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:

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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
!

Four Months

Wow.  I know it’s cliche, and that I’ve said this every month, but I can’t believe how fast time is passing.  E is four months old now.  Wow!  Four months ago, I brought this little guy into the world.  In some ways it feels like yesterday, but in some ways this feels like how it has always been.

4 month board

At four months, E loves:

– Playing in the mirror.  We get all kinds of smiles, giggles, and laughs out of him by rocking him to and away from the mirror.  He is fascinated by that adorable baby he sees!

– Noisy toys.  It has already begun.  The awful, plastic, loud, obnoxious toys that I never wanted to have around, are the ones he loves the best!  So of course now we’ve acquired a few more.  🙂  Anything to please this little man!

– Holding my hands.  E is fascinated by his hands, and has them in a prayer pose and/or in his mouth at all times.  He loves to watch them as he moves them, and clasps his hands together when happy or sad.  So expressive!

– Flying.  E loves being “flown” around the room, especially taking nose-dives towards a mom or a dog.  It’s one of our go-tos when he is getting fussy.  This kid is well on his way to being a thrill seeker.  He loves it!

Here are some of our favorite pictures of E from this month.

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Could not love this little guy more!  Happy 4 month birthday, E!

 

Three Months

E is now three months old. I can’t believe how fast the time is going! We now have some semblance of a schedule, one that basically consists of me knowing that he can only handle two hours of being awake before he needs another nap. Our days consist of many cycles of eat (35-45 minutes), play (45 minutes-1 hour), and sleep (anywhere from 45 minutes-2 hours). But it is so nice to finally know (for the most part) what he needs when he cries.

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This month, E loves…

– “Hush, Little Baby” – Somehow this became the song that I would sing to him when we was upset or tired (most likely because I started out shushing him, which led into the song). It really seems to calm him. He hears it before every nap during the day. We had a couple instances this month of VERY drawn out crying sessions in the car, which prompted me to make a recording of the song as well, in order for it to be heard (via the speakers) over the noise of the road and the crying. This came in handy during a ten hour drive to visit E’s Great-Grandma, Great-Aunt, and Great-Uncle as well!

– Hand and Foot Games – E loves to sit on our laps facing us and play games like “This Little Piggy”, “Pattycake”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. He also loves to have us play with his feet, moving them or tapping them quickly against our cheeks (with sound effects of course). He gets to see quite a bit of sign language in this position as well, while we read books and sing songs. He loves to watch my hands move, and enjoys when I “help him” make some signs too.

– Putting toys in my mouth – E’s motor skills have improved leaps and bounds this month! He is now not only grasping things placed in his hands, but reaching and grabbing for toys and our hands and bringing them to his mouth. It is so much fun to watch his determined little face as he directs his limbs to do what he wants them to. Although everything is extremely slobbery.

* This month, E laughed. His first instance was early in the month, February 4th, and we didn’t hear it again for a couple weeks. Since then there have been just a few laughs, mainly during the hand and foot games. I can’t wait until we hear more!

E is growing up so fast, and I am so glad that I get to be home with him right now. I love our cuddles and playtime, and I am so grateful that life has given me the opportunity to be with him all day to enjoy it!

Here are some of our favorite shots from this month:

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