A Beautiful Life

I’ve talked on here about our miscarriage before – not ever in detail, because let’s be honest – it’s not something I like to talk about. But it is a story of grief all of it’s own, and that grief, the one of losing a child whom you never knew but imagined and dreamed and thought of and LOVED is as real as losing anyone else.

That’s why when yesterday, when a dear friend told me of a close family member losing her own baby, it was brought to the surface with that same rush of intense emotions. And then on top of that, social media was flooded with the classic “I’m pregnant!” April Fools jokes and all of a sudden, they really didn’t seem that funny.

The loss of an unborn but well thought of child is such a touchy subject. But I am pretty sure all of us can say we know someone effected by that loss, because it’s far too damn common. Whenever I hear of miscarriages and stillbirths it shakes my core because it comes with such a heavy handed “whyyyy”. Why the babies, why the innocents. It is a very real and true loss and to all you ladies out there who experience it, from one mama to another.. I feel you. I hear you. I respect and acknowledge that loss just as I would any other.

It was all this feeling yesterday that caused me to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude all day then, and now today. These days come by every now and then, when I realize my blessings and the skies just seem a little bluer and the difficulties and personal struggles in my life are so diminished by the successes and gifts. I try to embrace these days for what they are worth because often times, the busyness of life and the to-dos overshadow the important things, and I don’t stop to take the time and admire my life for all it has given me.

I guess the whole point of this rambling is to save this for a later day – a post to remind me of this beautifully blessed, although imperfect life that I live. With the handsomest and most caring man, wonderful and solid family support, cozy and comfortable house, adorable fluffy pets, and of course – the cutest little bean that I get to spend the rest of my days loving, watching her grow and learn and thrive and flourish before my very eyes.

This; this life of mine, is a beautiful one.

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15/16 Months

Here it is – a 2 for 1 update on your 16 month birthday!

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The biggest milestone hit these past 2 months is definitely that you started walking. It’s funny – you spent so much time leading up to it, with months and months of standing independently, cruising, and using your walker to navigate the house – and then one day you pretty much just took off running and never looked back. It happened shortly after our return from Jamaica, but truth be told, you were almost walking prior to Jamaica but we hindered that progress by carrying you in our arms everywhere around the mostly cement resort.

You now spend your days at home toddling around, going through every open door and picking up any and every object along the way. It keeps you entertained for hours.

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You are happiest when you are naked, which happens about half an hour or so a day. You run around gleefully as if you are finally FREE, and evade capture when we try to come at you with a diaper in hand. I look forward to saving on laundry when summer finally comes around and we can allow you to roam freely a little bit longer without worry of you catching a chill.

You are still very comfortably in size 4 diapers. You wear mostly 12-18 month clothing but can still fit some 6-12 month outfits as well. You are 21.5 pounds, so on the smaller size for your age but still look cute and chubby for your height :).

You babble nonstop. You are constantly experimenting with your voice, in true McKenna form, by letting out a constant array of shrieks and squeals and testing out different tones with your voice. You say quite a few words – hi, puppy, bird, bath and book to name the more recognizable ones – and then a couple that I feel only your father and I really can translate. We do get a kick out of you walking into whatever room we are in an letting out a pleasant high pitched "hi!" as if you are just so happy to see us. We are always happy to see you too, little bug.. The feeling is more than mutual.

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Sign language is being used more frequently than before, because you are now seemingly starting to pick it up. It’s really exciting to see you sign when you’re tired, want more, or if you are all done with your meal. We are working towards mastering “milk” (which will be used as a general sign for all drinks) and “thank you”. You truly are learning things at such a rapid pace I’m sure we will have these signs mastered in no time!

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You blow about a thousand kisses a day. When people are coming and going, when you are saying goodnight, or when people wave or look in your general direction, really. You also like to give kisses, and they are now more like kisses than open mouthed drooly ones. You also like to kiss inanimate objects – such as my iPhone, your binky (blankie), the television, your books.. Etc.

You know where quite a few body parts are located, and know what sound a cow, chicken, cat and dog make. Old MacDonald is your favourite song of the moment.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here, but Curious George is still a giant hit and a nighttime staple around here. We watch it to help you wind down at the end of the day and it’s the only 20 minutes of the day you actually sit still. Put George on, and after dancing around like cray to the theme song, the rest of the world disappears for you. You have inherited your fathers knack for “zoning out” as it is impossible to get through to you at times like this. I call it karma for him :).
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^^that up there? that’s your Curious George face.

Still love the puppy, and our latest edition, our budgie Petrie! Every morning we say hi to the birdie together and you visit him at least 5 times a day to talk/yell at him.

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Still super attached to your binkie, but you have officially ditched the soother. Hurrah!

You still nurse about 2x a day – you had almost self weaned before we left on holiday and I panicked about not being able to confirm if the milk was pasteurized or not. Oh well, it will come soon I’m sure, as you drink milk from your sippy cup all day like a champ :).

#100happydays

I cannot even BELIEVE it has been a whole two months since I have written a word in this space!

SO MUCH has happened – we took our family trip to Jamaica (which I still promise to recap), we continued and made huge progress towards our wedding plans (we are now just a LITTLE over TWO MONTHS OUT, people!), McKenna started WALKING and TALKING and made such huuuuge leaps in her development (she knows quite a few of her body parts and a couple of animal noises!), and I applied for, and received a great full time job to start a week from today.

Yes, that’s right.. I am returning to work as discussed and as promised. This was entirely my idea – Matthew was completely content, and even pushing for me to stay home with McKenna for a longer period of time. But as much as I love being a stay at home Mum and hope to be able to do it again in the near future, I felt a pretty strong need to contribute financially to the household (especially with the upcoming wedding). Two other reasons for my return – our feeling that McKenna will really thrive in a dayhome setting interacting with other children, and the fact that maternity leave is just too great a benefit to pass up the second time (here in Canada, we get an entire 52 weeks!).

I have a HUGE mix of emotions about my return, and depending on the day/hour/minute/second, I am either looking forward to my return to work ,or crying my eyes out over the moments I will truly, truly miss. It is going to be a huge adjustment for this little family of 3, but I think now is the time. I am also very blessed that should it not be the right fit for us, I have the option to quit at anytime and either return to being a stay at home Mum or search for something with a little less hours.

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I started the #100happydays project 2 days ago, as a way to help me look for the silver lining of each day. For those who have not heard, #100happydays is a personal journey to photograph and share 100 pictures in 100 days of something that is making you happy. I am an Instagram ADDICT so I knew I would have no problem committing to such a project, and I am so excited to see my results 98 days from now!

You can follow me on Instagram to watch me take on this project, or you can visit the #100happydays official website to sign up and participate yourself!

I also plan to start writing again to get my thoughts and feelings about this new transitional time in my life into words. Writing always helps me sort my emotions.

So with that, I am happy to say A Little Baby Bean is back in action!Image

 

Fourteen Months

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It feels like these months are really starting to fly by. I ask again – weren’t you just born, like, yesterday? Anyways…

Sleep-wise, nothing much to report that wasn’t already covered this week. But now that you are sleeping like a rockstar, your nap schedule has become a little wonky. I think you are slowly transitioning to one nap and it’s kinda got you all messed up. You are exhausted by the time you take your usual morning nap but have SUCH a hard time falling asleep, so you stay awake until you are about ready to fall over at 1pm. I am letting you take the lead on this one because I feel with our upcoming vacation any routine that I may TRY and put in place will end in epic failure. So for now, you run the show.142

Food-wise, you eat anything we do and love MOST things. Things you won’t touch (a much shorter list than the stuff you will) include red peppers, strawberries, peas, and green beans.

We are down to nursing TWICE A DAY. You did this all on your own. You wake once at 5:30 AM(ish) and I nurse you then too.

The biggest news of this month is definitely that you are now WALKING. You can take upwards of 15 steps between rooms before settling down on your bum and crawling the rest of the way. I keep telling everyone that will listen that I’m sure you will take off running when you see the ocean next week (aka – give me a heart attack).

You know where your hair, nose, and bellybutton are. Three very random things, I know. But you are obsessed with the hair on my head (as in you love to pull it) and always reach up to yours when I ask where it is. Nose is a new development; until yesterday you were certain it was located on your ear. Bellybuttons are somewhat of an obsession around here.

You are still a little dancing machine, and love any upbeat songs that you can wiggle your bum too. You prefer when I have the radio on the pop station, but I can only listen to it for so long. You can handle alternative for a little bit, but my personal favorite, dubstep, does not seem to be a hit. Yet.

You LOVE dressup. If we leave ANY article of clothing on the floor you are trying to put it on your head, then you parade around as if you are doing a fashion show. You love to wear your Dad’s hat and my sunglasses most of all. Yesterday I witnessed you *trying* to put my boot on your foot. I look forward to many days spent playing dressup with you.144141

Your glockenspiel is still your favorite toy by far, and you bang on the keys until they fall off.

Still attached to your green fuzzy blankie, but thankfully any fuzzy blankie seems to do, as you quite often throw it on the floor outside causing it to be washed weekly. You also love pillows, and love being on your father and I’s bed and throwing yourself into them, laughing hysterically, until you are absolutely exhausted.

You are currently working on SIX TEETH at the moment, and who knows maybe more. You don’t let me get my fingers in far enough to feel if you are working on your molars yet, but we have definitely had a few difficult nights this month. Poor little bug.

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I’ll eat you up, I love you so. xo

Ten Lovely Little Things On A Friday

These are 10 things currently making me happy on this cold Alberta Friday night:

1. A WALKING BABY! That’s right. McKenna has now entered the half crawling/half WALKING stage. She walks anytime she’s currently in a standing position (cruising) and can get from one room to the other. It’s very exciting. A video will come soon, but I have been having a hard time capturing it thus far as I am generally clapping and cheering like a fool on the sidelines.

2. JAMAICA - it’s nearly here! We are just a few sleeps away! And as nervous as I am about the flight with McKenna, I am SUPER EXCITED for our first family vacation and to see two wonderful people get married! Any last minute tips? Send them my way, PLEASE in the comments section!!

3. This new dress I bought today! I bought it for the wedding until I realized, DUH, it’s white. Oh well! I will be just as content wearing it around town. (Seriously, love!!)

4. Wedding planning is going so well! I am really starting to get a vision for what the big picture will look like. We had a meeting with the venue this past weekend, and if possible, I love it more than ever.

5. Moments like these.

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And as always, these two in general. <3

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5. This song. I think it will be my official “WE’RE GOING TO JAMAICA!” theme song (aka, the song I will be blasting in the car at 5:30 in the morning on our way to the airport as Matt shoots me dirty looks while sipping a gigantour Tim Horton’s coffee).

6. This movie trailer based on a favorite book. YOU MUST READ. BUT HAVE KLEENEX NEARBY. Don’t say I never warned you :).

7. This blog post from a favorite blog which inspired THIS blog post! :)

8. My yoga practice. I have been going consistently 3-4 times a week and I am just so in love with yoga. It doesn’t feel like work for me, it is truly just my number one hobby. It’s so good for me to have this time for me and the benefits for my health are not going unnoticed.

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Photo credit: http://100daysofhappy.wordpress.com/

9. My determination. Speaking of my health, I’ve been low carb for about 3 weeks. I feel great! I do have the occasional cheat now and then but overall it has been a successful journey thus far, and this paired with yoga really has me back on track. I am super proud of my focus!

10. McKenna’s continued sleep success – We had a rough night a few nights back due to teething, but that is of course to be expected. Other than that, we are still reaping the benefits of a great night’s sleep!

 

What’s making you all happy on this Friday night?

Recently *Destroyed* Things

One of my favorite blogs to read daily, ohdeardrea has a weekly *segment* if you will, called “Recently Enjoyed Things”. Pictures of all the wonderful things her and her little family have been enjoying recently. I always enjoy these posts, but as of late, every time I see this segment come up on my BlogLovin’ Account, I snicker to myself.

McKenna has recently been into ALL SORTS OF MISCHIEF around these parts. So much that we have now nicknamed her “McKenna the Destroyer“. It is truly amazing how quickly a one-year old can turn your house UPSIDE DOWN! So I have decided to start my own little segment on this blog called “Recently Destroyed Things”, and am happy to share the first batch of photographs with you today!

Toilet Paper, best toy ever. (This happens far more than I would like to admit)

Toilet Paper, best toy ever. (This happens far more than I would like to admit)


Play Area: Before Picture

Play Area: Before Picture


Play Area: Five Minutes Later (she HATES when we put her play mats down nicely)

Play Area: Five Minutes Later (she HATES when we put her play mats down nicely)


DVD rack

DVD rack


This happened on a day I made the rookie mistake of leaving McKenna in the living room for 5 minutes with my PILES of nice, clean, folded laundry.

This happened on a day I made the rookie mistake of leaving McKenna in the living room for 5 minutes with my PILES of nice, clean, folded laundry.

I see many more “Recently Destroyed Things” posts in our future. I have a feeling McKenna is just getting started, showing us all the mischief she can cause!

We Did It!

A LOT of big changes are happening around here these days, and all occurred in less than a month:

  1. We are no longer co-sleeping;
  2. McKenna is sleeping through the night consistently; and
  3. She is down to 3-5 nursing sessions per day.

Whew. Even officially writing that down took a lot of emotion out of me.

Nursing and co-sleeping were definitely two of the main attributes I used to describe our style of parenting that first year. It was great – I loved everything about it.

Co-sleeping was one of those things that worked, until all of a sudden it just didn’t. And in true McKenna fashion, she never does things slowly. Instead of doing a slow transition from co-sleeping to independent sleeping, one day it just STOPPED. I slept in my room and she slept in hers.

I mentioned we had a slight regression along the way – and after reading many words of advice on Facebook and speaking with other mothers, I blame that regression on poor timing. I strongly feel as though McKenna was going through a growth spurt at that time, and it had nothing to do with our new sleeping arrangement.

But now, DARE I say the words I at times I never thought I would? Dare I take it a step further, and write it down for the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE? That McKenna, is finally, consistently, sleeping through the night? ALL ON HER OWN?

Of all of the parenting challenges Matt and I faced in those first 365 days, sleeping was definitely the most difficult. It was SO up and down. We would have good months and bad months. Nights that had one or two wakeups and then nights that had sometimes upwards of 5. We struggled with what the books told us – that by 3 months, most children are fully capable of sleeping through the night (those children also likely fart rainbows). We struggled with what (some) of the experts said was the solution for those children who did not – the dreaded (in our household) cry it out method. We struggled with our own feelings of inadequacy anytime we faced a parent who spoke with pride about their babies who were in their own cribs, sleeping through the night at 6 months. It seemed nearly an impossible feat to accomplish, and as though it was nowhere in our near future.

But anytime the discussion was had, it was never decided upon that we should “Ferberize” McKenna. We do not judge those who choose this very effective sleep training method, because we are not in their houses when the sleep training occurs. We can only know what happened anytime we tried this method on our own baby – 3 or so times over the course of those twelve months in moments of severe desperation – and the result was terrified screams, shaking, and one dreadful, dreadful night when McKenna was ten months when she literally threw herself out of the crib. I thank God every day that our floor bed was beside to break her fall.

No, the Ferber method wasn’t for us. And thankfully, we were definitely on the same page when it came to that.

But yes, sleep. It was all over the place. I rarely complained – after all, I had an entire year off to nurture and care for her, and I had made a promise to myself that the first year would be all about McKenna. About establishing a comforting mother-daughter relationship wherein she felt secure and loved, and would truly trust me to take care of her needs. I still have no regrets about this decision, and fully intend to use this strategy with the next baby. And I honestly have to say I am amazed about how well I am able to function on broken up sleep. And Starbucks.

But at some point, that co-sleeping, nursing through the night relationship began to fail us. McKenna was no longer getting the quality sleep she needed, and instead of waking up and falling asleep immediately when nursed, she screamed and cried and reached for comfort, not milk, multiple times throughout the night.

That was when we knew it was time for the relationship to change.

I wish I could tell you an exact method we used to end co-sleeping, but there wasn’t really one. We simply stopped, and McKenna was ready. And trust me, we HAD definitely tried before, and she was NOT ready before. There was minimal crying (besides the growth spurt) and then there was just success. Continued success.

McKenna now goes to sleep every night at 7:30 PM after a consistent bedtime routine. She sleeps until 4:30-5:30 AM, awakes for a snack, and goes back to sleep until 8 AM. We are working at cutting out that last feeding, but if I’m being honest, I am in no rush.

Reason being is that although this is everything I wished, hoped and longed for.. I still miss those days. Those days where she was absolutely dependent on her Mama for sleep. I am really starting to think as motherhood as sort of a double-edged sword:  you are always wishing for something, and when that something comes true, you can’t help but long for those moments from before. In this particular situation, the moments I long for and will always miss are the late night cuddles. The nursing sessions, when it was just her and I awake in our quiet little household. Those moments of extreme bonding that I would never, EVER take back for ANYTHING.

But as I said before, my post about all of these FEELINGS (the feelings about the end of co-sleeping and the beginning of weaning) are to follow. They are too intense, and too important to not deserve their very own blog post.

But above all these feelings, I am so incredibly proud of my little. Proud of her father and I too, for never feeling forced to doing anything that was outside of our comfort zone. For sticking to our guns, listening to advice when necessary but only taking the particular parts of said advice and applying what we felt would work for our family to our real life situation.

Well done family. We did it :). Here is to many more nights of amazing sleep!

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January Fourteenth

Today marks 13 years since my beloved mother passed away.

Grief is such a funny thing – It is constantly changing. It takes different forms and makes us feel different feelings, but the one thing that is always the same is the longing. The longing for time, more words spoken, less moments wasted.

I still long for my mother every single day, but my grief has once again transformed this year. It has reached an entirely different stage, where it has never been before, and even though it still hurts my heart every time I think of her, this year the hurt is different. Lessened. The reason being is that I can now confidently say I have become a person my mother would be proud of. The person I imagine she’s always wanted me to be. And that, makes it hurt a little less this year. That brings peace to my heart that I never knew could be possible, because I feel that she too, is at peace.

My journey of growing up a motherless daughter will never be over. But I am on a new journey, a journey of motherhood and I am so proud of the person I have come, the struggles I have conquered, the family I belong to, and the daughter I am raising. And all of this goodness is because of her, and the million of invaluable lessons she taught me in the short 13 years we were together.

I love you Mum. I will always, always be your baby girl.

Your First Birthday PARTY

On Sunday, December 15, 2013 our family and friends alike gathered at a small hall in Fort Saskatchewan to celebrate your first birthday!

Even though there had been freezing rain the night before, and some people chose not to brave the highways (it was outside of the city), we still had a great turn out and a fabulous time celebrating you, little one. About 30 people showed up, and we had a wonderful time!

We stuck with a simple theme – pink and green polka dots – and laid out a simple spread of snackin’ foods. There was a guestbook – one of my (many) favourite pictures of you blown up and surrounded by a frame for all to sign. There was a time capsule, filled with blank cards, for all your family and friends to fill out with wishes, advice, and kind words for you to read on your 18th birthday. Your Dad and I will keep this box safe for you.. but I cannot wait for you to read them!

There was a poem on each card (part that I wrote myself, part I found on.. you guessed it – Pinterest!) that read like so:

Please leave a note before you leave this place,

A note for our sweet McKenna Beryl Grace,

Into a time capsule we’ll slip them to hide,

Till she’s 10 & 8 years they’ll be locked up inside;

On her 18th birthday to her we will show,

All these great wishes for the places she’ll go!

 

Other than that, it was your usual birthday party – with a kids play area, treat bags, food, drinks, conversation, then of course, gifts (you were completely spoiled) and your second ever cupcake! You loved it as much if not more than the first, but once again you were such a lady! I was certain I would need to throw out your birthday outfit afterwards (sad face) but that was not the case. It is still in tact and hanging up in your closet, special memories kept (happy face)!

It was a great day filled with so much love. You are a special little girl, McKenna, and you are growing up surrounded by an amazing group of people that truly love you. We are such a blessed little family of three, and we were really feeling the love that day!

So without further ado, here are the (many) pictures from your very first birthday party! I have to thank your Auntie Lareina for once again capturing these wonderful memories on film! We are so lucky to have such a talented photographer in the family!! xoxo thank you Lareina!

McKenna's cousin, Marrah enjoying her treat bag!

McKenna’s cousin, Marrah enjoying her treat bag!


McKenna's cousin, Declan, enjoying the food!

McKenna’s cousin, Declan, enjoying the food!


McKenna's cousin Colton, enjoying a balloon :).

McKenna’s cousin Colton, enjoying a balloon :).


McKenna & her Nanny telling stories.

McKenna & her Nanny telling stories.


Family shot (starting far right) my cousin Daegan, my Auntie & Uncle, and cousins  Collin & Jenny, & McKenna's Papa.

Family shot (starting far right) my cousin Daegan, my Auntie & Uncle, and cousins Collin & Jenny, & McKenna’s Papa.


Enjoying her birthday balloons!

Enjoying her birthday balloons!


McKenna & cousin ZZ!

McKenna & cousin ZZ!


Present time! (McKenna with her Mum & Dad, of course)

Present time! (McKenna with her Mum & Dad, of course)


All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di
All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di
Love this shot!

Love this shot!


Cousin Marrah showing off her custom made wrapping paper :)

Cousin Marrah showing off her custom made wrapping paper :)


Helping hands :).

Helping hands :).


<3

<3


Cupacake time! You were a little unsure about the sparkler...

Cupacake time! You were a little unsure about the sparkler…


But definitely not unsure about the cupcake!

But definitely not unsure about the cupcake!

All images are © Unforgettable Images. Photographer: Lareina DiAll images are © Unforgettable Images. Photographer: Lareina Di
All gone!

All gone!


With your cousins Daegan, Collin and Jenny.. reading them a story :)

With your cousins Daegan, Collin and Jenny.. reading them a story :)


All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di

Sending out an SOS (Save Our Sleep!)

Guuuys… I am sending out a bit of an SOS (SAVE OUR SLEEP!) here!

The last week or so has been NIGHTMARE-ISH with regards to McKenna’s sleep. I posted here about how we have been making the transition from bed-sharing to independent sleeping – and it HAD been going great. She had even seemingly been putting herself to sleep when she woke up in the middle of the night, and on some glorious nights, only needing to be nursed once.

But then for whatever reason, this past week we have taken a HUGE step back and I am feeling like a Mama failure. She is waking several times a night, SCREAMING and unable to get back to sleep without nursing. I am not really for Cry It Out in our particular situation (but hold no ill will towards those who do use this method) but we have been trying it out, because at this point it almost seems crueler to step backwards and revert to old ways instead of pushing forward through this hard time and continuing with the transition. But the SCREAMING? It’s awful. And if I leave her for a few minutes, not even to cry, but to SCREAM it out, it gets increasingly difficult to go in there and calm her down. It’s breaking my heart because I feel as though I do not understand my own child and what she needs from me…. I fear she is in pain, whether it be gas or teething (she is definitely teething, she has 6 teeth that have broke the surface but are not fully exposed yet), although she shows no pain or difference in attitude during the day. She is her normal little happy exploring self during the day. She is also going to bed at her bedtime with no problems whatsoever, and napping routinely for 3 hours a day.

So I am asking you Mama’s for any advice you may have pertaining to our situation. I would rather put this post here, than a Facebook status annoying the two thirds of my friends’ list who do not even have children. We want to make this transition as easy as we can for McKenna ; and right now, it sounds like it is the most difficult thing in the world. It is breaking our heart to hear her cry so, night after night.. and scares me to death that I may be missing something. But as previously mentioned, we do not want to take step backwards, after we have made so much progress!

I should also mention that she won’t even LET me sleep with her anymore. As soon as I lay down next to her on the floor bed (she is otherwise sleeping in her toddler bed), she immediately thinks it is playtime. I just don’t see a resolution and am looking forward to any Mama insight I can gather!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.. One of the main reasons I love having a blog so much is the wealth of information that is exchanged!