Big ‘ol update

There’s so much I want to write about here – just never seems to be enough time.  I’m not complaining, mind you – just wishing I could find a few more hours every week.  But there’s always dishes to do, diapers to wash, bottles to clean, and food to make….  and I have this silly notion that I’d like to spend some time with my husband too.  (As it is, I’m just starting to write this at 10:00 on Saturday night as Paul is getting ready to go to bed.  I should be joining him.  It took three sessions over the weekend to get this one post made.  Arg.)

I worry that time is slipping by too fast.  Kieran is growing and changing so much every day: learning, reaching, Happy boy, with no teething pain!exploring, achieving.  I need to be blogging this stuff if for no other reason than to remember when he started doing stuff.  (Cuz yeah, I haven’t touched his baby book since we came home from the hospital.)  So let’s see, what’s the boy been up to recently:

We have TOOTH! Two weeks ago, Kieran finally popped his first tooth – and with nary a tear thanks to his Baltic Amber teething necklace.  Our only indication that he was actually teething was that he started drooling again.  (One of the benefits of the amber necklace is that Kieran isn’t a total drool fountain anymore!)  It’s just the one tooth, but that sucker is SHARP!  We’ve got no indication of other teeth coming in to join the first one – so we’ll just have ourselves a snaggletooth baby for a bit.

Look who's standing!Pulling up on things – mainly us.  A month ago, he started pulling up on his crib to get onto his knees.  Now he’s pulling himself up to standing.  Thankfully he hasn’t tried it yet from the inside of his crib, he’s contented to be on his knees in there for now.  But when playing with Paul on the floor in his room, he’ll pull himself up to standing on his crib or the chair or ON Paul.  He does it to me when we’re playing on his playmat in the living room in the evenings.  He’ll just grab a fistfull of my shirt and heave himself up.  I’m convinced that he’s not going to bother crawling – he’s going to be like my brother and I and just get up one day and walk.  I fear that day is coming very quickly.  Kieran will get up on all fours, but he shows no desire to put any forward momentum into play.  He’s lightening fast when he wants to be by rolling around.  There’s no putting him down in the middle of our California King bed anymore, unless one of us is right there with him.  I’ve caught him trying to roll off twice now.  (Talk about scaring the heck outta Mama!)

He’s talking up a storm. Too bad we have no idea what he’s saying!  But he talks and talks now since getting the tubes put in.  He would talk before, but not like this.  I swear he’s making speeches and telling us stories.  His tone of voice changes, and he gets excited. He tells jokes too – or at least he thinks they’re jokes.  He cracks himself up.  But then again, he loves to laugh – so any excuse works for him.  I can look at him and say “Hee Hee Hee” and he’ll crack up.  He’s so much fun to interact with.  He sings along with the radio or TV and with us too!  Oh, and he loves blowing raspberries.  He’ll go back and forth with us blowing raspberries until Paul or I are lightheaded.  He has said things that sound suspiciously like “Mama” and “Dada” but we know he isn’t referring to us yet.

Playing: This kid is a MACHINE!  He’s so good at playing with his toys.  He has mastered closing all the little doors on his 5-in-1 jack-in-the-box thing.  Even better, he’s figured out that if he flops it over, all the doors will close on Playtime with Scout Dog!their own.  Smart boy. He enjoys all the toys on his exersaucer even more now.  The spinning top is a new favorite because Kieran has figured out how fun it is to watch the balls inside spin around.  And if you ask him to show you “Peekaboo” he’ll twist the mirrored face around and push the button to make it say “Peekaboo, I see you!”  He knows which rings go on each of his two ring stackers, and he understands that he can put the shapes in the holes on the front of his shape sorter, but he has to pull them out from the back.  His newest toy is his Ball Popper: he knows how to turn it on and is fascinated by the balls popping out the top, and by Daddy frantically collecting them and shoving them back down the tube.  It’s the best game ever! Kieran’s favorite toy right now though has to be his remote control.  He always reaches for the remote on our bed or in the living room, so we cleaned up the old broken Harmony remote and gave it to Kieran.  He loves that thing.  (And since he’s not getting our phones, the remote is the next best thing.)

Solid foods: I’m still making all of Kieran’s solid foods other than his applesauce.  (I figure store-bought is just fine, as long as the ingredients are just apples and water.) So far he’s tried Greek yogurt, carrots (steamed and roasted), roasted butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes,Ah, sweet potatoes hit the spot! steamed green beans, steamed peas, bananas, pears, avocado, pumpkin, mango, oatmeal and rice cereals.  I’ve got edemame, strawberries and blueberries on deck for this next week or so as well.  Kieran doesn’t like anything green, but I’ll keep trying.  He’s also not a fan of bananas or mango.  Weird kid.  He gets sent to school with two 1/2 cup containers of food for lunch, a cereal with yogurt and fruit and a veggie.  He gobbles them both, and has cheerios at snacktime too.  He has a big dinner with me at home every night now too – usually a veggie with cereal and maybe some applesauce for dessert. I’m increasing the texture of Kieran’s foods now, as well as making them much thicker.  I don’t feel comfortable moving him to chunky stuff just yet, but we’re getting there.  Once he gets better with more texture I’ll add in shredded cheese and over-cooked pasta to his menu.  Then we’ll start in on meats.  His formula intake is decreasing accordingly with his solids intake, but we’re not concerned – he’s obviously growing just fine.

Sleeping: It’s hard to tell because until very recently, the poor kid has been sick constantly.  He had been down to one wake-up a night, but towards the end of Kieran’s last ear infection he was back up to 3 or 4 wake-ups a night.  I don’t want to jinx anything, but this week we’ve had two nights where he slept ALL THE WAY THROUGH – I’m talking 11+ hours here.  I’m assuming the big solids dinner before bed has something to do with it, as well as possibly just getting old enough.  He usually naps twice at school, which I can only think has helped things too. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying it.  Now, that doesn’t mean that *I’m* sleeping through the night – but eventually I’ll learn how to sleep more than 4 hours again.  To be honest though, as long as we were only doing one wake-up a night: I was fine with it.  There are worse things than sharing a mid-night cuddle with a snuggly baby.  But I’m sure that sleeping all night long is better for him though, so I completely support it.  (I think the current cold is responsible for breaking the all-night-long streak we had going.  He’s coughed himself awake and upset for the last few nights, but it’s only been once a night at that.  Ah well, we’ll get there eventually.)

Daycare/school is going great. Kieran’s teachers love him, and it’s obvious that he enjoys himself there with his friends.  He gets to finger-paint (with pudding usually) and make art projects.  He plays with toys he doesn’t have at home, and is learning to share with the other babies.  Yes, he still catches every cold that goes through the place, but we expected that.  (He’s currently suffering with a new cold, the first one to include a cough.  And a nasty, wet, productive cough it is.  Poor Kiddo.)  Paul is everyone’s favorite Daddy there at school, because he stays and plays with Kieran (and any other babies in the play area) instead of just swinging by and dumping the kid at the door.  Frequently the teachers have to pry Kieran out of Paul’s arms so they can start him on an art project or something.  We will get a book of all Kieran’s paintings and projects when he moves up into the Toddler Room.  In the meantime, we enjoy seeing new artwork displayed in the Infant Room and finding the ones Kieran made.

I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but Paul and I just love the dickens out of this kid.  We take joy in telling each other Kieran stories from the morning or evening (since Paul and I have distinctly different daily schedules, Paul still gets up early with Kieran – and I have him to myself in the evening before Paul gets home from work.)  He is absolutely the light of our lives.  He just keeps getting better and better as he grows.  And as much as we want him to stay our tiny baby (ha!) we’re excited for him as he engages with his ever-growing world.  We love sharing our little man with friends and family, but more than anything we are so thrilled at the little family we’ve become.

There’s a bunch of new pictures in the main Photo Gallery – The Story So Far

Sleep Training / Nap Awareness (15w1d)

This has been an interesting week so far. We quickly re-christened our efforts from Sleep Training to “Nap Awareness” as that’s really what it’s become at this point.

By really working hard to be aware of Kieran’s status (and how long he’s been awake during a given ‘cycle’) we’ve been able to start something of a routine of naps. Dr. Weissbluth (he of the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child fame) and just about every other sleep doctor out there agree that at Kieran’s age (birth or gestational) he can’t handle more than about 2 hours awake at a time.

So Paul has been diligent about watching Kieran for sleepy signals: rubbing eyes, yawning, slowing down in general, staring off into the distance, etc. Taking cues from Kieran when he’s getting sleepy has made it possible (not necessarily easy) to get him down for naps during the day. He’s sleeping for only 30-45 minutes at a time though, which is FAR from ideal. Kieran wakes grumpy/fussy most of the time, although he usually gets his happy back within 10 minutes or so.

Problem is, these 3-4 short naps a day don’t seem to be helping anything. Kieran’s disposition hasn’t changed really. We’re hitting a 5:30 bedtime, even though we’re not aiming for it – just impossible to keep Kieran up any later than that. He’s sleeping 4.5-6 hours starting at 5:30ish, and then ~3 hours after a bottle and fresh diaper. He’s up again around 2:30am or so for another bottle and diaper change. (I’m certain he needs these bottles as I can hear his tummy growling when I pick him up from the crib.) The last sleep of the night is getting harder and harder though. Kieran fights going back down even though he’s yawning and rubbing his eyes. And, he’s only sleeping 45 minutes to an hour – I’m ending up having to settle him back down to sleep between 3:30 and 4:00 to try to get him closer to a 5:00am wakeup with Paul. This morning wakeup was at 4:37am.

So the night looks like this:

5:30pm – Bedtime
10:30pm / 11:00pm – up for bottle and diaper change with Mama
11:00m / 11:30pm – Back down to sleep
2:30am / 3:00am – up for bottle and diaper change with Mama
3:00am / 3:30am – back down to sleep
3:45am / 4:15am – tummy rubbing and pacifier to try to extend sleep to or past 5:00am
4:30am / 5:00am – WAKEUP with Daddy

There hasn’t been any “crying it out” though. There’s sometimes some protest crying before naps or bedtime, but that’s usually less than 2-3 minutes. If he continues longer than that, one of us goes in and rubs his tummy while offering his pacifier until he falls asleep. But even the protest crying is only like 10% of the time. We quickly figured out that if he’s gonna cry/whine/complain past 8-10 minutes, he’s not gonna sleep.

We’re taking it one day at a time right now. It seems that Kieran is *just* starting to get to where a nap schedule is feasible. We just hope we can figure out a way to lengthen these naps soon – it’s hard to have a little guy who seems tired and cranky even with so much napping. Keeping him up doesn’t seem to be the answer – but neither does leaving him in the crib to cry when he wakes up before an hour. How do you get a baby to sleep *longer*?

A friend of mine in Canada questioned why this subject isn’t even touched on in Baby Care classes. There’s so many conflicting theories out there, and it’s something that EVERY new parent struggles with. Why on earth aren’t we given some training about this, especially when we’re already seeking out training on other ways to care for our new babies? We plan on asking our Pediatrician for guidance when we’re at Kieran’s 4 month well-check in early November, but that seems like a very long way off right now.

We do realize how lucky we are though. For the most part, Kieran is a very happy little guy. He isn’t colicky at all, which is a HUGE blessing. He never had his days and nights mixed up. We’re just at a little bit of a rough patch right now, but I’m sure it will be over soon enough.

And in the meantime, he’s so stinking cute that it makes up for any crankypants moments he may have!
Couch Potato?Helping Mama with the diaper laundrySweet little (wet) face.  Seriously, the drool is epic these days.

Sleep Training / Cry it Out (14w5d)

Kieran has never been a good sleeper. Overnight he’s been OK, dependable for the most part with regular wakings that have gotten increasingly longer apart as he’s gotten older. He has been an increasingly early riser though, much to Paul’s annoyance. (I catch Kieran’s overnight wake-ups so Paul can sleep through the night and be able to get up with Kieran in the morning and be with him all day while I’m at work.)

Kieran has always been a crappy napper though. And since I’ve gone back to work, it’s only gotten worse. Most days, he naps once, if at all – or does a couple of 20 minute naps throughout the day which don’t seem to leave him feeling rested. What this leaves us with is a VERY tired baby who is on a downward slide from about 2:30pm on. We were initially aiming for a 7:00pm bedtime, but recently he’s been going to bed earlier and earlier (like 5:30pm) because we can’t keep him up any longer and frankly, wouldn’t want to.

Enter Sleep Training. We’ve just gone along with whatever works up until now because all the books say that before 3-4 months, babies don’t have the physiological maturity to be on a schedule – if they sleep “through the night” before 3 months, it’s the luck of the draw and you have an especially easy baby. (Mind you, “through the night” just means a 5-6 hour stretch before 6 months – which isn’t particularly helpful when that 6 hours starts at 5:30pm.) We’re also fighting against the fact that even though you’d never know it now, Kieran *was* 3 weeks early – and that makes a difference in his growth and maturity for milestone things like this. But Kieran is 3.5 months old now and his lack of naps is really making life difficult – so we’re diving in.

We’ve settled on the methods prescribed by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. His technique is usually referred to as “Cry It Out” although he’s the first to say that different babies will respond differently to this. He actually espouses three levels of ‘extinction’: Let Cry, Maybe Cry and No Cry. He recommends ‘Let Cry’ if Mama and Daddy can handle it, as it works the fastest. (Dr. Ferber’s method – commonly referred to as “Ferberizing” – most resembles Dr. Weissbltuh’s ‘Maybe Cry’ option.) Dr. Weissbluth emphasizes that helping our baby to sleep is just like taking care of any of his other needs: we feed him when he’s hungry, change him when he’s dirty, play with him when he’s awake, and help him sleep when he’s tired. That rings true with us.

According to Dr. Weissbluth, at this age, Kieran can’t really handle more than 2 hours or so of wakefulness before he needs to sleep again, preferably for 1-2 hours at a shot. Starting now, and over the next 1-2 months, Kieran will naturally start to develop a mid-morning and afternoon nap: both of which we can and should encourage on Kieran’s personal schedule. The morning nap will develop first, followed by the afternoon one.

Problem is, Kieran doesn’t want to nap. He’d greatly prefer to stay up and play with Daddy. (or look at his toys or listen to us talk… or do anything but sleep.) This has lead to a chronically overtired baby. This starts (and perpetuates) a vicious cycle which has (we believe) caused Kieran’s night-time sleeping to deteriorate. Dr. Weissbluth explains it best: “…When [baby] becomes overtired – from nap deprivation or any other reason – [his] body produces stimulating hormones to fight the fatigue. This chemical stimulation interferes with sleeping well. This is why sleeping well during the day will improve night sleeping and why, conversely, nap deprivation causes night waking.” Kieran has recently been waking up after only 2.5 hours at night after his first big sleep, as opposed to the 4 hours we had a month ago – and his 5:00am wake-up has been pushing closer and closer to 4:30am.

So: this weekend we committed to sleep training – working to put ourselves and Kieran on a schedule for naps and nighttime sleeping as Kieran’s natural nap proclivities emerge. The hardest part of this is putting Kieran down for naps. Regardless of how tired he may be, he doesn’t wanna nap and he protests. Volubly. We are prepared for this though, and will steel ourselves to not go in and get our crying baby for at least 20 minutes, and up to an hour. The hope is that he will cry himself out and actually sleep – well before that hour mark. (Or to put it in a nicer fashion: he’ll learn to self-soothe and put himself to sleep on his own.) So after making sure he’s full and dry: we walk and rock and sing and soothe until he’s drowsy but awake, place him in the crib and then walk out of the room.

So far today, we’ve been lucky: the protest crying has been limited to 7 minutes, and two 4-minute bouts. But, the naps haven’t been great. 45 minutes for the first one, and 55 minutes for the second. A third nap attempt was thwarted after 20 minutes of solid crying/shrieking. We opted to move the operation over to Grampy’s house where we’re having dinner and try again. I’m typing this now from their living room, listening to the crying from the guest room and watching the clock…. We’re approaching 30 minutes or protesting now. (sigh)

Here’s hoping that enforcing naps during the day will help him sleep better at night, which will, in turn, help him nap better. Helping Kieran learn to put himself to sleep will be one of the best things we can teach him, for life. (OK, I think I’ve drunk a little too much of the Kool-Aid.) Paul has his work cut out for him during the day, watching for Kieran’s sleepy signals – before he gets overtired. I have no illusions of who has the much harder job for the next week or two. Paul wins, hands-down.