Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I Don't Sleep

Ryan used to sleep so great that he completely blindsided me when he all of a sudden went from sleeping 13 hours a night (The first 8-9 hours in a row with no waking) to very, VERY suddenly waking up constantly at 3 months. This began our cycle of frequent night nursing that I am now trying to get under control since he is at the age where it is no longer physically necessary for him to do that.

I logged this one day/night last week. It's a pretty typical 24 hours for us.

7:30 am: Awake for the day

9:40 - 11:10: Nap (1.5 hours)

1:30 - 3:00: Nap (1.5 hours)

5:00 - 6:00: Nap (1 hour)

Note the awesome naps. These are usually predictable, we can count on them and they are perfect for his age. He'll probably drop the last one soon. Love him for his naps.

7:45 pm: Bed (this is usually closer to 7pm)

10:45: Fuss (this means we go up, pat his butt and shhhh him, and he goes back to sleep)

11:10: Fuss, nurse, back in bed in 15 minutes

12:50 am: Fuss

1:36 - 2:22: Crying, crying, crying, soothing back to sleep (This time is always a feeding, but this is the first night I didn't give it to him, hence the crying and extended awake time).

2:30: Crying - I give in, nurse, back in bed in 15 minutes

4:03: Fuss

4:50 - 5:15: Cry, nurse, diaper

6:30: Fuss, bring to bed with me, sleep (I can usually change his diaper and put him back in his crib with his crib toy on at this time, he will talk to himself awhile and fall back to sleep, but sometimes I just bring him in with me.)

7:30 am: Awake for the day

Rinse and repeat.

Try to find an hour in there after 10pm when I wasn't's hard.

Despite the way-too-frequent wakeups, we do have some things going for us, like the fact that he takes appropriate naps and goes back down in his crib within 10-15 minutes of nursing most times at night (that was a battle for awhile, but now he usually goes back down without objection).

His naps are by design. I know what's appropriate for his age and don't let him get overtired - EVER. He is in his crib asleep before he ever reaches exhaustion. I plan things around his naps whenever possible. It may seem unnecessary but to me it's not. I believe in doing everything possible to make sure kids get the right amount of sleep for their age - it affects so much. Babies and even older kids crave routine and normalcy, it makes them feel safe and secure, and he has this. Despite his constant night fussings, he gets exactly the amount of sleep he should, and he doesn't really even "wake up" for these feedings.

What his Pediatrician told us is that they can usually go 10 hours without eating at this age (actually, that was 2 months ago that she said that). From his bedtime at 7pm to his wake-up anywhere between 7am and 8am, it's 12-13 hours, so I have no problem feeding him once, maybe twice a night, but I know that he is not always hungry, he just wants the comfort of it. You can't blame him, but we still need to make changes. Usually he wakes for his first feeding between 11:30pm and 12:30am. I believe he may genuinely be hungry at this time and have no problem nursing him. He may also just want some physical contact and reassurance that I'm there, since it's been 5 hours - OK by me. Now, when he wakes at around 2am, I know he's not hungry, but he will not settle down until I nurse him. The night I cataloged above is evident of that because he eventually went back to sleep, and if he was truly hungry, I would have been able to tell. He also will nurse for just a few minutes before he's back to sleep - not a whole feeding.

Last night, I also did not give in to this feeding, and he went back to sleep for another hour before waking at 4am. 4am is another common feeding time for him, and I did not argue with him for this one (one battle at a time), so he did essentially skip the 2am feeding and was fine. He then woke at around 6:30 and at this time I normally feed him, put him back in his bed wide awake and he plays for a bit and falls back to sleep. I decided to see if he'd go back down without eating - and he did, with no problem. The next time he nursed was 8am and he was not even that hungry! Which really reassures me that I can cut out 2 of these feedings. Definitely the 2am, and then either the 4am or 6am. I believe that if I'm not nursing him back to sleep at these times (just 2am for now) that he will ultimately stop waking at this time. We shall see.

One last thing I'll add is that I never leave him in his crib to just cry, that's not how I "deny" him the feeding. We walk, rock, cuddle, sing, soothe in any way possible, and Todd helps me. He will cry less if Todd is holding him because that way the milk isn't so close that it's ticking him off as much to not be able to have it.

I was originally just going to post this with the title and the sleep log for that 24 hour period, but decided to expand a little. I'd better stop now - it's 11:40 and I await the beckoning of my baby bear :).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ryan Right Now

Ryan Right Now

I apologize in advance for the blurriness in a lot of the pictures. Most of these were taken on my phone, but I promise we take plenty of pictures of him with the good camera!

It is the easiest thing in the world to make him smile. Unless he’s in a really bad mood which is rare, all you have to do is look at him and smile and he breaks out in a grin from ear-to-ear. You can do it over and over and over and he’ll smile every time. It melts my heart! Here’s a winning smile while helping mom with the laundry:

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make him laugh, but he does laugh! It’s fun to see what does it for him. You can do something one day and he’ll think nothing of it. You can do the same thing the next day and he’ll think it’s the most hilarious thing he’s ever seen (and vice versa). One thing that’s guaranteed to make him laugh is if someone new or someone he hasn’t seen in a while talks to him – he thinks it’s hilarious! He loves new faces. Here’s a great video of him laughing, this was just taken today:

He wakes up constantly at night – we’re still working on it. From the time he was 11 weeks until 15 weeks he slept through the night like a dream. Now he wakes and cries at the very least 6 times a night, and won’t go back to sleep without eating at least 3 of those. We’re working with some methods from the book “The No-Cry Sleep Solution.” On the upside, he is now sleeping in his crib for both nighttime and naps (this transition was actually quite easy), is swaddle-free, and at naptime he will usually put himself to sleep with very little, if any, fussing. This is major for us because while staying asleep for naps was hardly ever a problem, getting to sleep had become a huge problem and had me stressed to the max at times. He takes 3 naps a day, and while they have somewhat shortened in length since moving to his crib for naps, I think they’ll be back to normal soon. Here’s my sleepy naptime boy:

We are working on our next milestone – sitting up on his own! We practice all different ways and he is doing great. He can hold it for at least a few seconds, probably 10 seconds a few times. The other day he sneezed and didn’t fall over, and at one point when he started to tip, he put his hand down to catch himself. We have skipped the “rolling over” milestone for now, his Pediatrician said she can tell he is plenty strong enough to do it if he wanted to so she isn’t worried and he’ll do it when he wants. He doesn’t like to stay on his tummy long enough to try, but he has come close a few times this past week. She said that sitting up is more important and he should be able to do it around 6 months. Here he is sitting up!

Sitting up is slightly impeded when you have a fluffy butt. In the last couple weeks we have started to transition to using cloth diapers. When I was pregnant, I wasn’t interested in cloth diapering because there was already too much to think about and it was overwhelming. I didn’t want one more thing to research and figure out. When Ryan was sick toward the end of May, he was sleeping a lot during the day and I was bored. I somehow ended up looking at cloth diapers online and haven’t looked back. We are still trying to figure out which ones we like best and don’t quite have a large enough stash to do it full-time, but we will soon. I wish I had started when he was a newborn, but better late than never. I first wanted to try them because they looked so comfortable compared to disposables, and that’s still my main reason for doing it. [If you are my husband, please skip the next sentence]. I don’t think it’s going to save us much money because I’ll always want to be buying new prints and trying new kinds, so it’ll end up costing us more than disposables. But they ARE comfy! This week we are also starting to use cloth wipes. This is something I never thought I’d do – that is, until I realized how yucky it was pulling the dirty wipes out of the poopy diapers to throw out before washing the diaper. It’s much easier to use a cloth wipe and throw it in with the diapers to be washed. One of our newest diapers, “Camosaurus Rex:”

Ryan is drooling like a slobbery dog and his hands are always in his mouth. He also sucks (or more like chews) on his thumb everyday now, too. He doesn’t have any teeth yet but I think he may in another month. When you hold him close to your face, he opens his mouth as wide as he can, pants like a dog and tries to lunge forward – he wants to eat your face. I want to eat his little face, too, so I understand. Here’s a picture of he and daddy trying to eat each other’s faces:

Car rides are so, so much easier than they were in the recent past. He is usually content for quite some time now, and doesn’t really do the panicked, inconsolable scream he did as a confused, scared, newborn passenger. He has a toy on the handle of his carseat, a star with a smiley face that lights up all different colors, and he thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. He will laugh it at and then when it goes off, I will look in the rearview mirror and he’ll be staring at it with a sad little face waiting for it to come back on – it’s quite sad to see! This is him laughing up at his star:

A couple of weeks ago, he learned to yell/scream for fun and it’s actually pretty funny! It’s usually when he’s lounging in his bouncer or laying on his playmat – he just yells and screams until he sounds like he’s going to be hoarse. He’s doing it because he’s learning to test his voice and his range; his Pediatrician said he would start doing that and she was right. This can only be shown by video!

Also a few weeks ago he discovered his own feet. Now every time he is being changed he will immediately reach for his feet to hold onto them (makes diaper changes a little difficult though). I wonder when he’ll realize they reach to his mouth (because they do!). It might sound gross but one of my favorite things to do is smell his little feet – they’re yummy! My mom loves it, too, so either I’m not weird, or I just get my weirdness from her. Here’s a piggy picture:

Ryan started going to daycare 2 days per week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when he was 12 weeks old. He really likes it there because it’s a change of pace – different sights and sounds and people. He is only there from 9:15 – 4:45, and sleeps half of that time. His teachers are great and every time I pick him up they go on and on about what a good baby he is. I am so relieved. The first day that I left him there I felt like I had ripped my heart out and left it there. I felt like I had abandoned him and was the worst mother in the world. Now I love to see his face light up in a smile when we get there and he sees his teachers, and I think it gives us the perfect balance that we both need. I feel like just yesterday I was in grade school. Now I have a son having “school pictures” taken and bringing artwork home. I know he’s still an infant and he’s not in elementary school or anything, but there is still something surreal about it. This is his first “school picture” and a picture of him doing some “plastic wrap painting.”

Occasionally if Ryan wakes up early from a nap for whatever reason, I will lay down on the couch or in the bed with him, cuddle him against me and he’ll go back to sleep instantly. If I let him nurse while he sleeps, he’ll sleep a loooong time. Although I don’t want to make it an every day habit, I adore these cuddle naps. He lies on his side facing me with his head on my arm and his little face near mine, and I just breathe him in. There is no time in the world when he is more comfortable and peaceful than these times. Secretly, I want him to sleep in bed with me like this at night, every night, but not only do I know it’s better not to start that habit, but I honestly can’t stay in that position, or any workable position, long enough. I need my space to sleep on the rare occasion that I even get to sleep. Here he is during one of our cuddle naps:

The craziest place he’ll fall asleep is in his carseat. Not that crazy, you say? You’d be right. He’s not the kind of baby to just fall asleep anywhere. If he’s not on us or in his carseat, he’s in his bed. You’ll never see him fall asleep at play. And so:

Taking him out of this house now, compared to just a couple months ago, is completely night and day. When we used to take him out he would be much the same as he was at home – just not content for very long. He would get overstimulated very easily when we went out and would not stay happy. Once he was big enough to sit in the regular seat of his stroller, he started to get a lot better, and now we’ve started venturing out more and are amazed at how good he is, even if what we’re doing runs into a naptime (which is hard to avoid when we do go out, because he is always ready for a nap after being awake for 2 hours). I do try to get home in time for naptime if at all possible. He is just so much more interested in his surroundings now, and never really cries unless something is really wrong. This is when we went to Best Buy to buy a video camera to capture the cute videos above:

He has just started being able to (or wanting to) content himself in his crib, either while falling asleep or after waking up. It’s cute to watch on the monitor. While he’s falling asleep at night, if he’s not already asleep when I put him down, he’ll usually do this little repetitive moan until he falls asleep, but sometimes it’s more of a sing-song. In the morning, he likes to scream and yell (playfully) and stare right into the monitor camera and talk. It’s adorable (although it makes it hard for us to get any more rest) because he looks like he sees me and is talking right to me…like he knows. This picture is of when he just woke up – ignore the huge puddle of drool underneath him:

He has had 3 long, yucky colds since starting daycare (and I do blame them for every one of them). I know it’s building up his immune system but by the 3rd time, I stopped caring about that because he is so darn miserable when he has them. I realize it’s just a cold and I am thankful it’s nothing worse, but it’s sad to see him sick, especially when he can’t sleep at night. We have to alternate between his swing and crib so he gets some upright time to clear his nose. I can always tell when the colds are coming now. For a couple days leading up to it, he will cough just once or twice. A tiny little cough or two that you’d normally think nothing of, but now I know it means a cold is on the horizon and often by bedtime, it’s in full force. This has honestly made me consider pulling him out of daycare and getting a sitter for just those 2 days, but I don’t think it’d be easy to find someone for only 2 days per week, and I don’t trust having someone in-home (without us mounting cameras) after things I’ve seen on TV. I still think daycare is good for him, but the sick part really stinks. Here’s a picture of my sad, sick baby with his most recent cold (which was surprisingly short-lived compared to the others):

We recently put up his highchair in the kitchen. He’s not eating solid foods yet (just a few more weeks, though), but I thought it would be nice to get him used to sitting in it and it’s a different place for him to play while we’re doing things in the kitchen. As you can see, he likes it!

That is all for now, but every week there is something new and I know we have a lot of exciting milestones coming up, so I’ll definitely be doing more of these posts (or maybe I’ll be really good, and post enough to talk about each one separately!).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The first few weeks...

The first few weeks were pretty crazy. I honestly don't know how this post will turn out because, well, I don't know if I've forgotten what it was like or not.

We didn't get home from the hospital until close to 11pm the night we were released. I didn't envision coming home that late and something about it bothered me, but really I was just relieved to be coming home together. Todd and I brought the baby in our car and my mom followed in hers; she would be staying with us for his first week. We were starving so we hit the McDonald's drive thru when we were almost home.

When we got home, we ate, passed around the baby, let him sleep in his Pack 'N' Play and on us...nothing too exciting because at that point all he did was sleep. I pulled out my pump and got to work. Before we knew it, it was time for bed...and I was nervous. He was 5 days old and it truly seemed all he did was sleep. At the hospital that day we had to keep waking him up to feed him, but he had been asleep for pretty much the last 11 hours. In all our time at the hospital, I don't remember having him ever wake up crying and wanting to be fed, so I was afraid he wouldn't wake me to eat (and he was supposed to be eating about every 2 hours). I said to my mom "So, now what? I just got to bed and wait for him to cry?" Her response was "Yep, pretty much." I look back now and laugh that I honestly thought he would just lay there and quietly starve. Now I know there is no such thing as a quiet, hungry baby.

I don't know what time it was, but sure enough I was awakened by a blood curdling scream that scared the hell out of me. The way I jumped up in bed you would think an air raid siren had gone off. Cue the first of hundreds of nighttime feeding routines to come, on what would at times seem to be an infinite 2-3 hour cycle. I have to say, although there was always something nice about seeing his sweet face in the middle of the night, I really hated those night feedings for his first 6ish weeks. There was a special kind of exhaustion (and by this I mean I'll be contrasting it to nursing) that came along with having to get out of bed, bring him to the nursery to change him, bring him downstairs to get the bottle and heat it up (whilst the kitchen lights sealed the deal on his wide-awakeness), 9 times out of 10 while he was screaming, going back upstairs to feed him (which took forever because they drink so slow at first, and keep falling asleep), burp him and keep him upright awhile, put him back down to sleep and then, as I mentioned in my last post, I would often have to pump to make the bottle for his next feeding which took 20+ minutes. By the time I was done, I had maybe 30-45 minutes to sleep before he would wake up again and we'd do it all over again.

My mom would often come to the doorway and ask if I wanted her to take him, or when I went in to change him in the nursery where she was sleeping, she would always offer to help so I could sleep. I don't know why, but I never really took her up on her offers during the night (yes, I sit here kicking myself now). I just felt like I should be doing it, that I'd have to do it myself when she was gone, so it didn't seem right to pass him off to her. That's not to say when I couldn't take the exhaustion anymore I didn't wake Todd up and beg him to get the bottle ready, or feed him. I usually did once a night and he was great about it, but I didn't really sleep while he helped, I just laid there exhausted and watched or closed my eyes and listened.

I remember feeling so anxious the first couple weeks, during the day, that I couldn’t sleep whenever my mom or Todd wanted to let me. I was so exhausted but so afraid to sleep because I couldn’t let myself “check out” and not know what was going on at any given time. I didn’t know what Ryan would do or need and when (looking back, all he did was eat/sleep/eat/sleep so I don’t know why I felt this way), and it wasn’t that I didn’t trust Todd or my mom, but the only way to describe it was that I was terrified to be asleep and not know what was happening every second. Once the first few weeks passed, after Todd went back to work and I was home with Ryan 24/7 and got to know his rhythm, I was more able to relax. If he went to sleep, I would make Todd promise to wake me as soon as he woke up, and then I could rest. A couple more weeks, and I was comfortable with making plans that would allow me more sleep. I would go over the “plan” with Todd – such as going to sleep as soon as Ryan did (during the day), then knowing Todd would change him and give him his bottle when he woke up, and put him back to sleep, and then wake me as soon as he woke up after that. All with the understanding that he’d wake me the second Ryan got upset.

The first month after Todd went back to work were rough. Honestly, I don’t know why. Ryan slept so much, but I still felt like I never had a free second. A lot of time was spent pumping and trying to nurse and keeping him happy while I pumped because it never seemed to fall during his sleep times. I remember one day I took my shirt off to nurse him and didn’t get a chance to put it back on until 4 hours later. Again, looking back, I don’t know why it was so hard. Right now everything is second nature so it’s hard to bring my mind back to that flustered state and remember how it felt – but it was hard.

I want to try to revisit his newborn stage again, but in the interest of starting more current entries, I’m just going to publish. Ryan is now 5 months and growing faster than I’ll ever record in this blog if I keep trying to play catch up. I need to skip ahead to “right now” because he is changing every single day and I know I will forget so much. Tonight or tomorrow I will start talking about now. I wish I stayed more current before, but it’s more important now that he’s got such a personality and is starting to learn and do so many things!

I’ll give myself a deadline of next weekend to post…