Small Wins

For anyone that has or had small children (0-3 age), you know the roller coaster of emotions involved with sleep and potty training. I’ve seen several people claim to be experts and offer expert advice on both subjects, but can anyone REALLY be an expert on something that is so vastly different between children and families? I don’t want to take any of their success away, because job well done- you made it and lived to tell the tale for other parents that need(ed) guidance. Referencing a previous post about Elusive Sleep, I have kids that do love their sleep. Occasionally there will be small hiccups, but New Kid’s latest hiccup lasted several weeks, 4-6 to be vague. (I honestly don’t remember, I was a little extra tired). I heard from a friend that when you’re exhausted, it’s like you’re drunk. That’s the best comparison I have ever heard, because it in fact felt like I was a low functioning zombie. I was physically present at work, physically present at home, but I just couldn’t shake the “I’m so incredibly tired feeling”. That didn’t pair well with a growing toddler that will only poop in her pull-up while-ish sleeping.

If you are someone like me, you have to find the root cause of the behavior. I am still nursing, so was I drinking too much caffeine (again, to try and function throughout the day)? Was I not providing enough protein? Was I putting New Kid down for bed too early? He would comfortably go to sleep around 6:30-7:00pm, and consistently wake up between 1:00am-3:00am in the morning. That would be entirely fine, if my alarm wasn’t going off at 4:30am to start the day. That break in sleep was slowly killing my spirit, day by day. Some people may be asking, why was I only focusing on “Me” and what “I” was causing for the lack of sleep? That’s a different blog post for another day. Husband frequently suggested New Kid simply needed to learn to self soothe. Well, easier said than done. I would much rather get up, nurse New Kid back to sleep for ten minutes, than listen to a cranky-crying-baby for 2 hours. That lack of sleep was really impacting everything, on top of riding the aggressive hormone roller coaster- something had to give.

I finally reached my limit one night and listened to New Kid cry at the edge of his crib. Full disclosure, I was out on the couch staring at the baby monitor. I had thought, well, I’ll give him a few minutes, see if he tries to go back to sleep. Maybe I’m not giving him enough time to settle. Besides, I had done this NUMEROUS times before during nap times, or evenings he was overly tired. Heck, he was even eye rubbing so I knew he was tired! So, I let him cry for a few minutes at the edge of his crib. Then a few more minutes went by, and I realized if I went in to save the day now, it’s only going to teach him to cry louder and longer and that I’ll come running. After about an hour of staring at the monitor, he finally laid down and rolled over and went to sleep. I repeated that process for two nights. On the third night he slept through, and I got my first full night of seven hours of sleep.

That next morning, I woke up and was actually awake before coffee. I have always been a bit of a morning person, even without coffee. I enjoy starting my day earlier, I feel I accomplish more. That morning I felt like a winner. I got up, made my coffee, turned on the news, pumped, and my daughter climbed out of bed (on her own- also a work in progress) and joined me for some breakfast. It was a great morning. Next, I suggested she get ready for daycare while I shower. Naturally, I could only enjoy the small win for a moment, while I planned and plotted how I could get my daughter to use the toilet at daycare to poop, instead of her pull-up. While I’m working through various options, bribes, “motivational tools”, my daughter walks into the bathroom and quietly says “mom, I pooped”. My first question was, “in your pull-up or the potty?” She responds, “mom, I pooped in the potty”. Some people may jump for joy right away. I was cautious because these words were spoken often- without any follow through. As soon as I got out of the shower, Kid grabbed my hand to excitedly show me she in fact poop in her potty. Again, any parent with a potty training toddler, knows the excitement I had when I saw she did it on her own. Without coaxing, bribing, begging, pleading, she did it all on her own. I am so proud of her efforts, we made some “potty cakes” the very next day! Another disclosure, we made boxed Funfetti cupcakes that she loves to call “potty cakes”. Let’s be real, that label is so much better!

After a long month and a half of exhaustion, stress, life… Both kids surprised me and reminded me why it’s amazing being a parent. There are often sacrifices, like sleep and sanity that parents make. Those sacrifices often go unnoticed by coworkers, friends, supervisors, family, because they either don’t know, or haven’t lived those moments. To all those parents that struggled, are struggling, about to struggle, you’re not alone. Life is exhausting without baby sleep protests, or potty training toddlers. Each day brings a new challenge and together, we can not only survive and live to tell the tale, but enjoy it along the way. Don’t ever discount a small win. Overtime, those small wins are what bring smiles to my face and positive memories to look back on. 

Rare view: wide awake baby 2:00am.

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