Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sleep

Sleep..... ah, elusive sleep! I feel like this is one of those blog posts that needs a gigantic disclaimer from the first sentence.

Disclaimer: This post is for me to read in the future as a reminder and encouragement in the style of parenting we've chosen. It is not directed towards any of my readers nor is it meant to be a judgement of anyone. 

Carry on :).

Steven and I knew from before our baby was born that we would not practice the "cry it out" method, nor any of its cousin-methods (graduated cry it out, etc). It feels wrong to our core, being that we really believe in gentle and attachment parenting. We also read all the research (which I will not link here because, again, persuading isn't the intent of my post) which confirmed what felt right to us. However, as much as we knew we would not use cry it out, we didn't particularly know what we would use. I was later introduced to a group called the Wait It Out method which is pretty much what it sounds like- waiting out whatever the baby is dealing with be it sleep regressions, developmental milestones, sickness, teeth, all the things that affect sleep, the vast majority completely out of baby's control. It introduced me, and therefore Steven, into gentle ways to handle sleep experiences. I don't say issues or problems because how our baby sleeps is how our baby sleeps. We don't expect her to be convenient, nor do we feel the need to train her. What we do is help her along when we feel she's ready for another step or something different.



But I'm getting ahead of myself! I basically want to document what her first year of sleep was like in one place (though of course I can't go through all the details) so that I can look back on this for the next baby, because there are definitely moments where you think it won't end, and you wonder if you're doing it all wrong, but I feel completely and peace with and happy with where our line of thought has taken us as we completed her first year. 

In the newborn days and up through a few months old, I never tried to put Felicity on any type of schedule. I did form a routine, but she basically just slept when she was tired. She figured out night vs day at about week 5 and I would say those 5 weeks were the hardest of all. But everything I read said she would likely have it down by 6 weeks and I did the things it suggested, like lots of outdoor time during the day, and dim lighting in the evening. She developed her own sleep schedule, which has always been flexible, but I could generally predict about when she would be tired based on when she woke up. And it worked and she was an amazing sleeper at night and decent through the day (with lots of car naps which we both enjoyed!)... until the 4 month sleep regression. For quite a few months after that, she would wake more and more. This is how we ended up going from cosleeping (same room) to bed sharing (same bed). It made our lives SO MUCH EASIER. Once I was past the point of pumping at night/Steven giving her a bottle, no one had to get out of bed, and I barely had to wake. I'd latch her on and go back to sleep any time she woke up. (Of course I have to stop and mention that there are safety guidelines to adhere to when bedsharing. Google them!) Her day time naps were pretty short, but I just followed her lead. 



When she was 6 or 7 months old, I decided to see if she was ready to move to her room for naps. She was not ready. I know some people would suggest that if you want them to sleep in their room, you make that happen, but there was no gentle way to go about that for her. I tried the ways I knew, they did not work, and that's how I knew she wasn't ready. So back to our bed full time she went. Honestly, we were ok with that. A minor inconvenience as far as cleaning our room/putting away laundry/etc went? Sure. But not a huge deal. 

As Felicity got closer to a year, she was waking up quite a bit. Here is where I add that spousal support is not just helpful, but necessary. We had a routine where I put her down, Steven helped her back to sleep any time between her bed time and ours, and then he'd help during the night if I requested. I knew that it wasn't all hunger based, so we decided to see if she was open to Steven comforting her some of the time. Sometimes she was and sometimes she wasn't. So we took turns comforting her/getting her back to sleep and also sleeping in when both of us were home. This is what kept us sane and having the other person on board (especially on the really tough nights!) is what made it work. If one of us was particularly frustrated, a simple reminder that she's a baby, that it won't last forever, and of why we were doing what we were doing was all we needed to get back on board. 



Shortly before Felicity's birthday, I sensed she might be ready to try her own room again. She was beginning to wake at new times- when we came to bed, when Steven got up for work (4:30 or 5am) and when he would leave (6-6;30am). She also quit nursing completely to sleep all on her own. She would nurse, then unlatch and either play a bit and go to sleep or roll over and go to sleep. That led me to believe that she might be ready for her own space where she wouldn't have disturbances and no longer needed the comfort of nursing all the way to sleep. I knew from mini trials in between 6-7 months and now that she wasn't open to being put in a crib because she's never been lowered in before so that sensation was totally weird for her. So I turned the crib into a toddler bed for my 11 month old. I was a bit nervous but we rolled some blankets under the sheet as a bit of a block from rolling out and put padding on the floor. Felicity did wonderfully at night but it was horrible during the day. She was so upset and fought it pretty hard. So I figured she wasn't quite ready for naps to take place there yet and went back to putting her down in our bed. After she had night time mastered (about a week), I started doing naps there again and she took right to it. I nurse her before naps and bed, give her a kiss and hug (she hugs me back every time!) and tell her I'm going to lay her in her big girl bed. There are times where Felicity cries when it's time to take a nap or go to sleep and I rub her back and comfort her through it. But there's a huge difference in her cry because she's sad she has to go to sleep/stop playing and being distraught at sleeping in a different place or not ready for a transition. I've gotten pretty good at distinguishing those sounds over the past year and know which ones mean "back off; I'm not ready!" and which ones I can love and comfort her through.  She's always slept about a total of 12 hours (7-7), but many nights now she is sleeping 8-10 of those straight through. She comes to our bed around 5am, which is fine with us because we miss her! :) 



We are really, really happy with our decision to let her needs guide what we did regarding sleep. There were times that it was really tough, but the incredibly smooth transitions help us to know that we did what was right for her and us. We listened to her needs, met them, and she let us know when she was ready for the next step. There were times where one of us would say "the next baby is at least going to nap in the crib!"- and maybe they will! All babies are different- but overall our gut feeling is that the baby is going to let us know what she or he needs, that we will survive, that parenthood isn't supposed to be easy or convenient, that we can take turns sleeping in or napping on the really rough days, and that, like with Felicity, transitions will not be an epic battle if we follow his or her cues. 



Things aren't perfect now and probably will never be (well, until she's past the age of needing us after nightmares, wetting the bed, etc... but then we'll be up waiting for her to get home at night!) as she goes through more milestones, gets more teeth, wakes up because she has to poop :P, and the tons of other things that can disturb sleep, but we feel like we're on a good path and definitely want to stay on it for the next baby. I know there will be the added complexities of having a toddler/preschooler (well, God willing anyway she won't be much older than that) and a baby with a whole new personality, and THAT is why I want to have this blog post to read back on, remember how we let our instincts and our baby guide us, and how happy I felt after a year of doing that! 


Friday, February 20, 2015

A Letter to My One Year Old

My baby girl,

You are 1. YOU ARE ONE! What a year it has been. Do you know what song was playing when you came into the world? I brought my Matt Maher cd to the hospital, and Daddy gave it to the nurse at one point when labor was getting particularly rough. She put it on and it was on track 10 "Christ Is Risen" when you came into this world. The lyrics were not lost on me. Well, they were at the time, but not when I was reflecting on everything later. Here's one part of the song:

"Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!"




You were born into this world completely quiet and still. You had an apgar of 1 initially and gave us quite a scare. I remember laying there as the nurses were suctioning you and giving you oxygen, trying to get you to respond, thinking "God, please don't take this baby away from me after all the work we put into getting her here" and calling out to you "Baby, mommy wants to hear you cry!" over and over, trying to keep it together. The doula was rubbing my shoulder, looking really concerned, and Daddy was standing towards the foot of the bed (since he helped deliver you) looking petrified and staring at the nurses and the doctor who had rushed in. But a few minutes later, you let out a cry and didn't stop for an hour! It was the sweetest sound! And you have been vivacious and full of life since that first cry. You "came awake" and a fire was lit within you that is still blazing! 


Felicity, you are confident, determined, and go after what you want until you get it. You are alert and have been since you were just a few weeks old. You don't miss much! You are the best kind of challenge :). I have to work hard to keep up with you, both physically and mentally, because you love to be on the go! It may be infuriating some days (right now as I type this, you are insistent on pressing computer keys!), but it will serve you well in life. You live life so beautifully, doing everything with your all. What lessons most of us could learn from watching you play or attempt a new skill!


You are also a very sensitive and deeply feeling baby. As painful as this can be sometimes, I hope it's a trait you never lose. Things that other babies don't blink at are heart breaking for you. It causes you to "check in" with Mommy often. You crawl into my lap for a quick snuggle and then you're back to whatever you were doing. The combination of your determination and your sensitivity is going to be a lot for you to shoulder, but will turn you into the most amazing person as you grow. I hope one day your sensitivity turns into compassion for others, and I have no doubt that it will. 



You give the SWEETEST kisses. All I have to say is "can I have a kissy?" and you pelt my face with open mouth kisses over and over and over. I will be so sad the day you grow out of that. When you're trying to avoid going to sleep, you tilt your chin up at me for a kiss and do it about 10 times before finally realizing it won't get you out of bedtime :). You reach your arms up for me to hold you or pick you up, which is so heart melting. When you first wake up, I get calm, quiet snuggles that I know I likely won't get the rest of the day when you're wiggling and crawling around. When I nurse you to sleep, you usually kick, turn, or try to play with my bellybutton (so awkward!) as you wind down, but then you cuddle against me, tummy to tummy, for the best snuggles and your eyes drift closed. It's still one of my favorite parts of the day. 



I haven't taken to motherhood as easily or as gracefully as I would have wished. Sometimes I think "maybe I'm better with school aged kids?". I think about how easy life was before you. But you know the thought that prevails? How amazing my life is now that you're in it, and how much love I have for you. I've never known this kind of love before and it is joyfully overwhelming. Some days after I've already spent hours upon hours with you, no doubt many of them with you clinging to my legs refusing to entertain yourself for even 10 minutes, you do something cute and my heart melts to mush as I fawn over the sweet little person that you are. Sometimes in the grocery store, you keep clapping or 'dancing' as we shop and I have to stop right there in the aisle and kiss your little rosy cheeks and your sweet little lips. Daddy can take you out for a few hours to give Mommy some "me time", and 30 minutes in I'm anxiously waiting for him to bring my baby girl back. My life will never be the same, nor would I ever want it to be. You're the person who has taught me to become a mother. You will continue to teach me how to be patient, how to put others before myself, and you will show me the things about myself that I want to improve upon. You teach me, day after day, to die to self and live for another. I'm a different person, a better person, because of you. 


I can't wait to see what you'll do in your second year, and who you'll become. I'll know you'll be even more busy this year as you continue to learn new skills, but don't count on me kissing you or hugging you any less :). 



Love, Mommy

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Felicity Marian: ONE YEAR OLD!

My last monthly post! Ah!!! My baby girl is quickly turning into my big girl. She's done a lot this first year, and this last month was certainly no exception.

Weight: We go on Monday but I'm thinking she's hovering between the 21-22 lb mark!

Height: I need to check but she's asleep!

Medical issues: Thank God, she's been healthy this last month. Felicity had so many germs this winter, so it's been a real treat to have a healthy girl for an entire month!

Sleep: A *lot* has changed here! We noticed that Felicity was showing signs of needing her own sleep space (mainly waking up when we came to bed and when Steven gets up in the morning), so we very timidly decided to try to move her to her room. We've tried before and she wasn't ready, so we weren't sure what was going to happen. I turned the crib into a toddler bed because Felicity doesn't do well with being lowered down, since she's never slept in a crib and only rarely in a pack n play. I was planning on using a bed rail, but didn't realize til after I changed it to a toddler bed that only an Ikea bed rail works on that particular crib, but wouldn't work on ours because we used a taller non-Ikea mattress. Sooo... we employed some pillows on the floor. ANYWAY, long story short, she's been in the toddler bed for 2 weeks and it's gone really well! She's sleeping for longer periods of time (all the way up to 10 hours at a time! Usually closer to 5, but that's still technically sleeping through the night), and we still get our cuddles because we bring her in any time after 3 that she wakes up, at least for now. She used to go to sleep nursing, but now I nurse her and then one of us just stays with her until she goes to sleep, which is generally in 10-20 minutes. The whole process has been so smooth! I'm really glad we followed her lead on sleep this whole time because I really think we're seeing the fruits of our labor now. Oh, we also bought a sound machine that can stay on all night, vs her sleep sheep that runs for 45 minutes, and that has been golden.



Clothes/Diaper size: same as last month- size 4 diapers, 2nd rise on cloth diapers, and 12 month clothing. She did wear one 18mo sweater that fit much better than I'd like to admit....

Likes: playing chase, anything musical, cell phones/tablets/laptops much to my dismay, pacis, FOOD, Cat the Cat and Kitty Catkin books (and having them read over and over!), playing with and shredding toilet paper, putting toys in the recycle bin

Dislikes: the vacuum, mommy sitting on the couch, daddy holding you at church (I wear her in the ergo during Mass now which makes life SO much easier now that she's super mobile),

Nicknames: Stinka, Minky, Baby Daughter, Puddin Pop

Milestones: It only took her 11 months, but Felicity is finally holding her own bottle :)... just in time for us to transition her to a sippy/straw cup full time lol. It's so convenient and helpful, but I also miss feeding her her bottle because now she wants to be down and walking around while she drinks it instead of in my lap :(.

Felicity is walking 100% of the time, and has been for a few weeks. Upright mobility is good and bad. The perk is that she doesn't eat nearly as much stuff off the floor/ground but the downside is that her little head is constantly bruised from where she walks into things or falls over.

1/28 she began signing both 'nursies' and 'baba' (bottle) all the time, although she later dropped nursies (baba means both; yes, it's confusing`), and now baba has even more meanings! Over the last week and a half she's begun signing 'all done' .

2/5 she began sleeping in the toddler bed in her room and on 2/7 she slept 7:30pm-5:15am! I woke up at 4:15 when Steven's alarm went off and couldn't go back to sleep because I was so keyed up about her not waking up, so I was still tired that day lol. Oh, the irony!

2/11 Well, I'm not sure if this counts as milestone but it certainly doesn't belong in the next section. She started biting! I know it's because of her new teeth and incoming teeth, but we are now working hard on "we don't bite people". I will fight the "we don't bite furniture" some other time and just redirect, redirect, redirect!

I don't want to forget this:

My brother, sister in law, niece, and nephew visited and it was SO much fun to have them here. We definitely need to do it more often.



I started keeping a church nursery one morning a month. Felicity goes with me, of course, and I was kind of nervous about how it would go since she can be pretty clingy PLUS she was missing nap. Well, she impressed me so much! She only got upset if another baby got upset and, otherwise, walked around the room and played for the whole 2.5 hrs we were there!



This doesn't just apply to this month, but I've forgotten to write about it until now. You almost always have your legs crossed at the ankle and it is SO DARN CUTE! My favorite is when you're sitting on the floor 'reading' your books with your ankles crossed but you also do it in the high chair, car seat, stroller... ahhh such a sweet baby girl!

When she gets something she shouldn't have (only 72 times an hour), I say 'bring it to mama' and
she walks away with her arms up over her head, item in hand, almost in a victory walk fashion before she finally brings me the item.



She constantly goes through the diaper bag (my fault for always leaving it open!) and now knows what the snack containers look like, so she si always bringing them to open- even if she has a full belly! I have to hide the containers when we go to church or she will spend the entire hour eating graham crackers.

We went to Aloha Safari Zoo on a rare Saturday off for Steven and had so much fun. Felicity didn't notice a lot of the animals but absolutely loved the miniature horses... so much so that she stuck her entire hand in the nostril of one On the safari, all she wanted to do was eat the expired bread meant for the animals lol. She also enjoyed the giraffe and small farm animals. It was such a perfect day!



One of her favorite games this month is playing ball. I roll it to her, and then she flings it to one side, and I make a pitter patter sound with my hands on the floor as she goes after it. She gets hysterical and loves it so much that it never gets old; I just eventually tire out and call it quits! It's hands down my favorite game to play with her.

On 2/18 we enjoyed Felicity's first snow. It didn't amount to much, but fell quickly in big, fluffy snowflakes. I bundled her and took her out to play. Felicity LOVED it. She ran around with her arms stretched out above her, trying to feel and catch snow flakes. She got filthy in the 10 minutes outside, but it was worth it :).