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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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Health update, and baby sleep

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.”

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…

New Year’s resolutions

I’m a bit late posting this, but better than not posting it at all since putting it up (even where I’m pretty much the only person who sees it) will help cement the ideas in my mind.

My first resolution is to lose one pound per week. So far I’ve failed, but I’m not giving up yet. I’ve changed my eating habits — I’m now eating better and less than I was before. This is a huge step for me. I think if I haven’t dropped below 180 (currently I’m about 182; I weigh myself in the mornings before I take anything in) consistently by Valentine’s Day, I’m going to start up my food diary again. It really helped during my pregnancy, though I quit after the baby was born because I had too much else to deal with.

My second resolution is to run a 5k in 30 minutes or less by June. I actually made this resolution last year, for this one, but I couldn’t have foreseen how long it would take me to recover from childbirth. I intended to start working out again about three months ago. I’m not sure if I’ll make it, since I still have a fair amount of healing to do and it’ll be longer if I start running now, but I’ll definitely do it by the end of this year.

My third resolution is to run a ten-minute mile. I don’t know if I ever have. Before I got pregnant, I could run for a full mile but only if I was barely jogging.

To accomplish these goals, last Monday I went to the gym for the first time in nearly a year. A bunch of my friends have been working out at one particular gym for the last couple of months, so I got a membership there just before K was due, expecting to begin using it no more than two months after she was born (and probably sooner). Well, I failed at that, but I’m going now.

And my god, am I ever stiff! I did squats on Monday with just the bar, for form practice, and my stabilizers are practically useless. I was on my toes the whole way up every time. And though I felt SO GOOD afterwards, my legs were jellified from that point on.

But that didn’t stop me from going back the next morning for cardio. My friends go for cardio in the mornings three days a week in addition to the three days of weights in the evenings, and I was all endorphinated so I said sure, I’ll be here at 6:30 am! And since I said I would be, I did go. Spent about five minutes on the elliptical (which is weird) before a treadmill opened up and I walked for fifteen minutes. I wanted to run but I reminded myself that I’m taking it easy to start with since I’m still healing, and that I don’t want to overdo it and be the fat chick who falls off the back of the treadmill because her legs were still jelly from the squats the night before.

All-in-all, a pretty good start, I think. I’m going back for cardio tomorrow morning, though since I had some swelling I think I’ll lay off the squats for now and stick with upper body for lifting.

Damn, it feels good to be getting back.

Easy baby

Maybe I’ll actually start updating regularly again…we’ll see. K is now about four and a half months old. The birth went fine (for an induction), but recovery has been difficult. I just, last Thursday, had my last appointment with the doctor who stitched me up. And I’m still not yet healed, though I won’t go into the details. It will still be a while before I can even think about getting pregnant again (though we’ll be waiting until nearer C’s graduation before trying again, anyway).

But the baby has been as easy as recovery has been hard — easier, even. She hardly cries, pretty much never for no reason, and is easily distracted by going into another room even when she’s gassy. She is fine on her own with her toys (or often without) for 15-30 minutes at a time. She has always slept for hours at night, and when we followed the pediatrician’s advice to try to keep her awake and open-eyed as much as possible during the day, she gracefully fell into a pattern of sleeping more at night and less during the day. Even better, by the third month she was already sleeping 7-8 hours at a time.

Granted, she is no more a napper than I am, so in order to get her to sleep at all during the day I pretty much have to hold her and sit still the whole time. Otherwise, when she stirs, she wakes herself up completely, and she always stirs within a half hour of falling asleep in my arms (if she doesn’t wake up when I put her down). When I’m holding her, however, I can shush and rock her quickly enough that she can fall back asleep, so she’ll nap for two hours instead of 30 minutes.

Last Monday, I started a new sleeping schedule and routine. I had read that 4-month-old babies generally go to sleep between 6 and 8 pm, and K has been cranky at night. I thought it was just that she wasn’t getting enough napping during the day (which she hasn’t, see above), but if she can’t sleep well during the day, then it’s no surprise that she would wake up shortly after dawn whether she’d gone to bed early enough or not, right? So I started putting her to bed around 7 pm. To my surprise (and motherly guilt), she took to it easily, though she did begin to wake up earlier to nurse: about 4 am rather than 5:30-6, which makes sense. She was also more wakeful after her night feedings, taking 10-15 minutes more to fall asleep after eating.

Last night, I nursed her to sleep like usual. She woke up when I put her in her crib for the night, so I left her in the dark to get sleepy, figuring I’d go back and put her to sleep when she cried. But she didn’t cry; she was quiet for a while, made two or three small cranky noises and then was quiet again. 15 minutes after putting her down, I went in to check on her and she was sound asleep, on her side as she seems to prefer (which began about a week, maybe ten days ago). I was surprised, but grateful.

Tonight, though, nursing didn’t get her to sleep, even though it was about 10 pm (she slept in the car seat for a while after we got home from Sunday dinner). So I set her down in her crib, wide awake, thinking how great it would be if she magically fell asleep on her own again but fully expecting her to cry within a few minutes. About 20 minutes later, I stood outside her door and heard her sighing. I resisted the urge to go in; she may have been asleep, but I probably would have disturbed her if I had stepped on that creaky floor. About 30 minutes after that, I checked on her again, and sure enough that baby was completely asleep. I couldn’t believe my luck! If this becomes a pattern it’ll be totally worth my difficult recovery. Hell, if it just happens sometimes it’ll be totally worth it.

Also, she’s just started to roll from back to front. She did it two nights ago while C was putting her into pajamas — he had her by the foot as she squirmed, and suddenly her foot flipped over. And she did it again this morning, as C discovered when he went in to change her diaper and bring her to me in bed for nursing shortly after dawn. Soon she’ll be rolling on purpose…and oh god I really have to get moving on the baby proofing!

The very slight taste of fish sticks in the back of my mouth.

Seriously.

This has happened occasionally throughout this pregnancy, where I taste something (just barely) even though I haven’t had it in ever. Happens to be fish sticks this time. And now it’s gone.

The baby is due tomorrow. Today is my last day of work for now, and tonight we have dinner with friends. It’s our usual Thursday dinner with the couple with the now 9-month-old baby, moved back a day because they were out of town yesterday. I now understand how quickly babies grow, as we’ve watched her go from unable to sit up on her own to pulling herself up with the help of the furniture. I wonder if she’s taken any steps yet? She hadn’t as of last week.

Something I forgot to post on Wednesday: after you hit 37 weeks, the midwives want to see you weekly. If you want them to, or if everything isn’t going perfectly, they’ll check your cervix for effacement and dilation. They use their fingers for this, which is uncomfortable and fairly painful, especially if your cervix is still kind of toward the back (in early pregnancy, the uterus tilts and your cervix moves toward your back, staying there until the last few weeks. Mine hasn’t quite got with the program yet; I’m guessing that means Kaelie is going to be fairly late, though I have no evidence for that).

Anyway, in the middle of this uncomfortableness and pain, the baby gave what seemed to me a different sort of kick. The midwife had touched her head through my cervix or uterus, and I think she was startled. Not that I blame her — this would be the first time she’d ever felt something like that. Can you imagine hanging out in your little cocoon of water, surrounded on all sides by soft warm wetness, just chilling…and then something harder than you’ve ever felt before pokes you in the top of the head! What the fuck was that!

Just wait till the birth, kiddo.

Side Effect of Pregnancy #19

Numb belly. I can only guess that the nerves in my belly skin have spread out to the point where relatively large sections of my belly simply do not have nerves. About a half-inch area around my belly button is completely lacking in sensation. In addition, and I think this is related, a large portion of the front of my belly feels a little tingly instead of itchy. Well, it still gets itchy, but when it’s not itchy it tingles a bit.

Three days till she’s due; four till I get to start complaining that she’s late.