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If you follow me on Twitter, you know the last few nights with Owen have been horrific, to say the least. Seemingly out of the blue he went from going pleasantly to bed and sleeping through the night, to screaming bloody murder at bedtime, despite how much soothing we do, and waking multiple times a night doing the same. Saturday night was so bad, my mother-in-law came over yesterday afternoon just to put Owen down for a nap. I couldn’t take another sleep time tantrum and I myself was exhausted.
I’m assuming this is a phase brought about by developmental changes, a new sibling, and the arrival of fears and separation anxiety, but having “reasons” doesn’t make it easier. We’ve tried to talk to him about it during the day, reinforce a good sleep with a reward like a sticker, etc., given him an earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a long nap, a short nap, but to no avail. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, talked to family, friends and coworkers with kids and the story is all the same. Most of their kids went through a stage like this around age two and uh…you just have to deal. Fan-freaking-tastic.
I vowed to do the “silent return” to bed Saturday night, where every time your child opens their door, you walk them back calmly to bed saying absolutely nothing. We used this technique briefly when we transitioned him from the crib to the bed. It makes sense, I guess. Any verbal attention, be it positive or negative, is attention. And that’s what they want. So yeah, we tried. And FAILED miserably. We both lost our temper, Owen was hysterical, and when you factor in Ryan’s 3 a.m. feeding (it’s a wonder that kid is sleeping through all this. Score one for the sound machine.), neither Michael nor I slept more than three hours total, and not even in one stretch.
Zombie parents, right here.
This has to end. It HAS to. And soon.
Scene: Sunday night. I try something different and instead of reading our usual books at night, I read them during the day. As I nurse Ryan down for bed I tuck Owen in on the loveseat, turn out the lights and put on this dreadfully (purposely) dull show on Sprout OnDemand where they basically just show random characters sleeping set to an instrumental lullaby. Warning parents: if you’re not careful, YOU will fall asleep watching this. We talk about how they are all closing their eyes and going to sleep quietly. Owen pretends to sleep on the couch and I am hopeful.
I put Ryan to bed and Owen and I walk to his room. We get in bed, sing songs and tell stories. We close our eyes and I cozy with him for a while. We talk again about going to sleep quietly and how if he does this, he can pick out a new sticker in the morning and watch a special dvd his grandmother brought him. I am hopeful, again.
I kiss him goodnight and…HYSTERICAL SCREAMING. I try and calm him, but no. He won’t have it. “COZY!!!!” he screams at me. With a heavy, yet exhausted heart, I walk out and shut the door.
Scene: I park the ottoman at the end of the hallway and set up my my Sleep Training Survival Station. I have a notepad and pen to mark down how many time he comes out of his room. I do this both out of curiosity, and to see if it gets easier as the nights go on. I am committed to making this happen. I have a Parenting magazine (HA!) (they come free in the mail. I don’t know why.) and a hard cider, although I could use something stronger. Let’s do this.
Scene: 8:04 p.m. He comes out of his room for the first time screaming at me to cozy with him in his bed. I point behind him, he turns around and back we go. I put him in bed and walk out, shutting the door behind me. I return to the ottoman, take a swig, tell the Twitters what’s going on and read a stupid article about Heidi Klum’s new clothing line for Babies R Us. He continues to rant. He screams for me to cozy in his bed, to sit in his rocking chair, to cozy in my bed. I’m sad, but this time I’m more determined. He needs to sleep. WE need to sleep.
Scene: He opens the door for the 4th or 5th time. This time as I walk towards him, he bolts by me and runs into my room screaming to cozy in my bed. He is trying to scale the side of our bed like a sleep-deprived crazed monkey. This kid’s got balls. He is sweaty and sticky. I pick him up and bring him back to bed. “MOMMY!” He yells at me. Not sad. Angry! “Mommy! You come back here!” Sigh.
This continues. Seven, eight times. Nine. And then, it changes. I hear him flop into his bed. His screams become moans, then whimpers, then just the occasional “ehhhh”, reminding me of a windup toy losing steam. Forty minutes on the dot from the start of this ordeal, he is quiet.
Scene: 3:40 a.m. Owen wakes up crying. I go into his room, tuck him back in, give him a kiss and spend a few minutes rubbing his back. When I get up to leave he protests. I tell him I love him and will see him in the morning. He starts to scream as I shut the door. This time he comes out and into our room just twice over the course of 2o minutes before falling back to sleep. Certainly not quiet or relaxing, but worlds better than the previous night.
Scene: 5:45 a.m. I have just laid down in bed to nurse Ryan when Owen comes into our room. Had this been any regular sleeping night, we would just pull him up into bed with us for a little extra sleep, so that’s what we do. Everyone dozes until 7.
I’m still exhausted today, but not quite as badly as yesterday. Owen is is great spirits, but hoarse from all that yelling. I’m not looking forward to nap time or bed tonight, but I am hoping that last night was in fact progress and it will only get better.
I have a tendency to fall off the face of the blogging earth when I have a baby. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that when I have down time, I tend to use it in other ways. Like sleeping. Or eating cookie dough straight from the fridge.
But here we are, six plus weeks into life with two children, and I figure it’s about time I document some of it; if not for you, than for me, because oh Ryan, I’m sorry, but what they say is true about second kids. I haven’t even purchased a baby book to document your first spit up, or the first time you said “Ah-glurg”, or all those countless little things that no one really cares about. (I’m lying, Ryan! I totally cared the first time you said “Ah-glurg!” You are a genius!)
My last post where I felt like I was really getting my footing was followed by a week or so of realizing that clearly, I had not. Michael was working a lot and I was home alone and Ryan was growth-spurting and yeah, it wasn’t great. I emailed a friend and told her that sometimes I felt like I was really failing at this two kid thing. Sure, they were both alive and fed and generally clean, but I found myself yelling more, playing less and mostly going through the daily motions of survival. It wasn’t a great stretch, but I finally swallowed my pride and allowed people to help me. (I’m not sure why that was so difficult — perhaps a feeling of I should be able to do it all myself? Who knows…) Michael’s mom and grandmother would pop in and I can’t remember a time I felt more happy to see my in-laws. They played with Owen while I vacuumed, held Ryan while I showered and provided me with adult conversation that I so desperately needed. It wasn’t much, but it was a lot.
And then, just as quickly as the clouds rolled in, they parted, and we’ve been grooving again. You know, until the next storm. At least I will be able to suck it up and ask for some help next time!
Ryan is amazing. One day he took a four hour nap and I swear, he woke up bigger not fitting in any of his clothes. He has started to smile and coo at his play mat and for the last few nights has been starting the night with a 6.5 hour stretch, which I can only hope will continue to get longer. Owen is Super Brother, loving on his baby from the moment he wakes up. He has tested his boundaries a bit (asking if he could push his dump truck into Ryan. No, you may not.), and has had a few regressions when it comes to going to bed and using the potty. (He was kind of interested in it before, now he requests the changing table and a diaper. I get it.) Overall, though, he has transitioned into his big brother roll really well.
As for me, I’m getting there. I’m still not showered as often as I’d like to be and while 30 pounds has fallen off on it’s own, there’s about 12 to go that I know are going to stick around until I start moving. I’m uncomfortable in my flabby post-pregnancy skin right now, anxiously waiting to fit into my pants or wear a shirt that doesn’t blouse out from the waist. I have been pushing the double stroller all over the neighborhood, and while pushing 40 pounds of kids, the stroller and the infant seat up hill certainly works up a sweat, it’s time to bite the bullet and make a date with the 30 Day Shred.
As I’m writing this, Ryan is napping in the crib, Owen is playing at my feet and I’m drinking a chai in the quiet of my dining room. No one is screaming or spitting up or demanding graham crackers. So far, today is a win.
I know not every day will be, but I’m pretty confident in the end, we will have more wins than fails. (I hope.)
Today you are two. TWO YEARS OLD! Let me be all cliche for a moment here and say, wow. How did THAT happen? People aren’t kidding when they say time flies; it really does.
You have truly blossomed these past few months and your personality is out in full force. You talk a mile a minute about everything and everyone with a vocabulary that continually blows me away. Sometimes we can’t even keep up with all you have to say! Your elephant-like memory is pretty awesome, and you surprise me daily when you tell me full recaps of our day, or remind me of something we did weeks — even months — ago. You are an avid reader, devouring every book you can get your hands on. Sometimes it pains me to tell you no, I won’t be reading another book after we’ve read 10, because I know you love it so. You love ALL THINGS TRUCKS, and get so excited when you see a backhoe or a tractor or some other random construction equipment. You know each one so well that you correct me if I call it the wrong name. Such a boy, you are!
You are cheeky and funny and coy and shy and a flirt all wrapped into one delicious blond package. You sing at the top of your lungs and dance to any music that happens to be on — whether that’s in the house or over the speakers in the grocery store. You are affectionate and loving and while somehow you woke up one morning with most traces of your babyhood erased, you still have those chubby cheeks and thighs right along with you big boy looks.
You are cautious when it comes to trying new physical things, and want to be held in new places or situations. Maybe it has to do with being the first born of two first borns (both who I suppose are cautious people by nature), but I really hope you get over your fear of putting your toes in the ocean. We do live in Rhode Island, after all.
You’ve transitioned so well into your new room and bed (minus some very early mornings) and occasionally use the potty. We’re not rushing toilet training, but it’s exciting when you do it, none the less.
You are your father’s mini, telling me multiple times a day you’re doing something “just like Daddy!” Your whole body lights up when he comes in the door and my heart bursts to hear you say “Love you, Daddy!” You cover us both in hugs and kisses and snuggles and our days are made. You bring light, joy and color to our world, little boy. Sometimes we will be watching you, and Daddy and I will catch each other’s eye and just grin at each other liked crazed maniacs — so amazed that we created you and how amazingly awesome you are.
Any day now you will become a big brother. You ask me daily if baby brother is coming today and the reality is that yes, he will be here very soon. I hope the adjustment of having a baby in the house isn’t too hard for you. We are going to do our best to make it go smoothly for you. I can’t wait to see you interact with a sibling. I think it’s one of the best gifts we can give you and I hope you remember that one day when he’s stealing your toys and tackling you on the rug.
I want you to know something, Owen. I have loved every second of being just your mommy. This isn’t an insult to your brother, rather the fact that you made us parents and the past two years have been the best two years of my entire life. I couldn’t have asked for a better first born. When I look at you, sometimes it actually hurts how much I love you. How one of your smiles or giggles can actually make my heart ache with joy.
You will always be my first baby, and that holds a very special place in my heart. I can’t wait to continue to watch you grow, you amazing little goober.
I love you through and through.