Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cara Mama - What a Day!

Cara Mama,

I really had a fun day today. I had another great day at Little Gym. And after my nap, the Metro ride was pretty fun. I liked Daddy holding me up so I could hang on to the ceiling bar with him. The movement of the Metro was fun, too. I also liked making smiles with Daddy's cousin and wife, who were fun to play with while they were here.

Lunch wasn't so fun. I didn't like the food or where I was sitting. Also, I was so tired, because my morning nap before we left wasn't so great.

Now, I don't know what spies are or why they have a museum for them (or what a museum is, really), but I'm glad you all had a good time. I'm especially glad you rented a backpack carrier and put me front-facing in it while you walked around the museum. The nap I took in the carrier reminded me of how I used to always nap in your (or Daddy's) sling because I couldn't nap anywhere else.

I'm not sure why I didn't feel so well once we got back*. I was so tired and fussy. Thanks for feeding me early and putting me to bed early. I'm not sure how well I will do sleeping tonight. I sure do hope I feel better tomorrow. I'm glad we have nothing planned!

Ti amo,
Pumpkin

*She had a bit of a temperature, but I took it right after a pretty warm bath, so I'm not sure how accurate it was. Also, anyone know what the "normal" temperature is for babies when the temperature is taken rectally?

Cara Figlia - You Are an Angel... In Public

Cara figlia,

You are so good when we are out in public or around other people. And I am really thankful for that. You are always smiling and laughing and interested in what's going on. People are constantly asking me, "Doesn't she ever cry?" or "Is she always this good?"

I wish I could tell them that you never cry and that you are always that good. But that would be lying, and I try to be honest. I laugh and tell these people to come over at our house when you are up in the middle of the night or sit in a car ride with us or try to take the remote control away from you. Then they would see the truth you hide so well.

You just have always been a fussy girl. And that's okay with us, we can deal with it. But you really are giving people the wrong impression. Maybe you are just like your mama and naturally seem to look like you have it together, even if you aren't feeling that way. But then when I insist that it's been a bumpy ride with you as you are giggling and saying "hello," people look at me like I'm just making it up. I insist that you will be fine for now, but melt down in the car, and they scoff or humor me without really understanding.

I supposed it could be worse and you could be throwing tantrums in front of everybody. Hmmm, yeah thanks for not doing that! I take it all back. Keep acting like the perfect angel in front of everyone else. I can only imagine the looks I'd get if you were fussy all the time in public!

Ti amo,
Mama

Thursday, April 3, 2008

She Night Weaned and Sleep Trained Herself

Updated below.

I have been debating whether or not to write about this. I know so many other people who are going still getting up in the nights with their kids or who had to work really hard to night wean and/or sleep train their babies. I hate to sound like I'm bragging about something that can be so hard (and in fact I had assumed it would be very hard for us), so I wasn't going to do a whole post about this.

But I was emailing with someone, and she said that she was amazed that I had once said the Pumpkin sleep trained herself. She said that the internet would have you believe that you always have to do the sleep training because they just can't figure it out on their own. But in our case, that wasn't true. I'm guessing it's not true for everyone, and I thought I ought put it out on the internet so that people would know. Some babies night wean themselves. Some babies sleep train themselves. But none of these things happen early, and they will go through regressions.

Anyway, here goes...

Don't hate me, but the Pumpkin night weaned herself and started sleeping through the night on her own. I wish I could say there was something I did to make it happen, but I really didn't. This was just one thing we lucked out on... I think to make up for the many things that have been so hard with the Pumpkin. Although we did some things to set the stage for this which worked for our particular baby and might not work for others. I really think her sleep training and night weaning herself has more to do with what she was simply capable of and our waiting it out through the early months and the rough periods. (I feel like I should be linking to posts that I've written documenting these things, but it's too late and I'm too tired to try spend time looking them up. Sorry.)

First, there is the baby. From week 3 to 3.5 months, she slept 8 hours at night. Keep in mind, for the first 3 weeks, we had to hold her so she would sleep at all. But then the peditrician suggested the swing, and we'd swaddle her and put her in the swing. That was why she slept through the night. When those batteries would die in the middle of the night, it was a mad dash to get new ones in before she was totally awake and screaming bloody murder. At 2 months, we moved her to the co-sleeper attached to my side of the bed. She was still swaddled and still slept for about 8 hours at one stretch. She did not sleep so well once the 4 month sleep regression hit at 3.5 months and continued into the next, lasting until 7.5 months, a period of utter, living hell.

That whole time, I knew she had it in her to sleep for a long chunk. I knew she didn't need to nurse every time she woke up, so we made up our shifts. Londo would get her if it was prior to 2:00 (although I think we started it at 1:00 in the first months of this and later moved it back to 2:00). I would get her after 2:00. We never did CIO or Ferberize or anything like that. When she woke up, she would go from fussing to crying to screaming. She would not calm down or release tension from crying. It was much easier to just get her right away and rock (for Londo) or nurse (for me) her back to sleep*. In addition, I would bring her into bed with me when I'd get her.

But I really think the shifts and the waiting to nurse her until a certain time were part of what helped set the stage at a later age, especially for the night weaning. Moving her into her crib at 6 months during the sleep regression was actually a good idea for us, too. We figured that as long as she was waking up every 30 minutes to an hour anyway, we might as well let her do it in her own room. I think if we waited to transition her to her own room and her own crib until after the sleep regression, we would have had to deal with an adjustment period that would include more lost sleep. After she moved into her room, the cosleeping I would do after getting her was in the bed in her nursery, which I think also helped, since she stayed in that room so there wasn't some big change, but this could be just in my head.

Mostly, she just started sleeping later. Not always, but here and there. When she was going for longer stretches, Londo agreed to extend his shift until 3, then 4, then 5, because if I went in she would just want to nurse. He could almost always rock her back to sleep. But again, she just started sleeping past his shifts and that was how we extended the times between her nursing. But this wasn't until she was maybe 11 months old.

Once things were going well, we would go through another sleep regression, but usually only a few days to a few weeks. Nothing like before. At first, Londo would mostly go in, but when she was waking up 3 or 4 times a night, I would also go in. She still would always expect me to nurse her, and it was just easier to do so. I worried at first that it would cause a regression to stick and she would continue to want to nurse during the night, but it didn't.

Updated for clarity:
As ImpostorMom noted, we did do some level of sleep training. But I wanted to clarify that we pushed back the time Londo would go in after she already started sleeping that long. For example, after she regularly started sleeping until 3 or later, Londo's shift changed to be that late. I think we helped her continue to sleep late, but we didn't push the times ourselves. If that makes sense.

The other point I forgot to make last night when I wrote this was that I'm mainly trying to show that it's not all one way or another. There are levels in between. We certainly assisted with her ability to sleep through the night. But we weren't worried that if we did this she would always do this or if we didn't start doing that she would never do that. For example, people would say to us that once you brought a baby into bed with you even once, the child wouldn't leave until they were 3 or sometimes older. This was not true for our child. We let her cosleep with the only restriction in that we had her start out in her swing/cosleeper/crib (and this was only because she went to bed earlier than us). We rarely cosleep anymore (even though I sometimes miss it). So my point is that there are many shades of gray in between, and it all depends on your needs and abilities and your baby's needs and abilities. That is why I don't believe there is one right solution for everyone.
Updated part over.

Do you hate me? Do you wish I never posted this? I'm really sorry that not all kids do this. If it helps, things aren't perfect. I still have to nurse her to sleep every night until she is in really deep sleep. There is no putting her down drowsy but awake unless you want a screaming baby who you have to spend another 30 minutes to an hour getting back to sleep. She doesn't nap well or consistently. Every time I think about trying to get her on some sort of napping and eating schedule, she throws it right out the window.

I will take what I can get, though. We are in general finally doing okay with sleep. I do not expect it to last, as it never does. She still is often a very fussy, clingy baby who wants--no make that needs to be held often. Luckily, this is easier to deal with when we are getting good sleep. Speaking of which, I better go to sleep now since I totally jinxed it and she will wake up a ton tonight and have a fussy morning that starts at 5:00. Again. Cause we do at least one of those every week or every other week.

Also, I have some bad memories of being told to go back to sleep by my dad from the other room when I'd cry for my mom as a young child, and I could not bring myself to let my child's cries go uncomforted by Londo or me. I understand now why they did that, but it affected me. I was probably around 4, and I don't think babies as young as the Pumpkin are as affected, but the thought of letting her just cry without our comforting her brought back my memories. What other people do in their houses is up to them. This was just our decision mainly because of my experience as a child.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Read This Book (and My April Read and How I Have Time To Read)

On Monday morning, I finished the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough. Seriously, this book is one of the most amazing books I've ever read.

I don't just recommend this book to parents. I think everyone in the world should read this book. I think the book should be called How To Talk to Other People and Listen To Other People. It's really true. For example, last weekend Londo saw me picking through a bowl of chips he had set out for guests and he started berating me for touching them all (while looking for the best ones). Well, my instinctive feeling was to keep doing it to spite him, even though he was 100% right. I realized it was the way he talked to me that made me feel that way. As an adult, I'm able to do the right thing anyway, but I can totally see that a child would do the instinctive thing that they know is wrong because of the way we say things to them. I had another example of this, but I forgot it. My point stands though, that this book can apply to every. single. person. in. the. world!

It's a quick read and really makes you think about how you are talking and listening and gives concrete ideas for how change the ways you talk and listen. And the bonus is that you don't even have to read the whole book or do the activities in it! They put in little cartoons to illustrate each concept, so all you really have to do is read the cartoons! Although the entire book is well worth the read. It will change your life. I mean it. Read the book. Buy it, check out from the library, borrow it from me (after Londo reads it, that is).

That was a book on my list of TBR Challenge Alternates. I'm actually pretty impressed with myself for getting through not just the TBR books but quite a few of the alternates as well. Now that it is April, I've started my April book, Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. Here is the story about this book, which has been sitting on my shelf for maybe 3 or 4 years.

My sister bought this book for me as part of my Christmas presents one year. It is an award winning book that was a bestseller and had great reviews. My sister is a great gift buyer, especially when she buys for me. She has great taste, she knows my likes and dislikes, and she has bought me other books that I've totally loved. The fact I haven't read this book is no reflection on her. But honestly, if I had seen it in the store, I doubt I would have bought it. The plot isn't that intriguing to me, but I hear that the plot isn't what makes it great--it's the writing, the looks into the people, that is what is great. It must be good to have won awards and been a bestseller, right?

So, I am finally making myself read it. I will likely love it and wonder why I didn't read it earlier. At least I hope so. I'm not that far in yet, and I think the writing is good, but it hasn't captured me yet. But I haven't had much time to try and get into it. We will see. I'll let you know when I'm done.

Now, I did want to address something that a few people have said online and IRL. Some of you are amazed at how much I read, that I can find time to read at all. First let me say that reading is a hobby that borders on an obsession for me. When I'm into a book, I let so many other things go just so I can read. I sneak in times here and there to get another page in. I also read instead of watch TV or clean or go to bed or play on the internet. It's what I pick to do when I need some me time to relax. It is not something I force myself to do.

But I did wonder about how I have time to read, especially when I'm feeling so crazy busy lately. So, I did a little experiment for you all. I tracked when and how long I read while reading the How To Talk... book. Here is the results:
Tuesday:
-30 minutes while nursing the Pumpkin in the morning
-25 minutes while nursing the Pumpkin to sleep (I use a book light after she closes her eyes)
Wednesday:
-25 minutes while nursing in the morning
-10 minutes while nursing her to sleep
-10 minutes while eating desert
Thursday:
-15 minutes while nursing in the morning
-10 minutes while nursing to sleep
Friday:
-15 minutes while nursing in the morning
-10 minutes while nursing her to sleep
-10 minutes before going to bed myself
Saturday:
-15 minutes while nursing in the morning
-5 minutes while nursing her trying to get her to take a nap (she didn't go to sleep)
-5 minutes while I was in the bathroom
-25 minutes while nursing her to sleep
Sunday:
-15 minutes while nursing in the morning
-25 minutes while nursing her and holding her for a nap
-5 minutes while waiting for the shower to warm up and while brushing my teeth (it was a really interesting part! And I am obsessive!)
-25 minutes while nursing her to sleep
-10 minutes while having a cup of tea
Monday:
-10 minutes while nursing in the morning.

I finished the book Monday morning. The total time I spent reading this book over the course of a little under a week was 305 minutes, or 5 hours and 5 minutes. Granted this book was a fast read, so not all my books are finished this quickly, but I probably do spend about 5 hours a week reading. Some weeks more, some weeks less.

Now that I think about when I'm reading, I wonder what I will do when the Pumpkin weans? How will I fit in my reading time when I'm not nursing? I'm not sure yet, but I know I will. It's what I do.

What's Going On With Us

I'd been doing pretty well with posting at night before bed lately. But last night, after spending some quality time with Londo, it was too late and I was too tired to even turn on my computer. Or as Londo said, "I sexed you up so good, you can't even blog!"*

Anywho... I don't have time to write the two longish posts that I've started. That will have to wait until tonight and tomorrow night. Or when I can next get to them. You see, not only am I crazy busy at work, but we are having house guests! Londo's cousin and his wife are coming up to visit DC and are staying with us. We get along with them really well, and I'm looking forward to hanging with them in the evenings. So we'll just have to see what kind of time that leaves me for blogging.

Hey, remember the post when I mentioned how the Pumpkin was sleeping really well at night? Remeber how Burgh Baby's Mom said that she hoped I didn't jinx it? Yeah, I totally jinxed it. We had a few really tough nights in a row after that. However, last night, she slept straight through until after 7:00 this morning. When she woke up, she was happy and played in her crib a little while.

I'm just hoping that she sleeps through the nights and wakes up happy while our house guest are with us. The guest room is right next to her nursery, and these cousins don't yet have kids. Hearing the Pumpkin on a crying jag on and off all night and into the morning might just scare them off of kids.

Well, that's the update for now. What's going on with you all?

Londo didn't think I'd really share that with you... He even dared me to do it. I did it. Because I'll say almost anything. And because the sex was so very good, how could I keep that to myself? hehe.

Monday, March 31, 2008

No More Pump and Circumstance

I'm done with pumping!! Hooray!!!!

At the Pumpkin's 1 year doctor appointment, the doctor okayed putting her on whole milk. I don't plan to stop nursing, but I am more than happy to stop pumping. In fact, I had planned to pump once a day for one last week (the week after her doctor's appointment, about two weeks ago), but I didn't make it.

I was just so done with it. She easily transitioned to (organic) cow milk for the two bottles she takes during the day to go down for her naps. I still nurse her in the mornings when she gets up, at night to go to sleep, and really any other time she wants when I'm around her. I (or Londo) have been giving her cow milk bottles for her naps on the weekends, but that's mainly to give me a break and make sure she is getting enough milk since my supply has gone down during the day.

I love nursing her. It's been an incredible bonding experience. I could really go on and on about how important it's been for us and how wonderful... but that's a different post. This is about my experience pumping.

Disclaimer: Pumping was not pretty on my breasts, so any men (or women) who don't want to hear about it should stop reading now. I might be a little too graphic for some.

Prior to returning to work when the Pumpkin was just over 3 months old, I pumped here and there in order to build up enough milk for her to take three bottles the first day I went to work. This part went okay, although it was not easy to try and find time to pump. I did it and then went back to work where I would pump enough milk for the next day (and sometimes a bit more... sometimes a bit less).

I have been very fortunate in my experience with my company. Unlike other people's companies, my company is extremely supportive of breastfeeding and working moms in general. It's not just lip service, either. All major offices in my area have a Mother's Room. The one in my office was fantastic! It had a sink and fridge in it, different types of chairs, a good size table, a phone and a working internet cable. No windows and a locked door. In addition, when I went back to work, I was the only woman using the room, so I was able to set it up just the way I liked it and not share or anything.

That is where the good part of this story ends. Because although the set up was great, the pumping itself did not go so great. My main issues began the very first time I pumped and continued after I went back to work.

The pumping hurt. The pump sucked in my nipples, rubbing them raw on the sides. After talking with people and researching online, I thought the problem must be with the size of the sheilds. So I bought bigger sheilds. It turns out that those sheilds were not helping too much. So I bought the biggest sheilds. They helped some, but still my nipples were getting raw and cracked from rubbing the plastic edges inside the sheild. Having dealt with thrush in the early months, I was really worried about cracked nipples leading to another bout with thrush. Plus, once the nipple cracked, it would take forever to heal--especially because it would re-open the next time I had to pump.

A friend of mine mentioned a different type of pump that uses soft, pliable sheilds. I wasn't ready to spend the money on a new pump when I'd spent so much already on my Advanced Pump In Style (with the super cute bag!). But that gave me an idea of what to look for, and sure enough I found soft shields for my pump! This really seemed to solve my problem.

But the other issue that went hand in hand with the sheild issue was that I could only use my pump on the lowest setting. If I turned it up even a little, my nipples would start cracking again. So I would use the lowest setting, sitting in the Mother's Room, working (and reading mommy blogs) for 45 minutes to an HOUR three. times. a day!!! This was a significant amount of time to be away from my desk. But my coworkers (mostly men) knew where I was and what I was doing, and they understood and worked with me. We could communicate through email, our company's IM and through the phone. They were good about scheduling meetings around my times up there, and if they couldn't find me in my office, they'd shoot me an email saying to find them when I was done. No one gave me a hard time about what I was doing or how often or how long. I felt very supported by my coworkers and company.

But spending three hours a day in a room that wasn't my office caused me considerable juggling in scheduling and managing work and people.

There was more good... I was able to keep my supply up pretty well for most of the time. And once the Pumpkin was well on solid foods (probably around month 8), I went down to pumping only twice a day, but still 45-60 minutes each time. I had planned to just keep pumping after she turned one, but the thought of continuing made me want to cry. The time it took and the physical pain it was for me just wasn't worth it anymore.

The Pumpkin is over 12 months old, and I'm proud to say that she has never had a drop of formula*. She still nurses, and we have no plans to stop that yet. But I am very thankful to the cows who make it possible for me to stop. And I'm so very thankful to be done with pumping!

*I don't think there is anything wrong with formula, but this is still an achievement I'm proud of because of what I went through to make it happen.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Question of the Week - Surprise Me

Since writing that post about how we look on the outside might not be what is going on in the inside, I was thinking about what we don't show the world. Things about ourselves that would surprise people who you see every day or who haven't known you that long.

So the question of the week is:
What is something you like or are into that would surprise the people you see everyday but don't know you that well?

For me, it's not that I'm a total sci-fi geek or that I love romance novels. Those things might be surprising to people, but if you know me longer than a day, you know those things about me. What really seems to surprise people when, or rather if, they ever discover is that I love the Sex Pistols. I'm actually a big fan of punk rock, but the Sex Pistols is IMO the epitome of punk rock. I love putting on my headphones and turning up my iPod and rocking out to the yelling for anarchy.

This surprises a lot of people, because I guess I don't seem like the type of person who would be into punk rock. I wear suits to work, work for a large company in the IT sector, and am pretty good at my job. I am pretty easy going and outgoing. I am chatty and happy. But ever since high school, Johnny Rotten, punk music and the Sex Pistols has simply spoken to something inside me... We'll just leave it there.

How about you? Tell me something surprising about yourself.