Holy Sleep Regression, Batman

I’m a big fan of sleep. BIG fan. And prior to the past two weeks, my husband and I were under the impression that our daughter did as well. LMAO. Yeah. We were the standard first-time parents, naive in our well-slept bliss. We thought, “Wow, we got really lucky! Our kid started sleeping through the night at 2 1/2 months and we feel so much better for it!”

(But then the darkness creeped in.)

Sorry for the dramatics, but for reals this phase sucks. We started noticing some crankiness a few weeks ago, and I’m already aware of the Wonder Weeks explanation of how babies go through developmental leaps at certain times and are prone to fussy/fighty/discontent behavior around then, but I shrugged it off ‘cause we’d gone through a couple “leaps” already and fared well, so I expected more of the same.

Well it turns out that this particular leap is kinda gigantic. Between three and four months is when babies start the development phase where they’ll become more fluid with their movements, connect single events together to understand processes, typically learn to roll, and—cue the title of this post—their sleep patterns become less “baby” and more “adult,” meaning instead of falling almost immediately into deep sleep, they now enter light sleep first, making it not only more difficult to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep for long periods of time, especially during the day when melatonin isn’t in effect as strongly as it is at night.

The stay asleep issue is because sleep occurs in cycles, with almost every single one ending in a brief wakeup. As adults, we’ve become so accustomed to putting ourselves back to sleep that most of us don’t even know we’ve woken, we just drift right off again. Babies, however, don’t have this skill set yet, and now that their waking is followed by light sleep instead of deep, it can be very difficult for them to fall back asleep after each cycle. For example, I learned over the past couple weeks that M’s sleep cycles are 37 minutes long. How do I know this? Because she woke up after 37 minutes over and over and over again. Once in a while, she’d wake up after 1 hr 14 minutes. Guess what that is? (Yep, making you do math right now.) You got it! Two 37-minute cycles that she managed to string together.

As for falling asleep, that’s just been a matter of trial and error. Another thing we learned is that she no longer likes to be held horizontally (like in a lying down position) or rocked in our comfy recliner, two things which used to be standard practice for bedtime. (You get screamed at in your face enough nights in a row and you figure out a different plan.) Now we hold her vertically while standing and lightly bounce or sway side-to-side. She still doesn’t fall asleep easily, but our eardrums are generally less traumatized.

But those are just naps. We haven’t even gotten to the real fun yet. Sunday night I got five hours of sleep from 10pm-6:20am. There’s a rather large gap on my sleep tracker from 12:32am-3:25am, courtesy of baby girl. And last night I got six hours from 9:40pm-7:10am. You might be thinking, “Six hours is actually okay! That doesn’t sound bad at all.” The problem is when those six hours are accumulated in hour-long or sometimes even 45-minute long increments. My “deep” sleep has been practically nonexistent. So, I’m tired af, and so is the poor hubs who has not only been dealing with all of this, but has also had to get up early and function at work every day. And believe me, we’ve tried it all…we’ve rocked, swayed, bounced, snuggled, nursed, swaddled, binkied, sung, hummed, shushed, left her to cry…we’ve exhausted our entire toolkit, usually multiple times in succession, only to be completely exhausted hours later, eyes bloodshot and hubs and I close to tears. I’ve actually developed auditory paranoia where I think every. freaking. sound. is the baby waking up. Like I legit hallucinate lips smacking and baby whines when it’s really just the fan gearing up or the cats eating. My own little mild PTSD manifesting itself, super funsies.

I know it gets better. I’ve been promised that by enough people that I have to believe it (or I’m just gonna have to unfriend a lot of big fat liars for getting my hopes up). We finally got a real crib and a sleepsuit that’ll make baby look like a cross between the StayPuft Marshmallow Man and an astronaut, so maybe those will help? Maybe? But like I said before, this phase sucks. Sucky suck suck suckedy sucks. Somehow I’ve managed to still work out almost every day, even when my body is carrying an extra 50 lbs of fatigue, because I know if I don’t I’ll be even more miserable. I can’t operate on shit sleep and stress alone, there has to be some reprieve. Some of that comes in the form of M laughing her head off at something stupid and me completely melting ‘cause she’s so damn adorable, and the rest of it comes from knowing that I’m still taking care of myself as best I can. (And a bit of it also comes from Mississippi Mud Pies and brownies that hubs brings home from our local BBQ joint.)

If you’re the juju-sending type, feel free to send some of the quality-sleepies kind our way. I’ll let ya know how the crib and spacesuit work out, and in the meantime I’ll be here, doing burpees and battling a four-month old who I’m still somehow more in love with every day.

Keeping It in the Family

Fitness is a family affair in my house. My husband is extremely athletic—one of the many attributes that attracted me to him in the first place—and I’ve been active for the better part of a decade, so we mesh well. While he was on the track and swim teams in high school, I played AYSO soccer for five years and swam because I loved it. We were also both part of our respective high school marching bands (and don’t think for a second that that’s not a workout!).

Despite those early experiences, I didn’t develop a deep appreciation for fitness as a lifestyle until I was about 22. I had diverged on a rocky path for a few years, and when I came back around I found myself miserable and very out of shape, as I discussed in an earlier post. I was very surprised to see what an enormous impact changing my habits had, and over the years I would seek out like-minded people to surround myself with. I found that the more connections I had who shared this passion, the better my life would be.

What happens when people start a new workout routine, or are trying to make any big lifestyle change, really, is that they frequently don’t surround themselves with enough support. Any major change is extremely challenging if you’re trying to do it alone. When I first started those Jillian Michaels DVDs, I was doing them alone, then walking alone, then running alone. One of my roommates at the time would come out and sit on the couch so she could cheer me on as I jumped around like a madwoman, and another roommate a couple years later would walk out of her room one day to see me doing supermans (lying on your stomach with arms and legs extended and lifted) and muse, “Ooop, somebody’s flying in the living room!” To this day I can’t do that move without thinking about her and smiling (love you Shellbert!). I had encouragement, but it wasn’t the same as having a true trudging buddy to be sweaty and miserable right alongside me.

The times when I’ve truly excelled are times when I had an awesome support system—people who knew my goals and always wanted to see me achieve them. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved group fitness classes, because it’s an added layer of accountability. Even though I didn’t get super chummy with people, I still went to the same classes often enough that when I didn’t show up, people noticed, and often asked me about it when I came around again. But when I’ve had a particular instructor (yes you, Kim!) or walking buddy (Susan!) or training partner (Guin and Mom!), it’s fueled my fire to not just show up, but also to constantly improve. That’s why I feel like I lucked out so much with the hubs, because with everything I’ve experienced as a result of my pregnancy, he’s been my ultimate fitness partner and cheerleader.

It took a while to get back into my routine, first because I was recovering from the c-section, and then because I did too much too soon and got injured. But every step of the way, whether it was a short walk or a 45-minute cardio strength-training workout, hubs has been right there, telling me what a badass I am. He actually wanted to yell “BEAST MODE” during childbirth, but I vetoed that pretty damn fast. Yelling it while I’m doing 30 burpees, however, is acceptable. And now in addition to him, I’m also part of a Facebook group of fit gals who are all following similar workout programs, and I’ve made a point of posting regularly and commenting on other people’s updates. As nice as it is to receive support, I feel it’s uber important to provide it, too!

This past weekend I had the privilege supporting hubs as I watched him complete his first half-marathon, and I cannot tell you how proud I am. Despite my moments of hormonal envy as he trained his butt off while I was barely able to do a push-up, I made sure to tell him regularly how proud I was, and to keep encouraging his efforts. He’s a natural runner (something I very much am not), and he’s been wanting to do this race for a couple years now, so watching him finally reach that goal—and to keep an incredible pace the whole time—was very inspiring.

When I look at this lifestyle we’ve become so accustomed to, I think about our little girl and hope that she will learn from us. My mom was incredibly active when my older brother and I were growing up, and we loved to participate right along with her (including interrupting her laps in the pool by swimming under her, or popping up right in front of her at the end of the lane…we were clearly very helpful children). We also spent a crapload of time outside—riding bikes, climbing trees (and snapping branches and dropping things to make it sound like someone fell out of it…again, helpful children), rollerblading, playing tag, you name it. I want baby girl to have that same experience.

My focus these days frequently falls to what kind of example I’m setting for our daughter. I want to be the parent that leads by example, not just instruction (and believe me, I’m well aware that won’t be a flawless effort…but maybe I’ll hide in the closet when eating brownies for breakfast so she doesn’t see it). I want to raise her in a culture of fitness, so that it doesn’t have to be a struggle for her to develop that mindset later on. I won’t force her to play sports she doesn’t like or stick her in some dance class she can’t stand, but I will always aim to help her see the endless benefits an active lifestyle has. I hope that she can find a passion of her own, and maybe hubs and I can even learn from her and her choices. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to let her find amusement in us doing burpees, because one day she won’t find those quite so funny.

C is for C-Section

Warning: There are some candid details about c-sections and postpartum recovery in this post. If you don’t want to read that, then you should probably stop here.

This past week, my friend Megan shared an article about a mother who was being shamed for “opting” to have a c-section, with the criticizer saying it wasn’t a “real” birth.
She shared it out of hurt, because she is a c-section momma, and so am I. Continue reading “C is for C-Section”

Weighing In

When I first started working on this post, it carried a different tone. I was feeling irritated by a recent injury and I forgot what I know to be true—I am strong, determined (aka stubborn), and capable of damn near anything I put my mind to, even if the universe isn’t moving at rapid speed when I want. Let me explain…

Prior to getting knocked up, one of my biggest pregnancy fears was gaining a ton of weight and not being able to lose it. I’m just shy of 5’7″ (5’6 3/4″ to be exact, and you better believe that’s what I tell doctors), and twice in my life I’ve been single digits away from 200 lbs. Continue reading “Weighing In”

A Little Background

Basics first: My name is Cara, I’m 31 years old, I’m married with one daughter (Maisie) and two cats, and my husband (aka Mike/hubs) is a sailor in the US Navy. My professional background is in marketing, but currently I’m a “domestic engineer” whose primary focuses are keeping her child and spouse alive (the felines do fine on their own). Continue reading “A Little Background”