My first baby was one that the books (and my pediatrician) referred to as ‘spirited’.  What that really means is from the moment they are born, IF they are awake, they ARE screaming.  ‘Spirited’ is not to be confused with colic.  Spirited hangs on much longer.  She also never slept for more than 2 hours at a time (often 45 minutes) for months and months.  Even as an older baby, she didn’t sleep well and was crying most of the time.  It wasn’t a ‘something hurts’ cry, it was an ‘I’m pissed’ cry.

For that reason, I was forever trying to get her to sleep.  She hated the carseat, and would scream bloody murder the entire time she was in it.  She hated the swing, the crib, the co-sleeper and the bouncy seat most of the time at first.  I mostly held her when she slept and then shared the bed with her for the first year.  I was not one of those mothers who loved being a mother and whose heart grew three sizes the moment I looked into her eyes.  I went months without more than a 3 hour stretch of sleep and even that was rare.  One day I told my husband ‘I don’t exist anymore’.  Cue the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie (preferably with a brunette Reese Witherspoon playing me).

I would see other mothers with their babies out and about and they looked happy and refreshed.  I would stroller her around the town center where we lived, and was sometimes lucky enough that she slept long enough for me to get a milkshake from Potbelly to drown my sorrows.  If she woke up she would scream.  If someone looked at her, she would scream, if she had a bath she would scream and if I was hysterical (which happened a lot), she would scream — assuming she wasn’t already screaming.

I asked my pediatrician and he was always reassuring and made me feel normal, but I also didn’t think he realized that her weekly batshit crazy freak outs in his office were status quo for me at home.  I didn’t want to hysterically explain it to him for fear he would put me on some sort of postpartum watch list.  I was rational enough to know that she was an innocent little baby and I was just a struggling, overwhelmed, and sleep deprived mom reacting to an intense situation that would eventually pass.

A few weeks into scream-ageddon I thought I would take a few photos in the fleeting moments she wasn’t screaming – a.k.a. while she was asleep.  I figured I could post them on Facebook and send them to relatives and everyone would think she was adorable.  They didn’t have to know the ugly truth:  that I didn’t enjoy her, she didn’t enjoy me and I was about to see if the hospital had some sort of return policy.

There was no question that I loved her and I was fiercely protective.  Maybe this was because I knew she couldn’t help that she was a more difficult baby and I wanted other people to be able to see past that, even if it was proving to be tough for me.

So I took some photos.  56 during month 1 to be exact.

Wordlessly, the photos said:

“Look how precious my child is!”

“She is a miracle!”

“Words can’t express how happy we are!”

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Oh and of course my favorite… “Look at my well-lit arm, I’m not fat anymore!”
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In reality, I felt like saying:

“All she does is scream”

“I am miserable and so is she”

“She is the most unhappy child ever”

“I have yet to meet another mother who feels this way”

and

“I understand why sleep deprivation is used to torture certain types of prisoners”

Of course after posting and emailing the photos, I got responses saying how beautiful she was and I felt a little better.

…And thus my photo addiction was born.  Month 2 = 94 photos, Month 3 = 196 photos and so on.  I took hundreds of photos every month.  It would have been more, but I was very careful to delete those that were redundant or just poor quality as well as those where she looked drunk or angry (both common photo looks for her).  I would share the photos and get compliments on how pretty, sweet and adorable she was and it would convince me, if just for a moment, that maybe she was sweet and adorable and things would be okay, because soon I would start to see it too.

One day I caught her smiling in her sleep and thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be crazy if one day she did this while she was awake?”

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And then she did.

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As time went on, I started to believe the photos more and more and she screamed less and less.  This was not a fast process, in fact it was very slow.  The screaming was frequent (bordering on constant) for a LONG time and was just tapering off at 15 months when her brother was born.  From 4 months until  probably close to 2 years old, she would break down if a stranger so much as looked at her and smiled. She is almost four years old now and still very dramatic and emotional.  If I had not seen her since the original photo shoots, I could still pick her out of a toddler line up based solely on her temperament, but it is more predictable and relatable now.  She still keeps her smiles close and is quite serious, but that makes her joy all the more special.

I still take shit tons of of photos. I still enjoy looking back at them when I have a quiet moment to appreciate the kids, since they sometimes make it hard in their waking moments.  She is sass mouthy, a 0 to 60 tantrum thrower, and stubborn as all hell, but she is also kind and sweet and thoughtful and greatful.  My favorite photos now are not the perfect ones, because I enjoy the kids so much more these days and don’t need the photos to reassure me of anything.  Now my favorites are the ones that capture their personality or soul a little, as imperfect as it might be.

I was able to quickly pull these photos from thousands I have taken because I must have looked through them a hundred times in those early months and years when I was struggling to find the joy in being a parent.  I know each one intimately and for each early photo of a sweet angel, there is a memory of my insecurity and an inconsolable baby.  Those have faded some and have been replaced by a perfectly imperfect little girl.  She is a little person who drives me a little nuts every day, but who I enjoy more than not.

I used to wonder when she would grow out of ‘it’.  I’d get different answers and those timeframes would pass with ‘it’ still being around.  Somewhere the edge started to be taken off and I started to enjoy being mommy more and more.

The photos were a way for me to see things clearly in the few silent moments I had during my early days of parental hazing.  To see that what I thought was an unhappy child and my failing as a mother, was really a lot more than that.  What the photos were telling everyone else was true at some level, but at the time, I just couldn’t find a way to match it up with the reality of a screaming baby at first.  The photos let me look in and see it from a different perspective.

I am not a photographer, but I do encourage anyone in the same boat that I was in to try to find a different perspective to look at their situation even if it is just the perspective of your point-and-shoot camera.

1. Call the baby by the wrong name. Guilty. I’ve done it. My mom friend handled it well, but talk about embarrassing.

2. Ask if she can cover up while nursing. Breastfeeding is one of the most patience depleting, emotional wrecking balls New Mom will ever face. If she covers up on her own, more power to her. If she whips her boob out to feed her new baby and you’re uncomfortable, dismiss yourself to the kitchen and start loading the dishwasher.

3. Show up unannounced. Call or text first and ask. Aside from being sleep-deprived, exhausted, and sore, there’s a good chance New Mom is also half naked because why put the boobs away if baby is just going to want them again in five minutes?

4. Tell her to sleep when the baby sleeps. Maybe it’s just me, but I hated this piece of advice. Sure, I’ll sleep once all 84 burp rags are washed and put away, my kitchen doesn’t look like a FEMA zone, and my legs don’t bare a not so vague resemblance to Bigfoot.

5. Offer to hold the baby so New Mom can clean her house or shower. You have it backwards. You should offer to do the dishes or make dinner or fold laundry while New Mom enjoys precious moments with her new bundle of joy.

6. Ask her if she’s disappointed she asked for the epidural, had to have a C-section, or anything else that went against her birth plan. Chances are she’s just thrilled that her new baby is home and in her arms. Don’t risk making her feel remorse for making decisions that brought her baby to her bosom.

7. Invite her to Zumba class. Or yoga, pilates, whatever. New Mom just had a new baby and exercising isn’t really in the cards for her right now. Once you have a child, your belly resembles the look and feel of bread dough for a while and, if she’s anything like me, she’ll enjoy a few weeks of playing with it like Play-Doh before concerning herself with getting tight abs in four days.

8. Tell her your perfect child stories. She probably doesn’t wanna hear about how your son slept a full eight hours the first week you were home from the hospital. She probably isn’t interested in how your kid never spit up or was taking Spanish classes at six months. New Mom most likely just wants someone to commiserate with her that this motherhood gig is both exhilarating and exhausting.

9. Stay for hours and hours. Be conscientious of her time and her desire to just bond with her baby. If she wants you to stay, she’ll tell you. If she wants you to leave, she may not. Don’t put her in that difficult spot.

10. Ask her if she’s getting any sleep. She’s not. Don’t bring it up.

This post was originally featured on Toni’s blog. Photo via

This poor mom seems to be caught in a never ending loop. We’d expect nothing less from life with twins! She tries everything from leaving them alone to placing a chair in front of the door, but when you have two babies who are determined not to go to bed, it takes a lot more than that!

Thanks to everyone who shared their input on last week’s “WTF?” video: Bedtime Stalling! There was a really great discussion going, and it was clear that bedtime stalling is something that a lot of parents deal with. Here are some of our favorite comments from viewers—let’s keep the conversation going and continue to share helpful tips for one another!

Also, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the WTFlicka YouTube channel so you don’t miss our next video!

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? WTF Bedtime Stalling Responses

Put babies and dogs together and what do you get? Cuteness overload. We invite you to take a well-deserved break from whatever you’re doing and enjoy this “awwww” moment with us! 

This post was originally published on HuffingtonPost.com. For more from Huffington Post, follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

Bedtime, my favorite part of the day. Nothing is cuter than watching your child sleep soundly instead of causing chaos throughout the house. Here are some of my daughter’s favorite bedtime books over the past 3 years.

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Toddler Bedtime Reads

The Going To Bed Book – By Sandra Boyton: This book is sentimental to me since I was reading it to my daughter since she was a freshly baked, squishy little baby. It wasn’t long before I could recite it to the little hummingbird without the book.

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Toddler Bedtime Reads

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo – By Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk: A favorite for my husband and I to read. You would hear this being read several times a day in our house.

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Toddler Bedtime Reads

Secret Seahorse – By Stella Blackstone & Clare Beaton: This is a book my daughter still enjoys. I absolutely love the illustration, made from different fabric collages. This is an all around beautiful book and the story has a great flow to it.

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Toddler Bedtime Reads

Pop Warhol’s Top – By Julie Appel & Amy Guglielmo: I love art history so when I found this book along with the other books from the Touch The Art Series, I was in heaven. The little hummingbird will have me read this to her countless times at night. She loves touching the (Mustard on White by Roy Lichtenstein) sticky mustard bread page so much that she’s worn it out.

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Toddler Bedtime Reads

A Treasury Of Curious George – By Margret and H. A. Rey: My 3 year-old has recently fallen in love with Curious George and I couldn’t be happier. She was in a Calliou phase for the longest time and I’m surprised I survived it. There are 8 stories in this book which is nice so we can change it up every night. Her favorite story from the book is George’s surprise birthday party because nothing’s more exciting to my daughter (or me) than birthday cake!

 

 

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka? - Toddler Bedtime Reads

Tea Pairing –  Teavana’s Black Dragon Pearls Black Tea

This tea is so lovely and perfect for those cuddly days or nights reading.

What are some your kids favorite bedtime books?

Photo via.