Sleep vs. Poop


Ok, so, one of the ubiquitous cliche type things that are said about-and especially to-new moms is that they’ll start talking about poop more frequently than any other conversation topic. Maybe this didn’t happen to you (other moms) but I did get variations on this theme fairly regularly (HA! That could be a poop joke) while preggo with Cade. It, like so many of the well intentioned but incredibly overused and/or inappropriate advice/jokes/small talk/sayings, annoyed me. Yes, it’s true, you DO do a lot of poop handling (do-do, see what I did there?) when you become a parent (unless you’re Brian, who makes himself scarce every time I unsnap Cade’s onsie) and since your munchkin will probably not be able to communicate very well until older, diaper contents are analyzed as clues to the health and well being of your child. But this doesn’t mean I instagram Cade’s dirty diapers, or talk to friends about whether or not I think Cade’s morning dumps are a tad smellier than usual and if that’s because he’s teething or the result of too many beans. Honestly, it’s just poop. I don’t talk to my friends about my teeth brushing habits either. Does it consume a great deal of my time? Well, the actually diaper handling seems to, and yes, especially recently when Cade’s bowel movements have been all wonky from all the recent huge transitions in his life, I analyze the shit out of it (HA!). But(t) it is STILL not something I have felt the urge to ever bring up in casual conversation. Even with other moms. With my family-especially those who are also moms? Absolutely. If Cade manages to blow-out a diaper while I’m on the phone with a friend? Yeah, I’ll probably mention it. However, it does not dominate my thoughts nor my conversations and I hope it remains that way.


I submit, based on the sheer amount of research alone, that the topic that will dominate most new (and old) parents’ thoughts, time, energy, and often conversation (if they are awake enough to make any)-is sleep. Especially because you tend to lack it for quite awhile while raising small children. Now, besides the cliche of “You should sleep when the baby sleep” which makes me want to throat punch WHO EVER decided that was a good thing to say to new moms, I didn’t get a whole lot of advice/comments/stupid sayings about baby sleep. My theory on that is: Parents are all still clueless on how or why their children sleep or don’t sleep. Parents of older children have blocked out the memories in a fond haze of rocking chairs and lullabies and the vague acknowledgement that “oh, sometimes it would take awhile to get *name of child* to sleep…but he/she was so cute when *insert nostalgic story*. They don’t really remember when their children didn’t sleep, or how often they fought sleep, or how frequent they woke up, or really even any solutions to sleep problems. Today, there are SO many different theories on sleep-all claiming to work hands down for every kid in the world (which is a stupid) and the two main camps say basically you’re a bad parent if you don’t subscribe to the cry it out method-because you aren’t allowing your child to learn the vital knowledge of how to fall asleep on his/her own and he/she will probably suffer from chronic sleep issues/insomnia that will result in them living jobless and alone in your basement when they’re forty, or you’re a horrible, neglectful monster if you don’t subscribe to the gentle “no-cry” method(s) and your child will have chronic anxiety, stress, self esteem issues that will result in them living jobless with ten cats in your basement when they’re forty. So most parents who DO still retain a few details on their kids’ sleep patterns are reluctant to share for fear of judgement or guilt and don’t want to admit that they did something that may permanently screw up their child’s future depending on which camp you end up subscribing to (One camp not previously mentioned is the “I have tried everything and nothing works except apparently feeding my kid a cookie (or insert any other “frowned upon” habit) an hour before bed and I know that’s a lot of sugar but they sleep and I NEED TO SLEEP TOO”)

The information on sleep regressions and typical baby sleep I find more helpful, basically because they clue me in to what is going on and offer suggestions on what “MAY” work without implying I’m a lousy parent or that there is something wrong with my child if the method doesn’t work. However, the general ambiguity of “sleep issues” is just plain ridiculous. Sleep regressions can last up to 6 weeks and have a 2 month window of “when they may start” and basically occur every four-six months. Teething is chronic for pretty much the first two years of life. A lot of the regressions link with milestones that personally don’t help at all with Cade, because he hit the physical milestones on the early side. The 12 month sleep regression talks about babies mastering walking-Cade’s been a solid walker for over three months, he is now running up and down the halls-he just turned a year old. Then they’ll say things like “A change in schedule or routine may disrupt sleep.” But they can’t tell you HOW it disrupts sleep, what it may look like, what to do about it, NOTHING-because it’ll be different for every child. 

Cade sat up in bed last night at 1127 pm and started screaming/shrieking like he was dying. There was no apparent issue when I glanced at the monitor, but it was so unlike his usual crying that I went in to try and console him. He was completely inconsolable for thirty minutes. Screaming, crying, struggling, fighting me, all without opening his eyes. I changed his diaper, turned the lamp on, rocked, sang, finally even took him to the kitchen and gave him a few pieces of chex and some water, which seemed to calm him down, I sang “Amazing Grace” (all four verses) probably twenty times, rocking him, then putting him in the crib with my hand on his back, then just standing by the crib, then slowly backing away…It took over an hour to get him “back” asleep. I did my usual google search today to try and get an idea of what in the world is going on annnnnd apparently Cade may have experienced an “extreme confusional event” aka, night terror. Basically, you know how people sleep walk/talk? That’s called a “confusional event” because the person’s brain is trying to be awake and asleep at the same time. Not only is it not a great idea to wake a sleep walker/talker, it’s also pretty darn hard to do. I was a sleep walker/talker as a child and I figured Cade’s usual fidgety sleeping/moaning/groaning/giggling was all pretty normal. And it is. A night terror is just more intense. And also normal (not super rare, although not entirely common). There are whole discussion boards with parents discussing these events with their children. Tips and tricks to avoid triggering them, how to cope when they happen, EVERYTHING. I posted a few months ago about my experience sleep training Cade and pointed out that it was more about training ME to stop going in an ticking him off by picking him up every time he fussed. Well, that’s because when anyone is transitioning between sleep cycles and IF they have a confusional event (sleep walk/talk/night terror) the worst thing you can do is bug them. Cade is a wiggler and a moaner when he transitions between sleep cycles (something that makes him a poor roommate for a light sleeper such as myself) and my picking him up and “calming” him made him more confused. If Cade has another night terror, the consensus is to maybe turn on a small lamp and sing to them, but don’t-on pain of making it a much MUCH longer episode-touch them. This explains so much better why all my attempts at the gentle “no cry” methods resulted in a screaming-for-forty minutes infant whereas “Ferberizing” resulted (for me) in a through-the-night sleeper.


Ok, ok, I’ll stop now. See what I mean? I could talk about sleep ad nauseam (and probably help many of you fall asleep to the soothing drone of my voice) because it is CONSTANTLY on my radar. Is he sleeping well? Is it time to drop a nap? Is he teething? Is this a regression? Did he just pull a blanket on his head? Is he hungry and that’s why he woke up? How long will this stretch of good sleep last? How long is this phase of bad sleep? Am I getting enough sleep for baby 2.0? AHHHHHHH

Poop? Oh. Well. It’s been a little loose lately, I think the move and subsequent change in routine has made it a little weird. I miss solid turds (easier to clean). But, um, maybe he’s teething? Does it matter as long as he IS pooping? Maybe he pooped in his sleep and that’s what woke him up? OH! see, can’t even escape sleep topics when I try…


Sweet dreams, y’all. (And happy poops?)


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