting kicked in the head at soccer practice (I sincerely hope he becomes a theater geek so I can worry about him falling off a ladder when changing the gels on the lights). Sudden onset of deadly peanut allergy. Guns at school. Drunk driving. Trying meth.

It never ends, right? I know everyone must deal with this to some degree. So far the only thing that helps is the mantra “It didn’t happen. He’s OK.” But it’s hard to stay focused on that in the middle of the night when it REALLY ALMOST HAPPENED. I can learn not to let him wander too far in state parks, but I can’t forbid him from climbing jungle gyms and I don’t want to hover too closely.

Will I ever get used to it? What else can I do to try to stop worrying so much?