Why I hated my Mother’s Day gift and how I fixed it

So for mothers day I had a plan to gift my wife and myself with custom made mugs. I recruited a local artist to work with me on a custom design. One would say Mommy (for me) and one Mo (for my wife). The mugs would also include the date of our daughter’s birth, and the date of our first Mothers day. They were to have a simple, black and white, birds on a wire design. I started emailing back and forth with this artist back in November. I’m a planner.  

After months of seemingly reassuring emails, it was May and the mugs still hadn’t been made. The artist assured me I would have them on time and that she understood my instructions. I finally received them two days before we would be celebrating mothers day, and they were HORRIBLE. they were gaudy, looked like a 5 year old had drawn on them in pencil crayon, one was chipped, the raw clay had been stained before being fired, and my daughter’s birth date was wrong. My instructions for the layout, dates, and design had not been followed at all. When I confronted her, she got very offended and said that if I wanted to work with an artist, it was expected that I would like the artist’s aesthetic. Never mind that she charged a lot more for “custom” design. Never mind that she got the date wrong. She actually had the audacity to refuse to refund my money while asking for me to return the mugs! If I couldn’t appreciate them, she didn’t want me to have them. But I still had to pay full price. I refused to return what I had already paid for, obviously, and kept them. 

I ended up having a mug made at an awesome local pottery painting place that I gave my wife a week late. It has our baby’s hand print on one side and says Mo on the other. It worked out fine in the end. But I had these two ugly mugs that I didn’t want to look at but that cost me too much to get rid of. So I researched painting over already glazed ceramics with a new design. 

I ordered some ceramic paints on Amazon that can be cured in a regular old oven, and I found some step-by-step guides for drawing cacti (thought they would be cute) on Pinterest.  I needed this drawing guide. It would have been way cooler if I could’ve drawn up some cool, personal design, but that’s not in my skillset… Not in the least. 

After several coats of white to cover the nastiness, some lucky freehand drawing using the helpful guides, and a dash of colour, here’s the finished product. All it took to cure it was half an hour in a 350°F oven. No stripping of the old glazing or ink, no professional kiln. Totally DIY. And now I can love these mugs that used to remind me of the awful interaction I had and my almost busted mother’s day. 

An update on sleep

I’ve kind of settled into this life of little sleep. It has been 9 months and 1 week since I slept through the night. No, that’s not true. There was a while there when Avery was 5-6 months old that I demanded we bed share because the dreaded 4 month sleep regression had destroyed any possibility of putting my baby down, anywhere, without my body next to hers. During those weeks I slept a lot more back-to-back hours, but she was also waking up for the day at 4:30am. 
Here’s where we are now, at 9 months and 1 week, in a nutshell. 

7/7:30pm. Bedtime routine, then I nurse her to sleep (with a lullaby) on the floor of her room, on her crib mattress. 

8:30-9:30pm. At her first wake up of the night, about an hour to two hours later, I lift her mattress into her crib with one hand while holding her and Benny (her chosen Lovie) in the other, and I nurse her back to sleep in the chair before putting her down in the crib. 

We start the night on the floor because she is a lot more sensitive to wake ups early in the evening. By the time she has been sleeping for an hour or two, her wake ups are a lot quicker to manage and she settles in the crib a lot easier. I feed her at her first wake up even if it’s only an hour later because she wants it. It seems like her body wants to stock up for the night ahead. 

So by around 9:30-10 I am done my shift, and I am free to go to sleep (free does not equal able). My wife handles most wake ups from 10 – 1 by rocking. These wake ups are usually easy to deal with. She wakes crying but it’s only a couple of minutes of reassuring snuggles before she’ll stay asleep for the crib transfer. 

Of course, every time she wakes for my wife, usually 1 to 3 times between 10pm and 1am, I wake up. Occasionally my wife calls me in because Avery tries to nurse on my wife’s shoulder and we offer her milk. It’s usually just that she wants me to hold her, though. 

At 1:30am she wakes for milk. 

At 2:30am she wakes and I try rocking her but my legs are too weak from the tiredness and I feel nauseous and I have to sit. She is asleep on me and I fall asleep before I can get back up to put her in the crib. 

3:30am rolls around and she wakes again, this time in my arms in the chair. Oh fuck, I’m still in the chair. I rock her and put her in the crib and go back to bed where I find the cats have stolen my side of the bed and I am too tired to move them so I teeter on the edge of the bed, usually with no blankets. It’s so silly what the sleepy brain makes you do. Why can’t I think to just move them? 

4:30am she wakes and I waste no time bringing her into our bed with me for the best 1.5 hours of sleep I will have all night. I lock the cats out of the room so they won’t wake her by begging for breakfast. She sleeps next to me until her natural wake up time of 6am. 

Ocassionally we get a 3 hour stretch that happens totally out of the blue, always in the very middle of the night. The other night she slept from 11:30pm until 3:30am. 

I try to really pay attention to the progress we’ve made rather than focusing on how far we have yet to go. Although she still wakes a lot, there was a time when we COULD NOT put her down in the crib. No matter how long she had been sleeping for in our arms, a transfer would lead to SCREAMING. Now she responds well to crib transfers most of the time, and even pushes off of us at least once a night asking to be put down while still awake. On these rare but hopeful occasions, she rolls over and goes to sleep with a light back rub. That’s amazing progress. 

Although I would still love to bring back bed sharing, I’m kind of sneakily integrating bedsharing into the 4:30am wakeup when I’m just too tired to be up with her. That’s good enough for me right now. It’s nice to have our bed to ourselves for the first half of the night so we can watch tv and talk (and even have sex, TWICE, for the first time since part way through my pregnancy).  

I can see her growing up before my very eyes, and I can see her sleep abilities maturing, if I look really, really closely. Or rather, if I look at the big picture. I’m confident that another sleep update post a few months from now will look even better.