Baby Bee, Mama Bear, Postpartum & Mama Care

Why I Decided to Stop Stressing About My Baby’s (lack of) Sleep Schedule

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me if my baby was sleeping well, I’d be a very wealthy woman. Sleep is perhaps the hottest topic when it comes to babies. Are they sleeping through the night? Do they nap well? Do they go down on their own? From day one, parents are under an enormous amount of pressure to coach their baby into being the perfect sleeper.

I myself fell prey to the constant barrage of questions about Baby Bee’s sleep and lost many nights of sleep over whether or not we were doing it right. I read all the recommended resources about how long your baby should be awake, how long they should sleep at each nap, and how you should be putting them down drowsy but awake. I tried the sleep schedules, tried keeping her up longer, putting her down sooner, but no matter what I did she would typically only nap for 30-60 minutes, tops. I took this as a sign that I was a terrible parent, and so I stressed some more.

And then, one day, I decided to stop stressing about it. After feeling like a failure for so long because my six month old wasn’t “on a schedule” yet and didn’t take long naps during the day, I decided that I didn’t care. At her age, babies should be getting an average of 11-12 hours of sleep at night and another 2-3 during the day. Even with our lack of strict daytime schedule, she is typically asleep for the night by 7:00-8:00pm and up by 6:00-7:00am. Sure, she has 1-3 night wakings depending on growth spurts and teething, and every once in a while she’ll be up for 2 hours in the middle of the night, but for the most part she gets her full 11 hours of sleep each night. And, yes, she still only naps for 30-45 minutes most days, but she does so 3-4 times a day.

What I realized is that it wasn’t that her sleeping pattern wasn’t working for her – it’s that it wasn’t convenient for me. Not being able to plan things out in advance because my baby naps at slightly different times everyday can make seeing friends really tricky. And not having more than 30 minutes to check things off my to-do list or just breathe can be really hard on me sometimes. But that is part of raising an infant – learning that it’s not all about you anymore.

So now we have a daily routine. Although our daily activities may unfold at slightly different times, we do the same things each day and in the same order. This helps her to know when naptime is coming and it helps me to cope with the lack of clock-based schedule. I still get to see friends (it’s just planned within a certain window of time as opposed to specific meeting time) and I still get chores done, with time blocked out for me each day.

Do I still envy moms who know exactly when they’ll be free because their children sleep at the same time everyday? Absolutely. Do I wish my baby would take 2-hour naps on occasion? For sure – I mean the house isn’t going to clean itself. But, when all is said and done, she wakes up happy and full of energy after each nap, and isn’t that really the whole goal behind getting your baby on a strict sleep schedule?

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Mama Bear Recipes, Postpartum & Mama Care

Why Smoothies are a Morning Must-Have for Me

Mornings can be tough. Baby bee is teething (again) right now, so it’s not unusual for me to sleepwalk my way through the first half of the day. To be honest, I’d be quite happy to autopilot my way through meals or skip them all together if it weren’t for a pesky thing called hypoglycemia. Essentially, my body is a little too good at sucking the sugar out of my bloodstream so, if I’m not careful, I’m prone to extreme drops in blood sugar levels and some pretty trippy episodes complete with anxiety, dizziness, major irritability, and sweating from places you didn’t know you could sweat from. Not exactly ideal when you’re caring for and exclusively breastfeeding an infant.

The magical solution? … I wish! There isn’t one. I have to be really diligent about watching what I eat and being sure to eat more often. As all new moms and dads know, I don’t usually have time to do anything “more often” – let alone prep and eat a meal every 2 hours – so I opt for eating smarter when I do have time to eat. One of the ways that I do that is by making sure that I have a fully-loaded smoothie first thing every morning. The key to managing hypoglycemia is to make sure that you load up on fat and protein to give you long-term fuel, and fiber to help slow the absorption of sugars in the short term. So, I make sure to include lots of plant-based healthy fats and protein, as well as fruits relatively low in sugar and high in fiber.

While I change it up a bit everyday, the main ingredients stay the same. I always make sure to include some berries (low in sugar and packed with antioxidants to help my poor mom brain out), coconut oil (healthy fat to keep me going), protein (this week, it’s in the form of natural peanut butter and greek yogurt, but I also love chocolate Vega protein powder), and milk or a milk alternative. Depending on what ingredients I choose for the day, I may also add a sweetener (like stevia or a bit of raw honey), something creamy (like avocado or a banana), and greens (spinach is my favourite because it blends up really well).

This week’s recipe (in the image below) is fully-loaded with 500 calories, 18g of protein, 24g of (healthy) fats, 7g of dietary fiber, and loads of vitamins and minerals.

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Since adding these jam-packed smoothies to my morning routine, I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in my energy levels throughout the day: I don’t need to rely on coffee to kick off my day (okay, sometimes it’s still required!), I no longer have a mid-morning crash, and I’m more likely to keep my eating on-track for the rest of the day, with no more binge-eating to compensate for a mid-afternoon crash.

The amazing thing about smoothies is that – for all the benefits they deliver – they only take 5 minutes to make and clean up, you can toss in whatever you have lying around, they’re great for on the go, and they guarantee that – no matter what the day throws at you – at least you had a good breakfast! Here’s to making it through the morning in one piece!

Mama Bear, Postpartum & Mama Care

The Rule of Five: How I Learned to Slow Down & Still Get Things Done

When you’re preparing for the arrival of your first baby, you get a lot of advice – some of it sticks and some of it doesn’t. The most popular were the classics: “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “enjoy it – it goes by so fast!” Makes sense, I thought, and I made a mental note to do both of them.

What I didn’t hear very often -and what I wish I’d paid more attention to – was the advice about taking it easy, about not aiming for supermom on day one, and about letting the dust fall where it may (literally). I wish I’d paid more attention because, as my pregnancy drew to an end, I decided to do the exact opposite: I would be the new mom that could do it all. I set myself up for success by preparing two weeks worth of frozen meals and loads of baked snacks. I cleaned the house from top to bottom and washed everything that could be put in a washing machine. I packed baskets of swaddles, cloths, and diapers, and left them in strategic places around the house. I was ready.

When the baby arrived, things went really well at first. The frozen meals and snacks were a godsend. The house practically sparkled, so my cleaning efforts were minimal. Thanks to my husband, the laundry piles were nonexistent. And then, after the two-week honeymoon, my husband went back to work, the food stores ran out, and the laundry suddenly ballooned out of nowhere. And, my god, can newborn babies ever create a lot of laundry in a matter of minutes.

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Nevertheless, I stayed determined and carried on cleaning the house and doing multiple loads of laundry everyday, as well as entertaining guests and cooking dinner when my husband got home. After a couple of weeks, my husband sat me down and asked how I was doing. He said that he thought I was taking on too much, that I was putting myself at risk, and that he was worried. “You just had a baby. You need to take it easy for a while and let yourself recover,” he said,”I know you want to be able to do everything but, just for now, why don’t you try limiting it to one thing a day?” I almost laughed out loud. Me, do only one productive thing a day? Not likely. I’ve been a compulsive cleaner and organizer for my entire adult life. I get stressed out by a single dish left unwashed or one shirt tossed out of place.

He was right though: I was pushing myself too hard. I wasn’t getting the rest I needed and I was starting to feel the physical effects of overdoing it. After letting out a huge sigh, I suggested a compromise of limiting it to five things everyday. Those five things, we agreed, would include anything that went beyond feeding and dressing myself and the baby. So, showering, bathing the baby, going for a walk, having visitors, vacuuming, doing dishes, cooking dinner, doing a load of laundry: it all counted towards my five things. And, just like that, the Rule of Five was born.

During our discussion, my husband also suggested that I needed to start taking more time for myself each day and doing things that I found relaxing (and, no, he said, cleaning doesn’t count). So, I decided pretty quickly that having a shower and going for a walk would be standing items. That left me with 3 slots each day. At first, it was a legitimate struggle for me. I could no longer get everything done at once. The dust lingered for a few days longer than I would have liked. The laundry piled up more than usual. The dinner shift was often taken over by my husband (I love the man, but he’s no master chef). But, you know what? After a few weeks, I grew to love The Rule of Five. I felt such a sense of accomplishment knowing that, if nothing else, I had done 3 things each day and still managed to take care of myself. I came to really appreciate that I now had time to breathe, time to cuddle with my newborn babe, time to enjoy the fall weather on our daily walks, and – perhaps most importantly – time to heal in all the ways that a woman needs to after birth.

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Now that my daughter is older, I could tackle more each day if I wanted to. But, surprisingly (to me, at least), I don’t want to. I’ve come to love the slower pace of life and being able to spend more time in each moment with my husband and daughter. Sure, I still get annoyed when the dishes pile up and the laundry hasn’t been done for a few days, but it doesn’t cross my mind nearly as often as it used to. Despite what I thought, having a child has actually caused me to slow down, to pack less into each day, and to breathe more. Life is more chaotic and messier, sure, but it’s also filled with more smiles, more hugs, and more memories now.