Sleep Training is Bullshit

I may have discovered a secret to the universe of sleeping babies. No it’s not a technique, or a magic pill, or a training schedule. It’s much simpler. Have no expectations and be in the present moment. Surrender to them. Thats right, let them decide when, how and if they want to nap and go to sleep, live your life and have them fit into it and get them out of the house! Babies need to feel a sense of community! 

sleep deprivation at it's finest

For a few weeks Maya my 8.5 month old daughter has been having quite a hard time sleeping. I’ve been calling her my sleep nemesis. She keeps me up at all hours and won’t sleep when I want her to, turning me into a very grumpy mama. I feel like we struggle together for sleep. I’ll be in the middle of eating dinner and she’ll get grumpy, I take her to bed, to then discover that she just needs a little booby snack. Seriously, 5 minutes later, she is high energy, crawling around all over the place. How can this be? I feel defeated and annoyed. I spent all of this time, gave up my dinner, took time away from an adult conversation, created a peaceful environment and my baby still doesn’t want to go to sleep. There must be apocalyptic doom on the horizon. WTF is the matter with her??? Go to sleep! The sleep books say that babies 8-12 months need 15 hours of sleep a day, including naps right? And that scheduling when they sleep will make my life easier? Hell No! I could create a time on my calendar and no matter how much booby I gave her, there is nothing that is going to tame that wild child.

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Most advice is not in the least bit helpful, and it’s really starting to piss me off, reading articles written by sleep experts. The articles I read say things like Your baby just wants to be cuddled all day long. Really…..?? if she did then she wouldn’t be screaming while she’s in a cozy wrap snuggled up to my warm body.

She really just wants to crawl around the house and put very dangerous objects in her mouth. I know this not because I read it somewhere, but because I’ve witness it everyday. When did the articles with parenting advice take on more of an important role than our own experience and intuition?

Some nights she’ll want to nurse every single hour. While I’m ok with that and can easily sleep through nighttime nursing, what I can’t take is when she kicks my belly and rolls around distracted.   And when she’s done, if I dare move the boob away from her or decide I need to roll over, guess who’s up screaming for me to come back. Then boob back in her mouth to get her to sleep all over again.

Yesterday morning I got up, exhausted, confused and upset that I have no idea when she’ll take a nap today, if she’ll take one or what time and how well she will sleep at night. I wake up and the first thing I do is stress about about the fear of another day without sleep.

I’ve been thinking about this issue non stop, how do I get her to sleep better and more peacefully? What am I doing wrong? Some days she sleeps great so there must be something to it.

Yesterday was a big day, we went to the farmers market, went shopping for the groceries at the brighter day, saw a lot of friends and then came home to do some cleaning and food preparing for a friends birthday party. Then around 5:30 pm we all went out to a wine party at our friend Jessica’s and an hour and a half later at 7pm we headed over to another friends place for oysters! We stayed out until 11pm before heading home. Bringing Maya along felt so natural. We had a great time and felt comfortable relaxing, having a few glasses of wine, and spending time with our friends that we haven’t seen in a while.

What happened over the next 24 hours was so f’ing incredible, it almost brought me to tears talking about it tonight. When we got home, I put Maya in bed and she went straight to sleep. She slept until 3 am and nursed, calmly for about half an hour. I even slept through it! Then she went back to sleep and didn’t get up again to nurse until 5! I got up early this morning to put some food together for Ash’s trip to Virginia. Came back to bed after he left and nursed. Then it all got even more amazing. Maya slept in until 8:30. That means that I got to sleep until 8:30!

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I got up nursed her again, we got dressed, went to the kitchen where Maya played while I cooked breakfast! I was able to make breakfast without having to hold her, she was so chill. Then I this morning I let her play on her own time and nurse and be held when she wanted to and then fall asleep on her own. She took a nap at 11:30 for an hour! Playful this afternoon and took another hour long nap this eve when I went to yoga, my friend who watched her said she slept most of the time I was gone. As I write this she is in bed in the next room……sleeping. No joke, she is asleep. I’m sipping wine reflecting back on how this can all be happening? How??

Then I started to think about all of the other days that she sleeps well and what they had in common with yesterday. It dawns on me, the days that she sleeps well (regardless of teething, growth spurts, noise) these common things occur:

  1. We spend a considerable amount of time outside of the house. Grocery shopping, visiting friends, walking in the park, going to the post, thrift shopping, working ion the garden etc. She needs to get out of the house and be exposed to new environments  and to explore new places. I can tell that she gets easily bored of the being in the same environment.
  2. We spend time around other people, around new energy. Just like us grown ups, we need silly interactions, kid interactions, adult conversations, conversations with men and women. She seems to connect easily with others, and has since she was born. I think it is very important for her to see many different people in their own elements. Different looks, hair styles, personalities.
  3. When we are with those other people they are holding her and interacting with her, not just watching me with her. Kids need community more than they need the nuclear family. I think that Maya gets tired of the dynamic of it just being Ash and I around her all the time. She needs new dynamics with new people, babies, adults, men, women, boys and girls! We all do. We spend so much time in our small cozy nuclear family and shut the rest of the world out. We just can’t thrive without other connections. I am sure it feels really special to her when she has people other than mama and papa who make her laugh, hold her, talk to her, play games with her, etc.
  4. I don’t stop what I’m doing to get her a nap. She takes naps around my schedule , whether it’s in the carseat, in the wrap on my back, walking through the market, holding her while chatting with friends. Her naps don’t happen at the same time everyday and I’ve been fighting her about that, why doesn’t she want to nap every morning at 10 am?? I’ve had these expectations that aren’t being met because they are silly and unrealistic. They are what is causing me the suffering, not that Maya doesn’t nap everyday. It’s because everyday is different, so why should my parenting be so regimented?
  5. I don’t stop what I am doing to put her to bed. If I’m having wine with friends and she wants to sleep, she’ll nurse and fall asleep in my arms while I am conversing and hanging out. Why do I need to take her to bed to “put” her to sleep? Why not just wait for her to fall asleep and either put her in bed if I’m home or hold her when I’m out? This realization will save me so much trouble. It’s the times that I try to force to to sleep under my terms that I get upset when she doesn’t. Babies need consistency but they also need to know that we know them and know what they need as their needs change.

When she was first born her sleeping habits were much better than they are now. And the more I think about it the more I realize that my expectations then were a lot different than they are now. She was born during the summer so we were out much more, at the beach, visiting friends, traveling. I really think that the hard ship has come from being indoors so much and staying home. It wasn’t alway like this, and it doesn’t have to be. We just need to be much more proactive about changing her scenery more often.

There is no formula for sleep, every baby has different needs that each family has to discover on their own. Babies are more recently born into nuclear situations and not into big communities. We all need many connections to thrive and feel heard and loved. We need a large experience of our world, not just to be isolated in the captivity of a “modern family.” I bet that the times when her sleep is erratic and not peaceful are the days when she feels stir crazy and under stimulated.

Once I stop expecting her to sleep or be a certain way then I can fully see her and appreciate her and her needs in the moment.

“The mind spends most of the time lost in fantasies and illusions, reliving pleasant or unpleasant experiences and anticipating the future with eagerness or fear. While lost in such cravings or aversions, we are unaware of what is happening now, what we are doing now.” S.N Goenka

Anicca – Impermanent

Much Love,

Sarah

P.S. Another trick that I learned recently. Maya will play by herself for 45 minutes inside of the fridge. I bring her in the kitchen, open the fridge and let her play. This gave me time to cook, clean, sweep! Amazing!

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Half Asleep Parenting 101

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Me to Ash in the early morning hours pre sunrise, after feeding Maya.

“Can you mop her?”
No response
“Can you mop her?”
Still nothing.
“Ash can you please mop her?”

“Are you asking me to burp her?”

“Yea, that’s what I said.”

The Naming of Da Baby

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Our name is our identity, and is carried with us throughout our lives. It connects us with our heritage and our family, the experience of our birth and place, and the magic of our being. For centuries, humans have been named based on family lineage, religion, cultural background and the symbolism surrounding each individual before, during and after birth. Considering all of this, we let her story speak to us and ultimately through her name. We hope she grows to appreciate this connection when her name is spoken by her and others.

We are so blessed to have her.

Maya Maizie Tuck Aymond

June 12th 9:20 am,  7.7 lbs, 21 in

Maya: Water – She came to me in a dream twice and told me that she would be born in water, so I had strong feelings that we would share a connection with the water. When she has returned to the water since birth, she transforms into the image of an aware and calm little buddha.

Maya is also the name for the Gautama Buddha’s mother. Ash and I spent 10 days in a silent meditation retreat learning the art of Vipassana: a form of meditation discovered by the Gautama Buddha. An experience that has forever changed us, we learned how having deep compassion for others and ourselves can help us from holding on to negative emotions. It was also the first time that I felt her move inside of me. I was 20 weeks along. It was very challenging, but helped us to release our pain bodies to be more fully present as parents and partners. Maya’s ingenuity permits and inspires one to release themselves from the illusion of permanence, embrace the moment, and glimpse the possibility of enlightenment.

Maya also means “earth mother”. When she was one week old, we introduced her to the power of the beach and the ocean, and have returned there every week since. When she cries, just going outside immediately calms her. Rocking her in the hammock on our balcony with the cicadas and birds chirping is her favorite!

Maizie: Pearl – the oldest known gem and also her birthstone for the month of June. In ancient Arabic and Persian mythology, oysters would go to the surface of the ocean to get a glimpse of the moon, and swallow dewdrops that would transform into pearls. Maya is a child of the moon, conceived by the moon, symbolizing the moon and all of it’s powers. She was born the morning of a very powerful strawberry moon, one that we will not see again in our lifetime!

Before she was conceived, I had two dreams that I would give birth to her in a ceramic tub in a big Victorian house. But the plan was to give birth in a more comfortable birthing pool that I had ordered on-line. Moved by the moon’s power, she came ten days before expected. The pool hadn’t arrived yet, so she was born as I had dreamt it.

A name of the water and moon. We welcome her with love:

Maya Maizie Tuck Aymond, our little Dhamma Baby.

 

Much Love and Blessings,

Sarah and Ash

 

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The Freebirth of Maya Maizie

IMG_6652June 12th, 2014 9:20 am 38 + 4

My birth experience was not like anything I was expecting. My sensations were unlike anything I was imagining based on years of birth stories, months of taking online courses and connecting to strong women. I was expecting to go through all the stages of labor. That early labor would feel like stronger braxton hicks (which I never felt) and I would cycle through the stages until intense transition and pressure of the baby coming down for birth. I expected light waves of discomfort through my belly, contractions from fundus all the way down, and contractions that would periodically get stronger and stronger until our babe was ready. Instead, I woke up at 5am in intense transition, shaking….unable to communicate…intense period like cramps that clamped down on my body and left me unable to find comfort…..and almost 4.5 hours later our daughter was born into my arms and the arms of her papa, my amazing partner Ash.

Most women talk about how long they were in labor, from the beginning of the real contractions to baby coming out in to the world. The more and more I think about how long I was in labor the more I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter. I could probably say that it started the afternoon before, but honestly who’s counting, I don’t need to figure it out. I chose to surrender to the mantra As It Is, not as I want it to be or as it was for another woman but as it is for me. My body did exactly what it was designed to do in it’s own way and not as any other woman. Once I surrendered to this understanding and stopped comparing myself to other experiences I felt a sense of pure freedom surge through my body.

The afternoon before June 12th I was cleaning our house for our German guest that were arriving that afternoon. I began to feel really intense cervical pressure, I call them cervix punches since they felt like the baby was poking at my cervix in attempt to escape. (Her head was low and engaged for weeks, I could feel her inside of my yoni when I would check) My back was also really tense and achy, I could barely walk up the stairs to take a nap. I wasn’t really concerned about these sensations since I have felt them before for many weeks and felt back pain for months. I took some magnesium and slept through the pains. When I woke up and went to the bathroom I noticed blood. It was fleshy and pink. I knew immediately that my plug was coming loose. I got excited. Then I thought of a friend of mine who recently mentioned that her sister lost her plug and still hadn’t gone into labor weeks later. I was certain that the baby would be later than my due date, June 22nd.

I meditated and reminded myself to relax and not to have expectations, “as it is” I kept saying. Stay in the moment and relax. Everything that will happen will be perfect. I told my partner and then went out to dinner with my mom who was in town for the night. Thai food craving, I gave into pad thai and a sweet coconut milk drink. Still having mild cramps and back pain. I returned home, met our guests from Germany and enjoyed a glass of wine on the porch with them. The man told me that he was really excited for us to be having a home birth and amazed that my partner Ash would be there with me the whole time. “I couldn’t watch my children’s births, it made me queasy.” “Ash is a great man!” He explained with his thick Berlin accent. “You will have a great experience.” I laughed and said not for a few more weeks with a smile.

I went to bed and we cuddled and talked for an hour or so. Still feeling achy he gave me a back massage as he did most nights. We went to sleep and I woke up with a sharp cramp and the urge to pee. I hurried naked to the bathroom in the dark. I heard a loud splash in the toilet water and looked down to find the mucus plug and blood. Wow I thought, there it goes. We cleaned up the trail of blood I left and I went back to bed. I had to keep reminding myself to relax and not get too excited, the baby was still weeks away. We cuddled more and made love and fell asleep together.
I had this intense dream about missing a train to Paris because I was going into labor. I stood on the platform and felt the intensity of labor while the trains heaviness moved it towards it’s destination.

I immediately woke up around 4:30 with intense cramps and back pain unlike what i felt before. I laid in bed telling Ash that I couldn’t sleep through this and that it felt like something was squeezing me around my lower abdomen. He massaged me but it wasn’t helping me get through. The intensity of the squeeze would hit me and I couldn’t think or relax. I got up and tried to walk around to feel more into this sensation. Every time it came, which felt like only minutes in between it became more and more intense. I laid back down hoping cuddling and breathing would help me through. We laid facing each other and while looking in his eyes, I felt an hard punch and more cramps. I think the baby hit me so hard she broke my water. It broke with a even more intense cramp. I got up and let it all out on the floor. Then diarrhea came on strong and I rushed to the bathroom. I was shaking and nauseous. I kept thinking if this is early labor there is no way I can do this for 20 + hours. I was imagining that since this was my first it would last a while. The contractions didn’t feel like contractions, they felt like intense squeezing of my lower abdomen with sharp pains.

I got in the shower and leaned over my yoga ball letting the hot water hit my back. The contractions were intense and lasted about 30-45 seconds each. They seemed to be coming quickly and when Ash was timing them he found that in a span of 45 minutes that I was in the shower they went from 5-3.5 minutes apart. I was out of my thinking mind and completely in my feeling body. I was irritated and restless, nothing I did helped the discomfort. Ash stood on the other side of the glass giving me loving empathetic vibes. Everytime one would hit I would go inward and hold my breath. I felt that I was past the point of meditation or breath work for the intensity I was experiencing. The only thing i could focus on was getting through those intense sensations.
I got out of the shower when the water went cold and laid on the bed. I would make a fist when the contraction would hit and then breath when it was over to signal to Ash. Talking and logical thinking was not in the realm of consciousness for me. I was an animal, in my body to the fullest extent, moaning, primal….it was something of the animal and spirit world combined. Ash was by my side the whole time holding space, keeping me grounded, sending positive love without coaching or smothering me. His presence was perfect.
I got on the floor because I felt I needed to hug the bed. There were no waves, no feeling of my uterus rolling and contracting. It was an intense squeeze. Sharp, paralyzing, it hurt to move. So intense at this point, that the only thing that helped was holding my breath. I was on the floor shaking, feeling flushed, nauseous….I got scared and started to cry. I told Ash out of breath that I couldn’t do this if they were going to feel this way for another 20 hours! I said if this is early labor then I can’t do it.He said nothing. He wasn’t ignoring me, just witnessing me and holding a space that I could be myself in, that I could go through what I had to. He held my hand and I told him that I needed to be in the water. Intuitively he knew this and had already started the bath downstairs. The birth pool that we ordered had not yet arrived in the mail.
We had the bathroom downstairs for our guests so he told them that I wasn’t feeling good and having bad cramps and needed the bath. Not wanting them to be worried by telling them I was in labor.
None of this I knew at the time, I was doing no thinking from my left brain what so ever.
I got into the tub and submerged myself into the water so that only my face was above the water. With every contraction I held the sides of the tub and my breath. Wondering how long this would go on. Surrendering to knowing i was bringing my child into the world. I let go of the notion that my labor would be like any other I had read stories about and just let the water take over my body. With every contraction I felt the water over me and felt safe. I stopped thinking about the length of contractions and stopped wanting to ask Ash what time it was. It felt like half a day had passed. (Not knowing the time was really liberating. It felt like half a day had passed and I had no expectations or need to know the time) I laid there and went through 10 or so. Ash came in and out of the space, it was bright early morning. Natural sunlight was coming into the bathroom. I was watching the cherry tree outside through the frosted window above the tub.
He came in and filled the tub with hot water and put cold compresses on my head and shoulders. Again I had a moment where I didn’t think I could make it. I told him, I can’t do this as I was surrendering in the water. I was moving around the water finding comfort, I had cramps between the intense cramps and it felt like they were hitting me like a train with no stopping. He timed them without my knowledge and I found out later they were 2 minutes apart. He sat there with me and the oxytocin was flowing heavy in this loving space, he didn’t respond to my worries he just sat there and knew that I was going to be alright. As I was saying I can’t I WAS!
Then she started moving down, this feeling was like throwing up but down and pooping. I got through the sensation by grunting and moaning. The more I felt into and resigned to this sensation I realized this is the baby coming through my cervix and getting closer to the world. (This being my first birth experience I was feeling sensations I had never before felt) I went through about 10 of these sensations of pressure, didn’t push or use any extra force. I even tried to at one point to push and my body wouldn’t let me. My body took over and the bearing down came from my body’s natural sense not from me trying to do it. I had no control, it felt like the fetal ejection reflex.

I put my hand between my legs and felt her head, she had already come through my cervix. I was in disbelief that it was happening so quickly. About half an hour of the bearing down sensation and there she was! About 8 more of these sensations and breathing and guiding my body not to give into the urge to push or move her too fast and her head was in the water! Cord around her neck once. Ash and I put our hands on her head leaving her submerged. One more contraction and she started to move out a bit and then retract, she kicked me inside and stimulated another contraction immediately, I felt her shoulders turn as she slid out into our hands. I held her while Ash removed the cord. She came out cooing and coughing. Eyes wide open staring up at us. Head full of hair and body covered in vernix, she was amazing and she smelled amazing.

I laid back on the tub and held her close to my body, we tilted her to drain fluids to help her breathe. We didn’t even look at the sex for what felt like 10 minutes because we assumed she was a boy after all of the feelings and dreams I have had. She started nursing and I felt my uterus contracting immediately. It was completely undisturbed and free but not unassisted in any way. It was perfect. Ash held such a deep sweet and safe space for us to labor and bring our daughter into the world.

I had several large clots, and passed my placenta 45 minutes later, the most amazing feeling of relief! I took motherwort and cotton root bark tincture because I felt that there was some excess bleeding, which was probably just normal for me but I wanted to take the precautions anyway. We waited an hour and a half to cut the cord, when it stopped pulsing and used a piece of sharp obsidian stone to cut it with .

It was the most perfect primordial experience that we have ever had. We are blessed to have gone on this journey together to bring our daughter into the world undisturbed and without intervention. To give birth as nature intended women to do on a full honey moon that none of us will ever see again in our lifetime. It is the greatest gift.

As for the Germans. They heard the whole thing and were giving Ash hugs when he would go out to bring me food and water. I never saw them and even though I knew they were there subconsciously I felt safe. The space was sacred and when I woke up I was already so far along in the birth experience that I didn’t have the thought process to worry. Ash held it down for us to feel safe, so much so that our daughter feels immediately grounded with him when he touches her.

To my loves…. Ash and Baby.

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DIY Pee-Rags

I counted the number of times that I pee everyday at 32 weeks pregnant……21! And that’s on a day that I haven’t been drinking much! After going through packs and packs of TP I realized that I can just take old cloth and cut it to size. Maybe this is TMI but honestly I think that it is important to think about how much toilet paper everyday.

Reasons to Switch to Cloth:

1. Saves Money! We like to buy the organic toilet paper that is better for the environment and it runs about $13 a pack for 12.

2. Better for the environment, keeps my mark on the world out of supporting the harvesting of trees for paper to wipe our butts!

3. It keeps textiles out of landfills. I take holey socks, ripped shirts, torn underwear, worn out pajamas–you name it–and turn them into pieces of cloth instead!

4. No BPA’s on your bum! How is it that BPA and BPS are making their way into these recycled paper products you ask? It comes primarily from something called thermal paper. Thermal paper has been coated with BPA, usually in order to reduce fading, especially when it comes to paper receipts. It’s also found in some newspapers, magazines, tickets, flyers, and so on. As these papers are recycled the BPA they contain can be mixed in with items you certainly don’t want contaminated, such as recycled toilet paper. Using recycled TP means applying an endocrine disruptor and carcinogenic chemical directly to some of your most sensitive areas.

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Making these cloths are really simple. Take old clean fabric, socks…..tee shirt, flannel, dresses, towels….you can use pretty much anything that suits your comfort fancy.

Cut them into squares and make a special place for the by your toilet. I just lay them on top of the toilet but you could have a special bowl or basket for them.

When you finish put them into another container by the toilet. I prefer a lined box to plastic, something about wet on plastic can mold. I like paper boxes, or cloth lined bins.

Also, I like to add some essential oils to my wipes before use for an extra refreshing touch.

I like to make lots of these (100 +) depending on how much you wash clothes. I just throw them in with the wash. And when the little one comes I plan to use with these cloths for the baby too.

 

Much Love and Metta,

Sarah