Development

Okay. So I really shouldn’t blog while in the throes of sleep deprivation. Turns out I’m a little bit of a monster on very little sleep.

E just turned six months (that update to follow soon), and I can’t believe what he can do! He was sitting by himself the other day, and reached with his left hand around his right side to get a toy. Wow! He just figured out how to work the squeaker on one of his toys, and he is so adorable whacking at it with his clumsy limbs.

Our sleep fell back in line soon after we returned home, and man, he’s a happy little guy. So smiley and giggly (the latest fit of laughter came from bouncing a playground ball). For a while he was babbling with some very clear /b/ and /w/ sounds, but right now he’s all about the bubble blowing and “raspberries”. He lets out this high pitched sound while rolling his lips, and that’s how he is talking at the moment! Funny.

We just started solid foods, and after a few unsure bites of each new one (where he gives a look of “what the heck is this”), he eagerly goes back for more. He opens his mouth (and sticks out his tongue) and dives for the spoon. I had wanted to do Baby Led Weaning, where we allow him to solely feed himself, but the logistics of making sure to have something we could cook for him every night was too much. We are giving him foods he can hold and eat (like avocado) as much as possible, but also feeding purées. He definitely prefers the challenge of feeding himself though, and he tries to scrape every last bit of food off his tray.

He has had avocado, banana (which he didn’t care for), sweet potato, and carrots. (We tried rice cereal only once, and he hated it! I would too, the stuff is not good.) Anyone follow a specific “schedule” for food introduction? We are giving only one new food at a time, but not waiting the several days for another one as is often suggested. I figure, if E’s going to have a reaction to something, it will happen pretty quickly, and we have no allergies in the family. He is so much fun at this age. But growing up way too fast. I will post his six month updates soon!

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Bye Bye Sleep

*Written in a sleep-deprived state

In one well-intentioned weekend with the parents, it has all gone to shit. Our beautiful, in-bed-at-7-wake-up-at-2-to-eat-sleep-until-6:30 sleep schedule is gone. Since we’ve been here, sharing a room, every night E has:
– Gone to bed late
– Been woken up by someone around 9:30 or 10
– Needed to nurse to calm down after said wake up
– Also woken up at 10:30, just for kicks apparently
– Woken up for his usual meal
– Also woken up between said usual meal and morning and needed help back to sleep
– Woken up early in the morning

It seems to have gotten worse every night we’ve been here (5). Wake ups have gotten progressively earlier every night, morning and other, and our ability to calm him without nursing has become less and less. What started out as curtesy to the other adults sleeping in the house (i.e. “Just nurse him so he isn’t screaming) overnight became set habits. He has regressed two and a half months of sleep learning in five days.

I’m never coming back here.

Breastfeeding Woes Continue

I stepped on the scale with E on Friday to find that he has lost weight in the past two weeks. Half a pound. That’s as much as he gained last month! Assuming that it’s supply-related (as it was when he was a newborn), I started trying to nurse him more often to “up” supply. Well, that threw everything off, since he was basically snacking, and our naps went out the window too. So we tried giving him a few ounces of formula at each feeding to make up for the snack-y meals. (Which I hate to do).

Then on Monday I had to be away for the morning, and pumped three times while I was gone, with about three hours in between each. And ended up with a TOTAL of seven ounces. TOTAL. Meanwhile, E had been having six ounce bottles each time at home.

E has always taken significantly more from a bottle than I have been able to pump, and would eat even more if we would let him. So we just judge bottles on what I know about feeding/swallowing as a speech-language pathologist, which is that babies should have about an ounce per month of age (until 8 ounces/months) (i.e. About six ounces now).

I took E in to the doctor yesterday, and she said he seems fine and we’ll check back in a couple weeks at his six month appointment. I’ll admit, he does SEEM fine physically. He looks okay (albeit slim), is happy, plays, and is developmentally on-track. But that doesn’t change the crazy small amount that I pumped the other day. So is there a supply issue? Is he on a downward slope now? And, to top it all off, E is now refusing the breast after having been getting so many bottles. (Besides the formula ones the other day, I started pumping between feedings and giving it to him after he breastfeeds to try to help supply.) Do I have to continue pumping between feedings if I want to keep supply up? E is nursing several times on each side to try to satisfy him. Poor guy.

It has all left me feeling like such a failure… Nearly the same way I felt about infertility. I am biologically supposed to be able to do this! And what does it say about me if I can’t? Was I even supposed to have a baby? I mean, evolutionarily speaking, I wouldn’t have. I know it’s quite a bit dramatic, but that is where I went in my head. I’m not ready to be done breastfeeding him. As stressful as it is at times, I love it, and I love being able to do that for him.

5 Months Old

I’m getting this out super late (since E will be 6 months old in two weeks), but nevertheless, here are my reflections on E at five months old.

Wow.  E is so much fun right now.  We are getting sleep figured out, and he is spending more and more time awake, alert, and happy.  Nursing sessions are fewer, which means I am truly treasuring those moments of quiet snuggle time with him.  And he is super distractible during nursing, so it forces me to keep my attention is solely on him.  I am actually grateful for that. It’s such valuable time spent in awe of this little guy.

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(My favorite monthly picture yet!)

At five months, E loves:

– Chewing on his feet. Ever since discovering those little piggies, E is constantly sucking on his toes. Diaper changes are a battle of wills, and his is pretty set on those toes. His socks are constantly soaked too.

– His dogs. The thing that makes E happiest right now is the dogs! He loves to watch them play, and touch and grab them, and get kisses. He is constantly reaching out for them, to the delight of two and chagrin of one.

– Swinging. E loves to be in his swing at home. He laughs and giggles and smiles… He would love to be in there all day, if we would let him, but swinging time has become our go-to when he’s losing it. We’ve also gone to the park to swing a few times this month! So much fun.

– Pop Goes the Weasel. This month we started attending baby story time at our local library. We love it! The first session, we sang Pop Goes the Weasel, and E have me his signature lips-curled-down-as-far-as-they-can-go frown, and almost cried. But, with that catchy tune stuck in Mom’s head all week, we started doing it daily, and now he loves it! Gets smiles every time.

– This month, E rolled over both directions! Front-to-back and back-to-front. This happened pretty early in the month, and now he is a rolling machine. He mostly goes in a single direction, so if we leave him on the floor for a minute, he fireman-rolls himself pretty far across the room. His rolling over also created some new sleep stress, as he figured out how to roll over in his swaddle, prompting an immediate drop (and subsequent panic) of swaddling. There were a few really rough sleeps while E tried to get used to sleeping without being swaddled, but he discovered tummy sleeping, and is now happy as a clam! E’s first time rolling over was in trying to reach Mason, our Golden Retriever (see “I love my dogs” bullet point). So cute!

Here are some of my favorite pics this month:

E's First Zoo Trip - 22 E's First Zoo Trip - 26 Everett Month 5 - 005 Everett Month 5 - 013 Everett Month 5 - 051 Everett Month 5 - 072 Everett Month 5 - 083 Everett Month 5 - 094 Everett Month 5 - 099

Everything I’ve Learned About Cloth Diapering

Here is everything that I have learned (that I can think of) (so far) about cloth diapering.

1) There was no reason to wait until E was a couple months old before completely switching over.  It was easy!

The first couple weeks, we just wanted to get used to having a baby.  Then we had E circumcised, which had complications, (a whole other post…), and didn’t want to worry about sticking or irritation (poor guy!). Then we started doing cloth in the daytime, but stuck with disposables at night, thinking it was easier.  Finally, when E was almost 3 months old, I did the complete switch over, day and night.  And it was easy.  Silly me!

2) What you think you want is not always what you need.

It’s true what they say: buy a variety before you commit to a single style.  We thought we would want to do covers and prefolds, which turned out to be true.  It’s so simple to just grab one of each and not have to worry about matching inserts with covers.  And I didn’t have to buy as many covers as I would’ve had to buy with all-in-ones, because with wet diapers, you just take out the prefold and replace it, cover stays clean.  Ta-da!  We also thought we wanted covers with pockets at the ends to hold the prefolds in place, but the ones we bought with that feature get soaked through onto E’s clothes.  Something about the diaper being up against the fabric.  Oh well.  So, my advice?  Buy (or better yet, get hand-me-downs) a few different kinds to try out before committing to a whole set.  Then get more of the ones you love!

3) Cloth wipes sounded disgusting and scary, but they’re really easier (when cloth diapering) than disposables!

Disposable wipes with disposable diapers, and cloth wipes with cloth diapers.  It was kind of disgusting, (and a pain!) to use disposable wipes with the cloth diapers.  There was no wrapping the wipe in the diaper during changing.  I had to find a spot to put the dirty wipe while finishing dressing E and putting him in a safe spot, then trek it to the trash (the diaper goes in a bin right next to the changing pad).  Yuck!  The cloth wipes go straight into the bin with the diapers and are washed with them too.  They also do a great job of cleaning up E’s bum.  I soak them in a bit of solution (1/4 of a Baby Bum Drop with 1 cup hot water), and put them in the wipe warmer so they’re ready to go.  Easy peasy!

4) For a two-story house, it is wonderful to have two of everything – two diaper pails, two liners (plus an extra for laundry day), two cloth wipe warmers, and (I wish) two diaper sprayers.

Acquiring these took some time, and we bought wipe warmers second-hand, but it has been so nice to not have to go up or down the stairs to clean or store dirty diapers.  I only have one sprayer (upstairs), so I do have to leave E and trek up to use it, but it would be really nice to have two!

5) All-in-ones are less intimidating to a babysitter.

“It’s just like a disposable!”  Put it on clean, take it off dirty, and put it in a (wet) bag.  We invested in a couple all-in-ones just for this purpose.

6) Velcro is easy, snaps are secure.

Snaps are a little bit of a pain to do up, especially in the dark, but they don’t get worn down and loose!  I can imagine E a little older, pulling the velcro open and running free!

7) Get them as tight as you possibly can!

I learned this one the hard way… I felt a little guilty that E was getting red marks on his tummy, so one night I did the diaper up a little looser than normal.  And, when he was in bed with me, nursing side-lying, his pee just poured out the leg hole… all over me and the bed.  Lesson learned!

8) Laundry tabs are necessary.

Without them the velcro on the diapers gets stuck to everything!  Including parts of the diapers themselves, which wears them down.

9) Special detergent is worth the small additional cost.

We had been told that it would be just fine to use our regular detergent (a free and clear) on our diapers, so long as we washed them with only like 1/4 the amount of soap.  Well, after a few months of this, we had a horrific ammonia smell problem, due to the build-up of detergent in the diapers, even with hot washes and extra rinses.  So we’ve switched to Charlie’s soap, and voila!  Much better.

10) Double gussets are a life saver!

If the first set doesn’t catch it, the second will!  Single gussets haven’t been bad, but for those major poops, having backup is a huge relief.

11) My faves: Sweet Pea covers and prefolds.

They’re affordable (only like $10 a cover and we bought prefolds used), cute, secure, and will fit him forever (well, hopefully not forever; I hope E will be potty trained someday).

12) Who cares if it’s secondhand when it’s catching pee and poop.  

I mean, they don’t stay new for long!  Plus, getting them from someone you know means they work.  And getting them from a secondhand store means they’re already prepped (they’ve gone through the pre-use washes for maximum absorbency).

13) It’s really not that much extra work

 It’s an extra load or two of laundry each week, but no folding involved, so that’s a plus!

We are still learning, but all-in-all, it hasn’t been as scary as folks think!

More on Sleep

We have sleep news!  E hasn’t been sleeping in any longer stretches, but he has started napping in his crib.  I had heard of the “Pick-Up, Put-Down” method, and from the sounds of it, it seemed to mirror what we were already trying for the most part.  We had been picking E up when he cried, calming him down/putting him to sleep, then putting him down.  With the PU/PD method, the Baby Whisperer says to put him down the SECOND he stops crying in our arms.  We’ve been trying this, and ta-da!  Naps in his crib.  I’ve been staying in his room while he sleeps, but at least I am getting 30 minutes of homework time where I get to stay in one place!  And sit down! The very first day of trying PU/PD, E cried on/off for 20 minutes before falling asleep on his own for the first two naps of the day, but the third nap, he went down without a peep and fell asleep after a few minutes of laying there quietly.  I feel like there is hope!  Hopefully, the next step is for him to put himself back to sleep during the night to equal more sleep for Mommy.  And trying to cut back on how many times he’s nursing during the night.  Wish us luck!

Sleep (the serious lack thereof)

Okay. I am in serious need of help, or at the very least, commiseration.

E’s sleep is atrocious.

Of course I realized that having a newborn meant I would be missing out on some precious sleep, but I didn’t realize it would continue this long. Or that it would get worse.

Currently, E is only sleeping for an hour at a time at night.  When he wakes up (4-5 times per night), he wants to eat, which takes an hour as well.  So, I’m getting an hour (if I’m lucky) of sleep at a time, broken up by an hour of being awake with him.  We go to bed around 8; I’ve tried for earlier bedtimes for E, but he hasn’t gone for it.  No matter how early I start getting him ready for bed, he always seems to go to sleep around 8.  And he is wide awake around 4am.  To counter this, I have been bringing him to bed with me, where he nurses and naps until around 8am.  So at least there’s that little bit of sleep I’m getting.  Although I worry that it will be a hard habit to break.

I thought before having E that I would want to co-sleep, but it turns out, I like sleeping without him.  With my wife.  Crazy, I know.  I don’t know what to do.  I was all gung-ho about sleep training a week or two ago, but I think he’s too young.  No object permanence means he doesn’t know that I’m still around when he can’t see me.  And it breaks my heart to think that he would feel abandoned.  But at the same time, I am desperate for some kind of solution or hope. How long can one continue on this much, low quality sleep?  It is affecting my mood, all the time, and Michelle and I are snapping at each other often.

There’s the daytime sleep problem too.  E takes naps after being awake two hours (usually 3 per day), which range from 30 minutes to an hour.  30 minutes is an average nap, an hour is a great one.  He naps in the Ergo carrier.  And needs to be walked around for much of his nap, so I’m seriously limited in what I can do.  Which is a problem when I am 1) a neat freak (messes affect my sanity) and 2) a full-time graduate student.  I have zero time to clean or do my schoolwork, which is making me crazy and stressed.

I have read a few sleep books, Ferber and The No Cry Sleep Solution, but I don’t think he’s old enough for Ferber, and I’m already doing everything suggested in No Cry except co-sleeping.  Elizabeth Pantley suggests considering these questions:

1) Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?  No, and yes.

2) Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, job, or relationships with my other children?  Yes!

3) Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well-rested?  No

4) Based on the facts in this book (see Chapter 2), what is a reasonable expectation for my baby at his age?  10-11 hours per night!  And 15 hours night and day!

5) What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “acceptable”?  Um, 3-4 continuous hours of sleep? Only nursing 2-3 times per night (instead of 4-5)?

6) What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “pure bliss”?  Two four hour chunks of sleep with only one nighttime nursing!  Aaah… that would be bliss indeed.

I actually guffawed reading 1-3.  Like “Ha! Good one!”.

We have some serious sleep issues here… help
!