Happy New Year! I wish I could say that I have been excited about 2017 but honestly, we’re pretty depressed around here. I have moments when I get excited about all the new home projects we have to tackle, and thank goodness for Wallis, but man…we just can’t shake the heavy orange cloud of Trump. It seriously feels like the death of good and possibility, but I am trying to focus my sadness into doing what I can to combat the trauma of his crazy (I am also trying to read less news until I can stomach it better).
Moving on to what keeps me focused and fulfilled among the noise of life. Wallis turned 13 months! As I mentioned before 11 months was a really bad month that bled into 12 months and we decided it was time to help the situation, so we started sleep training. I didn’t think we’d need to do this as Wallis seems to figure things out in her own way, and I’ve appreciated letting her do so, but her separation anxiety from us wasn’t getting any better.
The problem is Wallis has never learned to self-soothe when it comes to sleeping, and we knew this would be an issue, but we didn’t see how BIG of an issue it would become. You see because she had colic in those early months that turned into silent reflux, she was always so restless when it came to sleep, her poor body was hurting her, so she needed constant comfort, and bouncing/rocking and was always being held. We’d also bounce her to sleep, not letting her fall to sleep on her own because she honestly couldn’t with how the silent reflux affected her and bouncing worked. When you have a child with the issues I mentioned above, you don’t mess with what is working…until you realize it’s not working the same way anymore, and that’s what happened to us.
And when I say separation anxiety, I don’t mean with new people (though she has that too) I mean when it came to nap time and bedtime, she would cry hysterically when it was time to lay her down in her crib. She would climb us like a monkey and cling to our clothing…it was horrible and it started right when she turned 11 months. It turned into a huge process to get her to go to sleep, but not only that, once we had her asleep, when she’d wake up for her nightly feeding, the whole process would start again, and it would take nearly 2 hours to get her back to sleep.
For nearly 2 months we did this every single day and night and to call it a nightmare is an understatement, and almost broke the last bit of resilience we had left. She’s never been a great sleeper, and with rarely sleeping through the night, we were already exhausted, but back to newborn days of 2 or 3 hours of sleep…no thank you.
I finally said, maybe this separation anxiety, maybe this is teething, maybe this is sleep regression and maybe it’s not, but we HAVE to do something! So we did what parents do and read, we decided we wouldn’t be able to stomach the cry it out method, and went with the method where each night you get closer and closer to the door offering only verbal reassurance.
It has been really hard on my heart in particular, Andrew is different from me, he can put it away and when he decides something is going to work, he doesn’t doubt it. While I doubt and doubt and have to fight like hell all my instincts to comfort, hold, and nurture. But she’s honestly handled it better than I have, and though she does put up a fight it isn’t hysterical crying or climbing me like a monkey anymore – instead she just pops up non-stop, sings loudly to herself, pokes all the dots on her crib sheet, cries some and fights hard to stay awake. I just stand by the crib laying her back down and reassuring her until she finally gives in…in the beginning it took 45 minutes but now it has been over a month, and we can lay her down and pretty much leave the room. Some nights go better than others, but the relief and the understanding that she truly needed us to help her transition to this next phase has been aiding me through how hard of an experience it was on my heart.
She also no longer is waking up for a feeding a night, and though we had hoped to keep her at two naps a day until she was at least 15 months – she has been transitioning herself to just one. It’s still too early in the day, so hopefully I’ll eventually get her to an afternoon nap time.
Besides the sleep trauma though, 12 months was such a beautiful month. Wallis seems to be doing something different every single day! She puts her hands up to gesture “where did it go” when she hides things, she likes to slightly bend over with her hands clasped behind her back and go charging forward and abruptly stop with a loud screech as though she’s discovered a rare snake lying on the ground. She loves to pretend to hand us something and then quickly take it back or point to objects and make us repeat their names over and over again.
She and the dogs (mostly Olive) are a serious comedic duo. I can not even begin to recount the hilarity of them together, there is just a constant stream of her chasing them, and them chasing her. She’s seen me stop Olive from rubbing her face all over our furniture (bulldogs) and so now, even if she’s in the middle of something, if she sees Olive rubbing her face on the furniture she’ll stop, run over to Olive waving her arms to get her to stop. Wallis hates to wear socks, so if she takes them off, Olive will quickly snatch one and go running with it, and Wallis will chase after her and a tug-o-war will quickly ensue. If Wallis is walking around with Cheerios and accidentally drops one, she tries to pick it up before the dogs get it, but if she can’t – she’ll stomp her foot and say “nooo.” Her and Olive are so naughty together that some times I have to separate them because I can’t manage it by myself, ha! I never had a dog at the age Wallis is, so it has been the biggest joy to watch for me. I am constantly amazed how gentle and mischievous they all are together.
Wallis’ vocabulary continues to expand and now she has started connecting the words to form sentences. She runs at top speed which keeps my stomach in a constant state of turning. I like to say, that Wallis spends her days chasing her legs.
She’s also climbing on everything and Andrew caught her mid flip out of her crib, so we’ve had to lower it to its last rung. I know! She’s trying to stop our hearts.
Wallis does like to do everything herself so I’ve started saying to her “one minute” when she’s refusing to give me something or wants something I am holding. She’ll patiently wait, and then I’ll hand it to her when I am finished. We’ve worked on moving her through any potential temper tantrums, and she’s doing so well with it all. I mean she still puts up one hell of a fight on the changing table, or when it comes to wearing socks, or hats….but one step at a time.
If you’re still with me after this LONG post…a little story that seemed to go over well on my Facebook page, so I thought I’d share it here too….
While making Wallis’ breakfast this morning, I dropped a huge bag of frozen blueberries all over the kitchen floor which upon hitting the ground immediately started to melt purple blue everywhere. I swiftly moved Wallis away from the mess…but the dogs were a different story – it was like wrestling two pigs in the mud to get them away from the melting fruit, and the whole time I was slipping and sliding in blue trying to hold on to two very determined dogs and move them out of the room, Wallis just stood at the gate repeating over and over again, “uh-oh.”
My feet were blue, Pierre and Olive had enough antioxidants in their systems to age backwards, and I haven’t stopped sweating, but it was the kind of chaotic moment I hope I never forget.