Why I don’t buy my kids Christmas presents even though we celebrate Christmas…

Because I’m the grinch and not only do I accidentally tell my kid there’s no such thing as Santa, but I go on a rant about commercialism and they have to write a three page essay on selflessness and not being materialistic, I don’t care if they can’t read or write yet!!


It’s because I’m chea– frugal. We are so incredibly lucky to have lots of family who love to shop for our littles AND I find it very stressful to have too much stuff, for our kids to have too much stuff and to place too much importance on presents. I’m sure there’s a happy balance, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Now, having said that…my kids make bank on Christmas. They get toys and holiday cheer and love and it’s an incredibly special time. But, if I’m gonna choose between spending money on a family weekend getaways versus sixteen unicorn themed toys my kids will lose, destroy or hoard:…we’re going to Great Wolf Lodge for a night! (They have a fireplace…. in the room!!!!!)

We also give away all of “last year’s” toys. We bag it up and donate it. All of it. Because we have always done this and because my oldest is only 4, we continue to “get away with this.” The kids don’t mind, I feel better about having less stuff and life moves forward!

It also helps that I’ve never been sentimental about “things.” It’s just not who I am. So, before I paint a picture of selfless giving that’s sacrificial, know that I LOVE giving my stuff away. But, I do understand that some people, especially young kids, get attached to “stuff” so there are a few toys we have kept over the years, but no joke, only a few!

I also plan to continue our frugality as the kids get older and focus on experiences rather than things. It feels extra important in our fast paced, instant gratification era to teach my kids patience, disappointment, and gratitude. (But I do know that the best laid plans….)

Patrick and I do buy our other family members and nieces and nephews gifts, we aren’t the Scrooge of the family, but when it comes to our own kids…nope. They’re fine. Will this work for everyone? Absolutely not! Am I writing this as an “advice on Christmas protocol”? No way!!!

It just works for us, and holy smokes do we know how lucky we are to have such an influx of gifts we can choose to teach this lesson in this way. It’s definitely a privileged scenario and we are grateful for the family that are able to express their love through gift giving of toys, paying for classes or other extras!

Would love to hear some other family traditions of giving!!!! As our kids get older we are looking for ways to share the experience of giving time, energy and selves to others!

Road Trip with a toddler.

So you’ve decided to travel with your toddler on a road trip to see aunt Suzy Q. It’s about 8 hours away and you’re terrified.

You should be. This isn’t going to be fun and you should manage your expectations accordingly. This isn’t about creating memories, this is about getting to Aunt Suzy Q’s without tossing your child or partner out the car window. Haha.

But, seriously.

I’m going to break down the car trip into four manageable parts. I’m going to assume you’re leaving at the crack of dawn because ain’t no one got time to be in the car during the witching hour for children (between 5pm-7pm)

A couple things before you hop into the car-

  1. Fill up the gas tank the night before. Trust me, you don’t want to add unnecessary time to your trip.
  2. I like to pack the car the night before, too, but I’m kind of OCD. BUT, I’ve also traveled with my kids about a thousand times and I’m basically a pro.
  3. And finally, I’ve traveled with my kids about a thousand times and I’m basically a pro and there are STILL things that pop up that I feel unprepared for…so….again…manage your expectations. This isn’t about the road trip, this is about getting to your destination.

The biggest piece of advice I have….plan your stopping times. You cannot just hop in the car and wing it. If you do that, you will be stopping every 45 minutes and an 8 hour car trip suddenly becomes a three day journey from Hell. You must plan on pushing through until your planned stops unless there is an emergency. For example, for an 8 hour trip I would do three hours, two hours, two hours and then destination. Not to brag, but I’ve worked my kids up to 3 hours, 3 hours and then destination. But…don’t do that if you’re not a seasoned road tripper!!! (humble brag over)

Schedule Template for 5am departure and 8 hour trip.

5am-6am: This first hour of the trip is what I like to call the honeymoon. Everyone is feeling the buzz of excitement for getting on the road and taking a trip. Kiddo is excited, driver is excited, partner is excited. Everyone is happy. NOW is the time to do things like podcast children stories, favorite music, and car games. Side note: don’t “save” new music or movies for a car trip, kids love repetition. Think about how many times you’ve seen Moana. They aren’t going to refuse to watch it a 1,475th time. But imagine the disappointment, for everyone, if you spring a new movie or music on your kid and they don’t like it. Don’t do it. Stick with tried and true. But WAIT, don’t put in a movie yet!! We need this first hour to be magical without back-up.

5:45am-6am: The magic of the honeymoon phase is starting to wear off. Remember what I said about not having new music or new movies…well…that same philosophy does NOT apply to toys!!!! Have something new for your kiddo, stuffed animal, car game, car toy, whatever, and give it to your kid at 5:45am. You think it’s no big deal if you give it to them at 5:30am…hahaha…you sweet, beautiful person, you. Don’t do it. Wait until 5:45am. Trust me.

6am-6:30am: You’ve done it!!! yay!!! you’ve gone 1 of the 8 hours. Don’t celebrate yet!! Try to push through another 30 minutes if you can! This is a GREAT time for a snack! Read a book, play a game, listen to some more music etc. But try your best to get through the next thirty minutes! (Tip: If you’ve been listening to music, put on a story, and vice versa, key is to change it up at this point)

6:30am-8am: You’re doing great!!!! Now, put in a movie. If you are against screen time, ok,  you do you, but a 2 hour movie is not going to turn your sweet genius into a zombie, I promise. The rest of this trip is going to rely heavily on movies, this is primarily because my kids are so young books don’t work. Once they can read, this schedule for a car trip isn’t really applicable anyway.  Pick a movie they LOVE, have it on the iPad, the van screen, whatever. Just give them a movie!!!

8am-8:30am(ish): What the whaaaat? It’s already 8am!! You’re doing an awesome job!!! GUESS WHAT!!! time to STOP! Get out, change diaper, or go potty, do some jumps, do some marches, do some silly dances. Do enough to get some energy out, but don’t do so much that your kiddo hates you when you put them back in the car. Although….that might happen anyway. If there are two drivers, it’s not a bad time to change up who is driving, this means changing who is “dealing with” your child. This change is a great way to break up the time! And don’t think you or your kid is above bribery. Kid doesn’t like transitions, have something at the ready to lure your toddler back in the car!!!

8:30am-9am: If you’re thinking your stop will be significantly less than 30 minutes adjust the time, but also…don’t panic if the stop is 30 minutes. Before you get back in the car you should probably tell your toddler that you’re SO excited to listen to some music or podcast stories! (basically, you’re mentally preparing them to NOT watch a movie, but doing so without mentioning screen time just in case it’s a non issue, you never know)

9am-9:30am: Snack break!! Sing some silly songs, play eye spy, listen to music, push through to 9:30, you can do it!!!

9:30am-10:30am: New book time!! You bought a couple new books, or borrowed a couple new books from library, right?! Time to get one out! Yay!!! Also, have an old favorite ready just in case the new one isn’t a hit! Ask your toddler to read it to you, or read it to them. Whatever you can do to use up time. At this point I would probably let my kids watch a couple episodes of Daniel Tiger because they love watching TV and it’s a treat for them and it would help pass the time. For some toddlers, too much screen time makes them antsy and unhappy and overtired…so do what makes the most sense for your kid. But do not, I repeat, do not make another stop until 10:30am!!!! (Unless someone is bleeding or dying)

10:30am-11am: Wowzers!!! you’re doing great! you’re halfway there!! Time to stop!! Get out, change diaper, or go potty, do some jumps, do some marches, do some silly dances. Grab lunch if you can…I know 10:30 seems early, but you’ve been up since 4am or 4:30am….you’ve gotta be hungry! Also, if possible, let your kid run around while you eat, and then have your kid eat in the car when they have to sit anyway. Don’t make them sit for EXTRA when they aren’t in the car!!! If there are two drivers, go ahead and change up who is driving, this means changing who is “dealing with” your child. This change is a great way to break up the time! Also, don’t let your toddler eat their lunch in the car unsupervised, if you’re driving solo try to shove something in their mouth in between the laps you make them run around the gas station/McDonald’s etc.

11am-12:30pm: At this point you probably don’t want to get back in the car….but you’ve got to. Let your kiddo eat their lunch in their car seat if supervised and then start a movie! This is gonna kill at least an hour and half!

Here’s where it’s going to depend on the mood of the car and how things are going.

On paper it looked great to break up the trip the way we did, but at this point, maybe it makes more sense to push through another hour? Or even the rest of the way. Or maybe there’s no way you can do that and you’ll need to stop at 1pm (your planned stopping time- do not stop before then!!!)

If your cutie usually naps during this trip see if you can get them to nap. Treat it like regular nap time. Even do the routine, read a book, sing a song, give them their lovey and maybe a blanket and then IGNORE them for ten minutes, hopefully they’ll conk out! Baseball hats, sun hats, and window shade are all possible ways to darken the car if needed!

Good luck and may the force be with you.

Working on your mental health is keeping the very essence of your being in tip top shape…so…yay therapy!

Very recently one of my friends asked me how I’m so “chill” even with 3 young kids. I laughed because I don’t feel very chill… and then said “Therapy. Lots and lots of therapy.” Cause don’t worry, I’m a mess inside. I worry about everything. But therapy has given me the tools to manage that anxiety and move forward in my life. I love therapy. Like, really love it. Like, I never want to stop even though sometimes I run out of things to talk about. Ok, that’s not true, I always have something to talk about.

I have been in therapy off and on since I was 16. But nothing like having some postpartum anxiety after my first baby was born to kick it into gear again.  It’s like my whole life was preparing for the moment(s) I would be consumed by parenting. Sometimes it feels like a joke from the universe. “You thought studying for that college exam was stressful…HAHAHAHA. How’s it going with three kids 4 and under?”

It’s going ok, thankyouverymuch, universe. (thanks to…..therapy!)

So many people are embarrassed by going to therapy, and I so totally get that. That was me until about…a few weeks ago, a day ago, hitting post on this blog? Nothing monumental happened, but years of knowing in my heart that we need to be more forgiving of ourselves, supportive of our friends and family who need therapy and realizing that going to therapy isn’t a sign of weakness finally all clicked for me very recently. Cue blog post.

Let’s clear the air on some very misinformed concepts that I have heard about people who go to therapy.

  1. Someone who goes to therapy is weak, unable to cope because of a personal fault, and probably a little weird. Well shoot, that’s a little harsh! But, sadly, pretty common misconception that I have heard several times. I might be a little biased, but I genuinely believe seeking help for any struggle or challenge is a sign of strength. Wanting to learn how to overcome personal struggles is absolutely a sign of maturity, intelligence and selfless kindness. It’s impossible to support others, be your best self, and give the way you want if you are overwhelmed with personal challenges. And, fyi, we’re all a little weird!
  2. Therapy is a waste of time- what happened in your childhood is not important now, live in the present, don’t live in the past. Hmmmm….several things. Therapy isn’t all about discussing your childhood. However, if you do discuss your childhood, learning about the ways in which certain childhood experiences have shaped your current, adult perspective, relationships and comfort level is incredibly important for understanding the “why” of you today! Does that mean it’s an excuse to carry a chip on your shoulder, obviously not. But, you can learn from your history, work on new ways to think about things and move forward with a healthier attitude! You’re not walking around with a big chip on your shoulder, you’re walking around with knowledge, and knowledge is power.
  3. Needing therapy is so embarrassing, I should just be able to get my act together. I’ve got some questions for you. Do you need an annual wellness check from your physician? Do you need to go to the dentist twice a year to get your oral health checked? Do you need to make sure you eat healthy foods, exercise, have fun, find hobbies, enjoy life? It seems bizarre to me that one would want to take care of every aspect of their body except their minds. The very essence of their being. Of course there are other ways to take care of your mind, but why be embarrassed about one option to keep your mental health in tip-top shape?
  4. Ok, I do go to therapy, but I’m not going to tell anyone. That’s weird to tell people, what will they think?! Ok, I get that. I totally get that. I don’t think going to therapy is weird, but I do get wanting to keep certain aspects of your life private. I also think that if talking about mental health were more socially acceptable and having a psychological evaluation had less stigma, we might have a healthier community. This isn’t the “fix it” ticket for the increased mental health struggles, I’m not naive, but I do think we need to break down the barriers for people to feel comfortable accessing resources for their mental health.

Acknowledging my limitations, working hard towards being the person I want to be and learning the tools I need for coping with my worry brain have made me a much better person, and there is no way I could have done that, or continue to do that, without therapy.

I don’t think it’s necessary to share with everyone I meet that I go to therapy. In fact, it rarely comes up in conversation. But, I’ve started mentioning it when it’s relevant. Maybe if we can break down the wall of “perfection” and “I’m fine”  and recognize that more people than we think need extra support for their emotional health we can change the attitude to: not only is it ok to seek help, it’s a sign of strength, intelligence and maturity.




Forgiveness is like my coffee.

Just Kidding. Only coffee is like my coffee. But forgiveness is delicious, warm, soothing and energizing. So…samesies?

Here’s what I’ve learned about forgiveness through my own life experience and trial and error. All of which, I should note, are different than anyone else’s, so…I also get that not everyone is ready, or able, to be so loosey goosey with their forgiveness. But for me, when it comes to being happy, being super forgiving is the way to go. Not only do I spend less energy and time disliking someone or lamenting their faults, forgiveness has become like a habit and now I even forgive myself occasionally (what the whaaaat? I know, it’s awesome).

As a mom there are all kinds of things that end up piling up in the “not good enough” list. You know the one. Like when you remember you forgot something (ha!) or you realize you haven’t showered in four days or you fed your kids chicken nuggets again or the laundry starts piling up or you forgot to do something at work or… you get the idea. But, in forgiving others I’ve become comfortable forgiving myself, accepting my imperfections, and moving on. Forgiving myself for my faults has been liberating…but certainly not easy.

I had to practice forgiving others first. I wasn’t really ever setting out to forgive myself, I just knew I wanted to be happier and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by positive, caring friends who exemplify this habit without getting preachy (like writing a freaking blog post about it, geesh). So, I finally copped on and started practicing unconditional kindness and forgiveness just like them.

Let me just take a moment to explain “forgiveness” as I want to use it in this post. I don’t mean I’m like some condescending forgiveness fairy waving her wand over every a nay-doer. What I really mean is that I don’t blame another person’s very fabric of being for their actions. I remind myself that everyone has their own battles, their challenges and their struggles. Mean people aren’t happy, and unhappy people are doing their best just like we all are. For example, if someone says something rude to me, I try to take a breath and remind myself that it’s coming from a place of hurt, whether or not the hurt has to do with me (it usually doesn’t) and I just let it go. I don’t worry or obsess over it. I don’t waste energy stewing about it. I just let it go. I’m basically Elsa. (come on- that was funny)

So even though it would be pretty sweet to think of myself as some kind of forgiveness fairy, I’m not. I’m just trying to practice unconditional kindness. Like any habit, this forgiveness/happy thing took work. I had to actively remind myself not to take offense by other people’s actions or words…usually words. I didn’t consciously decide to practice forgiving myself, but after a few years of forgiving others it just happened. My friendships grew, my mental health improved and my confidence bloomed.

When I took responsibility for being happy life suddenly became fair. I wasn’t being dealt a difficult hand, I was in control of how I responded and I could laugh at the absurd, cry at the sad and move on. This really is the best part, because I’m the only person I can control. And when I’m in charge of my happiness, I’m happier.

Cool, cool. So we just act like jerks are doing their best and don’t hold anyone accountable? I’m not buying it.

Right, well, this is the tricker part to my personal success with forgiveness and definitely took the longest to work out. Actually, I’m still working it out. Anyway, setting healthy boundaries, getting out of toxic relationships, and holding others accountable for their actions is not mutually exclusive from forgiveness. I can forgive a person but get the heck out of dodge if they’re acting irrational, mean or selfishly. I’m not forgiving and forgetting. I’m just forgiving. I’m letting go of the part that’s making me miserable and moving onward and upward.

Ok, preachy pants, what started this?

Having kids was like the punch in my gut I needed. I wanted to be the best mom I could be and exemplify kindness to my kids so that they will be kind, too. It’s not perfect, I still struggle, but I want my kids to see that, too. Being kind isn’t easy, being happy isn’t easy, but showing my kids that nothing is handed to them, happiness isn’t situational and working hard on your mental fitness is so worth it…priceless.

Being Brave.

Has your child ever done something so spectacular you wanted to just hug every stranger that happened to be standing by and explain to them that your child is a hero? No? Huh. Only me, I guess. Well, this hug is getting awkward.

This basically happened to me last weekend. I didn’t actually hug every stranger standing nearby, but I did have an internal party when Grace, my super cautious, super sweet, rule follower to the extreme let her inner curiosity, spirit of adventure, and bravery shine through.

We went to Hocking Hills last weekend and hiked a trail that led us to Old Man’s Cave. The scenery was beautiful, the trail wasn’t easy, and we were a big group, my husband and I and our three children plus my husband’s parents. We were quite the crew, and we were loving every second, I even brought my real camera! (You know those machines that capture pictures, but can’t text?)

Near the end of our hike we reached a neat little body of water underneath a small waterfall. Grace mentioned wanting to walk in the water, it wasn’t very deep and she was apparently moved by the surrounding natural beauty. My mother-in-law was about to kick off her own shoes and help Grace do the same when I mentioned that there was a sign that said “No Wading.” My mother-in-law thought that was ridiculous and I said I agreed, but internally thanked the powers that be of old man’s cave for channeling their inner helicopter Mom so I didn’t have to admit to anyone, including myself, what a challenge it is for me NOT to be a helicopter mom.

I explained to Grace that there was a sign that said no wading in the water. She was disappointed but consoled herself by throwing rocks into the water with Henry. Then Grace noticed a fallen tree that was across this tiny body of water and wanted to cross it like a balance beam. She saw another little boy crossing it and she was inspired.

I don’t know if it was the magic of old man’s cave, the presence of grammie and pops, or the sheer, uninhibited joy that comes with exploring nature and pushing yourself to your physical limits. But, Grace became obsessed with crossing this fallen tree.

Suddenly, all bets were off. I didn’t care about the no wading sign, I didn’t care about my internal anxiety concerning all things safety related. I wanted to help my shy, cautious girl be brave. I explained that if that’s what she wanted she could do it. I showed her the unmarked path she would need to take that went around the body of water, I showed her I would be able to see her the entire time, and if anything happened, I could get to her in a matter of seconds.

She wanted me to go with her, but my gut said she would still go if I didn’t, so I told her part of being brave is being scared. She doesn’t need me, but I’ll be there in a second if she does. Of course that was confusing, but she seemed to understand that I was trying to say something meaningful so she nodded enthusiastically and headed on her way. Henry’s spidey-senses detected an adventure and he went galloping after Grace.

My husband was impressed by Grace, surprised by my enthusiasm and concerned about her safety, so he went on the path behind her, giving her enough space to feel on her own. When my husband is concerned about safety I know I haven’t been overthinking it as we are on very different ends of the safety concern spectrum, haha.

When Grace climbed her way up the unmarked path, and then around a tangle of tree roots, down the hill and along the edge of the water she finally got to the fallen tree. Suddenly, she wasn’t thrilled, and honestly, I realized I didn’t want her crossing the fallen tree on her own…or really, at all. But my fearfulness for her safety coincided with my fearfulness that I’m too anxious and it’s rubbing off on her….lots of fear in my brain…best not to delve too deep into the inner workings of my mind and heart.

Anyway, Patrick stepped up in a big way, well, stepped in rather. Without hesitation he stepped into the water so he could hold Grace’s hand and give her some encouraging words. Turns out the water by the tree was a lot deeper than we thought and I’m very glad Patrick was there because there’s no way she would have crossed the tree without him and there’s no way I would have let her. But she did it! Patrick held her hand as she walked across, and she did it! She got to the “big rock,” which was her goal.

I totally became that mom. You know, the one who celebrates the heck out of seemingly minor achievements. Listen, if my kiddo scales a personal mountain you better believe I’m gonna celebrate like it was Mount Everest, because for her, it was. Typically, if Grace is going to do something new, she needs at least 15 minutes to watch, another 15 minutes to ask a lot of questions about it and if you’re lucky, in about two years she’ll maybe try it.

So, as you can imagine, the look on her face as she ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug made me feel all the feels. She’s my kid, y’all, and she just faced a fear head on. I asked her if she was scared and she hesitated before saying “yes.” She said it like it was a bad thing, so I jumped in and explained that you can’t be brave without being scared. Being brave means doing something you’re afraid of even though you’re frightened. She locked her little hand in mine, looked up at me and whispered, “I was super brave.”

Just over here ruining Christmas, nbd.

In one fell swoop I knocked out the possibility of fantastical beasts, magic and Santa…and I hadn’t intended to do any of that. Before you dismiss me as that mom who is WAY too literal about being honest with her children about everything, know that I hadn’t set out to ruin Christmas.

My 4 year old is currently obsessed with unicorns. Obsessed. I don’t know how she has picked up on that trendy obsession because we don’t have tv/cable with commercials, but we do venture outside of the house and she has friends, so….here we are, unicorns are everything.

One day she asked me if she could ride a unicorn. I’m not one to rain on anyone’s imagination parade, but I also know how literal my little sensitive soul is, and if I tell her she can ride a unicorn and then we start to flesh out the logistics and it comes out she cannot in fact ride a unicorn….it’s just not worth it to me.

So, I explained that unicorns are really fun to think about, to pretend about, but that they don’t actually exist. She was shocked, and I wasn’t sure if I was navigating these new waters in the best way, but I went with my gut and I continued by encouraging her to pretend about unicorns, draw them, read books about them, but also know that she can’t ever see one in real life because they don’t exist outside of stories. She seemed totally good with this. Her imagination continues to blossom, she is going to be a unicorn for Halloween and I don’t think I have crushed her spirit. Felt like a win to me.

Then it happened. She asked me if I remembered telling her that it’s fun to think about unicorns, but they don’t exist. I said I did, but in my mind my thoughts were racing, did I ruin her childhood, why couldn’t I have just said yes unicorns are real when she asked me a couple weeks ago. Maybe they just hide from humans and that’s why she can’t ride one, or maybe they live really far away…so many options, why hadn’t I thought of this?? Before I could continue drowning in this pool of despair and panic she asked if the same logic applied to Santa. My four year old said, “Is it the same way about Santa Clause. Fun to think about but not real?”

Wait, what? Why is she asking me this? Did some little punk at school tell her Santa isn’t real? Is she just super smart and making connections…I’m so proud of her…wait, focus, this is bad…what do I say? Let me just dive back into my pool of panic.

It took too long to answer. I was sweating. Why couldn’t I just tell her Santa is real. Easy peasy. I could have said, “No, the same logic does not apply. Santa is real…in our hearts” or something vague like that.

I don’t know why I didn’t say that, but I didn’t. Instead, I said, “Correct. Same logic. Santa isn’t real, but he sure is fun to think about and read about.”

Whaaaat did I just say? Words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I never intended to be that mom. You know, the one who sucks the joy out of childhood and now has a ticking truth bomb of a preschooler who could at any moment lay down some unwanted details to a friend about the truth behind Santa. Now she was going to be that punk at school who ruins Santa for some sweet, dear child.

I mentally start to back pedal and was trying to articulate a way to change my first answer without sounding totally bonkers, but before I could formulate a plan Grace jumps in with, “well, I like the idea of unicorns AND Santa, they’re so nice and fun, so I say they’re real! Ok, mommy?”

Oh thank you, thank you sweet 4 year old logic and soul. I enthusiastically told her, “YES!!! that’s a GREAT idea. That’s PERFECT. Let’s say they’re real!!!” Crisis averted. I think. Thank goodness Grace can parent herself.

Fingers crossed I didn’t ruin Christmas. Or unicorns. Or anything else fun.

Silent Reflux is not as silent as you think.

Silent reflux is something I had never heard of until one late night when I ventured onto Dr. Google after my child’s actual doctor mentioned it. Dr. Google had a lot to say about silent reflux, but didn’t quite hit on the emotional toll it would take on our entire family.

Let me back up. My third kiddo, Sophia, was a pretty easy baby in the beginning, well, days 1,2 and 3. She nursed really well, she ate a ton and always wanted to eat. I mean. Always. I’m a pretty modest person who gets self conscious about my body, but let me tell you, after about day four, I don’t think anyone in my family hadn’t seen me breastfeeding Sophia. In-Laws included. She was insatiable. So feeding was nowhere near on my radar for something she was having a problem with. She wasn’t spitting up the way my first baby had, and she wasn’t constipated like my first and second were. She was just an insatiable eater.

She didn’t love sleeping, though. I tried mentioning this to my husband, her doctor, my family, my friends…anyone who would listen to me. They all had the same response, we were outrageously lucky with our first two and Sophia was more “normal” Ok, cool, cool, you know what’s not normal, trying to function on no more than an hour of sleep at a time.

I tried everything, I tried co-sleeping, I tried putting her in the bassinet, I tried putting her in this rocking thing, I tried putting her in a less rocky-rocker thing. It was all fruitless.

One night I had fed her and she fell asleep next to me in the bed, suddenly I woke up because of mom-spidey-senses and looked at my one month old. She looked like she was possessed and having a seizure. Her back was arched, her eyes were bugging out of her head and she started screaming. Not crying, I mean screaming bloody murder. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t home because he had drill that weekend.

I picked Sophia up and was trying to comfort her, but she was arching, screaming and eye bugging. I called the pediatrician on call and left some sort of crazy voicemail,  “my daughter looks like she’s having a seizure, but I’m pretty sure she’s breathing because she’s screaming, but her eyes are weird and she’s arching her back and she’s screaming… she is in pain. My baby is in pain. Call me back.”

Sophia’s pediatrician called me back and sounded super sleepy, but ready to help, she asked me a few questions and said “it sounds like acid reflux flaring up” I said “she doesn’t have acid reflux” she said “Well, it sounds like she does, make an appointment in the morning” I replied, “I’m not sure you understand what is happening. My baby doesn’t need a couple tums, she is flipping out, arching her back, screaming, eyes bugging. BUGGING out of her head” The Dr calmly replied, “sounds like textbook acid reflux, keep her upright….” the rest of what she said is a blur because I was fuming that my Dr didn’t realize how emotionally traumatic this was.

Fast forward about 6 weeks later after several Dr’s appointments and an appointment with a specialist at Children’s we discovered that miss Sophia does indeed have silent reflux and that soy and dairy trigger it. Soy and dairy. In case you haven’t tried to avoid those ingredients lately, let me fill you in. Your days of pre-packaged, pre-prepared, pre-anything are over.

I ate very little and I lost a lot of weight but Sophia finally started gaining weight. In some ways, it was a win-win. But, it was unpleasant. I even tried to find a formula that would work because once I started checking labels I realized I couldn’t eat anything already made and you can imagine that with two toddlers and a non-sleeping baby, I kind of needed pre-made food. Sadly, I couldn’t find a formula that didn’t trigger her reflux, not even the super special formula that costs a million dollars and has nothing in it but sunshine and magic.

Silent reflux is not life threatening in the least, and it’s more common than you might think, but it is tricky to diagnose. Part of the difficulty is that there is no excess amount of spit up. She would reflux her milk up enough for it to burn, but not get rid of it. So she wanted to eat ALL. THE. TIME. Eating made her feel better in the immediate, but also worse when she was lying down, or after 5 minutes… And since she was just a wee little thing, she couldn’t think long term. So she ate and ate and ate.

We eventually pushed past it, and were lucky that it wasn’t long lasting. But it was very difficult. I had friends, and even family, think I was being an over the top mom because no, I couldn’t have just one bite of ice cream. I had tried that, and guess what, even if I didn’t care about my baby’s comfort, the price tag of one bite was a gassy, angry baby who doesn’t sleep all night. Not worth it. I need my sleep.

So, I had a spring and summer of no ice cream, nothing pre-packaged, but a happy baby. I’m really glad we went to a specialist because she was able to give us much more in depth information and a better treatment plan. Now, at 20 months, miss Sophia can have soy and she can have some dairy, but seems to be lactose sensitive so far. But she has minimal reflux and is a happy, chubby little toddler! She’s also now my best sleeper of the three! Way to go, Sophia!