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Archive for February, 2011

Baby sleep: day 3

Fair warning: I am very tired and this will not be as concise as it should be.

So far, it’s hard to tell how well my plan is working, in large part because I haven’t followed it. I’m terrible at timing things, making schedules, etc, and anyway it’s not like I can get a stopwatch and be all, “okay, she stopped sucking for the final time 20 minutes ago, time to put her down.”

It seemed to go well Monday and Tuesday. Monday I was amazed to find that she stayed asleep for over an hour in the evening (for her noon nap, I fell asleep in the glider, only waking up when she did, so I didn’t put her down at all) after I put her in her crib. Tuesday, her noon nap was something like an hour and a half even though I put her down midway. Both days I was amazed at how happy she was. Apparently it’s possible for a baby to get too much sleep.

But today…I think her longest nap was a half hour. I put her down many times but she woke right up — once I think I didn’t even get to standing before she was open-eyed, and she didn’t close them again like she often does. Add that to the fact that she first woke up at 6, so it was light out by the time she was mostly done nursing (at which point she falls back to sleep in the dark), and that I stayed up till 1 am last night because it was one of those “just didn’t get around to going to bed” nights, and…yeah. Pick her up, nurse her, put her down. Pick her up, bring her back into the living room, lay her down on her activity mat, stare at the living room closet I’m trying to organize. Spend a half hour verbally reassuring her I’m only a few feet away while trying (and mostly failing) to figure out where to put stuff. Lather, rinse, repeat, and the crank just turned faster as time went on.

So I think I’m going to try only putting her down for her evening nap and see where that takes us.

It occurs to me that Monday and Tuesday were both overcast and pretty dark for the daytime. I hope that’s not why it was so easy!

Tonight has been rough too. She cried 3 times so far after being apparently asleep. The first time I waited a few minutes but then went in and gave her a pinky. She didn’t seem to be ready to sleep quickly enough, so I picked her up and nursed her until she was back asleep, then set her down and left the room immediately (I did that when I first put her to bed, too). Ten minutes later she was crying again, but not the pained and/or angry screaming that she did the first time, just crying. So, hoping to get her right back to sleep, I went in and gave her a pinky again. This time she fell back asleep almost immediately. Good. Left the room again. Ten minutes later…

As I leaned against the crib, the railing and my head squeezing my arm to sleep and the railing in my armpit putting my other arm to sleep, I considered some things.

First, my ambivalence here can only cause problems. Consistency is key. Intermittent reinforcement is the most effective, whether you’re trying to reinforce a behavior or not. If I sometimes respond to her crying by picking her up and/or nursing her, that will reinforce the crying more effectively than if I do it every time.

But every damn time I read anything about getting babies to sleep, I feel like I have to try not to nurse her as much and not to pick her up when she cries and not to go in to her right away…and I don’t like it. It seems wrong. Just letting her cry, deliberately, how does that teach her anything other than that sometimes I am not there for her? She’ll have plenty of time to learn how to sleep later on. But part of the foundation for that has got to be the security that comes from knowing that you have someone to run to when you need them.

And even the no-cry stuff, what I’ve seen of it, doesn’t sit right with me. For one thing, I can’t stick with it if it doesn’t ring completely true for me, and it really doesn’t. A lot of it doesn’t seem to apply to us — one author advocates putting the baby to bed as early as 6 pm, and I just stopped doing that because I wanted to sleep past dawn once in a while goddammit — because the situations described are nothing like my baby. She sleeps for hours, sometimes through the night (especially now that she goes to bed a bit later). That kind of thing really seems more for babies that wake up a lot.

If I don’t read or hear other people’s opinions on baby sleep, everything is fine. I like nursing her to sleep, though I do worry in the back of my mind about whether she’ll have a hard time falling asleep on her own later, and what happens when I wean her? I guess we’ll just slowly replace nursings throughout the day with solid food meals, and the bedtime nursing will probably be the last to go, I suppose. Unless she bites me and I stop breastfeeding, but then I think I’ll still pump for the rest of her first year.

The thing is, it’s going to suck either way. If I tried not nursing her to sleep now, I expect the same thing will happen as did before: she’ll simply stay awake, probably screaming, until it’s been so long that it’s time for another feeding, and then she’ll fall asleep. So I’ll nurse her to sleep either way; it’s just a question of how much trouble I want to go to first. How is this better than nursing her to sleep to start with? And why does it seem like everyone else assumes that it is?

Because I have no idea what the future holds. What I do know is that, at some point, she’s going to start fake-crying…and I hope I recognize it when it happens, and can take the appropriate action, because I still start to laugh when she raspberries her sweet potatoes back onto her tray even though I tell myself over and over to not respond because I don’t want to encourage the behavior.

Another thing I thought as my arms began to tingle and my back ached from recent workouts is this: I would much rather sit in the glider with the baby at my breast and my fingers at my laptop than lean over this damned crib with my arms falling asleep, waiting for her to drift off and then trying to pull my pinky out of her mouth so slowly that she won’t wake up again. And if I’m not making any progress with that method, even if it’s just because I give in to my own sleepiness too often, then I should stop. Right? But all the experts say it’ll cause problems later on. But that’s not necessarily the case for this baby…

So that’s where I’m at right now.

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I’m going to try and track progress here; we’ll see how often I actually get around to updating but I think it’ll help me keep track of my mental state and other things you can’t track on your iPod app. Because I just found a really neat one, and it’s free too — something like “my fitness pal.”

I’ve been surprised to find that the iPod Touch that C no longer uses and therefore gave to me just gets more and more useful. I found a neat sudoku teaching app, which was a couple of bucks, but since I use it while feeding Kaelie and I’ve learned a bunch of advanced techniques that I couldn’t have learned from the incomprehensible sudoku wiki, I think it’s worth it. Still have lots of questions (why can you determine that about this cell but not that one? How do you find that arrangement?), but I’m learning. I’ve also found lots of free books through iBooks from Project Gutenberg, and there are a few nice apps for recipes, which are helping me get into cooking, about which I am very excited. And there’s a reddit app and a woot.com app and of course…Cut the Rope, which is the cutest little game you’ll ever see and if you have never played it you are seriously missing out. It costs a dollar, though I’d pay $20 for it if it cost that much. Then again, if it cost that much, I’d never have tried it in the first place.

Anyway, I also found a nice little app for managing to-do lists, which I’m still working on filling with all the shit I have to do, and that fitness app looks dead useful. It has tons — TONS — of nutritional information, and it tracks calories for you, and all kinds of progress, and it’ll graph it out for you too. I think this is going to be very helpful, and I’m actually kind of glad that I ate too much at our weekly get-together dinner last night and was over 180 again this morning so I told myself, “no, you can’t claim it was just a one-time fuck-up. Start your damned food diary like you said you would if you went back over 180 pounds in the morning, because you already ignored your own requirements like three times. Start the damned food diary. It’ll be good for you.”

So I started writing stuff down in a notebook like I did before. And a few hours later, I picked up my iPod to use while feeding the baby, and thought, “hang on, I should just use the notes feature instead of using lots of paper. Wait a minute…I wonder if there’s a free app that I might actually use for tracking food intake?” And sure enough…

This app will also help me make a habit of weighing out my portions now that I have a scale for that purpose (thanks Mom!), because you have to tell it the number of servings, and I think it’ll really help me connect the amount of food on my plate to the number of calories in it. And if I have to weigh out my portions, well that kind of means I should cook, huh?

I’m really getting excited to do this. I can’t wait to see a nice steady decline on that weight graph.

What else has been in my head?

The baby’s sleeping. That’s been on my mind a lot, because I stopped trying to lie in bed for as long as possible in the mornings because I felt like a bum and like the day was half gone by the time I got up. So I started getting up with the baby in the morning instead of taking her back to bed with me to nurse her. But doing that, I learned that she doesn’t actually sleep past dawn, and sometimes she won’t sleep to dawn…so I thought, why not? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that I put her to bed at 6 pm.

I do this for a reason, of course: she’s cranky as hell come 5:30 pm, and since it’s dark by 6 still, she’ll stay asleep (as opposed to the daytime, when she wakes up after less than 30 minutes if you put her down), and after being up with her the whole day and sitting still for 4-5 hours total while she naps on me, I am glad to get some much-needed Me Time, or Husband Time, or really, just to be able to move around and do stuff without having to stop and entertain an often-cranky baby every ten minutes. I only have so many things to do on my iPod or my computer, and I can’t comfortably knit with her on the Boppy on my lap. I wouldn’t say I get bored, but I am starting to get restless.

So here’s how it’s been. At her first appointment with the pediatrician when she was 4 days old, he said that if we didn’t try to keep her awake with eyes open as much as possible during the day, within two weeks we’d regret it since she’d likely not learn that night is for sleep and day is for awake. So we did. And she did learn, first sleeping through the night by 2 months of age. However, about the same time, she stopped staying asleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time during the day…unless she was on somebody who was sitting still, but could rock her back to sleep when she stirred.

Three months later, I am sick of sitting still when this baby needs a nap. My lady bits are not yet healed, and sitting immobile for 2 hours at a time, even in the very comfortable glider we bought for this purpose, is not doing me any favors. So this week, I am going to very likely put us both through hell as I try setting her down in her crib for her naps. Every time she gets cranky I will nurse her to sleep, wait progressively less time, and set her in her crib. I will do this until Friday, and then reevaluate…assuming I make it that far.

It’s very possible that I’m setting us both up for failure here. I should probably continue the current napping arrangement for another week while I see what happens when we wait for 8 pm to put her to bed, especially since we’ve kind of built up a schedule for after bedtime — I go to the gym at 8 pm Mondays and Thursdays, and we have friends over on Fridays just after she goes to bed, though I think it’ll actually be better with the new bedtime since she doesn’t have trouble falling or staying asleep because of the extra noise. I suspect that the reason she often wakes up after we put her to bed, and needs to be put back to sleep (often by an increasingly weary dad with increasingly painful eardrums), is that we’re simply putting her to bed too early. And Sunday dinner will be easier too, and we should shortly be able to go back to our weekly evening dinners with the Es (our friends with the now 15-month-old daughter) because it won’t be three hours past K’s bedtime when we get home.

But I’m impatient to get this fixed, to get done things that I have been meaning to get done since we moved in, to have a clean damned house for a change, to baby-proof the house so the Es can bring their toddler over with a lower likelihood that she’ll destroy something of value, eat cat food, or injure herself.

So, starting Monday, I will both set her down for naps and leave the lights on until 8 pm. And we’ll see what happens.

I’m learning that a lot of parenting is “seeing what happens.”

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More goals

The good news: I saw 179.5 on the scale a few days ago! When I saw that number, I really started to feel like I can actually do this.

The bad news: it was only once (though I haven’t been above 180.5 for at least a week now), and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. So tomorrow I begin my food journal again. It might be more useful now that I have a scale (Mom got me one for Christmas; it has nutritional information for a bunch of foods, which is pretty neat) and can weigh out exactly how much dried fruit I am putting on my oatmeal.

Other news: I have begun going back to the gym and boy does it feel good to be working out again. I am down to the bar with squats, but I’m getting better with my form so I hope to add some weight soon. I can bench 85 with 8 reps, 90 on cable back row (I don’t think I lost anything there, not really that surprising considering I pick up and put down a 14-pound baby all day), and I can do dips with 120 assist, which is close to where I was before, I think, especially since I’m a couple pounds heavier than I was then. I’ve also been spending time on the elliptical, since I can get a higher heart rate with much less impact than running. I also plan to restart walking in my FiveFingers outside when it gets warm again, which will lead to running, and I can’t wait to run outside in my VFFs around the park now that we live a couple of blocks away. So I need to get in better cardiovascular shape, and lose a fair amount of weight so as not to hurt my knees again, before it gets warm.

This week’s goals:

  1. Not going back over 179.5 after Friday, preferably Wednesday.
  2. 15 minutes of 20/90+ on the elliptical (I did 15 yesterday; it kept my heart rate at a steady 160 according to the machine)
  3. Bench/back row/dips or lateral pulldowns/overhead press/squats/lunges on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, with 30 minutes of elliptical on Tuesday for certain and Friday if schedule permits, Sunday otherwise.
  4. Cook at least one real dinner. Probably with quinoa and ground beef, maybe some broccoli. Ooh, and mushrooms and onion. Maybe use those carrots…

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