To The Weary Mama of Sick Kids

Hello mama of sick kids.

I woke up this morning weary after getting very little sleep. Our 8 month old has an ear infection and pneumonia. After trying to rock, cradle, nurse and soothe her to sleep for hours, I gave up around midnight. In all honesty, I was getting frustrated with the situation, and with her.

I mean, just GO TO SLEEP already.

But being frustrated was not good for either of us. What she needed was her mama to help her feel better and just be there. I needed to stop trying to force sleep and just accept we were doing the best we could. So, we just got up. At midnight.

We came downstairs where she was happy to just crawl around on the floor. With her content, I did prayed and my bible study homework (although my answers sure needed some help in the morning – a little jumbled and scribbled with bleary eyes). She finally went to sleep after 3 am and slept for a couple of hours. Then she was up for 2 more and back down just when the big kids were getting up.

Some days, there just isn’t enough rest to go around. Are you in this place too?

You are not alone. I am walking through this season right along with you. Every time one child gets sick, it sets off a chain reaction and the others get sick too. One by one. Sometimes it is hard to tell when the first sickness ended and the next one began.

These winter months can feel incredibly long.

And isolating.

I am sorry you’ve had to cancel play dates, volunteering, your own doctor appointments and so much more. I know you were counting on these activities to break up your week. I know you needed a change of pace from just being at home with the kids all day, every day. Missing these activities leaves a void for your children and for you. It is hard when you have little adult interaction for days (or weeks).

I also know how cancelling over and over can make you – a responsible and good friend – feel flaky. Parenting little ones sometimes makes you feel like you have no control over your schedule – because the sickness and these little people control the schedule instead.

Although you may feel that way, as I’ve experienced in my own life, your friends and family DO understand. Many experienced the same with their kids and are happy to extend grace and encouragement to you. They also appreciate you not sharing your illness when you do show up. Be honest and just reach out when you can. Then, extend grace when this happens the other way around.

Because we’re all in this thing together.

This morning I was greeted by a now-healthy child who brought the plague home in the first place. He was ready for breakfast and all I could do was muster a smile and grunt as I rolled out of bed.

So. Very. Tired.

I sent him downstairs so I could take a few minutes to myself before jumping into the day. My main thought was sleep. In moments like this, I must confess I may be worshiping sleep – as if I will never, ever get any more again. I speak from experience when I say being mad about sleep is not helpful. With three kids, a nap for me will not happen. So I decided to just pray for help to survive the day.

But as I prayed, I gained some perspective and realized sleep will come, as it did with all other sicknesses, and with the other two babies. Then the following came to mind:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

~2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

Today it will not be my power but God’s as He equips me to serve Him and my family well. For His power is perfect in my weakness. And it is certainly enough for my tiredness.

It is no coincidence that my daily devotion later this morning just ‘happened’ to be based on this same scripture. Apparently God really wanted me to hang onto this truth today. I’m so glad He did. It’s a lifeline I desperately need today (and every day).

Now I am passing it along to you.

What do you need an extra measure of today? (Besides the obvious need for sleep and healthy kids – lets just trust He will cover those in His perfect timing). Maybe you need more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control? I sure do. I believe He delights in being generous to us when we ask Him for more fruit of the Spirit.

Ask Him to shine through your tired eyes and work with those worn out arms and hands. And He will. Just surrender – you’re too tired to stifle His power, and that is to your benefit.

He is strong. He is capable. He is full of energy and joy when we feel depleted. And He has compassion on us and our children when we are struggling.

Tap into His strength and power today. He will carry all of you to easier, healthy days.

Hang in there mama, you’re not alone. These kids are worth it and you are exactly the mama they need today.

sick-baby

She may be sick, but she has amazing hair 🙂

To The Weary Mama Of Sick Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

Goodbye sickness, we’re over you. Go away.

 

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Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent - 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep | thisgratefulmama.com

There are infants who sleep through the night right away, or even within a few months of bringing them home from the hospital.

We were not that family.

Read more about our experience with infant reflux:

As I’ve shared before, our firstborn had silent reflux. Acid burning, pain abounding…heartburn. In our experience, reflux is worse at night, and greatly affected his and our sleep.

When many parents say they had a hard night, it means the child was up a few times, perhaps staying awake for a (whole) hour, or that perhaps they were up at 4 am for the day. Let me be clear that I am not diminishing how this feels in the morning – tired is tired! But I think it is fairly safe to say most babies and parents manage one solid 2-4 hour stretch of sleep per night, most nights. They are tired, but are usually functional the next day.

When I say we had hard nights, I mean that most nights, he did not sleep. There were 3-5 hours stretches of crying and discomfort followed by a 40-minute nap. But even this short stretch was interrupted by writhing and painful screams.Then we repeated the crying and short nap, or he was up for the day. He did not sleep a 3-hour stretch until 10 months.

As his nursing mama, neither did I. And often, neither did my husband.

We tried everything. We held him, we tried walking, co-sleeping, swinging, bouncing, singing. In desperation we tried crying it out but it was short-lived and agonizing for mom and baby  – a hurting baby cannot self-soothe, nor should he have to.

Nothing worked.

We spoke to doctors, lactation specialists, other parents and read books, articles and blogs by sleep consultants. There were many great tips, but none helped our son sleep.

If you think that sleep-deprivation is hard on your body and mind, imagine how it affects a baby – they are supposed to sleep twice as much as we are!

He, and we were exhausted – a term I no longer use lightly.

After 10 months, his sleep ebbed and flowed along with his silent reflux symptoms until FINALLY at 15 months, he slept through the night. This too came and went, but his sleep generally improved so MOST nights were silent nights.

That is, until the reflux returned with vengeance when he was 2 1/2 and I was 7 months pregnant with our second baby. Then his sleep success derailed and we recognized old patterns of returning pain and chronic coughing. This was no sleep ‘regression’. It was sleep succession. But we will save the story of toddler reflux for another day…

Because our sleep experience was a struggle, my goal is to share how to survive – to endure, to wait for healing, and to do everything in your power to encourage sleep. But more importantly, my goal is to empathize, and encourage parents that sleep does come, even if not right away.

10 Survival Tips for Parents – When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

1. Schedule YOUR sleep

While parents may not need as much sleep as a newborn, they do need consistent sleep. When your child doesn’t sleep, sleeping when the baby sleep doesn’t work. Consistent sleep-deprivation has consequences. Parents need to make their own sleep a priority. Be creative. When our son was young, I worked. Some days I went home and slept for 2 hours before picking our son up from daycare. OR, I’d work a few longer days, and take off early on a slow day and sleep for (gasp) 3 hours! If you don’t have daycare as an option, read on…

2. Enlist help

While not all parents have volunteers to stay up at night with the baby so the parents can sleep, most have someone who will come during the day. Ask for help. And accept it when it is offered. Don’t be prideful. Don’t shrug it off. Sleep is necessary and important. Ask them to come over and snuggle your child. Be sure they understand your child might cry the whole time. Our son’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and our close friends were willing. We weren’t good at asking.

3. Be transparent

Nothing good will come from pretending everything is fine. Don’t sugar coat what is going on. While there is a fine line between explaining the facts and complaining, if you aren’t truthful and transparent, your sleep-less existence will be lonely, and without help. And, others will not understand why you suddenly traded your social life for sleep.

4. Request advice from professionals

Assuming you are already navigating reflux treatment, don’t neglect to see lack of sleep as a symptom that needs to be addressed. When sleep is this difficult, more than just a pediatrician may be needed. Request a consult with a GI doctor, ask for a sleep study, or meet with an occupational or sleep therapist.

5. Try new strategies

I cannot advocate the ‘cry it out’ method because we learned that a hurting baby cannot self-soothe. They hurt and need help. However, there are many other great options to try. It is a good idea to try different sleep positions, but instead of buying a bunch of rockers, swings, crib wedges or chairs, borrow them. Research them. We used a Nap Nanny (no longer sold, but this Dex DayDreamer™ Infant Sleeper is today’s equivalent product) with an angled back to help with reflux. It was the only place our son ever slept at all for most of the first year. Please note: the most important comment on these sleepers is to never place them in a crib. They are intended to use on the floor for baby’s safety. 

6. Join a support group

Did you know there are GERD support groups all over the world? You can find the Reflux Rebels or Reflux Support Group on Facebook. The Facebook groups are generally closed, which means only group members can see your posts. You will find people struggling with the same issues, encouragement, and wise advice from real-life experience.

7. Don’t wake the baby

If your baby does not sleep, DO NOT interrupt sleep for any reason. The theory that sleep begets sleep is true in our experience. There is no event more important than your child’s sleep if they NEVER sleep. Do your best to set conditions for sleep and then protect that schedule. If that means leaving early, coming late, or not attending something, SO BE IT.

8. Pray

The best comfort I found during this time was prayer. And scripture. It is no surprise to God that you are tired or struggling. He sees your child and He sees you. Let Him carry you, and trust that He will bring both healing and sleep in His time. AND, know that your struggle has purpose, even if you cannot see it yet. Trust His plan, purpose and promise that He is working in all things for good of those who love Him…

9. Hang on to hope

Our son struggled for much longer than we wanted him to. And there were days we thought he would never, ever sleep through the night. But he did. And now he sleeps hard, and well. Eventually, even your child will too.

10. Know you are not alone

Other moms have endured what you are enduring. Find them. They won’t waste your time with advice that won’t work, they’ll instead spend their time listening and encouraging. They will understand that not all problems can be fixed with a book, herbal remedy, fancy swing or sleep-training method and they will remind you that some problems  have to resolve with time.

 

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids

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Once upon a time, I was a natural morning person. It was normal to wake before my alarm with a spring in my step – motivated to exercise, get ready and get to work early. That said, I wasn’t necessarily a ‘social’ morning person – I needed time to get my head on straight before attempting conversation.

Ready for the day – but only after being awake for an hour or two.

I purposefully went to work early to enjoy my coffee in peace while sorting through emails. By the time co-workers arrived, I was adequately caffeinated and focused. I planned my day but was able to be flexible. Like any day with kids, a day in my former job was rarely what I expected it to be.

Then, we had kids.

After 15 months of consistent and severe sleep deprivation due to a hurting baby, a semblance of sleep normalcy returned.  However, sleep has never been the same. In just the past month we’ve had all kinds of night-waking due to dirty diapers, coughs needing a nebulizer, bloody noses, wet beds, a cold or hot child needing different jammies or an extra blanket, illnesses, sore legs, itchy skin, teething, falling out of the bed, thunder storms (OR clouds that might storm), burned out night lights, children claiming they are not tired at 2 AM, and…sigh…I’m sure I’m missing something.

The result? I have admittedly become a sleep-worshipper. Now, the idea of me being a morning person is downright laughable. 

Problem is, sleeping in until the kids wake me is not pretty. I greet those sweet joyful faces with an ill-prepared, impatient, attitude, still in the fog of sleep. You would think after two years of being home with the kids I’d have this figured out.

The truth is, I used to get up and prepare myself for my job. Staying home with our kids is no less of a ‘job’ than my previous employment. Staying in bed means I haven’t prepared at all – we all pay for it. In fact, I could easily argue that being mentally ready and prepared is even more important now because consequences are endured by our children.

So, I’ve been experimenting with changing my routine to make myself into a morning person again. It’s time to be purposefully prepared…

I started ‘for the kids’, but in reality, it has been as beneficial for me as them.

Our kids get up between 7 and 8. Most days, it’s 7:30. By getting up at 6, I now have between 1 and 2 hours without kids.

Alone.

Quiet.

To do whatever I want as the sun rises.

It is no exaggeration to call these mornings glorious.

Why? Here are 7 benefits I’m now experiencing. Not sure you can wake up that early? Start with just 15 minutes. Trust me, you’ll like it so much, you’ll want more. I’m actually considering getting up even earlier.

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids

1. Exercise

While I often feel like a glorified pack-mule, hauling bags and kids everywhere, usually the most aerobic exercise I get is a quick walk/run around the block. While I tell myself I’ll exercise during nap time, I end up cleaning or relaxing. If not first thing in the morning, exercise doesn’t happen. Getting up at 6 means not only do I exercise, I exercise without interruption.

2. Quiet Time

If you’ve tried to read your Bible, pray, journal, or do anything that sounds like reflection in the presence of a 2 and 4-year-old, you know the result is endless interruption and likely frustration. Getting up early allows focused time, leaving me recharged and equipped for the day.

3. Caffeine

What makes a peaceful quiet time even better? Hot coffee, and finishing the whole cup. Coffee after the kids are up is found on the counter by my husband when he gets home from work, cold and half-full. Now I enjoy caffeine mixed with workout adrenaline when they wake. In other words, by the time I see them, I feel fantastic.

4. A Step Ahead

Staying in bed does means warm blankets and a slowly brightening room – tempting, I know. But it also means when I hear crying and finally get up, I stumble bleary-eyed into our daughters room. She greets me with ‘Yucky’ and ‘Big One’ (you know what that means). After changing her diaper she points to her hair and says ‘knot’ because she twirls her hair and it is a rats-nest each morning. By now, her brother has joined us and is desperate for breakfast, and ready to burst into tears because I’m just not going fast enough. Even though we’ve just begun, mornings often feel like a rude-awakening – from the bliss of a warm bed into a reactionary mode where I’m always one step behind. Waking early means I’m alert and ready to help them. I usually have breakfast on the table so our son can go eat, preventing hangry whining – I call that sweet victory.

5. Planning

I love having a moment to plan the day. I might even pack snacks or the diaper bag before the kids get up. Plans may change, but I’m more likely to be flexible. Because I’m prepared, I can help the kids know what to expect so they are more likely to transition quickly, with a good attitude.

6. My Full Attention

Instead of being preoccupied the kids have my undivided attention because I’ve already covered my bases. I am more patient, responsive, and less likely to frustrate them by being absorbed by something else and asking them to wait.

7. Relationships

One of the greatest benefits of rising early is hearing the first noises our kids make. I can go in for morning snuggles before they fully wake up. Hands-down, this is worth every minute of forfeited sleep. It helps them wake with a smile. Another benefit is getting to see my husband before he leaves for work. A short conversation over coffee with a morning hug and kiss is delightful.

Ready to be a morning person?

7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids | thisgratefulmama.com 7 Reasons This Mama Wakes Up BEFORE The Kids | thisgratefulmama.com


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This post was shared in the Salt and Light Linkup at Married By His Grace. Check it out!

 

Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Experience Navigating Reflux Treatment

Infant 'Silent' Reflux is NOT Silent - Our Experience Navigating Reflux Treatment | thisgratefulmama.com

This is the second post in a series on Infant Silent Reflux. Before reading this, it will be helpful to read about Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries, which explains what Silent Reflux is, and our path to diagnosis.

The only thing I’ll repeat from the previous post is this – Let me be clear: This article is not a complaint about that first year. This is how life was for our family. I write this to share with other parents whose children also hurt.  Sharing our experience has two purposes: to help hurting children, and to give encouragement to their parents. It takes a village…

Doctors diagnosed our son with silent reflux at 7 weeks. The pain had a name that made no sense – Infant Silent Reflux is NOT silent.

Once diagnosed, the first treatment step was medication. We started Zantac (Ranitidine).  A clear, strongly peppermint flavored liquid that made me sure he would hate peppermint forever. Every dose was a battle – it was almost impossible to get him to swallow it, no matter how many times I blew on his face or how loud he cried.

We saw mediocre results. With painful reflux symptoms causing all night crying from day 1, and treatment not beginning until week 7, it was like throwing a bucket of water on a forest fire. He still had all the same symptoms mentioned in the previous post but the medication seemed to take the edge off and feedings were a little more manageable at night. At least, for a little while – Zantac dosage and effectiveness is weight-dependent, so after a couple of weeks, it stopped working because he was growing so fast.

Our doctor recommended changing my diet to see if we saw additional improvement. I kept a food journal. I stopped eating all dairy (yogurt, cheese, milk, you name it), and anything citrus or acidic (tomatoes, oranges, berries, peppers, etc.). We saw what we thought to be limited and gradual improvement, but when I tried to add these foods back into my diet, he got worse. It was clear that my diet, dairy especially, mattered. So, I refrained from eating quite a few things for a year. I learned later that dairy takes a very long time to leave your system and even longer to leave theirs. If dairy is adding to the symptoms, you may not see marked improvement for a month. If you suspect it – cut it for 4 weeks and then see what happens when you add it back in.

A quick note about Zantac before continuing: Most of your stories will end with Zantac: A couple of years later when our daughter showed symptoms of reflux at 4 weeks, we knew exactly what it was. We took her in right away and the doctor agreed. She was on Zantac a short time, and it was enough to allow healing and the muscles to tighten and prevent further damage. She has never struggled with reflux again and will be 2 in March. From the families we know who have struggled with reflux, very few children go on to need additional medication, and most are entirely off of all medication by the age of 6 months. Of approximately 30 families we’ve talked to so far, I know of only 4 who have continued medication through 1 year, and know of only two other families whose children have had reflux as a toddler like our son.

I wish I could say that Zantac and modifying our diet was the end of our son’s story with reflux, but it isn’t. We continued monitoring my diet and increasing his Zantac dose as needed until the week before I had to go back to work (11 weeks).

Then things got crazy.

The reflux was out-of-control. The crying was unstoppable. The Zantac dose was maxed out. They wanted to switch him to Prilosec suspension (Omeprazole). We weren’t real excited about giving him more medicine since the first didn’t seem to help much. The doctor explained that while Zantac is a histimine-2 blocker, Prilosec is a proton-pump inhibitor. Both reduce acid produced by the stomach, but through different mechanisms in the body. In our doctor’s words, if a person doesn’t respond to Zantac, they often respond better to Prilosec. It gave us hope and we were willing to give it a shot.

The medicine tasted like chalk (so, of course, he didn’t like it). He was supposed to improve measurably after one week on the medication.

He did not.

My first week back to work, my husband and our family took turns watching him during the day. Our son wore those loving arms (and backs) out! He was supposed to start daycare the following week…now what? We were terrified to leave him with someone else, and terrified for the provider who would have not only him, but a handful of other children needing her attention. There was no way a daycare provider would be able to handle him along with the other children in her care.

We took him back to the doctor. He had an upper GI. As he choked down the barium, it was confirmed he had reflux but no physical twist, turn, or abnormality requiring surgery. Good news, but there was no indication as to WHY he had reflux. But, knowing reflux was present validated the reason we were pumping him full of the max dose of reflux medication.

On the way home from the upper GI, I refilled his Omeprazole prescription. I was shocked when given a completely different looking liquid, with different labeling than the last bottle; same medication name, but different consistency, color, and storage conditions. It still tasted like chalk, but the new bottle worked far better. Right away.

The daytime became manageable.

I took the remainder of the first bottle and the new bottle back to the pharmacy and spoke with a pharmacist. They admitted the first bottle should have had the same labeling as the new bottle, but would not admit it was made incorrectly. Honestly, to this day I have no idea if it was even the right medication in the bottle or not. I now ask plenty of questions when I pick up medication at the pharmacy – there is no guarantee the medication you receive is correct (how scary is that?).

We switched pharmacies and filed a complaint at both the local and corporate level.

At 13 weeks, our son went to daycare. We were blessed beyond measure by an experienced, patient and kind woman. He was loved, well cared for, and she never complained that he was difficult.  Not once. No words can ever express my gratitude to her for how she cared for him. She would tell me, in a matter-of-fact-way how he had done each day, never with any indication that she was burdened by him when he had a rough day. And he had plenty of rough days.

Although the Omeprazole, correctly made, worked leaps and bounds better than that first bottle, we noticed that towards the end of every bottle, our son’s symptoms were worse. Then, every time we opened a fresh bottle, the medication seemed to work better. After tracking it closely, it seemed like our 30 day supply worked great for 2 weeks, then gradually decreased in effectiveness over the next 2 weeks.

As a biochemist, I am familiar with stability testing. I suspected a stability issue and asked the (new) pharmacist about it. She said it should be stable, but if he was on the edge of the dosage, we might see a gradual decrease over time. She was willing to break our prescription into two, as an experiment. We paid up front for a full 30 day supply, but she gave us half of the volume. 15 days later, we then picked up a freshly prepared bottle, with the remaining volume from the 30 day prescription.

Breaking the 30 day supply of Omeprazole into two fresh bottles showed measurable improvement. We know of at least 4 other families who have seen symptoms increase over the course of a 30 day bottle who have also switched to a 15 day supply. While our evidence of a stability problem is purely anecdotal, it has helped more than just our child. Our pharmacist could not continue breaking it into two because of billing issues since the prescription was written for 30 days. She suggested we get a 15 day supply prescription from the doctor. We were happy to pay double the co-pays for mediation that actually worked well the whole time.

And so we continued on. While the days were going well, night-time was another story. From 8 pm until morning, it was hard. I’ll describe the nights in a post dedicated to sleep in coming weeks. In the meantime, if you are a sleep deprived parent of a hurting child, my heart goes out to you. I wrote a post when thinking about you, months ago. Sleep deprivation is serious business. You are not alone. Sleep did eventually come to our house. It will come to yours as well. Bless you.

While sleep eluded us for a long time, our son’s symptoms did gradually decrease over the course of the first year. Even though he didn’t sleep much at night, he screamed less and less, and with decreasing intensity as time went on. By 12 months, he slept through the night for the first time, and by 15 months we were able to wean him off of the medication and he eventually slept through the night.

Why was our son’s case so severe? I’ve asked several pediatricians, an allergist and a Gastroenterologist. No one knows for sure. But there are a few things they all agreed may have contributed:

  1. He had symptoms from day 1, which we learned is highly unusual. In fact, most doctors say babies don’t even have stomach acid at that point. I don’t know what this means, other than his case is different from others
  2. There were dietary issues we knew contributed (dairy, citrus), but there were more that we didn’t know about. At 15 months, we discovered an unknown peanut and cashew allergy (and he had a mama who was eating bucket loads of nuts and peanut butter while avoiding dairy while nursing…sigh…knowledge truly can be power)
  3. Since he had symptoms early but was growing fast (not failing to ‘thrive’), the doctors failed to treat the pain early, and we failed to persist in making them treat him
  4. He grew so fast and was treated so late, it seemed like we were always behind the proper dose of Zantac for his weight. It just wasn’t enough
  5. The Omeprazole first given to our son at 11 weeks was certainly stored improperly (room temperature vs. required refrigerated conditions that likely affected stability), and possibly made incorrectly to begin with. This means our son was basically un-medicated (or at least improperly medicated) at the point when his symptoms had peaked, requiring Omeprazole to be prescribed in the first place. I am convinced this snafu caused additional damage and lengthened his recovery. Add in the apparent stability issues with the 30 day supply and it wasn’t until 6 months before he was treated with full strength Omeprazole on a consistent basis.

Look for future posts that will describe our experiences with toddler reflux and reflux sleep (or lack-of). Also read about my personal experience nursing and caring for our son during his first year.

If you found this story to be like yours – don’t hesitate to get your child help. If you need more information sooner than the next post, email me (thisgratefulmama[at]gmail.com). I’m happy to share anything I know and help in any way I can.

To the Sleep-Deprived Mama of a Hurting Baby

To the sleep-deprived Mama,

You are not alone.

I’ve been there; so tired you almost fall asleep on the toilet.

I hope you find this at 2 am, when you’re desperate for a word of encouragement and haven’t yet slept a wink because your child hasn’t slept.

I’ve rejoiced over 4 non-consecutive hours of sleep a night because for months we had less than that.

I know that the term “sleeping like a baby” was written by someone who was ignorant of what it is like to have a hurting baby.

I, too, was a real-live zombie, in a daze, wandering around aimlessly, looking for a bed. 

I’ve felt your hope as you plan a new strategy to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.

I read those books and blogs, and heard the advice of fellow parents. 

We bought the highly acclaimed swings, noise machines, and baby sleep books written by experts; all of which did not work for us.

One by one, tools and advice of experts failed for my hurting child who couldn’t sleep. 

Desperate, we also tried letting baby ‘cry it out’, but with a hurting child,  but it just wasn’t right and the crying went on far too long.

We learned that a hurting child is not able to self-soothe and what it is like to be needed by them to fall asleep.

I have seen a hurting child finally pass out in my arms, and realize it is the only time all day that their body relaxed.

I know how it FEELS to rock a baby so much that your back feels it may break.

I understand that the ONLY reason you can keep rocking them is because you LOVE them. So. Very. Much.

I’ve cradled a child with numb and tingling arms, too afraid to move for fear of waking them up.

I have felt poorly equipped, inadequate, and have sobbed, along with my child, unable to soothe them.

I’ve fallen asleep in that uncomfortable chair, freezing cold because you can’t reach the blanket, with my bladder about to burst, because I know if I move they’ll wake.

I know that you, too, would sacrifice your health, body, and sleep if it meant your child would feel better.

I have felt what it is like to be so tired, having given all your energy to the child, that you’ve forgotten to eat, or drink anything all day.

I tried to sleep when the baby slept, but a few 1 hour stretches at night were just not enough. And I know that when you work during the day or care for another child, that napping when the baby naps is not realistic.

I know the feeling of exhaustion that goes down into your SOUL.

And for those days to go on for MONTHS and MONTHS.

I heard my friends boast of how their child slept well from “the night they brought them home” and wondered what was wrong with us.

I know that until you’ve had a hurting child and experienced the sleep-deprivation it can cause, that you can feel entirely alone, misunderstood, and that you may fear it will. NEVER. end.

Seeking help, I took my child to the doctor and cried in the office.

I know how vulnerable it feels to have a public break-down and how grateful I was to the nurses, doctors, co-workers, family and friends who spoke kindly and encouraged me.

I know what its like to truly worship sleep and to be unable to focus on anything but the next chance to get some.

And, I too, reached the point where even when my baby slept, I stopped being ABLE to sleep.

As I laid my sleeping baby down, exhausted, a surge of adrenaline pumped through my veins as I slowly backed out of the room and closed the door. I was hypersensitive to ANY sound that might wake the baby. 

I, too, collapsed into bed only to hear my child’s baby grunts and noises that all babies make in their sleep.

I know that with each sound, a fresh dose of adrenaline surges and that fear that the baby will wake can steal ANY sleep you might get before the crying begins again. 

After months of sleep deprivation, I, too, heard my baby’s cries in the white noise of a fan, in the background of a football game, or the sound of the shower running, and wondered if I was a crazy person.

With nowhere else to turn, I relied on the Lord to carry me through those nights where I cried as much as my child. 

I too prayed those persistent prayers for sleep and for healing for my child. In our case, I prayed that his heartburn and acid reflux would cease and he would no longer hurt.

It took 15 months for those prayers to be answered.

 

BUT, Have hope.

My prayers WERE answered.

I have awoken to light streaming through the window and felt the seizing fear that something bad had happened.

And then I felt the JOY and RELIEF when I found the baby still asleep.

We slowly saw a few sporadic 4 or 5 hour stretches of sleep mix into the sleepless nights.

We saw a few long stretches turn into regular occurrences.

After months of a few hours of broken up sleep a night, I know that a 4 hour stretch can make you feel like a new mama.

As the long stretches turned into sporadic nights of 8-hour stretches, I know that at first, you wake up, wondering if something is wrong.

I also know, that at some point, you will realize that you had two nights in a row, then three, and then a week of good sleep. 

For us, it was sudden. When my son walked at 15 months, I felt the elation of our first full night of sleep. It didn’t take long for it to be a regular occurrence.

It did take quite some time for me to feel refreshed, despite full nights of sleep. Your body needs to catch up. Be gentle with yourself.

Looking back, I cannot begin to fathom how we even survived, but I can tell you, we did only by the Lord carrying us through it.

My son’s name is written in my Bible next to this verse, and it is imprinted on my soul after saying it over and over, half-asleep and weary.

I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me. 

-Psalm 63:6-8

God IS hearing you.

He IS helping you.

He IS holding you up, as you struggle to stay awake and to comfort your child.

He IS equipping you to parent, work, and function, despite severe sleep deprivation.

 

Until Then

If you are reading this with red, stinging, tired eyes that you can hardly keep open, take heart, sleep is coming. 

If your child has reflux (GERD), and it is not responding to medication as our son didn’t, cling to the promise several doctors gave me and was TRUE for us: when your child walks, everything changes. The muscles develop, the pressure lifts from their stomach, and sleep comes.

This. Shall. Pass. I’ve experienced it.

Your child WILL sleep through the night, even if it feels like it may never happen. 

It will not be as soon as you’d like.

It will take you by surprise and suddenly life won’t seem like such a BLUR.

Your view of sleep will never be the same.

Even today, my son is 4 years old, and has slept through the night since 15 or 16 months. I still wake most mornings, grateful that my children slept all night long, and for their health.

When sleep comes, it will bring with it WAVES of gratitude.  

But, for now, cling to hope.  Be encouraged.

Keep loving your child.

If you feel like you’re just surviving, that is OK.

You are doing ENOUGH and I have no doubt that you are doing a GREAT job.

You are not alone.

 

A Salute to Working Moms

A Salute To Working Moms | thisgratefulmama.com

I could write an entire post (or a book?) on the joys, stresses, and challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. But today, I am writing about working moms. Moms who manage a household, parent their children and love their family, all while effectively doing a full-time job out of the home.

Let me also pause here to note that having my husband travel 3+ days a week for much of this year has given me new perspective on single parents. Of you, I. AM. IN. AWE.

I worked full-time for 2.5 years after my son was born. I transitioned to staying home when my daughter was born, over a year ago. I’m glad I was able to experience both. A day on each ‘job’ may be different, but both job has value, meaning, and sincere EFFORT put into them by hard-working and amazing moms.

Regardless of their ‘day job’, women in BOTH roles LOVE their kids and are dedicated and beloved mothers and wives.

A Salute To Working Moms | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Here are 5 Reasons I Admire Working Moms:

1. Punctuality

Getting my 2 kids up in the morning, fed, dressed, bags packed and in the car, ON TIME is not easy. If it has to be by 7:00 or 8:00 am, as many of you do for work, it is plain old HARD. How you get your children (and their STUFF) ready, then off to daycare or school, and ALSO get yourself ready and to work is an amazing feat.

2. Flexibility

You hear a noise at 5 am and find your child coughing and feverish. Your planned schedule or maybe that big meeting is blown to bits. When things don’t go as planned, working moms adapt. You MASTER scheduling. You quickly find alternate care and make every effort to meet obligations at home AND at work.  I know most moms do not have the LUXURY of working from home in a pinch like I did, so you selflessly use precious and well-earned vacation time to watch your kids.

3. Super Mom

Working a full day, and doing the job WELL takes a lot out of you. THEN, working moms quickly transition during what I consider to be the most chaotic period of the day. The kids are hungry, getting tired, have homework, and can be cranky. They are full of energy and stories of their day. A moment of quiet is not going to happen, and the parent is both cook and referee.  You worked all day, but you willingly help with their homework, spend quality time together, and have time to make it to their sporting events. You know that quality parenting isn’t about the number of hours spent together, but rather HOW those hours are spent. You are a blessing to your kids, and being selfish with the time you have outside of work isn’t your style.

4. Keeping House

Building off of #3, you feed your family healthy meals despite having very little time to do so. You spend your evenings and weekends making sure laundry and grocery shopping get done. You clean your house, keep your lawn looking pristine, and you are an amazing wife, mom, friend, and MORE. So much to do, so little time. All that you accomplish defies the rules of time.

5. Sleep deprivation has nothing on you

My son hardly slept the for the first 15 months of his life. I was a walking zombie.  I was exhausted ALL the time and my job really required me to be on time and to focus. When my son fell asleep at 5 am, I had to GET UP and get ready. Going back to sleep was not an option. Staying home, we can sleep until we wake up. The opportunity for me to take a nap is not frequent, but it is a real POSSIBILITY. Working moms do not get naps. You give your job your full attention. You do sometimes highly complex and demanding jobs WELL, despite sporadic (or consistent) sleep deprivation.

Working moms, while these are 5 reasons I admire you, trust me, there are more. I hope this encourages you today.

A Salute To Working Moms | thisgratefulmama.com