To the One

For being a courageous person, I haven’t felt very fear-less lately.

Haven’t felt like stepping out.

And along with that, my goal of using this as a platform to hear others’ voices, a chorus of courageous ones together has not been happening.

In fact, I’ve failed to post someone’s blog who accepted my invitation to guest post after I was so deeply moved by her heart and asked for more of her writing.

9 months later, here is a powerful ode to many. To the ones who fight for alive hearts, here is a guest post by Deni Elise Gustafson. My dear friend and only sister.

To the one who grew up too soon
To the one who had tears that came much later than the moment of pain
To the one who didn’t hear what was needed
To the one who has experienced the death of so much
To the one who had their childhood stolen, their innocence stolen
To the one that had to say goodbye to hopes and dreams again
To the one that was broken on the inside with a smile on the outside
To the one who had to be strong when everything was crumbling
To the one who couldn’t join in with lighthearted banter
To the one who is fighting a battle unseen to the naked eye
To the one who cannot even voice feelings for there are too many and not enough all at once
To the one who has been misunderstood and misrepresented
To the one who never heard, “Will you forgive me? I was wrong”
To the one who is trying every day just to make sure food is on the table and beds are warm
To the one who feels like giving up
To the one whose health has dripped out through praying hands

To the one who fights for gratefulness against all odds
To the one who chooses to believe He is good
To the one who stands up for themselves when everything says to back down
To the one who speaks up even when their voice has grown hoarse
To the one who fights for a heart that is alive and feels
To the one who gives kindness and forgiveness even when undeserved
To the one who lets wonder live in childhood and beyond
To the one who lives generously in faith that provision will come
To the one who creates a safe place even if just in hearts shared
To the one who is trustworthy and keeps their word
To the one who is weak and therefore strong
To the one who lives like eternity is real
To the one who believes, hopes, and endures

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:23 NIV

 

If your heart is numb the first time reading, like mine was, let me encourage you to read it again a second or third time. The power of these words go deep and sometimes it takes a bit for a distracted hearts to settle in and feel.

Find more creativity by Deni give a follow on Instagram:

@missdenipenny and @theconfidentgiraffe

@missdenipenny

Blessings in light,

Ailene

Postpartum Bliss

I’ve gotta write this down.
It’s entitled “Postpartum Bliss” because that’s what this season has been.
And it’s so starkly different than my first experience, struggling so deeply with undiagnosed postpartum depression.
Part of me feels like I’m holding my breath, having squeaked by the first 6 weeks with only low moments, that I’m able to come out of. And living from one high to the next of this joyful life.
I was all set to see a doctor this time around and even say yes to help for chemical or hormonal imbalances.
It’s just not happening. Tears in my eyes to type that out.
How my postpartum experience has really been…
  • Easy.
  • It makes sense.
  • I feel like my little and big prayers are being answered and heard. They were, of course, last time. But it didn’t feel like it.
  • Not living with anxiety and guilt constantly weighing on me and in all of my thoughts and mind pictures.
  • Getting sleep!
  • Knowing how to do this breastfeeding relationship and being amazed at how well she has done from the very beginning. She does have a pretty serious lip tie, but it doesn’t bother her or I. I guess that happens with lip ties- sometimes they cause all kinds of problems and sometimes, for some reason they just don’t.
  • Understanding how to get my newborn to know her nights from her days and her being able to sleep through the night at 1.5 months old. (She stays asleep while I give her a dream feed when I go to bed, and I wake up 2 times when I hear her starting to come out of sleep and she goes right back).
  • I can actually work out. Without feeling like my body has fallen apart and will take years, if it ever recovers (now I know that it did recover, instead of the weight of constantly not knowing).
  • With getting good sleep and being able to fight anxiety & guilt, I’m enjoying my days.
  • I feel no guilt in being extravagantly good to myself.
  • Being thoroughly grateful for my toddler having care outside the home for 4 mornings a week and then a solid afternoon nap so that I’ve even had alone time since I’ve been off of work. By the time he does wake up, I’m so missing him that the time I have with him is so enjoyable to me. Drinking it in as he’s growing so fast!
  • Because of all the ease and rest available to me, I’ve been able to enjoy my 2 babies even though there’s definite craziness to 2 under 2 years old, I think I haven’t felt the full craziness of it yet. I’m so grateful we are all able to nap! How do people do this with older kiddos?! (I’m sure there’s grace for that, too).
  • During my maternity leave, I did what I enjoy- baking, watching movies, reading some of the best fiction books, planning my future workouts, cuddling my baby (sometimes when you have a newborn it’s easy to forget to just hold them because you enjoy it, not just to meet all their needs), bubble baths.
  • An Epsom salt bath just a few days after birth brought such a sense of normalcy to my upside down world. It was so soothing physically and emotionally. I just had a feeling that everything would be all right.
  • Accepting help with joy from family and just taking it easy.
  • Taking naps daily AND sleeping in. (My babies both have gone to sleep later at this stage and slept later for a full 10.5-11 hours, with 3 or 4 feeds). Um, my first baby didn’t do this until 3 months old? And then completely dropped sleeping through, waking every hour for a regression stage, and THEN slept through with no feedings from 6.5 months on). I know what it’s like to have nothing work and I keep holding my breath that it might happen with baby girl. This brings me to another point…
  • Taking it one day at a time. Each day has enough grace in it. 💛
So, here is my ode to my amazing first 6 weeks, being able to enjoy my sweet girl and sweet life and being so thankful for each one of you who has uplifted me throughout my two pregnancies and postpartum seasons and prayed for me, reached out in any way.
I love you so and I’m so grateful for your support! It means the world to me and I pray for each one of you to have a season of joy upcoming, where things make sense again and you find yourself simply smiling again and your dreams don’t seem too far off. Where the hope of life and joy of life finally catch up to you again and maybe you haven’t even felt it since the magic of childhood, but I pray you’d feel it again. All the magic, all the hope and so much bright joy.
Love,
Ailene

An Open Note from a Very Pregnant Lady

Written January 25, 2019, 2 days before my daughter’s due date.

If I see one more self-righteous, shock factor pro-life photo or statement.

Listen, I’m as pro-life as they come. I’ve had a huge heart for babies who are unwanted and moreso a passion for mamas who are facing pregnancy that is unexpected and perhaps terrifying.

Before we dehumanize the situation by sharing traumatizing things, let’s think about who actually goes for an abortion.

She’s strong. Yet she’s faced with something most of us cannot fully relate to. Can you imagine her situation? She’s a college student who worked so hard to get her scholarships and she had a moment of passion or was, worse, put in this situation by force. Wouldn’t you want to press delete, too?

Yes, deleting a tiny bunch of cells who for sure will become a human is horrific. Yes, ending a heartbeat of a beautiful child is terrifying. But it’s not an easy choice and I don’t know who is righteous enough to look down on someone in that situation.

Maybe you just want to “get the word out” but just look into the eyes, the beautiful eyes of a woman who is in that situation and love her. Fight for her unborn child by supporting her. And even by giving her the dignity to make the choice herself. You just literally cannot save her child. It’s HER child and her choice to save him or her. She’s the one who will live with the choice, in every way and you might be able to come alongside and support her in a huge way by adopting her child. But the traumatic photo on Facebook? Who is that helping?

The statement full of shock factors that are just absolutely disturbing- is that gonna help HER? Or is it some battle you’re fighting against…against who exactly? “The other side”? Just make it personal because though it’s a human rights issue it’s the most intimately personal choice a woman could ever have.

To those who are in this place. You, brave woman, you are strong. You can make this choice. I hope you see the potential this tiny group of cells or this fully-formed human has inside of you and find courage to bring that person forth. This would be the most selfless and heroic thing you could ever do and I believe, the redemption key to your story. I think it will enable you to move forward and not hold you back. You can offer a child literally everything in giving them life. But it’s your choice to make. And I hope you feel the love so many of us have for you, though we’ve never faced what you’re facing and don’t know if we’d have the courage to follow through with what we are asking.

See yourself in five years. Where are you? Where is this little one? Can you be proud of this decision? Can you live with it? Not shame on you– can you live with it? But seriously, if this crushing weight you’re feeling was lifted, can you feel the life you’ll have? Make your decision that way and know you are loved.

To all the women I know who have had a child on their own, facing very uncertain circumstances and risking reputation, future career choices, everything- you are the most bad*ss woman out there. I feel barely worthy to wash your feet. I am astounded at all that you have given up to give life. I am ashamed at how easy I have it in so many ways, for pretty much no reason of my own.

I wish I could do more to advocate for YOU. To help you get the college degree you don’t have the time, finances or mental space to obtain because you’ve chosen to become a mother. To lift off the pressure you feel, bearing all the weight of parenthood on your strong but slim shoulders. To let you deeply, surely know that you are worth loving and being stayed with. Worth being honored and cherished. As a person, as a woman, not just because you are a mother. Girl, I wish I could give you security. For the future, heck, for right now. I can’t, but I will stand up for you and women like you for all my days, in any and every way I know how, and I won’t pretend to “know” you, to know your circumstances and to judge you according to my own standards. I promise to advocate for you and to love you and I commit to speaking highly of you because that’s all that is in my heart for you, all my days. I can’t say it in enough ways, you, you’re amazing. I can’t believe you chose to give life when so many wouldn’t, couldn’t, or haven’t. Thank you for making your child’s world your whole life and in so doing; giving us the whole world. Your son or daughter is one of the most amazing gifts we could ever have in this world and I just want to say, thank you.

Fear’s Words- Post by Hannah Rosenboom

This is a guest post, or you could say a “re-blog with permission” from Hannah Rosenboom of Sincerely Hannah. 

Find original post and blog here.

This specific writing of hers hit me so hard that I immediately wrote to ask if I could have her guest post like, right now on my blog and if she would even consider letting it be this exact post. 

One of the reasons I started Courage is in the Leap was to have a place to band together, creating a community of real people who are fighting to live courageously and who realize the power of doing it together. Hannah is just such a person and an amazing communicator. Her beautiful vulnerability shows not weakness, but amazing strength and inner fortitude. You can’t share deep authenticity without experiencing the “20 seconds of brave phenomenon”- basically just jumping out there and doing it. That takes so much courage. So here is her post and please go give Hannah some love over at sincerelyhannah.net

“How are you so weak that you can’t even handle adjusting to one baby? Heaven help you if you ever have to adjust to more than one child.

Why are you so pathetic?

No one else is having such a hard time with this.

Why can’t you get it together?

Just stop being so sensitive and needy.

You’re fine, stop complaining and pull your head up.

You’re not praying and in Scripture enough, and that’s why you’re dealing with all of this.

If you could just get it together and stop being so tired and lame and apathetic and actually do something, you’d be better.

Why can’t you lose the weight?

You’re not pretty enough.

You look like a mess all the time. You can’t even do your hair anymore. You look crazy.

Why can’t you at least look like you’re making an effort?

Why do you have to have so many panic attacks?

Why is everything so much more difficult for you than it is for everyone else?

You’re so pathetic, you can’t even handle a small inconvenience without having a meltdown.

Get over yourself, it’s not about you.

Stop being so selfish and start caring about someone other than yourself.

Wow, you did a terrible job handling birth.

You’re not a very strong person.

Other moms are at least normal. But you’re over here falling apart after a minor thing.

It’s been almost a year now, and you’re still dealing with this stuff?

I’m telling you, you’ve got to be a better Christian. Good Christians don’t struggle this much with minor difficulties.

Why do you have such a hard time making friends and being friendly?

People think you’re too hard to get to know, so it’s not worth it to be your friend.

You’re always misunderstood.

You’re too sensitive.

Why are you always the friend that cares and invests more? You always give more and don’t get the same level of friendship in return. It must mean people don’t want to be your friend.

You’ll never have a solid group of friends.

Can you please just act outgoing and friendly so people don’t think you’re rude and bitchy?

You’re never going to make friends if people think you’re rude and bitchy.

Pull yourself together, you’re being so dramatic. Things really aren’t that bad.

Wow, you’re having super dark thoughts. Your brain is messed up.

Well, you used to be a happy person. But things are different now. You’re not going back to that person. She was younger and more naive. You’re older and wiser now. It’s not possible to erase the last few years and get back to being happy.

You’re going to be like this for the rest of your life, just get used to the constant anxiety. The least you could do is make peace with it so you’re not constantly fighting.

Why are you so upset?

You have everything in the world to be happy about.

You have a great husband, a beautiful daughter, a cute house, good food, enough money, and your life is full of good things.

All of that and you’re still pouting and crying all the time. Unbelievable.

You’re so ungrateful.

You feel hollow inside and it doesn’t go away even when you’re doing things that bring you joy?

Your fault. Fix it.

Your daughter is growing up and this is what you’re going to teach her? This is the example she’s going to have? She deserves better. She doesn’t deserve this.

It’s almost her first birthday. You’ve spent the entire first year of her life dealing with this, and you’re never going to get this year back. You’ve really missed out. You could have been the mom she really needed but instead you chose to be anxious, sad, fearful, and hollow.

__________

I have spent the entirety of the last year in my head with these thoughts, constantly rushing through my brain and never being put to rest. I couldn’t turn them off.

The first step in getting better is recognizing that THESE AREN’T MY THOUGHTS. This is NOT my voice. This is NOT coming from my head. This is certainly NOT the voice of my Father.

These are not my words.

These are Fear’s words.

These are the words of someone who hates me. Who wants to beat me up so hard that I lie on the floor and never get up. These are the words of someone who wants me down for the count. Who wants me living as a shell of myself. Who wants me barely making it.

These are the words of someone who wants to take me out.

Who would really love it if I were dead inside. Who would really love it if I were dead period.

Well, this blog post is little me, as weak as I am, recognizing who is speaking to me, and refusing to tolerate this any longer. This is me saying, “ENOUGH.”

I’m getting up off the ground.

So Fear, you better run. Because this girl is about to fight back.

I may be weak, tired, beaten up, worn out, and covered in bruises, but I’m not dead, and I’m getting up now.

Every thought in my head that tells me I’m pathetic, weak, stupid, ugly, unloved, not enough, too much, and so on …. IS A LIE.

Fear, you better be scared for your life. Because now that I know it’s you who’s been speaking to me all these years, I’m fed up with you.

You’ve robbed me of rest. You’ve stolen my joy. You’ve stopped me in my tracks and pulled me out of the game. You’ve kept me trapped in a cage. You’ve taken my weapons right out of my hand and thrown me on the ground.

And I’m waking up to the truth of what’s been happening. And I’m saying ENOUGH.

Your words have tormented me for far too long.

Anxiety, are you listening? Fear, do you hear me? YOU BOTH CAN SUCK IT.

____

Quick word for anyone dealing with postpartum depression & anxiety – things are not all in your head. See your doctor and if you don’t feel heard, see someone else. I’ve learned that sometimes, your brain chemistry is off or your hormones are very out of whack – both were/are true for me. Get on a medication to fix that if that’s the case. Overall, talk to someone who is professionally licensed and has gone to school for these kinds of issues. While you wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness, stay grounded in truth and scripture. Do these things ALONGSIDE of taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, whether that means taking meds, seeing a therapist, or both. You have a mind, body and soul, and it’s not going to work to only target one of these areas if you’re struggling in two or all three.”

 

How I Prepare for Labor & Birth- Homebirth or Hospital

Hello friends!

I’m here with another topic that requires courage! Labor & birth.

I am 30 weeks along with my 2nd baby and starting to prepare for labor & her birth.

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This post is inspired by my conversations with many amazing moms who have had many amazing different birth stories.

I love gaining tips from them and sharing stories.

My main goals for labor and birth are to strengthen my body gently, rest well, and supplement effectively.

How I Strengthen My Body:

  1. Drink red raspberry leaf tea or take it in my multivitamin. It’s simple, tastes pretty great to me and is a very effective strengthener of the uterus. I think regularly consuming it during my second and third trimesters contributed greatly to my strength in pushing with my firstborn. He was born in 5 minutes and even though labor had gone on for 26 hours, I felt very strong in pushing.
  2. Balance not over-exercising, but using your muscles each day. If you have a toddler who you pick up and run around with, you’re probably set. I’ve tried to add an extra workout in, but each time I find my strength zapped for the whole day & not enough energy to keep up with my 1 year old! During my first pregnancy, I definitely over-exercised but loved every second of it. I paid the price for quite some time by not listening to my body though. Even after having my son, I couldn’t carry him for awhile & had to rely on strollers, baby swings, etc. (I mean, he was also almost 10 lbs, so he wasn’t a feathery light newborn 😉 ).
  3. 30 squats every night. It works for me at night because I get tired out & helps me go to sleep. Squats are so good because they strengthen sore areas like your back (from all the frontal weight), quads and kinda your whole body. I really needed a strong back & legs for the work of labor, just made it a bit smoother.

How to Rest Well:

  1. This is probably different for each person. I try to get 8 hours of sleep a night (not possible for everyone, I know!) and let myself nap as needed. I really try to nap when my toddler is napping, but if I get enough sleep at night, I find that I don’t need it.
  2. Listen to my body. If I need to lay in bed because I just overdid it, I do that. If my hubby is able to help, that works. If I’m still in charge of my toddler and it’s not nap time, I lay down and turn on Peppa Pig in the background with no guilt. I supervise him, but keep drinking water and resting. Especially when experiencing Braxton Hicks, it’s been a sign to me that it’s time to drink water & lay down!
  3. Take Epsom salt baths. So huge for me. The magnesium intake helps with inflammation and soreness; the relaxation of being submerged in water takes some pressure off!

How to Supplement Effectively:

  1. Goals for supplementing for me are to pick the least amount of supplements, but the ones that help with energy, iron, folate & support pregnancy, labor and birth.
  2. I take alfalfa from 28 weeks on. This builds up Vitamin K2, which greatly helps with clotting and preventing hemorrhaging. I did have a pretty severe tear with my first birth, but I didn’t hemorrhage. Since it’s a leafy green, it’s also great for iron stores & helping milk supply.
  3. I drink red raspberry leaf tea. To tone my uterus as that muscle is about to see a lot of work! This tea is great for energy, iron stores, B vitamins and so comforting in my opinion. I made batches of it as an iced tea for my June birth and now drink it hot for my January birth!
  4. I take a multivitamin. I just look for folate, Vitamin D3, choline, and DHA/EPA. And a few others. I currently take the Smartypants Prenatal gummies and love how I feel on them! I used to take Megafood Baby & Me and loved those, especially during breastfeeding.
  5. Vitamin D3 was something I tested low in and along with issues I’ve had with digestion, it’s been something I definitely supplement with. You might have 1 or 2 areas of deficiency that you know about & add into your supplement regime, as well.
  6. I mostly try to eat well to get everything else needed to support pregnancy and my body! I’ve been addicted to 2 egg yolks, toast with butter & wilted spinach this pregnancy! (I couldn’t eat greens last pregnancy, so alfalfa was huge for me to take each day!)
  7. I begin the Gentle Birth Formula herbal tincture at 35 weeks and continue through to the end. I believe this also helped me to push so strongly and effectively. (I decided after a week of taking this and monitoring myself that I’m not going to continue with taking this herbal tincture this time around. I found myself unable to sleep and feeling down which I had not felt prior to taking this except in small, surmountable moments).
  8. I took Evening Primrose Oil orally at 36 weeks according to a dosage my home birth midwife gave me for my first pregnancy. I’ll do it again this pregnancy. You can look up the benefits of this one! Too long to explain! (I decided not to continue with this one, this time around. I will probably use it as a suppository at 40 weeks but will not take it orally, again due to the effect on my emotions).
  9. It’s best to share every supplement with our healthcare professionals and get their opinions. Just wanted to put this here.

How I Strengthen my Mind:

  1. I found a birth affirmation cd early on in my first pregnancy, when I had a miscarriage scare and really needed the support.
  2. I aim to agree with the affirmations I’ve chosen at least twice a week and notice that it helps massively to fight fear, doubt, etc.
  3. I let myself cry for a bit if I need to and move through the emotional release, but this time around, I don’t take it too seriously. It’s just a part of pregnancy, postpartum & all the hormonal swirls and it’s okay!
  4. Surrounding myself with positive people is a big one. Preferably people who can speak good things over you, too and listen to your fears, but then speak positivity over them.
  5. I also talk to at least a few moms and moms-to-be and it’s amazing how normal that makes me feel and how strengthening it is! Thanks, ladies!! Any and all of you throughout last pregnancy & this pregnancy! The sisterhood of motherhood rocks!

I am hitting the publish button now on this post that I had written at 30 weeks pregnant- I’m now 37 weeks and looking forward to a smooth birth with this girl in a few weeks!

Xoxo,

Ailene

A Guide to Baby Sleep

Did the title pull you in?

It’s actually a little bit of a joke.

I have hesitated to write on this topic because I’ve had a good dose of what it’s like to try everything and your baby sleeps terribly.

Hearing that sleep deprivation is a true warfare tactic really resonated with me in that time.

I never cussed so much in my life, didn’t recognize myself and was a mess wrapped in a normal-seeming self. Only God knows the depths certain moments felt like while healing from birth, caring for a newborn, learning breastfeeding and having broken sleep with no guarantee anything would ever change.

I did, however, end up with a child who learned how to sleep through his nights within one week at 6.5 months old and has slept well and taken good naps ever since then. I think it was everything we keep trying for and had in place since he was born, not just that one week, however.

(He is almost 17 months and just woke up at 2:30a.m. and 6:30a.m. this week during a fever/teething episode for the first time since 6.5 months old! We are so blessed.)

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When my son was 5 months old and I just got a sassy haircut and was just feeling a bit like myself again.

It’s part of the reason why finding out that I was expecting at 10 months postpartum with my firstborn turned into unspeakable, full joy instead of freaking me out. (Well, I was definitely shaking!)

Just now, I’m finally starting to look at her birth and think through and start positive affirmations. Just now, I’m able to think about giving birth again and look at the work of labor without fear, like with my first.

Before this point, I was ready to formula feed and have an epidural before going into labor. (Just kidding!)

I’m still leaving myself open to both relieving the burden of breastfeeding, even supplementing and having medication during labor, but I think that the same Ailene who was able to breastfeed and go through natural labor is still here. I just wasn’t sure until now.

I’m sure there are ladies out there who don’t have such a struggle with lack of sleep, or with healing from a difficult part of birth or don’t worry about their body being unrecognizable, or who aren’t bothered by hormonal swirls taking their emotions on a ride…but when you add all of these things together and more, I think most of us normal mamas feel like we are succumbing. Like, underneath it all and drowning.

Anyway, this post isn’t here to mostly talk about the deep, real struggles that can come along after having a baby. I need to write another post about this. But when you touch on baby sleep, you kinda gotta mention it. 😉

My ideas going into the newborn stage were that those friends who had babies who awoke every 2 hours to feed were unfortunate, that if I had faith and got my baby on a schedule, we’d go right back to normal sleep and just add a baby to our life together.

Um. I was wrong.

I quickly realized that each baby actually needs to eat every 2 to 3 hours because their stomach is so small and they digest breastmilk in tiny doses, so you have to keep it coming.

And I remember at the end of my son’s 5th week of life, my cousin asking how the scheduling was going that I was implementing that week.

Her question made me face the facts; he was sleeping worse than before and I was pushing too hard. Things were falling apart! I laughed at myself and told her the truth. She was so kind. We had our sons a little less than a month apart and it was such a joy to walk through pregnancy & postpartum with her support and understanding.

So we threw out the schedule that night. Instead of forcing him to have a “normal” baby bed time of 7p.m., we went with his rhythms. He wasn’t ready for sleep until 10p.m. and then he shocked me by sleeping 5 whole hours in a row. I let go of trying too hard and expectations of normalcy, and the thing just happened.

At 5 weeks, thus, he slept 5 hours in a row, 10 to 3a.m. (or 10 to 2a.m.). At 6 weeks, 6 hours in a row.

At 4 months, we took him on his first airplane ride to my family in PA and at my parents house, he slept 8-10 hours a night! It was crazy. It was what I had been hoping and praying for! It was possible!

However, we returned home to the next 2.5 months of absolutely terrible, worse than ever sleep. I had been hoping that 4 month sleep regression would bypass us, but my chiropractor explained that at this age they are just realizing their world in a new way and when they wake up, they are noticing their surroundings. She said it would pass and I held onto that!

We continued our normal routine, because what else do you do? I didn’t have much time to research and figure it out; I’d started back to work full time when he was 2 months old. Take away good sleep and I was barely making it in every way.

I mean, he’d go to sleep at 11p.m., wake up at 12a.m., 2, 2:30, 3, 4, 5, 6. It was so insane and there were times I was trying to protect Carl’s sleep and not involve him. And especially since I was breastfeeding, I felt like I was the only answer. I finally shared that I was literally going insane and since we were both working full time, I needed his help!

(I’m not sure he really was getting great sleep, either, but he was so willing to help when I explained what was really going on as he slept in the other room).

My son finally began to get into a good stretch around 5.5 months. He would go to sleep about 10p.m., wake up at 2:30a.m. for a feeding and then 6:30a.m. I would feed him whether he woke up or not at 6:30a.m. because I realized he would then sleep in until 9a.m. I wouldn’t settle for him waking at 6:30 or 7a.m. because I knew that I needed to start catching up on sleep. It also immensely helped me to get some work from home in before he awakened for the day. In a previous season without sleep my health took a serious downturn and I was praying to avoid this happening again with the responsibility of being a mother now.

At 6.5 months, we decided it was time our son got his own room. We aren’t the co-sleeping type of parents. After 3 days of skin to skin in the very beginning, I was done with the co-sleeping thing. It’s so precious, the stories I hear, for those of you who are!

A typical night routine looked like this:

  1. Bath time in this inflatable duck tub. We had a $50 one with a waterfall from our registry, but this inflatable tub was nice because we could submerge his body in the water while holding him and as he got older, he could lean his head back and rest it on the tail. Best $11 spent ever! We bought a swan one for our daughter! ❤

  2. Dry him off on his massage pad. Then dress him in a cloth diaper that had amazing absorbency for all night long (later we found out disposables worked fine, too).

  3. Dress him in pajamas and then a Halo sleep sack over top- warmer the baby, the deeper the sleep for us at least (of course, not too warm we used cotton sleep sacks in summer and fleece ones in winter). Greatly noticed a difference after deciding to use it one night instead of tucking a blanket around him like a swaddle. I think he felt held in and comforted.

  4. One night my husband noticed that our son fell asleep when his hand was resting near his face. After that we put our son’s Wubbanub (uh, don’t pay $18.95 for one of these- we paid much less) stuffed animal touching his forehead. It was a difference of him sleeping for a short stretch versus a long one. So wild! Our son didn’t use the paci part of the Wubbanub much. He has always preferred soft things. He mostly sucked on the giraffe’s legs, actually. Haha! I wanted him to be addicted to a paci but he only used it when teething or for sleeping in the car or stroller for a time.

  5. After he was dressed, I nursed him to sleep. No putting him down awake but drowsy. That would result in hours of screaming 🙂 Nursing him to sleep was a really good de-stress time for me each night. A time to just listen to his white noise machine and feel relaxed that my baby was now headed toward dreamland.

  6. We used a white noise machine each night. As he grew older & on vacations, I noticed that he really needed this healthy sleep association for both nighttime sleep and naps. It sent him the message it was time to sleep.

  7. If he cried hard, we always answered his cry. It’s just in both of our hearts. We only ended up doing “cry it out” when we realized that at certain times, he was so over-stimulated that any shushing or comforting prolonged the crying and he needed to get those emotions out and fall asleep on his own without help. This came at 6.5 months when we transitioned to his own room. Within a week, this not only worked to fall asleep at night, but also to go back to sleep without us on the occasion that he would awaken in the night. It took me a bit to realize that when he did wake during the night and whimper, he wasn’t actually awake and I couldn’t comfort him back to sleep and he didn’t need to nurse, he just needed to get back into his deep sleep on his own.

  8. When we decided co-sleeping wasn’t for us (and there wasn’t room in our bed, like for real hahaha, we both were clinging to the sides trying not to fall off!), we kept him in his Dockatot and put it into his crib. I’ve heard warnings about this, but if you have felt the material of the dock and put your own face up to it; it’s breathable. Also, there’s no way for a baby who can’t move to push it onto themselves like people warn about. And thank God for video monitors, I even used one when he was in the same room so I could keep an eye on him. Having him safe and secure in his Dockatot brought me such peace of mind. I couldn’t settle down and feel at peace when he wasn’t securely in it.

  9. Our Dockatot experience was another example of learning our boy. He truly loves soft things, to cuddle into them (but not mama; we both never stayed asleep or got into the deepest sleep except for an hour or 2 sometimes for a nap). Watching him sleep in it, he looks like the most relaxed little person in the world. We transitioned to the larger size when he was old enough and it’s been such a blessing in him sleeping no matter where we’ve traveled. It’s another thing that sends the message, it’s time to sleep.

  10. Last thing. Just before I weaned him at 14 months, Daddy had started exclusively reading him a bedtime story after bath and putting him to sleep. Oh, we have totally rocked and gently bounced with him on the exercise ball to sleep. No shame- those things worked and were unspeakably precious for both of us! Anyway, our son no longer needed to be nursed to sleep and learned to do the whole drowsy but awake thing. I personally felt it was the right age for him to be able to do this. I don’t know, it’s just one of those tips you always hear but never worked for us before this time.

I don’t regret any of this learning with our son and his sleep. It’s helped us to understand him in greater ways than if he’d just been a great sleeper “naturally” if that’s really a thing! Learning how he slept taught us so much about his personality and little things he loves in life. It’s been a journey that was worth it. I mean, the hardest things are usually the most precious things.

That pretty much sums it up- go with your gut, mama and daddy. If you need help, reach out to people you know won’t shame you, research if that helps you. (I’m a huuge researcher, especially when things break down, it’s the first thing I turn to). If you talk to Him, ask the Holy Spirit about every single detail. Be your true, honest, raw self with God and don’t hold anything back. I remember talking to Him about why my son couldn’t go down for a nap without so much crying, which was causing me a lot of stress and anxiety. Then I’d ask, is there anything I can do to make this better? Or do I have to not do anything in this instance and let him cry? I’d just get this feeling on what to do and began to trust those feelings as they worked! Different things at different times, but the Holy Spirit knows.

Something else I’ve had to realize is that each family has their own story. There’s a great story being written that they are living and sometimes it requires them going through things I don’t go through. And other times, I’m going through something that they aren’t. My advice would never work for them where they are at and they are doing 100% the best for their family and making it through the trials presented to them. And same with me.

Just wanted to share my journey,

Much love, especially to you precious sleep-deprived parents who are doing everything and your little one just needs nights with you. It’s maybe something to do with the incredible child they are; perhaps they really and truly need that time with you. I pray for grace for you. That keeps coming and wholeness over your life as you journey through life and parenthood.

Love,

Ailene

p.s. Please message me for resources that helped us and any questions. I’m an open book! I don’t know that I have a ton to offer except a compassionate ear and I’m happy to pass along anything that helped us.

p.p.s. None of the links are sponsored. I just wanted to show you exactly what we used!

A Poem- “Every Tragedy Ends in this Love”

I believe, I believe in the story
The one where I was loved
Since before I was
 
The one where the earth was created
For my enjoyment and tender care
 
The one where this loving being
Formed and fashioned me
Lovingly orchestrated me, my life
 
The one who I learned to trust
From a young age
Who has upheld me by love always
 
Every tragedy ends in this love,
All fear is banished
For I am loved, completely, tenderly, forever.
 
Love so amazing
So divine
Like no other feeling, no other substance
On earth, created.
 
Uncreated, pure, beauty, everlasting,
For me, today, for you, today
And ever always.
In light of all that is going on in our world, this is all I have to say.
Xoxo,
Ailene