Sleep Training, part 1

I don’t remember when I first googled about baby sleep. Possibly when G was just a couple days old, and I was awake and exhausted in the middle of the night, feeding him for the 20th time that day and wondering if the person who coined the phrase “sleep like a baby” had ever actually met a real baby. I have the Happiest Baby on the Block dvd, and I remember watching it in the middle of the night with my husband, just sobbing because apparently Dr. Karp is either a dirty liar or some kind of wizard and for some reason, my 2/4/6/8/10 week old baby would not stop screaming when I swaddled, shushed and jiggled him. I kept thinking “If I can just make it through that 4th trimester that he talks about… if I can just make it to 12 weeks, then my baby will start sleeping and we’ll all live happily ever after.”

Well, that obviously didn’t happen.

The first time I really remember looking into why my baby seemed more like a demon child than the sweet bouncing baby boy I was supposed to have gotten was probably around 8-10 weeks when I figured out that he was probably supposed to be sleeping more than 8-10 hours a day. What I found was Troublesome Tots’ Newborn Sleep Survival Guide. Even reading this, I didn’t quite catch on that he wouldn’t just fall asleep anymore. I actually had to parent him to sleep, and teach him how to fall and stay asleep. I read the guidelines saying he should only be awake for 45 minutes at a time, but for some reason, I didn’t think it applied. After all, he was usually awake for 2 hours between his catnaps. If he was tired, he’d sleep, right?

Well, no. Not really. Turns out those catnaps were the product of a chronically overtired baby. He basically “crashed” every 2 hours. I wish I’d known then what I know now. My baby might have been much happier, much sooner.

It wasn’t until I found the My Baby Sleep Guide site that I realized that I was still doing things wrong. And it wasn’t until I read her Newborn Sleep Guide that I realized I had already kind of messed up, and I needed to start some sort of sleep training to help my poor overtired baby learn how to sleep. What I found helped the most was the 4 S Wind Down Ritual made popular by the Baby Whisperer, which I started implementing immediately while I waited for the Baby Whisperer books to arrive in hopes that her method really would solve all my problems.

So my first introduction to the world of sleep training was the Baby Whisperer method, via the My Baby Sleep Guide website. I immediately started looking for G’s “sleep cues” after he was awake for only an hour, started trying to separate feeding from sleeping (in other words, tried to stop feeding to sleep so that he would learn better ways of falling asleep that didn’t include me waking up to feed him every 45 minutes) and implemented a bedtime routine.

To be continued…

18 weeks

Good god, how did the time pass so quickly? Have I really not updated in a month?

G has been changing like crazy. Every day is something new. My husband was noticing things that he doesn’t do anymore… He doesn’t smack his lips when he’s hungry anymore. He used to smack them together and that was kind of my cue to feed him. He doesn’t bobblehead toward your shoulder when he’s hungry anymore either. Now I pretty much just offer every three hours or so. Sometimes I miscalculate and … he bites me. No teeth, but damn it’s f’ing painful. Shit. And he no longer bobs his head around when you’re carrying him. He has such good neck control.

We went to a consignment sale recently and got a few things for the next 6 months or so. We got a new vibrating chair for the kitchen, where he sits while we eat. It’s much nicer than the old one (which I now keep in the bathroom so I can poop without someone in my lap). We also got a bunch of 9 month and 12 month clothes. We got a high chair that we haven’t put out yet. I think we’ll likely start baby-led weaning around 6 months old. Some of the babies I know who were born around the same time as G are already starting solids – mashed banana, pureed peaches, stuff like that. I’m pretty sure we’re going to start him on avocado and scrambled eggs and basically anything he can get in his own mouth and gum around. No purees, unless I send them to daycare in a few months.

Speaking of, he starts daycare next Monday. I’m equal parts excited (I might not be working yet, but even if I’m not, I’ll drop him off and come home and sleeeeeeep since we have to pay the lady anyway!) and nervous (I honestly don’t trust her to take care of him the way I want him to be cared for.) I’m worried she’ll sabotage my breastfeeding relationship with him by not pacing his feeds or by demanding I bring more milk than he needs, or that she’ll expect him to hold his own bottle. I’m worried she won’t help him nap, since he needs a quiet place for that and she’s watching a few other kids. I’m worried she’ll just try to stick a pacifier in his mouth over and over again until he’s addicted to it, since she said we should not let him suck his fingers (sorry lady, but the kid likes sucking his fingers and I’m not about to take away his ability to comfort himself to sleep in the middle of the night). I’m worried she won’t take his milk/soy protein intolerance seriously or that she’ll give him food without our permission (she keeps talking about buying formula and snacks for him since she’s on a subsidized food program for her daycare kids). I’m worried about so much stupid stuff.

I’m sure he’ll be fine… but I just don’t really trust this lady to do things the way I want them done. I don’t think she gets that yes, she’s a professional childminder, but I am the mom here and parenting decisions are mine, not hers. I think I might try looking for another place just in case G doesn’t do well there or we end up clashing.

What else?

* G has started mimicking! He did it for the first time the other day, when my husband clicked his tongue at him (like when you’re making the tick tock noise of a clock or whatever?) and G did it back! And then kept just clicking back and forth at each other. Now G will just randomly do it sometimes. It’s adorable.

* We found out that his feet are ticklish. :)

* He’s already starting to get too long for his 9 month sleepers. They still fit, but they’re starting to tug at the crotch and squish his toes a bit. I estimate he has another 2-3 weeks before they’re too short for him. My little string bean.

* He can now get his pacifier out of his mouth on his own, but hasn’t quite figured out how to get it back in. He pops it out, and tries to put it in but always gets it sideways instead.

* He chews his Sophie toy all the time. One of the best investments we’ve made. We also got him a Nuby teething ring that he loves. He especially likes the fabric bits… loves putting fabric in his mouth to chew and pull on and suck on. Weirdo.

* He likes when I fake sneeze. I will loudly say “Kaaa CHOO!” and he smiles and wiggles around. It’s hilarious.

* 4 month sleep regression has hit. Otherwise known as the 4 month wakeful. He’s suddenly so interested in everything going on around him that he barely eats. He went from sleeping all night long (8ish hours in a row) to waking up every 1-2 hours some nights. It’s awful. And when he eats, he no longer eats for 10+ minutes, draining a side. He eats for 4 minutes, hitting me the whole time because he’s impatient for a letdown, and as soon as he’s not absolutely starving anymore, he’ll pop off to look at things. Sometimes he will pop off to look at stuff, then turn around and pop back on, then pop back off to look, over and over. It’s annoying.

* He’s back to sleeping exclusively in the crib. I figured that he wouldn’t be sleeping in a swing at daycare, so having him take short crappy naps in the swing was doing us both a disservice. Now he will usually go down for a nap about an hour after he wakes up in the morning, and sleep for 1.5 hours or so. Then a shorter nap around lunchtime, and another longer one in the afternoon. He’s doing better at soothing himself when he wakes up, too… because

We’re officially sleep training. I have something like 7 different “how to teach your baby to sleep” books in my house. It’s ridiculous, too, because they all badmouth each other. The No-Cry Sleep Solution talks about how awful it is, psychologically damaging and callous, the suggestions put forth by those “cry it out guys” (she means Weissbluth and Ferber) while Weissbluth talks about how a certain “no cry sleep solution book” (note, he doesn’t capitalize the title so he’s just talking about no cry sleep solution books in general, I guess) makes awful suggestions that border on child abuse and a certain baby whisperer suggests crudely waking your child from a calm, deep sleep to force feed him in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, the Baby Whisperer suggests dream feeds can help babies sleep more soundly, for longer periods of time, but leaving a baby to cry alone even for a short period of time will break their trust in you as a caregiver and you’ll do incredible damage to your relationship. There’s so much cattiness it’s incredible.

Anyway. I’m using a combination of the Baby Whisperer (BW) methods and the Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child or HSHHC) extinction method. The BW was annoying to read because she goes full-on British with the “luv”s all over the place and stupid anecdotes that I honestly did not have time to read. But her methods worked to get G to sleep. He doesn’t stay asleep with her methods, though, so I started reading HSHHC. I think HSHHC might have to wait until G is a bit older for me to go full force, but I no longer go into his room as soon as I hear him fuss. I give him some time to sort himself out, just in case, even against the BW recommendations, and it’s working. I never let him scream himself sick or anything, but I do let him cry for a few minutes alone if he needs to… and he has never acted like I broke trust with him.

Things are getting better. I’ll write a better post about it soon. I have time now, because he naps.

* He’s back to rolling from back-to-side but not back-to-tummy yet. He has a new habit of always pulling his little legs up. He’s starting to grab at his feet, too. I was wondering when that would finally happen! It seemed he always wanted to lay flat, and then all of a sudden one day he pulled his legs up and now he’s always curled up like a little pill bug.

* G is also using more of his voice. He started “voice practice” during our sleep routine to keep himself awake. When we reached the “sitting” part of the BW’s 4 S winddown, he usually cries and cries, but sometimes he’ll calm himself down and then, to prevent himself fro falling asleep, will start hooting. Ooh, ooh, oooh, oh, hoh, hoohh, etc. Well, at first the sounds were all breathy and sweet. Now? He puts his voice into it. He’ll growl and yell and shriek and crow. It’s both hilarious and annoying.

* He drools like crazy lately. He’s not teething, as far as I can tell, but he puts everything in his mouth and drools all over it. He will drip drool when he’s having tummy time and his fingers are always wet because he constantly puts them in his mouth. It’s gross.

I finally love him all the time. I know that should be a given, but for a long time it wasn’t that way. I had a hard time loving him when I was so exhausted I wanted to die or when G woke up early from a nap and wouldn’t be comforted, despite my trying and trying to comfort him. One day, I was so exhausted and frustrated that when he wouldn’t stop screaming, I screamed too. Now, that did break his trust in me and I had to work to repair it for the next few hours. It was awful, and I was ashamed of myself until another mom told me she’d done the same thing multiple times with her babies. One evening when he wouldn’t sleep and wouldn’t stop screaming, I had to give him to my husband and leave the house and I screamed so hard in the car that I wet myself a little and my voice was hoarse for days. Last Monday, I was so tired that I was actually, legitimately suicidal and my husband slept on the nursery floor that night so I could get some sleep, since he usually sleeps through the baby crying otherwise and it was always up to me to take care of him.

I wish I had unlimited resources, so that I could pay for a baby nurse to help during the night so I could be well rested and be the best mommy possible. I feel like if I’d been getting good sleep for the past four months, I would have bonded with him better and would have been a better mommy. I wonder if everyone goes through this, but no one talks about it. For a long time, there was a measure of regret for having had a kid in the first place. Even now, it’s staggering sometimes to think about how everything has changed forever. I will be a mom for the rest of my life.

But the past several days, we’ve both been sleeping better. And we’ve been having fun together. And I feel like I love him and maybe even like him, if not all the time, at least most of the time. And when I’m in a better frame of mind, I know I’m a good mommy. Even when I’m tired. Even though I screamed. Even on days when I can’t do much more than make sure he’s fed and clean and he has to entertain himself most of the day because I’m just too tired to play. I’m still a good mommy and I still love him.

14 weeks

Wow, 14 weeks tomorrow. I just typed that out and I still can’t believe it. We have a time frame for me returning to work… looking like it’ll be when G is around 19 weeks old, just over 4 months. I’m so grateful to my husband for allowing me to have this much time. I think the standard is around 12 weeks, and I can’t say enough how NOT ready I’d have been. I might still not be ready at 19 weeks, but we just don’t have the savings to keep me out of work for much longer.

This week, I’ve started trying to get G to sleep in places other than his crib again. I know that when he starts daycare, they’ll have him sleeping on his back, so I don’t want him totally reliant on the dark quiet room on his tummy to sleep. So I broke the swaddles back out and he’s started taking naps swaddled and in the swing again. I have to say, it’s easy and nice and I’m really enjoying it. His reflux acts up a lot when he’s sleeping on his back, and I can hear it bothering him, but he falls asleep easily and stays asleep longer during the day. Still having long stretches on his tummy at night, too. Best of both worlds.

Except…

He scoots so much at night. I had no idea how mobile a non-crawling, non-creeping baby could be. I have no idea how he moves so much, but he can start at one end of the crib and be at the other end within an hour. And he’s started turning, too. So he starts at one end of the crib, long-ways, and then turns so his head is right up against the crib rails… and then he bashes it on the rails and wakes up, and bashes it again and again because by now he’s awake and freaking out and bobbing his head all over the place. It happens multiple times a night now. I have no idea how to make it stop. I could put up bumpers, but … hello suffocation, right? I rolled up a towel and stuck it under the crib sheet (making a sort of speed bump buffer) last night to keep him away from the sides of the crib, but that’s probably a suffocation risk too. I have no idea how to keep my baby both asleep and alive.

In other news:

* We got a laugh on video! We were at the doctor’s office for a weight check. He was undressed and we were waiting for the doctor, so I started kissing and tickling his tummy and he started laughing! Husband was quick with the camera phone, and we managed to get the sweetest laugh on video.

* G is now 13lbs .5oz. Still smaller than I’d like… only 25th percentile for his age. But the doctor was happy with his weight gain, so I guess I’ll take it. I really wish he’d gain more, though.

* G is 25 inches long! I think he’s actually longer, because it looked like the nurse didn’t stretch him out all the way. But still 25 inches is huge! My little string bean.

* He’s starting to do this thing where when he’s sitting on my lap, he’ll dig his heels in and arch his back and wiggle himself out of my grip. He does it when he’s sitting in his bouncy chair and swing, too. It’s super annoying.

* I never thought I’d say this, but breastfeeding has gotten so easy. I love it. I love getting to spend some one-on-one time with my little guy in the middle of family visits or outings, I love holding his tiny body next to me, I love how he pats my skin with his teeny hands, I love how he opens and closes his mouth like a little fishy when he knows he’s about to be fed. We’ve finally gotten rid of the thrush and things are just easy and good. Now if he could only gain some control over his body so I could ditch the nursing pillow!

* When I go to get him after he wakes up, I slowly turn on lights and turn off his white noise, then I start talking softly to him so he doesn’t startle. Then I roll him over to his back so he can see me, and it’s that moment… I live for that moment. When he sees my face and I can see him register in his mind “Oh, it’s MOMMY!” and his face just lights up and he smiles with his whole body. I love that moment. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to answer me when I ask him if he had a good sleep and what he dreamed about.

* I don’t know if he’s doing this purposefully or not, but when I pat his mouth with my hand, sometimes he’ll make noises so we end up doing the sort of “wha wha wha” noise with it. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s adorable.

* He has tiny baby snores when he sleeps. I love them.

* Oh man, he’s started drooling like crazy too! He will put his fingers in his mouth and they get all covered with drool. I am totally okay with baby pee, poop, barf, even the boogers. But for some reason, watching drool drip slowly down his arm while he makes drool bubbles with his mouth and sucks on his fingers just activates my gag reflex.

* One thing we LOVE doing with him is taking him in the bathroom and turning the light on and off. Weird, right? But it’s a small bright room with a mirror, so we can watch his expression. When the light goes on, he closes his eyes a bit and brings his eyebrows down like he’s a little peeved. Then when we turn it off, he opens his eyes up reeeeaaaaallllly wide and puts his eyebrows up like he’s surprised. It’s likely a function of him trying to see better in the bright/dark but it’s hilarious just the same.

 

And finally… we should both officially be completely clear of milk and soy protein. I’ve noticed in the last week that he’s not having green diapers anymore, but they’re still yellowish brown and very mucousy and stinky. I hope they start being more like the exclusively breastfed non-stinky diapers I was promised. Hoping he starts gaining more weight, too. And I really really hope he outgrows this by around 6 months, so I can start having cheese again. I have a Mexican food craving like whoa.

13 weeks

HE LAUGHED!! Today, on his 13 week birthday, I got his first laugh out of him! Oh my gosh, it was the cutest thing. I wish I had recorded it, but I had no idea it was going to happen.

I was changing his diaper (he loves diaper changes, I have no idea why) and spent some time babbling back and forth with him, then I started blowing raspberries on his tummy, and giving kisses and making noises. Finally, I started giving his tummy kisses and tickling with my fingers, and I got the sweetest giggle! Twice! Oh my gosh, it was wonderful. I can’t wait for it to happen again.

I tried and tried to make him laugh again, but I guess it took a lot out of him because after his diaper change, he got very sleepy and wouldn’t even smile anymore. He’s taking a nap right now, which means bedtime is going to be a late one today.

Speaking of bedtime, G has figured out what I’m up to now when I bring him to his room, turn the white noise machine on and cradle him in my arms. He has started to associate these things with being put to sleep, which he has started fighting like a fucking wolverine, scratching and kicking and screaming. I can barely hold him anymore, without him screaming and thrashing around. Like, when I’m done feeding him and I need to burp him, as soon as I put him over my shoulder, he starts thrashing and screaming. Or if I try to sit with him in the chair in his room. Or go to his room at all. Or walk up the stairs with him. Basically no matter what I try to do, he just starts screaming and scratching me and thrashing around.

I have no idea what to do with him.

I don’t want him to have horrible associations with being cradled, and I don’t want him to associate all that screaming and stress with trying to go to sleep. Why can’t he just relax? I don’t know how to help him. Meanwhile, I get so angry and frustrated when he acts like this. It’s really hard to be sweet and understanding when he’s clawing at me and losing his fucking mind screaming for no reason five or six times a day when he needs a nap.

Anyway.

He’s 3 months old tomorrow. Can you believe it? How did the time pass so quickly? I have a feeling I’ll be saying that for the rest of my life. I’m still so tired that I’m having a hard time enjoying him much. I’m worried I’ll wake up tomorrow and he’ll be in college and I’ll wonder where all that time went and miss this baby so much.

What’s new?

* He’s outgrowing his 6 month footie pajamas. I had to go out the other day to buy 9 month ones. They’re huge on him, but the 6 month ones are short in the crotch and squish his little toes up. I can’t believe he’s so tall.

* We went to the babywearing meeting. I checked a meitai out of the lending library, but I don’t like it. The straps are really thick canvas material, and they’re difficult to tie. They’re also not very comfortable on his legs. I’m hoping for a better one next month… it kind of sucked this time because we were at the end of the line, so all the good carriers were gone by the time I got there.

* I’m thinking more and more of starting an exercise program. I can’t afford to go to a gym right now, but I can probably do bodyweight stuff at home on my own. If I’d just do it, that is.

* He likes to put his washcloth in his mouth and suck on it. Is it weird/gross that I let my kid drink his bathwater? It’s not like it’s dirty bathwater… I mean, it’s not drinking water clean or anything, but it’s not soapy or anything.

* We went out and bought more pacifiers. He changes which one he likes all the time. Right now he really likes the Tommee Tippee ones. Figures he’d like the expensive ones.

* He’s started varying the pitch of his voice. He’ll start out really low and then go high and then low again, in the same noise. It’s a new thing he’s doing. :)

* We’ve been playing peek-a-boo with his blankets. He doesn’t quite get the peek part, but he likes having the wind blow on his face.

I’m so tired today. I think I need to go to bed a bit early. G doesn’t really let me relax much lately, between his short crap naps and his weird screaming fits. I hope I get some energy back soon… I desperately want to enjoy this time with him because I know soon I’ll miss his little baby self. I don’t think I’ve ever loved another person so much.

12 weeks

We’re officially out of the “newborn” stage and into “infancy”. I heard it was supposed to get easier at 12 weeks, like magically we’d wake up and  things would be easier. They’re not. G had a tummy bug that started a couple days ago. He spent all of Monday just crying and crying and crying. I could tell it was a pain cry, but didn’t know why. He was a little more “spitty” than usual, but he would still eat like normal. Didn’t want to sleep or play or do anything other than cry and be held over my shoulder while I walked around and around the house.

Tuesday I figured out why. In the wee hours of the morning, I ended up getting quite sick. If I’d thought crying and screaming my head off would help, I’d probably have done it too. The tummy pain was pretty intense. I spent most of Tuesday just feeling cruddy. I had my husband come home early so he could take care of G because I couldn’t. I was too weak and nauseated. I ended up taking half a dramamine, and that really helped a ton. G and I both had a good night’s sleep last night, so I’m hoping we’re on the mend. Our tummies, anyway. I’m pretty sure we both have a cold now.

Putting him to sleep has been easier, at least. He sleeps quite well at night lately. I’m worried about what they call the “4 month sleep regression” though. Supposedly when that hits, he’ll go back to being a crappy sleeper. Last night, he slept 7.5 hours in a row! IN A ROW! I actually woke him up myself to feed him. Then I put him back down and he slept another 3 hours. I think he likes his crib okay, and the tummy sleeping is working out well. So far the angelcare monitor is working – I can see that he’s breathing at night because there’s a little pendulum thing on my monitor, and as soon as I pick him up to feed him and there’s no movement for a few seconds, it goes off so I know it’s not a false negative. And he seems to be able to settle himself sometimes. Not every time, but sometimes when he wakes up in the middle of a nap, he’ll find his fingers and settle himself back to sleep without my help. We’re both getting more rest this way. I spent the first few nights sleeping on the floor next to his crib, just in case. I’m glad I did, because I was able to see that his room gets REALLY cold in the middle of the night if the door is closed and that the air is really dry, too. So now I make sure the heat is on and the door is open to let warm air in, and I put a humidifier in there.

What else is new?

* He likes to pat his own hair while he sleeps. One hand will find its way to his mouth and sometimes he sucks his fingers, and the other hand goes up to his hair and he will pat his head with it. It’s the cutest thing.

* He sleeps with his little butt up in the air sometimes, with his little knees curled under him. Adorable.

* I think we both have our second cold of the season, and G has an appointment tomorrow because he has eye crusties and some irritation to his eye that won’t go away.

* I had a dream the other day that I was trying to memorize the way his tiny fingers feel against my lips when I kiss them. So I woke up and kissed them and tried to memorize the feeling. I wish so much, SO MUCH, that I’d been better able to enjoy the really early days. I don’t have enough pictures or enough memories of the first few days with him. I was just so exhausted.

* I woke him up from a nap last night to put him to bed. I know, I know, it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. He fell asleep in my arms at around 6pm, and then just slept and slept and slept. He missed bedtime entirely, and I should have just let him sleep but he needed a diaper change and needed to eat and everything. So I thought it would be a good idea to gently wake him, so we could do our bedtime routine. Big. Mistake. He cried for two hours, before finally falling asleep again. Next time? Don’t wake a sleeping baby!

* I don’t remember if I wrote about this yet, but he’s definitely grabbing at his toys. He can now get hold of his Oball without assistance when it’s dangling from the play gym. He also has a toy Sophie and he likes to get it in his mouth.

* Oh man! And he’s rolling halfway over! When he’s on his back, he knows how to kick himself onto his side. He doesn’t do it often. Then again, he’s not on his back much. Between naps, eating and being held upright for 20 minutes every time he eats, he just doesn’t have much time to play alone. I don’t know if that’s a good thing… wish his reflux would calm down so he could play independently without barfing all over the place.

* Our favorite games right now are just to make funny noises with our lips and tongue and give tons of kisses. We also play “back and forth” where I lay him on his back and swivel his legs from side to side to try to teach him to roll. We also do a good bit of “kicking our farts out”. He loves kicking his legs, and it’s helpful to get out trapped gas.

* We’re still waiting for a real laugh. Sometimes he’ll smile so big and make a little squeaky inhaling noise. Like a baby dinosaur noise. But it’s not quite a laugh yet.

* We’re going to a babywearing meeting on the 17th. I’m a little nervous about it. I want to learn how to use the Ergobaby properly, and make sure I’m not damaging his hips with the way I put him in it, but it’ll be weird to be in a place with so many other moms and babies. What if he gets hungry? Will I be expected to nurse in public? I don’t know if I can do that yet… we’re still pretty reliant on pillows to prop him up and I don’t have any nursing tops so I basically have to get topless to feed him.

* As far as feeding him goes, the MSPI is not stopping us at all! I discovered that Duncan Hines makes safe brownie mix! So I can have chocolate again! It turns out “cocoa processed with alkali” is dairy free! And delicious. And my husband is becoming quite an inventive cook. He made us spaghetti and meatballs, and made a delicious chicken noodle soup last night to help settle my stomach. If I was more ambitious, I might post his recipes to help other MSPI moms. But let’s be honest. I’ll probably never get around to it.

* I worry a lot that I don’t have time to write this. G is sleeping right now, and I should be napping too. I’m still pretty worn out from being sick. So I bought a Line a Day memory book. It’s kind of like a diary, but it’s just one line for every day. So I can just write something that happened that day that I want to remember. Certainly I have 2 minutes a day to write in it. Hopefully it’ll help my memory when G is older and I’ve forgotten his baby days.

* I love this baby more every day. Every moment. Even when he’s screaming his angry fool head off. I never knew I could feel this way about a person. He’s my little love. They say that when you have a baby, it’s like your heart is walking around outside your body, but honestly? I could more easily live without my heart than without G.

One of my favorite things is how he gets milk drunk when we’re nursing, and he pats me with his tiny baby hands. And then he uses his arm to cover his eyes, like he just can’t even.

11 weeks

Having a baby is hard.

Not the actual birthing. I mean, that’s hard too, but in a whole different way. That’s hard in the way that physical pain that you can’t avoid is hard… you get through it because you have to. What else is there to do? But the actual having of the baby, the keeping, the raising… that’s hard. Like, really hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. I think maybe the hardest part for me is the lack of emotional support, the lack of gratitude. My husband is wonderful. He works hard, he keeps the house clean and cooks almost every day… but I still do 99% of the baby related stuff. And I don’t mind doing that. I love being able to feed him. I love being a part of bath time. I don’t even mind changing all the diapers.

But I wish I had some acknowledgement from him that it’s difficult.

I haven’t slept more than 2-3 hours in a row in months. I’m perpetually exhausted. I know you read that and you think “Yeah, I’ve been tired too” but this isn’t just being tired. This is so tired that my body feels like it’s shutting down some days. And I have to keep going anyway because I have no other option. When I tell my husband “I’m tired” he just says “Me too”. It makes me want to hit him in the mouth. He’s tired? He doesn’t even know what tired is.

We had a huge argument the other day. We almost never argue. I basically told him that I need more emotional support and acknowledgement of my feelings, instead of him “stealing” them. I feel like when I say “I’m tired” or “I’m overwhelmed” and he just says “Me too” then I’m put in a position of having to comfort him. Like I’m babysitting his emotions, and I have to hide my own. It’s a shitty feeling. I hope we can get through this. I’m sure we will, but damn. Having a baby is putting a strain on everything. It’s way harder than I ever could have imagined.

New things G’s doing?

Well, he’s a tummy sleeper now. “WHAT??” you ask? Do I want my baby to die of SIDS?? Of course not. But, you know, the statistical probability of SIDS in a full-term, healthy infant who sleeps in a safe sleep environment and who was born to non-smoking parents is pretty damn small. I think he had a higher probability of having a few different genetic abnormalities, and we weren’t worried about those at all after we got the testing done that gave us the odds. And guess what? He’s been napping on his tummy for almost a week now and we went from having 25 minute crap naps where I had to rub his head constantly to get him to stay asleep to 1.5-2hr naps where he puts himself to sleep and settles himself if he wakes up too early. It’s so lovely.

I haven’t started him sleeping on his tummy at night yet, mostly because… well, I AM worried about accidental suffocation. Not really SIDS, but he sometimes likes to lay face down or with his face turned a little too close to the mattress for my comfort. So I keep an eye on his breathing during naps, but at night, I need extra reassurance. So I ordered an angelcare monitor. It’s arriving this week, and we’ll see if we can turn his crappy 3-4 hour night sleeps into nice 6 hour sleeps instead.

What else:

* I’ve started trying to do the eat-wake-sleep routine with him, but I’m not sure it’s going to work, since he needs to eat more often than that routine would really allow. He hasn’t been sleeping well at night, and I think it’s because he doesn’t get enough calories during the day. So we might be a little too early for any sort of schedule setting just yet.

* Husband finally heard him laughing in his sleep! There are still no awake laughs, and we’re competing to see who can elicit his first one. You should see the funny faces we make at him, trying to get him to laugh. I personally think the winner will be the ceiling fan. The kid loves staring and smiling at that thing.

* I don’t remember if I ever mentioned this, but it’s something I do almost every time G gets upset. I blow on his face. A little harder if he’s really worked himself into a fit, just to startle him out of it, then then I continue gently while brushing his hair back with my hand. It seems to distract him enough that he will take a pacifier and realize that I’ve removed him from whatever situation was causing the screaming so he can fucking stop already.

* He’s in 6 month footed sleepers. 6 MONTH GUYS. And he’s already outgrown some brands! Carters are basically the only ones that fit him… tall skinny baby. My little Stretch.

* He’s routinely clasping his hands in front of his face and has started putting everything he gets his little fingers around in his mouth. I love putting something in his hands, and watching it go straight for his mouth.

* He definitely tries to grab things. He’ll seemingly voluntarily open and close his hands when he feels them against something, instead of me having to wind his fingers around it every time. He’s still not great at batting directly at things on purpose though!

* I got gentian violet in hopes that it will put an end to our thrush problem. I’m not sure if it’s worked yet, but it’s funny to see my little boy’s mouth and lips all purple.

* Sometimes when I hold him against my shoulder and we dance around the house, I imagine what it will be like when he’s bigger than I am and I dance with him at his wedding. And then I tear up for no real reason.

* He keeps farting in his sleep and waking himself up. Or sneezing/coughing and farting at the same time. Cracks me up every time.

10 weeks

It gets easier, and then it gets harder again. That’s sort of the overwhelming theme of parenting so far. If you can even call what I do “parenting”. It’s more “keeping a small creature alive and as happy as possible” instead of actual parenting.

G has stopped napping. He will pass out while nursing, but as soon as I try to unlatch him or anything, he’s wide f’ing awake and won’t go back to sleep. I can rock him with a pacifier, without a pacifier, while swaddled, unswaddled, white noise, no noise, tv on, lights on, lights off, in the swing, etc. The longest he’ll sleep is about 25 or so minutes… if I’m lucky. Most of the time, it’s closer to 15 or so, which is just long enough for him to be bright eyed and refuse to go back to sleep.

He’s been sleeping okay at night still. He was out of sorts for several days after his shots, but he’s sleeping okay again (knock on f’ing wood). Just no napping. Which means that by 8pm, I have a gremlin instead of a son. He kicks and scratches and writhes and screams and is just generally awful to be near. I have to admit, I really intensely dislike him when he’s like that.

We had a good Christmas. I got a nursing necklace that I LOVE. It’s not the height of fashion or anything, but G likes to play with his hands while he’s nursing, and it keeps his little hands occupied so he doesn’t scratch or pinch me or knead me like a kitten (which is cute, but tends to unlatch him sometimes). At some point, he’ll likely enjoy gumming on it when he’s teething, too. I think I’m going to ask for another one for whatever holiday is next. Valentine’s Day? Is that too un-romantic? I kind of want this one. So pretty.

I was surprised when we opened G’s gifts. When she asked a while back, I told my mother in law that we really wanted books! I love being able to read to him because it gives me something to talk to him about. He’s not a great conversationalist, and I get bored having one-sided conversations all the time. Anyway, I’m so bored with our tiny book collection, so I told MIL that it’s what we really really wanted. But she kind of made a disapproving face and made a weird passive aggressive comment, so I assumed she would get toys instead of books. Which is fine! But don’t ask what we want if you’re going to be like that, right? So imagine my surprise when we opened the gift and there were two books! So excited! And my mom got us books, too! (I knew she would, though, because she thinks they’re as important as I do.)

I ended up having to go out and get him a couple toys because he doesn’t really have any… and it was a good thing I did, because all of a sudden, he likes toys! It’s like he went to sleep one day and couldn’t care less, and woke up the next day and he looks at them and grabs at them and puts them in his mouth! Like a real baby.

The first one I got him was the Oball rattle. This thing is awesome. He can grab it with his tiny fingers and shake it around. I think part of the reason he wasn’t interested in other toys was because they were plush and too large for him to grab. The Oball rattle is perfect! He liked it so much that I went out today and got him two more things – this banana toothbrush thing because he’s started wanting to chew on his pacifier instead of suck on it sometimes and these little bath toys that we played with for the first time Sunday during bath time (during which he figured out how to kick his feet to splash for the first time!)

So now we have a bunch of new books, a few new toys and a very interactive little baby. He’s finally acting like a baby. That is, when he’s not acting like a f’ing gremlin.

What else is new:

* He vomited a few times last week, and he’s been extra spitty lately. I have a feeling it’s a reaction to the rotovirus vaccine. I’m pretty sure I caught a bit of it, too, because it’s live vaccine and can be contagious and I was having some tummy upsets. Just a preview of when he’s around other kids and bringing germs home, I guess.

* He slept for 6.5 hours last night. Yay! But it was in the swing, after a day of not napping. Boo!

* He’s smiling more and more. All the time. I’m pretty sure he loves my face, because he smiles with his whole body when he sees me. He scrunches up his eyes and opens his mouth as wide as it’ll go and scrunches his body like he’s just so happy to see me that he can’t contain himself. Gah, it makes me melt. I do anything for those smiles. I can’t wait for laughs!

* He learned how to kick his legs to make the water splash in his bath for the first time Sunday. He also put his toys into his mouth so he could suck the water from them! The first time he really showed an interest in a toy was the day after Christmas, when I got him the Oball rattle. At first, I had to wind his little fingers around it and then he’d hold on, but now if I place it where he can see it, he’ll fling his arms around until one hand lands on it and try to grasp it himself. If he gets it in one hand, he’ll usually be able to get the other hand on it too!

* He’s doing really well with tummy time! Of course, it’s mostly because he’s figured out how to get one finger in his mouth to suck on like a pacifier. That’s kind of a bad thing, because it leaves his finger all red and wet and we’d prefer he use a pacifier because we can take it away eventually. We’ll see what happens, I guess.

* We interviewed an in-home daycare provider. I’m very on the fence about her. First, it’s cheaper than anywhere else. But… there are some things I just really don’t like. She told me that I shouldn’t hold him because he needs to be used to not being held. And I know he needs to get used to not being held but… he’s my only baby. And I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and wish I’d held him more. I’ll never think “I should have made it easier on his daycare lady” but I might think “I wish I’d held my baby more” and I don’t want that regret. And she seemed to take it for granted that he’d stop nursing because he would prefer bottles. There are ways to bottle feed babies so that they don’t prefer the bottle, and I’m pretty sure she would not be willing to work with me on it. And she mentioned that she wanted to start him on cereal at 4 months, AFTER I said we’d start him on solids at 6 months. I’m sorry, but that’s not her decision to make. She … just rubbed me the wrong way. I have a feeling we’ll clash on things, and she’ll consider herself “the expert”. Anyway. I really don’t want to use her. I just don’t feel comfortable, I don’t think my parenting decisions will be respected. But it’s the most affordable choice. I don’t know what to do. :( I have to make a decision soon. The idea of someone raising him other than me just hurts.

2 months/9 weeks

Wow. 2 months. My baby is 2 months old. It’s only just recently that he’s seemed like a baby at all. Most of the time, he seems kind of like this weird little animal creature that we have to care for day and night. So much that I often accidentally call the pediatrician “the vet” instead.

Little G has had his ups and downs over the past couple weeks. I eliminated dairy and soy from my diet, which wasn’t easy. But we found a french bread recipe that I can make in the bread machine using Earth Balance soy free buttery spread (which is made from oils that do not contain milk or soy ingredients!) I’ve been eating Oreos like they’re going to stop making them (they’re not) but it’s hard when I can’t really have anything else chocolatey. And G was gaining weight. Dec 9th’s weight check showed an increase of around 5oz in three days! Holy crap, right? We had another weight check on Dec 16th, and he showed another weight gain of 8.5oz!

And then I accidentally ate a milk/soy containing ingredient. I’ve been so careful, but there are “background” ingredients that you don’t even think about. This one was chicken broth. Last Monday, G started being really irritable, gassy, and his reflux was worse than ever. I started seeing tiny spots of blood in his poop. I thought maybe it was just delayed, because even though my system was clearing out, his wasn’t yet. But it continued. My little boy was in so much pain all the time, and nothing I did helped. And then we noticed that the chicken broth my husband used to make chicken salad had milk and soy in it, and I’d been eating it all week. So we start the clock over as of Dec 20th. Hopefully it won’t take the full two weeks to start seeing improvement again.

We went for his 2 month appointment yesterday. He had only gained 2.5oz in a week. So disappointing. We saw one of the older doctors. I’m pretty sure if we’d seen a younger doctor, they’d have panicked about the slow weight gain and given me more things to do (I already feed him as often as every hour and a half sometimes, and I pump to keep my supply high, sometimes I pump before a feed to get some of the foremilk off so he definitely gets plenty of fatty hindmilk.) We have another appointment in a month just for a weight check, but I might call at 2 weeks just to check.

Things that are going on lately:

* I went to buybuybaby and got an Ergo baby carrier! I put G in it as soon as I got home, and he fell asleep for a couple hours and I got to play my video game. Of course, I had to play standing up so I could rock/sway to keep him asleep, but still. He hasn’t let me put him in it since then without crying.

* We let him watch a movie with us. Spaceballs. He spent the evening crying and screaming, after a night and day of no sleep for me, and I just gave up. I just sat there. And so did he. We watched almost the whole thing together, and he stayed calm and happy, and then he nursed to sleep and we had a good night. :)

* He started sleeping in longer stretches. Our nightly ritual goes something like this: 8pm bathtime for around 15 minutes, then we do a few minutes of naked baby time, then I get him dressed in a onesie and we read a book (Usually Moo, Baa, LaLaLa, which I have memorized by now). Then it’s “yell at mom’s nipples” time until I give up trying to nurse and just put a pacifier in until he rage-cries himself to sleep. He usually sleeps for one hour, then wakes up in a better mood, sleepily nurses really well, and then goes down for a long sleep of around 5 hours. Then he wakes up a few more times to eat during the night, but sleeps in stretches of around 2-3 hours for the rest of the night. It’s awesome. I usually pump after the first long sleep, but other than that, I get around 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

* Until the past few days, when I’m pretty sure he’s been irritable because of the accidental milk/soy. He’s back to 2.5 hour stretches, which is disappointing.

* He got his 2 month shots yesterday. It was awful. The shots were fine, he cried for a minute but it was easy to console him. We got home and he slept for a couple hours, then woke up SCREAMING. And SCREAMED for a long ass time. Inconsolable. I gave him some tylenol put ice packs on his thighs and about half an hour later, he calmed down. He slept fitfully all night. I kept waking up to hear him crying, and I’d go to pick him up but see that he was completely asleep. Crying and crying in his sleep. Poor thing.

* He got moved up to 1.5ml of Zantac twice a day to handle his reflux better.

* We’ve started doing baths every day now, because he seems to like lounging in the tub like a fat old man with a combover. I make them warmer than the recommendation, and drape a washcloth over his tummy. And I just ladle water over him for a few minutes while he splashes his feet around.

* The best thing ever – he has started laughing in his sleep! He isn’t laughing while awake yet (though he gives smiles all the time, especially while he’s being changed or just laying on his changing pad) but the other night I was holding him upright after nursing and he was asleep against my shoulder, and he started going “heh heh ahaaah, ahaaah!” laughing out loud, and he was so startled by the sound that he woke up and started crying. :) Since then, he’s done it 3-4 more times. I LOVE it.

* He’s now in the 97th percentile for height but only the 39th percentile for weight. We’re calling him our little String Bean these days. :)

* He makes lots of little babble noises now, usually when he’s having his diaper changed. He watches people cross the room, but doesn’t really look at toys yet. He’s only just started noticing the dogs. He clasps his hands together a lot of the time, and has consistently figured out how to get his fingers in his mouth.

* He also notices when he sees someone new, so I think he recognizes me and my husband. He spends more time looking at the new person, turning his head to watch them.

* I finally love him all the time. I feel like his mom, like we belong to each other. Even when he’s being a turd. I told my husband today that I talk a lot of crap about this baby, but that all I ever wanted my whole life was to be a mom, and a good one. I feel like I’m failing a lot of the time, but damn do I love this baby.

7 weeks

We just can’t catch a break. Seriously.

So, a couple weeks ago, we got Zantac for little G’s reflux. Well, a few days after starting the Zantac, he started having really bad diarrhea poops. The pediatrician said it was very likely NOT related to the Zantac, but was just a stomach bug. Well, it hasn’t gone away, and in fact got worse with some green liquid poops (not watery, I’m talking straight up liquid). And I called on Wednesday because I was worried about him, so we went in on Thursday for a visit and… he’s not gaining any weight. He hadn’t gained anything from week 4 to now. To explain how bad this is, he should have gained about a pound in that time period. That’s 10% of his weight. Well, they freaked out, and had me basically force feeding him around the clock from Thursday to Saturday morning. When we had a recheck on Saturday, he’d actually LOST weight. Lost 1.5oz. Not much, I know, but scary. He weighed less than he did when he was 4 weeks old.

I didn’t really get any good answers. They haven’t said that the diarrhea is the cause. They don’t even pay attention to the Zantac. They had me pumping and bottle feeding to make sure I have the supply and he’s eating enough. It was awful. Kid hates bottles and pumping is a pain in the ass. But I’m pretty sure he’s eating enough, and I pumped way more than he ate, so it’s not that…

They also tested for blood in his poop, and it came back positive.

One pediatrician said that it means he has a Milk (and possibly Soy) Protein Intolerance, which is the protein present in dairy (but not in human milk). It’s a malabsorption problem. His intestines are so irritated by the milk protein (which he gets because I have dairy in my diet), which acts kind of like an allergen with his body attacking the protein, that he can’t get nutrition from my milk. It would explain the fussiness, gassiness, mucousy poops, blood in his poop and, most importantly, the weight loss. So I’m on a strict dairy-free diet. This pediatrician said not to bother avoiding soy, even though the proteins are very similar.

One different pediatrician kept coming back to me possibly having low supply. She said that if he was getting enough milk and still not gaining weight, we’d have a “real problem”. I guess she didn’t think the milk protein intolerance was real enough? And she kind of didn’t bother with the bloody poop or anything else, just the lack of weight gain. She still said for me to avoid milk and soy.

I wish we could just get consistent guidance, but we see someone different every visit. In the absence of that guidance, I’ve decided to stop the Zantac. We can deal with the reflux. So I stopped that on Saturday, and he’s been fine. We just keep him upright for 20 minutes after he eats and he sleeps at an incline, which we were doing anyway. And I’m avoiding dairy and soy. The two intolerances are so close to each other that it’s not worth the risk to my son’s health to eat soy just in case he doesn’t react to it. I’ll add it back in sometime down the line to test it, after he starts gaining weight again. And I’m still feeding him on a strict schedule. Not to say I will avoid feeding him if it “isn’t time” yet, but even if he’s not acting hungry, I offer every two hours and I wake him up every three hours at night. I’m exhausted, but I can deal with it if it means making my son healthy. We go for another recheck on Tuesday morning (when he will officially be 7 weeks old) and I’m terrified that he will have lost more weight.

So what am I not eating? Well, my dad was in town this weekend and he brought a dozen donuts for breakfast. I can’t have donuts. He got my favorite pizza for dinner, which I couldn’t eat because of the cheese and dough. He got wings for dinner the next day… those are made with butter. I can’t have chocolate or bread or pasta or most prepackaged foods. What can I have? Well, I just ate a plain hamburger with rice. I can have baked potatoes (no butter, cheese or sour cream though!) I eat eggs for breakfast, but have to cook them with olive oil instead of butter. I can’t have much, and it makes eating with a baby around even harder because all “convenience” foods have dairy and soy. But earlier I had some Oreos, which it turns out have no real ingredients other than sugar, so it’s not all bad.

I’ve been off dairy and soy for just over a week now (I started before he was diagnosed on the advice of a friend whose daughter had the exact same symptoms and diagnosis) so I’m hoping he starts improving very soon.

 

In other news, there’s a milk-drunk baby passed out on my couch like a little old man with a combover. I love that baby so much it’s insane. I don’t like him sometimes still, but the amount of love is unfathomable. What else is new?

* I applied for a job doing procurement/supply chain management for the state government last week. I didn’t think I had a chance, since I don’t have any supply chain experience, but I really want to do it (I’d love to start in government, work for 10 years til my loans went away, then go into the private sector as an expert and make the big bucks). All other applications I’ve ever put in have had the status “application received” or “under review”. I’ve never seen anything different in years of applying for government jobs. Well, this one says “most qualified”. I don’t know if that means much, since I haven’t been contacted for an interview, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

* He’s definitely giving social smiles lately. When my dad came to visit, as soon as he got out of the car, G looked at him and gave a huge smile. It melted my heart, and I’m so glad my dad got that.

* I might have freaked out at my in laws this weekend. It was in the middle of a 24 hour pump/bottle feed session, which is insanely difficult. I had to pump before I could feed him and then bottle feed him (which he hates) so I could record his intake. I can’t really care for him while I’m pumping, and everyone else was eating (hot wings, so they couldn’t exactly hold him either) and I put off feeding him to show hospitality and allow my husband to entertain… well, when I tried to tell everyone to leave at a certain time, and that time came and they were lingering over coffee on the couch and I hadn’t pumped yet and my baby was crying with hunger? Well, I flipped out and gave everyone five minutes to be out of my house. I’m pretty sure I offended everyone, but to be honest, I consider myself to be reasonable and them to be inexcusably rude. My baby was HUNGRY. And crying burns calories! I’m still angry with them. I wrote my mother in law an email explaining what was going on, and letting her know that I was trying to put hospitality and their feelings first, but that I would never put grown adult’s feelings before my son’s needs again. Ever again.

* He’s also starting to make little noises. Not babbling exactly, but he has learned how to coo and he makes this weird noise by breathing in and squealing a bit. I love it. It’s so funny. Every time he does, my husband and I both echo his noise, no matter where we are. I can be holding him in the living room and my husband is on his computer, and he makes the noise and my husband and I will both coo back.

* We’re still both being treated for thrush. I finally got a prescription for him (after his thrush was missed by three different pediatricians, even after I asked, and was only caught by the lactation consultant) and I hate it… it’s sticky and stains everything, but hopefully it works.

* I’m back to sleeping on the couch because I have an alarm set for every few hours to try to force feed him. Sucks.

* I gave my parents a picture frame with “I love grandma and grandpa” and a picture of G in it. They both loved it. I also got a metal ornament with a picture of my husband and G on it. He might have teared up a bit when he opened it.

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