Friday, June 22, 2012

when they ask for a mission statement, this is what i will say

when i saw old people i was astonished, even confused.

how did they survive for so long?  how were they still breathing and not just that but moving, and doing

eight of my friends had been killed suddenly, all of them young and so so so full of life and passion and dreams.  I wasn't conscious after the accident, didn't lay eyes on one of them in the west african bush clinic and then they were gone, no goodbye.  i was 24, the wave hit, the sky went black and the world was all wrong.

the fragility of it all returns sometimes when i hear the stories of others - moms and dads with cancer especially, when their children still need them (do we ever outgrow that need?).  it pounds in my ears, this groaning so loud, creation's labour pains roaring across our lives this way.  none of us are immune, no matter how hard we work, no matter how much we pray.

its hard enough to walk in winter's darkness, carrying our loss heavy through her barren places.  grief is always solitary, even when we share it with others we are still alone.

but even harder is the thawing to spring, the enticing breeze and shedding our layers to expose skin, also our hearts.  how do we trust that the mountains won't shake again, that our optimism won't be found foolish and the next strike worse than the last?

but we must.

we must unpack boxes and hang up our curtains.  we must throw our seeds in the abandoned lots of our neighbourhood.  we must get married, make love, make babies even in this exile of disorientation, uncertainty and wound-ability.  we must confess our hope, confess our fertility, and lay out our clothes for the morning, our bellies stretching with new life again.

this confession doesn't protect us, but it is true.

it's the dimly lit one room home in which i sat with an indonesian woman, newly married and pregnant.  her bed was a thin mattress on the floor, all her belongings in neat piles around.  above her bed she had painted a window with curtains pulled back and I could see the green fields and blue skies of the new world coming, even in her crowded city, even in her own poverty.  she was a prophet and my spirit was stirred.

may my own eyes see as clearly, and yours as well.

the earth turns upside down

I try to see things through
your eyes
what seemed great is trifling
what seemed solid is fragile
what seemed eternal fades away
the earth turns upside down
what was once lost now lives
what was once weak conquers
what was once poor buys the whole world

song:  prayers from prague and other places

daniel raus

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

it's getting easier (the more he lets go)

a few days of rain come out of nowhere.  i'd just hung another pile of clean, wet laundry on the line, sun shining and inviting, the wind just right.  within thirty minutes the downpour began.  i didn't worry until it didn't stop, the roof started leaking in all the familiar places.  we know the drill, put the towels down just there.  explain to the boy why that water is dirty, and why it's in our pot.

the rain didn't stop, comforting in the evening but depressing in the morning, and the next day and the next.  i wouldn't do well in Seattle or even my husband's hometown.  i don't really like the rain all that much.

with the dripping ceiling came the dripping noses, 2 under 2.  chris and i swallowed whole oranges, gargled salty waters and took our zinc.  please, not the parents too.  the boy coughed and coughed in the night, every 40 minutes he needed someone to help him find the way back to sleep.  he was awake for about 3 hours for two nights in a row.  i claimed the sleeping girl and we split up.  chris said he just wanted to be held on the couch, not even rocked.  the demand is decreasing, the proximity remains.  i hope that never changes.

chris says its getting easier, the more he lets go in the night, the more he can hold.  i catch myself singing an old switchfoot song as our baby girl sleeps in his arms now, just next to me. 

Daisy, give yourself away
Look up at the rain
The beautiful display
Of power and surrender
Giving us today
And she gives herself away

Linking up with Just Write at the EO.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Sleep ("We night-weaned him. I swear." and other closing remarks)

I've been sharing our family's ever emerging gentle sleep saga, with our two under two,  starting here.

The gentle sleep ideas were working and the 8 wake ups a night that were happening 6 months ealier were greatly reduced.  Safran and I stopped partaking in the joys of dairy which basically ended the extended night waking episodes that were plaguing us. He even slept all night (if you consider 5am morning) for a total of about two weeks before and after his new sister changed our world. So how did the baby (who was now a big brother) end up back in our bed?

the boy who can(not) sleep anywhere!!
We did night-wean Safran in the sense that he no longer had breastmilk in the night. And for many children when that happens they stop waking in the night all together, but generally Saf did still wake once or twice.  When Saf had a great night we were nearly superstitious about re-creating his environment in the same way.  Same pj's, socks or no socks, how exactly did he fall asleep?  did you lay him on a pillow?  What time was his bath?  What did we have for dinner again? 

It was almost hilarious, our way of embracing optimism for the night to come.

At the end of my pregnancy he and Chris slept in a different room than me so that I could get solid sleep (I was tiiiired, as most pregnant women are) and we continued that arrangement after Jubilee was born, assuming her night wakings would disturb Saf's sleep if we all stayed together. When Saf woke, Chris would cradle him in his arms and bounce him back to sleep on the end of the bed. It usually took less than ten minutes to have them both sleeping again. Chris could handle this a couple times a night.

After Jubilee's birth Saf began waking a bit more frequently which is normal for toddlers experiencing massive upheaval. Then he started to cut his molars and was waking 4-5 times a night. Chris was tired and his back was starting to really hurt from bouncing our 30lb+ son back to sleep. And then Saf caught a cold and struggled to sleep through his cough.   Jubilee was sleeping a good eight hours straight at just the right time and Saf seemed to really need his mama.

So I slept next to him.  We were hesitant at it could mean the unraveling of the months of nightweaning, but he needed me and the alternative was harder.  He woke a few times in the night for a bit of milk and he would fall quickly back to sleep.   Chris woke up refreshed.  That did it.  We voted him back in.

Saf just wasn't ready to sleep through the night. It's a developmental milestone and he isn't there yet and we don't want him to cry it out.   These days he sleeps until 6:30 or 7 am with 2-4 wake ups. He still needs to cut ten more teeth so I have a feeling he isn't going to sleep really well until that happens. We thought 2 would be the magic age but now I'm guessing it's 3. (We can hope, can't we?)

All the night weaning work wasn't for nothing. Safran no longer needs to suck completely to sleep like he did when we began implementing gentle sleep ideas.  I almost always end the feed with "nai nai is all done" and I count to ten, unlatch him and he will usually roll over and get comfy. Occasionally he will crawl in between me and Chris, probably looking for more warmth as we head into winter.  I do have nights that are hard (which is probably why I began writing these posts on sleep) but generally it feels good enough.

And jubilee? Yep, our wonder sleeper has woken up. She's waking multiple times in the night for the past couple of weeks. I'm guessing it's the four month sleep regression: the world is too exciting for her to eat properly in the day (although I try, and she still feeds every 2 hours it seems) so she is making up for missed calories in the night. She's hungry. And on the second wake up, which is anywhere from 2-5 am, I bring her into bed with us.

Yep. Four in the bed.

the family bed is also my children's favorite play space.  (J doing her mandatory daily reading)

It's so much nicer there, so much warmer and cozier and I really love sleeping next to my baby girl. Occasionally they both need me at the same time so I will tell Saf to lay back down and go sleepy because Jubee needs mama.   Sometimes he will and sometimes he needs help so I will wake up Chris (Mr. Earplugs) to care for Saf.  It works for us.  I make sure I am between the children and prefer to have Jubilee between me and the bed rail although she occasionally ends up between me and Chris (at 5 months old this doesn't worry me too much).  I'm "rotisserie nursing", the thing I thought I couldn't handle. But I guess I can.  And when the children wake up for the day (between 6:30 and 7 at the moment) then they get up with dada and I roll over for a nice sleep-in. 

I received the loveliest message from Joan, a friend with three grown children whom she and her husband raised cross-culturally as Canadians living in South America.  It's extremely encouraging to hear from parents who have seen good fruit in their families after choosing the more tiring road of night-time parenting.  An excerpt from her note ...

"We parented [our boys] at the height of the "tough love" and "breaking the strong-willed child" [movement in North America] and we left that dogma to parent in a culture who adores and honors and "spoils" their children. Latinos believe that if you lavish love and anything else in your means upon your child, they will, in your old age, honor and care for you as their parent ... Without really realizing it, we started doing what our hearts instructed us to do- and cradling and accompanying the little ones in their night fears or restlessness was also part of that ... Do you know what one of them did when his hopes for marrying the girl that captivated his heart ended in a shattered heart? He called us every night (sometimes closer to dawn) when he couldn't sleep, and cried, because he knew he didn't have to cry it alone. From anywhere in the world, at any time of the day, love is given and received."

Her message inspired me to keep going, to keep caring for our children in the night in ways that feel right to us.  I want Safran as a young man to call me at dawn rather than cry alone if he is hurting.  I want Jubilee to know there are no time restraints on my concern for her, whether she's a toddler or teenager, even if I'm really tired the next day.  I want these night time needs to be met now, rather than repressed to then surface later for attention from unhealthy sources.  For now, there is just enough room in the bed for everyone, just enough sleep, just enough grace. Sometimes barely, but just enough.

How are your nights going?  Do you have any gentle ideas that help(ed) your children sleep better?  Any encouragement for tired mamas out there?