Product Review: Dock-a-tot

Now that I don’t need it to get my babe to sleep anymore, I can tell you all about the magical sleep product I purchased at two am, far too late into my child’s life, which nevertheless DID help me to get some peace of mind and my child to get some sleep. (Some. Some sleep, because he still startled after half an hour or so, as was his habit by 3.5 months old, which was when I purchased this magical product. If you’re interested, I suggest you buy one before your child’s birth and use it immediately so he doesn’t get into the habit of startling in your arms and therefore stay in that habit in the dock. Yes that might be anecdotal experience, but fair warning).



Without further delay, this product is the Dock-a-tot!

Oh, it’s so good! Here’s why:

  1. It’s made of breathable & hypoallergenic materials! Which is important for baby’s breathing (& staying alive) AND for his sensitive skin. And those things combined help set the stage for an easier time soothing baby to sleep. WIN!
  2. This thing is a co-sleeper, which means it helps keep baby safe while you bed share.  It’s bigger than you might think, so there’s no way you’d roll over onto it. Baby gets his own space but is still snuggled cozily in with mom, giving her much needed peace of mind.
  3. It’s designed so baby feels he is being held snugly and securely, which babies are very into. The more snug baby feels, the better he will sleep. (This was the #1 reason we purchased it & it totally, totally works!! Bub loved his dock. There’s something comforting to him about being held in close quarters)

My only complaint is not a complaint about the product at all – I just wish I would have known about this thing earlier because I would have trained that kiddo from the second he was out of utero, ya know? We all probably would have slept a lot better. But that’s my own folly. Now if there are any future babies I will be armed and ready with a dock! (IF there are future babies bc I’m still tired. We’ll see guys.)


I’m Still Tired

It’s been a month and some change since sleep training and everything is back to normal now, and I feel like the young and spirited girl I once was because motherhood only changes things in life a little bit, for a little while, until everyone adjusts, and then it’s back to normal. Ha ha, just kidding.

Yes, baby bubba is sleeping better than he ever has. He is snug as a bug in his swaddle and taking to independent sleeping like a champ. Yes, husband is over there snoring his head off. He doesn’t have any postpartum emotions to sort out and is taking to independent sleeping like a champ. Both of these things are excellent news in any new mom’s world. I’m elated. Yay for sleep! Except, I can’t sleep. I’m exhausted, my eyes feel like they’re going to bleed out of my head, and my brain continues to routinely forget common words and phrases as I am mid-sentence – a defect I am positive would be completely reversed with some good, quality sleep – but I can’t sleep. Some primal instinct, some pattern of thought that was probably incredibly helpful (survival-wise) for ancient moms, who had to be ready to run or fight for life at a second’s notice, who found it was safest to sleep in community, who had other moms around to share the burden, is alerting my brain that it’s best to return to full, terrified waking every time I get close to sweet, sweet slumber.

Or I have late-onset postpartum anxiety.

I don’t know if this is an actual thing, but in my vast psychological understanding (I almost got my B.A. in psychology, you know) and my anecdotal experience, a self-diagnosis of late-onset postpartum anxiety makes sense to me.

When I was a brand new mom I was anxious AF. No doubt about that. However, I was also running on instinct, internet, and adrenaline to keep everyone alive. I had to pump! I had to cook! I had to wash stuff! I had to bounce my baby for 45 minutes until he finally fell asleep for his (hopefully) 46 minute nap in my lap! I had to get by guys, so I didn’t have time for my anxiety to register. Now the baby is sleeping quite independently in his own crib, and I don’t feel the need to clean anything ever, so I have time to take a breath and calm my adrenaline, and – apparently – to sit and think about all the ways that bubs could die, and all the ways I could potentially react.

This exercise is especially fun for me at night. As everyone settles into bed and all the world gets quiet, my brain takes the opportunity to purge itself of every scary thought that has ever occurred to it to think. (Yes, I’m referring to my brain as a separate entity. At times like these I feel like it is separate from me – a stranger with nefarious intentions.)

My brain thinks anxious-ass thoughts like: “Oh dear God in heaven, do not go to sleep, go online and buy a home security system in case of burglars!! Or worse!! Worse than burglars?? Like what? Well, rapists and torturers and kidnappers, of course! Think about scenarios that could happen – bad things have happened to people before you know – what would you do? How would you defend yourself and your tiny, helpless, innocent child?? Do you think you’d muster super-human strength and throw the 8-12 large men coming to wreak havoc on your home down the stairs, maiming them all, or at least knocking every one of them out long enough for police to arrive? Wait, can you call police from a cell phone? There was a thing a few years ago where 911 didn’t work from a cell phone; it would reroute you to some other local police line. Does 911 work from a cell phone now?? Or do I have to call that pound-eight-seven number? What was it? I hit pound-something and that was supposed to be the emergency contact number. What if I call 911 because 20 burglars are lying at the bottom of my stairs, angry at having been thrown down them, and 911 from my cellphone reroutes me to local city police who have to then connect me to 911, wasting precious minutes?? I need to google this.”

It sounds ridiculous in waking hours, but the fear these thought patterns produce is crippling. My heart races; my breath catches at the back of my throat; sometimes tears well up in my eyes. This dance goes on for several minutes before I remember that this is evidence of that late-onset postpartum anxiety stuff I diagnosed myself with: I am experiencing a settling down of all of the millions of hormones and emotions that were stirred up in me the moment I got pregnant, and none of these thoughts are reality. In reality, I am tucked in to my soft bed. In reality, my home is secure and my family is safe. In reality, in this moment, everything is absolutely fine. And, I am the one who controls thought, not my primitive, scaredy-cat brain. And then I remember that that last one is the key to sleep.

So, I take a few deep, calming breaths and silently sing myself a lullaby. I intentionally focus my attention on the sweet, happy words of the song, soothing my weary mind and body with self love and care, just like I soothe my baby when he is upset. I thank my brain for trying to keep me and my family safe by thinking those thoughts, and then I reiterate to it that we are not an ancient mom, I reassure it that everything is OK, and I remind myself that I’ve got this mom thing. After a few moments of this, I feel my body relax. I let go even more, thanking God and the universe and humanity at large for its existence so that I can experience my many blessings, and I ease into sleep.

Mom Love

I love my baby so selflessly, it’s extraordinary. When I wake up for the day my first thoughts are of the boy’s chubby chin and ways to make him giggle so that his eyes squint and his nose crinkles and he snorts his delight. He loves being outdoors, so every day I forgo my tendency to hermit, I pull breezy layers over my pale skin and slip dark glasses onto my face, and I take baby bubba on a tour of the neighborhood foliage without a second thought.

Yesterday, I took Bubba on one such outdoor jaunt. Imagine us as we stroll along the manicured neighborhood trail. I stop Bubba’s stroller and free him from its clasps so we can sit in the shade and feel the papery leaves of a fragrant bush near home. I point and repeat the words “leaf” and “dirt” and “flower” as we play, and I try to avoid the word “bug”. Bubs gets so excited feeling the leaf that he scrunches his little face and balls his little fists and flaps his little arms. He tries to shove the leaf into his mouth, but I’m fast enough to distract him with a daisy. Bubs concentrates on grabbing the dainty flower petals with his finger tips, and he misses, and he tries again three more times before he screams and throws the daisy and grabs a fistful of grass to thrust into his mouth. That silly boy. I laugh and remind him to be gentle, I hold his hand softly until it relaxes and releases the blades, and I kiss his hand and his head and his cheek. Bubba yawns and rubs his little eyes to signal nap time.

We go inside (my favorite place), and I shake off the sun and crank up the AC. I take Bubba upstairs, and we begin our nap time routine. Once Bubs is snug in his sleep sack, I sing softly and sway him a bit before settling in to feed the sweet boy his bottle. I’m still hot as we rock in our chair, but Bubba is guzzling contentedly so I remain seated and shift my weight to catch more of the cool air from the AC vent. I adjust Bubba’s neck so it’s cradled in the crook of my arm. I ignore the sweat beading beneath my hairline and itching my scalp. I hadn’t realized it was so hot out, and now I’m a bit concerned, but Bubs doesn’t seem overly warm. The bead of sweat has fully formed and begins trickling slowly down my forehead. Bubba is still eating his bottle so my hands are occupied. I try to ignore the sweat as it reaches my eyebrow. Its spindly legs flail into my line of sight before it stops, makes a right turn, and heads back up my forehead to my hairline because it is not sweat, it is a freaking bug of unknown type.

Bubba is peaceful and inches away from sleep, so I refrain from screaming. I pull the bottle ever so slightly away from Bubba’s mouth to check if he has finished, and he sucks it back to position in answer. It takes superhuman self control to not shudder and jump and ninja kick the unknown bug off of me. My skin crawls with every tickling step the invader takes, and my mind races with options, of which there is only one: wait. I try my best to zen. I calm my breathing. I notice my foot is tapping, so I stop. I release the tension in my shoulders. I pray silently to whoever is listening that the unknown bug is friendly and does not fly. I feel something tickle my ear, my ankle, my lower back. I imagine bugs crawling all over my body. My eyes begin to water so I gaze at my baby boy as he eats. I trace the curve of his nose with my eyes and watch his tiny lower lip working the milk from the bottle. I watch as his jawline wags and his little neck swallows. I want to smack the bug so bad it hurts. Stupid, stupid outdoors. Why, oh why, don’t I live in a sterile bubble?

Bubba finally finishes. He pulls off the bottle, he smacks his little lips and turns his head towards me, and he sighs as he slips into slumber. My heart soars with love and also with near-freedom. Hallelujah! I carefully set the empty bottle on the crib railing and stand. I move deliberately to disturb the babe as little as possible. I place Bubba in his crib and pat his little bum as I whisper night night. I pad to the door and silently slip into the hall. I close Bubs’ door and sprint into my room, where I turn in circles smacking my head and whisper screaming because ohmigaaaaawwwwd get off get off get off get off of meeee!!! I shudder and dry heave and strip my clothes off of my skin as I trip into the shower to scald anything that might still be roaming my scalp.

Once I’m sure I am clean, I think back to my baby boy enjoying the grass and leaves. I smile, remembering Bubba’s concentration face as he tried to pinch the daisy’s petals. I shudder again. I duck my head back under the streaming water, and I laugh, because I know already that we will head back outside after Bubba wakes. I sigh and turn the water off, and as I towel my bug-free skin dry, I marvel deeply at this extraordinary mom love.


Be Gentle 

It has occurred to me that I am the parameter by which my little puppy boy will begin to understand and navigate his world. Lately the boy is all shrieks and smiles and crashing toys together to make as much noise as possible, and I must admit that I delight in this already rough-and-tumble behavior of his. I myself enjoy being loud and shrieking with glee when the moment takes me, which is often (boy mom indeed). And the boy’s getting fairly grabby as well, which means, now that those newborn nails have hardened into baby talons, mama’s face and neck serve as scratching posts and her hair is rope tethered for his climbing convenience. Hilariously painful, these new developments, and fun, especially when I consider that just a few weeks ago the puppy and I were both too tired for much play. But, as I set the boundaries for the kind of play that is appropriate, I find myself often reminding the boy that it is important for him to be gentle.

I went to lunch with a friend whose daughter is about the same age as, and comically smaller than, my son. I held my boy as she held her girl, and the babies flailed, clamoring to reach one another. It was the puppy boy who succeeded first, grabbing a fistful of pink legging while narrowly missing fleshy lower leg. Be gentle, I reminded, calmly laying my hand on Bubba’s until it relaxed. I splayed his little fingers out, chiding myself for those ever untrimmed nails. The boy shrieked, and I laughed, and my friend’s eyes went wide. Oh my goodness, she said, he’s so wild and cute. I hugged that chubby kiddo and kissed the wispy hairs on his baby head, and he lunged forward and grabbed baby girl’s shirt and thrust it into his drooly mouth. Oops, be gentle, my friend said, and she grabbed Bubba boy’s little hand and held it softly until it relaxed. In that instant fierce and unexpected rage radiated from my core to the tips of my fingers, and my palms began to sweat, and I had to avert my eyes. I’m sure my cheeks blushed as I took my boy’s hand from my friend. Not longer after that, I fabricated an excuse to leave our lunch date.

Y’all, I was deeply offended. I was deeply defensive. I was so thoroughly hurt that anyone could ever regard my boy’s behavior as anything but perfect and sweet and funny. Bubba is a baby! Of course he’s going to grab stuff and pull stuff and chew stuff! It’s cute! Bubba doesn’t have much control over his limbs yet! Of course he’s going to be anything but gentle! It is not my friend’s job to correct my son’s behavior by putting her grubby, judgmental paws all over my child. As if her daughter didn’t want to grab Bubba! My son just happens to be bigger and stronger and faster than her diminutive girl, and better than her too! Come here my sweet, cherub boy, mama will hug you and make you feel better…

Oh, wait.

Bubba doesn’t feel bad. Baby boy doesn’t yet have the ability to understand that his behavior was being corrected, that it needed to be corrected, that the adults in the room were trying to protect the babies in the room (from themselves as well as from each other). And Bubba certainly is not capable of internalizing any behavioral corrections that any adults offer as examples of his inherent goodness or badness, comparatively better or worse than any other 6 month old’s behavior.

Uh, oh.

If I am hoping to teach Bubba to be gentle, that lunch date was a big, fat fail. I did not think very gentle thoughts. I did not use very gentle language. In fact, I disengaged from any interaction at all as soon as I could find an excuse to do so. My behavior was much worse than the puppy boy’s rough-and-tumble play, and I am an adult. I took offense to my friend correcting my child’s hand thrashing, when the simple fact is, it would have been painful for baby girl if the puppy boy had gotten a fistful of her cheeks rather than her clothes, which was something both the adults present were trying to avoid.

I don’t like people correcting me, it feels to me like judgment. Apparently, someone correcting my child feels much the same. Since Bubba is a tiny baby whose mind will need molding as he grows to adulthood, his behavior will need to be corrected, a lot. Which means I need to rip open my mind and heart and soul to figure out what work I need to do on myself to correct my own mindset. I’d like to become a person who accepts and appreciates constructive criticism and who knows the difference between healthy redirection and petty judgment (and, perhaps more importantly, a person who refrains from passing petty judgment on others). I am hoping to model behavior that I would be proud to see baby boy emulating; I’m hoping to be gentle. This boy mom thing is no easy task.