Archive for August, 2012

Sleep Wise

Is there a more often talked about subject than sleep when it comes to babies?

I mentioned in my last post that sleep has been going really well lately. And I don’t mean that we’re getting up only once or twice a night. I mean that at around 11 weeks old, D was sleeping straight through from 9pm until 7am, and we’ve somehow managed to keep that good sleep pattern going. Here’s how:

At the recommendation of my good friend, C, I purchased the book BabyWise when I was still pregnant. A lot of people aren’t fans of this book and its teachings. Personally (and C said this as well), I don’t think any advice book should be followed strictly, but if you take the parts and advice that work for you and your family, then some amazing things can happen. Like your baby sleeping through the night.

I haven’t read the book from cover to cover, and instead skipped right through to the sleeping advice when Baby D was about 10 weeks old and still getting up between 3 and 4am. I’m going to paraphrase a ton here but what I learned was this:

1) There’s a stage of sleep that babies have called “active sleep”, where they basically kick and grunt and turn their head from side to side. When we were still sleeping in the same room, his active sleeping is what was waking me up around 4am. I made the mistake of thinking he was awake and so I would get up, turn on the lights, unswaddle him, and pick him up to change him and feed him. So mistake #1: He wasn’t actually awake every time.

2)Even if he truly wakes up, that doesn’t always mean he needs to eat. Newborns need to eat about every 3 hours. Once they’re out of the newborn stage and their little bellies can hold more, this isn’t necessary. I had gotten into the mindset of thinking that if he woke up at 4am and hadn’t eaten since 9pm, that’s 5 hours and he must be STARVING. Not true. And I was actually either overfeeding him or even worse, reinforcing a routine of always getting up at 4am.

The book encouraged me to start training him to sleep longer by basically not getting up to feed him at 4am. Duh! It sounds so simple and like a no-brainer, but I hadn’t really thought of doing LESS. So for the next couple nights, whenever he’d wake up at 4am, I’d simply lean over his crib, offer him his paci, and pat him back to sleep without picking him up. For those first few nights, he’d wake up again around 5 and 6, and I just did the same thing – paci and pat him back to sleep – until 7am when I would finally get him out of the crib and feed him. I think it only took about 2 or 3 nights of this for him to get the hang of it, but I was prepared to do it for at least a week. Yay for quick learners! (Him, not me, because I probably could have had him sleeping through the night at like 6 or 8 weeks had I tried this sooner.) Now I’ve finally learned how to tell the difference between his active sleep stages and whether he’s truly awake or not, so it’s much easier to know if those random night squeals need tending to or not. And if they do, then it’s just a matter of a quickie diaper change (which I do in the crib and with only a low light on so as to avoid moving him too much), a paci and some shushing to coax him back into dreamland.

And now that we’re on a good wakeup schedule, putting him to bed at night is a breeze. It’s like his body understands that it gets up at 7am so it needs to go to sleep by 9pm. The hubs and I have talked about putting him to bed earlier, but I think we’d just rather let him sleep later in the morning if he’s still tired. Like this morning, he woke up at 3 needing a diaper change (which is rare), but was back out within a minute and didn’t wake up until about 8:15am.

Now my boobs on the other hand… if I could get them to sleep until 8am, we’d be golden. Saturday morning I was up at 5am needing to pump, and this morning they woke me up at 7. Is there a book out there on sleep training your boobs? If so, I need it.

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Well I survived my first week back at work, and the hubs survived his first week as a work from home & solo dad. And of course, the week I go back to work, I feel like we’ve seen so many changes in our little guy.

For one, he’s getting stronger every day. On the same day I returned to work, the hubs sent me a picture of baby D doing tummy time, with his head high up in the air, almost supporting himself on his arms. We call them baby pushups.

He’s also been trying to sit up. All the time. When we place him in his Boppy, he leans forward and grunts. Kind of like how momma does crunches. ha! We have a Bumbo seat but for whatever reason, he’s not really a fan of it yet. He’ll tolerate it for a minute or two, but he just looks so…uncomfortable. Maybe he just needs to get used to it.

We’ve also entered the stage of TV watching. I noticed last week when my mom was in town that he would look at the TV whenever cartoons or commercials featuring kids were on. We turned on Care Bears (so not like the Care Bears I grew up with) and he watched for a few minutes. Then on Saturday morning, I turned on the TV and Wayne’s World was playing on Comedy Central, so I left it on while I fed him. Except then I noticed he was watching it with me. After he ate, I ran upstairs and grabbed his Baby Mozart and Baby Beethoven DVDs (part of the Baby Einstein collection). I let him choose and he picked Baby Mozart, so I popped it in and he watched it for the entire 28 minutes. I was amazed that it kept his attention for so long.

One milestone I’ll always hate – packing away baby clothes. I spent some time Saturday evening going through and organizing all of his clothes. I did it once a few weeks ago with the newborn stuff (most of which he was never able to wear or maybe wore once) and this time, had to put away a bunch of 0-3 mos sized stuff. We still have a ton of 0-3 that fit, and some 3-6 mos clothes that he can probably wear now, but I’m trying to milk the last wearable days out of his smaller stuff. We just have so many clothes, thanks to hand me downs from my SIL, but it was still hard to put away outfits that I loved seeing him in, knowing he’ll never wear it again. For some reason, this time was even harder than the last time. Maybe because I’ve seen him in so many of these clothes and gotten attached to them? Whereas the first time, most of the stuff I was putting away were things he’d never worn or wore only briefly. I don’t know, but it sucks. Maybe I need to go on a baby clothes shopping spree to fill the void.

Sleep is getting MUCH better. We’ve finally found a routine that works for us and I could not be happier about it. I’ll probably do a separate post about it later. In fact, he’s still sleeping at 8am, which is why I’m even able to write this post! (My boobs don’t sleep as late, so unfortunately I was wide awake at 7. Sigh.)

Lastly, and probably the most exciting development of all, baby D laughed for the first time!! We’ve been getting smiles for ages, but not real laughs. As I was holding him Friday night, I brought him over to the hubs, who never fails to make him smile. But something about the combination of me holding him and his daddy making him smile resulted in a tiny laugh and it was the best thing ever! Now, it is our mission in life to just make this kid laugh. It’s fantastic.


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Dear D: 10 Weeks

Dear baby D,

You are 10 weeks old this week – and this is the very first letter I’ve written to you. A lot of moms write letters to their babies before they’re even born, and even though I thought about it, every time I sat down to write something, I just didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t picture your sweet little face, even though I had a 3D ultrasound photo of you. And despite the unarguable size of my belly and the constant kicks, squirming, and hiccups (oh my goodness, the hiccups!), I still couldn’t believe you were real. Even as you were being born, and I heard those first loud cries from you, I was completely surprised and amazed by you. A baby boy. MY baby boy.

Those first few weeks are a blur. Your daddy spent more time caring for you than I did since I was still recovering from my c-section and limited in how much I could do. Then your great grandpa passed away on your 4 week birthday and I was devastated. I’m so happy he got to meet you though. Even though he was so sick and bedridden, his eyes lit up when I brought you into the room. He said you were a “dandy” an called you a “little dumpling.” He wanted so badly to be around and watch you grow up, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I know he’ll be your guardian angel though. And I can’t wait to teach you all the little things he taught me, like how to spell, how to do math and multiply, and how to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

The night before your great grandpa’s funeral, you slept through the night for the very first time. You must’ve known your momma and daddy needed a break and you gave us one, sweet boy. Of course, it was a couple more weeks before you did it again, but that’s okay, because around this time you really started smiling at us. Your smiles in the middle of the night make it all worth it. Your favorite time to smile at us is when we’re changing your diaper. I’m not sure why, since most babies hate getting their diaper changed, but I’m not complaining!

At 7 weeks old, we took you to Marion, IL to visit your great grandma and grandpa. She’s 90 years old, and I used to spend summers with her when I was little. We were only there for a little while because I had to go to my friend’s bridal shower, but they sure were glad to see you.

When you were about 8 weeks old, we took you on your first big road trip to visit both sets of grandparents. Your grammy has been sick since the 4th of July and even though they came to St. Louis to visit you that weekend, they really didn’t get to spend much time with you since your great grandpa’s funeral was that same weekend and we just had so much going on. You did so great on the road trip though. You didn’t cry at all on the way there, but you were definitely exhausted and slept for a good 6-7 hours each night. After a quick feeding, went right back to sleep for another few hours. We spent some time watching the Olympics and all of your aunts and cousins came over to see you. The whole family just loves you so much already. We even took you to Huntington, WV to check out the Hot Dog Festival. You slept most of the time so I guess you weren’t too impressed.

On the way back, we stopped to visit your other grandparents in Elizabethtown, KY. We spent some time on the deck, enjoying the summer evening, and we spent our first night in their newly-finished basement. It’s the perfect space for company and I can definitely see you running around there and enjoying longer visits with grandma and grandpa. You’re their first and only grandchild so I have a feeling you’ll like spending time with them because you’ll have them wrapped around your little finger. They’re going to spoil you rotten!

Just one day after you turned 10 weeks old, you slept through the night for more than 8 hours! We’re still working on making it a regular occurrence, but you’re getting there. We also gave you your first real bath in the bathtub this week. Until now, we’d always done sponge baths because you liked them so much. But you also seem to like the baby bathtub too. I need to look into swim lessons for you soon, because you really seem to like the water. Your dad and I were just talking about how we can’t wait to take you to the ocean for the first time.

This letter is getting long, but so much has happened in the last 10 weeks that it’s hard to summarize in a short letter. I’ve only got another week left of my maternity leave and I’m going to soak it all in. You’re actually sleeping next to me right now, and I keep stopping my writing to stare at you and your sweet little face. Just know that you are loved, by so many people, and especially by your momma and daddy. You’re the best thing to ever happen to our little family and we are so very blessed to have you.

Love you, cuddle bug.

Your momma


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Tips for Exclusive Pumping

Menfolk, feel free to skip this post. Also anyone who has older kids, doesn’t have kids, and has no interest in kids.

I’ve read a ton of stuff about breastfeeding, including how difficult it is. Some people say it’s just really challenging in the beginning, and others say it’s a months long struggle. Before I ever got pregnant, I knew I wanted my baby to have breastmilk, but I kept my mind open to the option of pumping in case nursing didn’t work out. While I would have preferred to nurse, D’s time in the NICU plus my rough recovery had us starting off on the wrong foot from day 1. So I’ve been doing the next best thing – pumping the milk out and bottle feeding. Of the three ways to feed a baby – nursing, pumping, formula feeding – it seems that I’m in the minority. Not many people exclusively pump and I can see why. For one, it’s extremely time consuming. Not only do I spend 15 minutes every 3-4 hours pumping, but then I have to spend 15-20 minutes feeding the baby the pumped milk. And then I have to wash pump parts AND bottle parts a couple of times a day, and sterilize all of them once a day. My pediatrician said it’s basically like feeding twins, and considering the time commitment, I’d say she’s right.

Another downside is the cost. Not only do you need to invest in a decent pump (I use the Medela Pump-N-Style Advanced that comes in a backpack carrier), but then you also have to purchase extra parts, unless you want to keep rewashing after every single pump session. And you still have to use just as many bottles as parents who formula-feed.

Lastly, there’s a huge lack of freedom. With nursing, you can just grab a nursing cover and go. No need to pack up bottles or pumps and pump parts. You are the food source. All you have to worry about is finding a semi-private place to feed. And forumla-feeding parents just have to make sure they’ve got bottles, forumla, and water. You can mix it easily on-the-go. But for exclusive pumpers, you have to plan your outings around pumping and feeding times. Before I leave the house, I pump and feed the baby. If I’m going to be gone longer than 4 hours, I have to pack up bottles, my pump and extra parts, and my little storage cooler to keep the pumped milk. And I also have to find a private place to pump. Pumping in the car is an option, but to do that, you also need a nursing cover, and make sure you have either a fully-charged battery pack or AC adapter. It’s such a pain that I usually just don’t go anywhere for more than a few hours.

So pumping exclusively definitely has its challenges, but it can be done. And since there isn’t much out there about tips and tricks, here are some things I’ve learned over the last 10 weeks:

1. Buy a good pump and purchase at least one set of extra parts. Ideally, I recommend having three sets of parts so you have enough to get you through the night and early morning without needing to wash anything.

2. If possible, try to get ahead by at least one feeding. It’s so much easier to pump AFTER you’ve fed the baby. If you pump and immediately feed it to the baby, then you risk having a screaming hungry baby waiting for you to finish pumping.

3. But, still keep mealtimes and pumping times together. If you get lazy with the pumping, then your supply may drop. Pump as often as the baby eats.

4. Washing is much easier if you don’t let your dirty bottles and pump parts sit for too long. Dried milk is harder to clean than fresh milk. After I’ve used my second set of parts, or before I use my third set, I fill the sink with warm, soapy water and disassemble everything to let it soak. Once I’ve used my third and last set, I wash everything (and sterilize using the microsteam bags once per day) and set it all out on the drying rack so it’s dry by the next pumping session. Since I’ve usually let everything soak for awhile, I don’t have to scrub or worry that I’m not getting in the tiny nooks and crannies, so washing is super fast and super easy.

My arsenal of washing supplies: microsteam bag, Palmolive dish soap specifically for baby, bottle brush, and drying rack in the back.

5. When traveling, keep a battery pack on hand since wall outlets aren’t always easy to find. Also keep an extra burp cloth with you for wiping the excess milk off of yourself after each pumping session. Most Medela pumps come with a tiny cooler and ice pack. Whenever I get home and I unpack my pump parts and dirty bottles, I toss the ice pack back in the freezer. One time I forgot to do this and the next day I wanted to go out and had to put regular ice in my storage bag. It worked just fine, but by the end of the day, I had a bag full of water.

6. When pumping at home, keep entertainment close by. I pump out in the open in my living room in front of the TV. But sometimes I also have my phone near me so I’ll check email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It takes a little coordination since the pumps don’t just hang there; they actually require holding and support, but I’ve gotten pretty good at holding a pump and phone with the same hand at the same time. It just makes the time go by a tiny bit faster.

I’m sure I’ll have more tips once I’m back at work and trying to balance working and pumping, but for now, this is what works for me. Now it’s about time to pump again…

P.S. As I was composing this in my head, my Twitter friend Katie posted this handy list of 13 Essential Items for Exclusive Pumping. Definitely worth checking out.

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I was never much of a baby person. I always knew I wanted kids, but babies terrified me. I never wanted to hold anyone else’s baby, and just pulling into the parking lot of a Babies R Us was enough to give me a panic attack. I feared walking in there one day, on the hunt for a specific diaper cream from a friend’s registry, only to be found by the staff days later under a pile of breast pumps and monitors. (I didn’t say it was a rational fear.) When I was pregnant, I even overheard my mom say to someone, “Ryan finally talked her into having a baby.”

But deep down, I knew things would be different with my own baby. I just didn’t know how. I couldn’t picture it. In the days before birth, I remember sitting on the couch with my husband, trying to imagine a tiny baby all swaddled in a blanket and sitting there with us. I couldn’t. But here we are more than two months later and it just feels so…natural. And considering how awkward I’ve always been around babies, I guess I’m just surprised. Pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s been easy by any means, but I guess I just didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. I mean, no one goes around saying how awesome it is to change diapers 15 times a day. Or wiping sour milk chunks off your shirt. Or spending those precious few minutes you get when the baby is sleeping washing bottles and pump parts. To an outsider who’s never gone though that, it sounds like the 9th circle of hell. But honestly? It’s not that bad. And I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that I’m the person saying that. Me, the assumed baby hater, apparently. (For the record, I’m not a baby hater. I’m not sure why my family thinks my husband had to “talk me into” having kids, because that’s totally not true AT ALL, but I guess it just illustrates how non-maternal I appear to be. To my own family. Awesome.)

Anyway, life is different now, yes. I mean, I’m sitting in bed on a Saturday night with my laptop writing a blog post. I know it all sounds very lame, but to be honest? I love it. And I’d probably be doing this with or without a new baby. You see, I’ve always been more of a homebody. I absolutely hated college in part because I felt so much pressure to attend frat parties and be social when I’d much rather stay in and hang out with a couple of friends in our PJs, watch movies, have a few drinks, and talk. Except back then, our conversations typically revolved around boys. And now, well, I guess they still revolve around boys, but the “boys” are my husband and son. So it’s easy to see why “mom blogging” became so popular several years ago. On social media, the only thing I ever seem to post about anymore is my baby. In fact, I was just about to send a tweet saying that my baby hasn’t pooped ALL DAY and so I think he’s cranky. But I stopped myself because who really cares? No one. Yet, I know one of the other sweet new moms would chime in to say something like “Really? My baby pooped 5 times today. Wanna trade?” Or “My baby didn’t poop for a day too, but then we had a poop-splotion the next day so BE PREPARED!” And that is why I love social media. Because there will always be someone willing to talk about poop with you.

And while we’re at it, I also considered tweeting about the fact that sometimes when I pump I only get 3 oz and sometimes 6 oz. What’s up with that, boobies?

When you don’t leave the house for days on end and your entire life suddenly revolves around this tiny, grunting thing, you find yourself craving social interaction yet you seem to have forgotten how to talk to people. (See aforementioned “poop” and “boobie” comments.) So you blog or you tweet and post pictures about what else? Your baby. And eventually, thanks to the magic of the internet, another new bleary-eyed mom comes along and comments. And then another. And another. And suddenly? Community. And with it, a little bit of sanity. It’s a beautiful thing really, if you think about it. I’ve watched it happen from afar. I read the “popular” mom bloggers, all with kids around 7 years old now. I thought that once I had a baby, I’d have this immediate connection with other moms. Finally, I’d be one of them! But while my blog posts, Facebook and Twitter have been completely overrun by all things baby, I still don’t really feel like a mom. Only when I talk to other new-ish moms do I feel some sort of connection on that level. I guess it will take awhile before all of those diaper commercials will feel like they’re targeting me. In the meantime, I’m going through a bit of identity confusion. I feel like the same person, even though all I talk about is baby stuff. And yet, I feel like I’m more interesting now, even though I know some people get annoyed by the non-stop baby updates.

So I guess what I’m saying is, that despite my previous declarations to not be one of those people who constantly blogs about their baby and therefore becomes a “mom blogger”, well….I also said I’d start eating better but this second glass of chocolate milk tastes SO GOOD! So I’m going to embrace it and this post is just me, putting it out there that yes, from now on, a good majority of my posts will probably involve my baby. If that’s not your bag, I get it. I really do. But I’ve always used this blog as a way to document what’s going on in my life and as of right now, he’s what’s going on. And I kind of like it.

Obligatory photo of baby that mom bloggers typically post:

Tummy Time!

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So, today was a pretty exciting day. For one thing, it’s the first of the month, which always excites me. There’s just something about the first day of a new month that makes me happy. Maybe it’s the new desk calendar photo. Or the idea that I can start all over with something. Although what that something is, I’m not so sure. But it just feels like a fresh, new start to something and I’ve got all month to look forward to.

But the real reason it was an exciting day is because my husband officially resigned from his job in order to pursue his own business full time. Which means that as of today, he is officially self-employed. I’m just so proud of him and excited to see his business grow. (Without getting too specific, he basically does web and mobile consulting for small to medium sized businesses.) It was a decision we’ve talked about for quite some time, and I was definitely pushing for him to take the leap, but he didn’t officially decide to do it until this past weekend.  Most importantly, being self-employed means he can set his own schedule. Which means he can watch D during the day until I get home from work. And you guys, I cannot tell you how over-the-moon I am about this. No daycare. No leaving him at a stranger’s house for 45 hours a week. No paying almost double my mortgage payment for a nanny. And neither one of us is giving up our careers, careers we love and have worked very hard at for years, to become stay-at-home parents. Basically, it’s the ideal situation for us and I feel very blessed that we’re able to do this. I know that eventually we may need to find part-time childcare as the hubs has to attend more meetings during the work day, but hopefully by then D will be a wee bit older and we’ll feel more comfortable leaving him with a non-relative for hours at a time.

Speaking of the little nugget, he’s really started cooing and “talking” a lot lately. Especially today. In fact, he gets so excited and worked up that he’ll try to make a noise and ends up coughing instead. I need to try to get some of this on video soon because it’s just the cutest thing to see him interacting with us. As a newborn, he was far more interested in inanimate objects than people. Unless of course he was hungry. But now, he looks around for us, smiles when he wakes up and sees us, and fusses when he’s tired because he wants to be held and cuddled. I love that he loves us!

I also finally got around to weighing him at home and according to my scale, he’s about 14lbs. The last few days he’s been eating A LOT and I noticed that his size 1 diapers were starting to get a little snug. By next week, I think we’ll be graduating to size 2’s and needing to retire some of his onesies already. I hate that because I feel like he’s only worn them a couple of times. Oh well. Guess I’ll just pack them away for possible baby #2 some day.

So lots of big changes in the S household these days. Exciting, awesome, changes.

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