Work WAS the vacation.

When I was pregnant and mat leave was on the horizon, I was so excited about how much time I’d have off from work. It was like I’d be having a year long paid vacation and it sounded amazing! Come sooner, mat leave, I’d say. Mommas ready for some time off!

Ah, hindsight. Work WAS the vacation. THIS stuff of parenting feels like *THE* work.

This is work that has no sick days, no room for late shows, lunch breaks, early clock outs, hell — start and end times in general, no time to slack when a supervisor isn’t watching, coworkers to joke with in the middle of the day, retirement dates, vacation days, understanding if you’re not at your best ’cause of life circumstances… It has none of that, and some days it lets you know like a punch in the face.

I adore, cherish and love my son with my whole heart. But today, especially today, and everyday before it has been a reminder that the real work of my life has just begun.

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You bought WHAT now?

I don’t know why I do it, ’cause it’s sure to drive me insane, but I’ve been keeping a running list of all the shit we’ve bought so far to help this child sleep. Sleep better than what little (LIIIIITTLE) efforts he makes on his own, that is. At just five months old, this list is inevitably going to get longer, but this is where it stands right now. Also, to the person who told me having a baby doesn’t cost a lot of money, I VETO YOU.

Without further adieu and so that you may weep with me, I give you our list of OH GOD PLEASE HELP HIM SLEEP SO WE CAN SLEEP purchases thus far…

Sleep Suits:
– Swaddleme swaddlers, small and large: These worked for us for a bit, thankfully, but why the hell would you not make a size medium? We went from them being snug and then to him swimming in them, effectively negating any use they had whatsoever. Awesome!
– Sleep sacks: Access to his hands was a shit show. He thought it was party time. Adorable, CHILD IT IS TIME TO SLEEP, party time.
– Love to Dream suit: Hilarious looking in it (he looked like a dog bone!), horrible in concept. He kept hitting himself in the face, lololol.
– Zipadeezip: I think we’ve FINALLY transitioned from the Swaddleme to this. Almost. Most definitely almost. Like, 95%. Also, the one he has is made with fabric that has a forest on it, ’cause of course.

(Note: There are literally 46864 different sleep suits on the market. I very easily could have bought more and almost did, but I had to stop myself. The zippadeezip alone cost me $70 CND (!!!!) to make happen and shit was getting out of control at that point, no matter how desperate I felt.)

– Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother (note: this is much different than the Rock n’ Play, which is evidently amazing but sadly isn’t available in Canada): I don’t care what the reviews say, this thing was HORRIBLE. O was mortified at it’s lack of effectiveness and so were we. Back to Walmart it went! We couldn’t even disassemble it. Stuck it in a shopping cart and returned it amidst a torrential rain storm. Haaa.
– Fisher-Price Rainforest Friends Cradle Swing: Loud, colors wise, motor wise and sound wise. Back to Walmart we once again! Possibly for reasons more my own than O’s. Jungles totally aren’t my thing. :>
– Fisher-Price Snugabunny Cradle’ N Swing: Yay! Quiet and nice, colours wise and features wise. O has slept in the cradle position of this every night for the past six weeks. We now need to start transitioning him out of it, however, which fills me anew with anxiety. Ack!

– Live Clean Baby Calming Bedtime Lotion + Bubble Bath and Wash: I like the smell, but I have no idea if it does shit all in terms of helping his sleep after his nightly bath time. I want to believe. I want to beliiiiiiieve.
– Super Soother Calming Sounds, Happiest Baby CD: Didn’t end up using as we downloaded a “pink noise” (I have no idea how that differs from white) song off YouTube that was better and went on for 8 hours. p.s. This album legit has tracks on it that sound straight out of slasher film. Calming my ass!
– Borrowed iPhone 3G: To play said pink noise “song” on repeat 478644 times in a row as O sleeps. We didn’t really buy it, but it needs to be said. We’d be lost without it. O immediately calms once it comes on and it’s pretty much become our baby voodoo box at this point.
– Logitech Multimedia Speaker: To ensure said pink noise song is loud enough. Block out the sound from the giant construction site next to us, please! Pretty pretty pretty please!
– Two boxes of tinfoil, 3 rolls of tape: To madly cover all the light coming into our 9823474 bedroom windows so there was legit darkness. Had it up for five weeks before management asked that it be taken down. Damn! It is now bright as hell in our bedroom. Double damn!

Stuff that was given to us:
– Co-sleeper bedside bassinet. Slept in it for two weeks and, uhm, never again. Desperately wanting this or his crib to be where we transition him into after the swing, but not filled with hope. I think our kid kinda hates sleeping flat on his back?

Or sleeping in general?

Or pretty much everything?

Yeah, that.

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Thirty minutes.

Like many other babies his age, O is in the midst of a period where he only sleeps 30 minutes for every nap he takes. He started this off and on a good month or so ago, and now has solely taken naps like this for the past two and a half weeks. Additionally, in between his every thirty minute nap, he has the tolerance for being up around two hours before cranky town hits. Naturally, our daily schedule has adjusted to accommodate this, though not by choice. If I didn’t have to constantly feel as if I was living life by the clock and always chasing the next nap, I wouldn’t. The needs of my child say otherwise, however, no matter how much of a schedule whore it may make me seem.

For me and I imagine millions of other moms, nap time is a time of reprieve. A time when, after giving every piece of you to your LO, you can give something back to yourself.

But in those thirty minutes do you…

Read (a choice I have made more so lately)?

Peruse other hobbies (a choice I have not made enough lately)?

Clean (a choice I made far too frequently last week as it had been neglected and we were expecting company)?

Play SimCity on my phone (a choice I wish I would make less of)?

Sleep (a choice that is a joke within a thirty minute time frame)?

Eat (a choice that should always take precedence, but often doesn’t)?

Write a post on Soundly Sarah (a choice I have neglected lately, oops!)?

Just be thankful you have that time?

Do you choose one of those?

Some of those?

All of those as you frantically try to jumble it into 1800 seconds and end up not satisfied at all as a result?

Evidenced by the fact that I’ve only been able to just now write this while on bed rest from a hurt foot, I don’t know how to answer those questions. Is this how it’ll always be?

In terms of better prioritizing, scheduling and letting go of the reins at times for things to happen as they will, I could have the answers I seek. But I did not expect this aspect of motherhood. I did not expect for my needs to be sequestered into 30 minutes time chunks. I (obliviously) imagined dreamy, two hour naps of bliss and relaxation. Eventually, those may come, but nap time in general will happen less if they do.

This obliviousness, or delusion, rather, it went so far as to tell multiple people before giving birth that I was worried I would get bored or stir crazy while on mat leave. I didn’t realize it would be nothing like that. I didn’t realize the second I’d have some time, it would be gone. Nap after nap, I find myself just getting started on ‘me’ when it’s nearly ended. So often, I hear O on the baby monitor at a point when things have just gotten ‘good’. Is that horrible of me to admit? Or merely human?

I write this for it leaves me in a spot of motherhood that I still find myself flailing, unsure and a bit ruffled. No matter the changes I could make, I am stuck at these questions. How do I redefine and pair down what I truly need while I am immersed in all that is motherhood? How do I make space for my desires and interests in a way that now accommodates times as a resource precious as gold? How do I refuse to loose myself among the demands that this new life entails? And, in this so often mother eats mother world, makes you feel like an selfish jerk for wanting it that way?


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Precious, brutal, beautiful and exhausting reality.

Before I ever became a parent and, at times, before I had an inkling that I might like to be a mom, I worked (and still technically do while on mat leave) in the field of early childhood education. To it I brought a bachelors of ECE and, prior to giving birth, racked up about four and half years of experience in the field — both with ITs (infant/toddlers) and TFs (three to fives). During the entirety of my pregnancy I was employed knee deep in the trenches of toddlerhood, and I believed that I’d be bringing to motherhood a cornucopia of knowledge and experience. Others in my life continually reinforced this thought of mine. With all of this on my resume, how could I not?!




Too bad I had absolutely NO FREAKIN’ IDEA what to do with said knowledge and experience. Upon O’s birth, I was blindsided. My education, something my sweet husband anxiously worried would set me far ahead of him parenting wise, it felt like it meant nothing. My employment, and the fact that I had previously been working all day long with ITs, it was laughable and hardly the real thing — I got to send them home at the end of the day! My passions that I brought to the field of ECE, and the beliefs I garnered throughout it of children and childhood, it fell to shambles in the midst of a postpartum depression that could no longer even tell who I was when I looked in the mirror.

This should hopefully be news to no one, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can prepare you for being a first time mom. Anybody or anything that tries to tell you differently is lying. All that I brought to it (which I felt was a lot!) and the preconceived notions I had of it being otherwise, they were broken. Broken as in picked up, shattered to the ground, stomped all over, set on fire and then blown into the abyss. It was a delusional, humbling and hot mess of confusion for a good while there.

Now that I’ve survived the first four months of O’s life and know what it is to sleep again, I am thankfully beginning to see where my education, employment and passions can start being applied (more on that later). I am able to finally dig into those reservoirs and have them be useful, when before it felt as if they would drown me. I am excited for what awaits in that regard (also more on that later!). Most importantly and with relief, I have now added to that repertoire what I didn’t realize I lacked before. The grounded experience of REALITY.

Precious, brutal, beautiful and exhausting reality.

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What even IS baby sleep?

Since he was three weeks old, O has slept in our arms for 99% of his naps and sleeps at night (he is now almost eleven weeks). He is typically tummy down as he leans against our bodies (while we lean back). It started originally as he began to absolutely LOSE it when we put him down in our bedside co-sleeper bassinet. This and a variety of other symptoms lead our pediatrician to believe he has reflux, which with the help of medicine and changing how we do things, has helped make him a much happier baby.

He will now tolerate periods of back/tummy play and being in his swing (we went through a five week period where we couldn’t put him down PERIOD without him loosing it). But getting him to sleep on somewhere that is not our bodies is something we’re having a lot of trouble managing.

I understand this is typical of a lot of newborns and there are very valid reasons why he wants to sleep on us. I just keep envisioning this still happening at 8+ months because it forms a pattern of behaviour, and that makes me kind of want to loose it. We are continually having to find new ways for him to sleep on us while we we try to rest but not really rest and it’s exhausting, no matter how much we break it up into shifts. I miss lying down and have legitimately forgotten how to sleep that way. My hips also kind of want to kill me for all the sitting down I have to do with him.

For those of you who have been able to get a baby past this phase, how did you do it? Here is what we’ve been doing or have tried thus far:

  • He is mostly nursed to sleep (has been since birth, he loves it and nothing puts him out faster). If I don’t do it for him, he freaks. If he could nurse all night, he would. My nipples disagree.
  • He will not take a pacifier (I have tried ten million times). I am his pacifier.
  • Elevating his bassinet, using white noise, making it smell like me, positioning him with towels to be on his side and warming it have all been tried.
  • He LOVES to move his arms and legs. Some of it is his Moro reflex, some of it is it’s just what he loves to do. He pretty much looks like he’s conducting an orchestra all day long and is never still. You can guess how much this desire of his lets him sleep deeply when laying down somewhere that is not on us.
  • Swaddles and Swaddle transition blankets/gear DO NOT work. We have had a rare occasion where they have, but it is not reliable. Anything that restricts his hands or legs pisses him off for hours at end and defeats their purpose. We legit tried them for weeks and weeks — it was horrible.
  • Carriers equally piss him off and while he will fall asleep in one while we take long walks, that’s not solving this problem.
  • I tried co-sleeping with him leaning against me and by me. He either kept waking himself up as his flailing/movements kept hitting me or he couldn’t last longer than five minutes, no matter how milk drunk I got him or where I put him. I am unable to nurse him easily while laying down, and him doing it on his own to get back to sleep is not possible.
  • He has slept in his swing, but it’s very sporadic and getting it to happen regularly is something we can’t seem to master, no matter how much advice we follow from baby sleep blogs.
  • Putting him to sleep on his own his tummy freaks me out. Please don’t suggest it. I understand babies sleep deeper on their tummies and that’s part of why he does when he’s on us, but he’s WITH us while doing so.

This too shall pass.

I know.

But, for now, HELP PLZ.

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