Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sleep with one eye open

OK, I give up. Since I've been home now for nearly 10 weeks with BabyT, I really don't have much of a non-baby-related life to write about. So excuse my descent into "all baby, all the time" posting. Sigh. I didn't want to become *that* person. I'll try not to be that annoying in person. At least with the blog, you can choose not to read it.

T is a pretty mellow baby (and I knock on wood every time I say this!), and we've been grateful. Around 4 weeks, she started the Period of Evening Wretchedness, which started around 7 and ended at 9 or 10 when she'd go to sleep. This is pretty common, it seems, and is known as the newborn "witching hour". Fortunately, she'd only get this way about 50% of evenings or less, so I did think it might be something we were doing/not doing to cause this.

Having been trained as scientists and engineers, TJ and I naturally look for cause/effect and solutions. I'm thinking this doesn't always work with babies - they seem to have their own reasons for doing thing, not all of which are easily discernible or predictable.

Anyway, the Evening Wretchedness was supposed to peak around 6-8 weeks and get better after that. I sort of noticed that she seemed to be fussy on days where she didn't sleep much during the day, but wasn't really tracking sleep vs. wretchedness.

Until last week, when we had a particularly awful day where BabyT napped for 1 hour the entire day, had a long period of Evening Wretchedness and then woke up twice at night. Except for her first 2 weeks at home, she *never* woke up more than once to eat at night. That was a bad night for us, and a bad next day for me. (I do not handle limited sleep very well.)

So I put out a request to my "Caltech alumni parents" mailing list to find out what other people did regarding naps and tiny babies since all the "expert advice" seems to say not to do anything with a schedule for 3-4 months.

I got some good information back, most notably, that if I get her to sleep more during the day, she'll sleep more at night and that if we put her to bed earlier she'd probably sleep longer at night as well. The biggest thing was to look for her "tired signs" like eye-rubbing, baby zombie eye, and yawning and then try to put her in the crib.

So for the past 4-5 days, I've been tracking her sleep on my handy iPod, using the awesome TotalBaby application, to see if there are any patterns. We've also been trying to get her to sleep before 9:30pm, and during the day, I try to get her to nap if she's been awake for 3 hours.

And OMG. I thought our girl was sleeping great already - 7 hours of sleep a night, plus another nap of 2-3 hours in the morning is pretty awesome at 9 weeks, and she's been doing that for a few weeks now, waking up to eat once about 50% of the nights. We thought we had won the baby lottery. (I'm sure that we have.) So I was skeptical that we could really make things better, though I was really hoping to avoid tired Evening Wretchedness.

Guess what, for the past four nights, she slept 10-11 hours and didn't wake up to eat(!!!) Of course, babies are unpredictable and things will change, but this is amazing. She also takes about 3-ish naps during the day, for 45 min to 2 hours. And there has been no Wretchedness.

But of course, this is a work in progress. Today she and I went out to Redmond Town Center, an outdoor mall, that also has a nice walking trail behind it. We started our walk on the trail and then walked for a while in the mall portion. She napped on and off in the stroller, but I think that threw off her sleeping chi.

Once we got home, she alternated eating and sleeping for the next couple of hours, and it has been pretty difficult to get her to sleep. Here we are around 10pm, and I think she just fell asleep. So it remains to be seen what happens tonight. I've got my fingers crossed that it'll be an uneventful night, and that she might even get 10 hours of sleep, but who knows? These babies, so unpredictable!

And of course, another cute baby picture. Baby Eeyore is sometimes happy!

We got this outfit in the giant bag of baby clothes I bought from someone on Craigslist. I wish I had remembered it at Halloween, but with a baby, it's never too late to play dress-up!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And then she'll surprise you

There are days where I wake up and my previous life seems completely foreign to me. You mean I used to have hours of uninterrupted time to work on my own projects? I used to go to work and attend meetings with other people? I could just dash out to the store or make plans for lunch based on just *my* schedule?

So, 9 weeks into my maternity leave, I'm fully immersed in the "stay-home mama" life. The most surprising thing? I am enjoying it. I feel so much more calm and zen than when I was working, and had tons of appointments/errands/projects going on at the same time.

That doesn't work now because BabyT runs my schedule. When she's hungry, she gets to eat. And sometimes it's every hour. Sometimes she naps for 4 hours between feedings. But the thing is, I never know how long it's going to be, so I always have to be ready to drop what I'm doing to attend to her.

At first this was hard for me. Especially at 3am. But once I stopped *worrying* about when the next feeding would be, it got so much better. I just take it as it comes. We have a webcam pointed at the crib so I can be somewhere else in the house and see if she's still asleep. Maybe I'll have 2 hours, maybe only 45 min. And that's ok.

I've started making a short list of items I want to get done in a given day. If I can get those things done, then I'm doing well. My expectations are so much lower than when I was working. If I can get a load of laundry done and put away, and get a shower, and maybe answer some email, that's a great day for me. Again, it took some getting used to. But now, I love it. I feel calm like I never did before.

With some trepidation, I reopened my Etsy and 1000 Markets shops to custom orders a few weeks ago. Of course it took a while to get orders again after being closed for a few months. But now I have several open orders - yay! I get to be crafty again, which is great. But I have to segment my work into the times between feedings, when BabyT is napping. That's teaching me to be more efficient and waste less time.

And with that, I leave you with a calming picture of Peaceful Sleeping Baby:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's only natural

Happy Daylight Savings Time! Unfortunately babies don't know about clocks so we were up at 6am today. Which isn't entirely a bad thing since the Chublet went to bed last night around 9 and didn't get up to eat in the middle of the night. This has been going on for 3 nights in a row now so I feel like a normal person who gets to sleep at night. Woo hoo!

And speaking of eating, I am proud to say I have made it to 6 weeks of breastfeeding the Chublet. My first goal was a month. Well, actually, it was a week, then a month. My next goal is to make it to 2 months. (When I think about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of a year, it makes me want to crawl into bed and not come out.)

Even though the Great Breastfeeding Propaganda Machine doesn't ever mention the sheer suckitude of it, I had enough honest friends to know that it was going to be rough. And fortunately, for us it wasn't as bad as other people have had it. But it still sucked (pun intended). And honestly, I still don't love it.

It's not that beautiful soft-focus bonding moment between baby and mama. It's boring. It takes a long time, several times a day (and sometimes at night). At first, I was spending 4 hours a day feeding her. Now we're down to 2-2.5 hours. And I know this because I keep track. So I know whether I have time to shower/eat/nap before the next time Angry Chublet demands food.

Chublet usually has her eyes closed so it's not like I can gaze lovingly at her while she eats. Plus, did I mention it's boring? On the bright side, my Internet-connected iPod Touch has saved me. I am up to date on everyone on Facebook, I can Tweet, and I have the complete New York Times electronically. So I'm more or less up on current events. That NYT app is phenomenal. And free. I've watched the first 2 seasons of The West Wing on DVD. And the first season of Gilmore Girls (I know, guilty pleasure.)

I guess what annoys me most is the major propaganda. Starting when I was pregnant, complete strangers would ask if I planned to breastfeed. As if it was their business. If you read any of the "helpful" websites, which admittedly I have consulted with questions, they all beat you over the head about how amazing it is, and how it is the BEST way. And that pacifiers are the devil and will screw everything up. As will feeding from a bottle, even if it is breast milk. And of course, formula is like poison. And the answer to nearly every question is "nurse more often". Which doesn't always work, especially in the early weeks when you JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE and your baby is doing that horrific screaming that just rips your heart out.

Reading all that has a nice way of making sleep-deprived new mamas a little crazy and a lot guilty for doing any of the above to maintain peace/sanity/baby weight in their house. I HATE this. Nearly as much as I hate the sites/books that tell you that it's bad for your baby if you opt for drugs during childbirth. As per my previous post on baby care/parenting books, is it really so hard to provide information without being preachy?? And if I hear the phrase "nature's perfect food" again, I'm going to slap that person too.

I am happy to say I no longer dread feeding time. Chublet has obviously figured out how to make it work for her, since she gained 3 lbs in her first month. And it doesn't hurt anymore, mostly. But it's still weird, having to chop my day into 2.5-3 hour intervals. And figuring out what I can wear to easily feed her in the middle of said fragmented day. And don't even ask about the weirdness involved in using the pump to store milk for bottle feedings. Though convenient, it's just strange.

I know, I'm a horrible mother for not loving this. And when she's 16 and we're waiting up for her to come home from an evening out, I'll look back fondly at the time when my baby was with me 24/7.

Of course, when my baby wins a Nobel Prize, I'll be glad, because of course, it was the breastfeeding that was responsible for that. *snicker*

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