Friday, January 15, 2010

Good Things Going On Shorts

Yoga
After reading this post, I realized that I didn't need a DVD or class to do yoga with my daughter. I've been doing yoga for YEARS, and I know poses and sun salutations. I could just show her how to do some!

So the other morning, when she had a meltdown because daddy was going to work and she didn't want him to leave, I told her I had a fun activity for her and I to do. (She of course screamed no, leave her alone. I responded that when she was ready to hear about the activity, I would be in the other room. After a minute, she came in all curious.) I told her we were going to do Yoga!

I showed her some moves that I put together basically as a sun salutation, most of which she generally did. When I did the plank pose (think: when you are a top of a push-up), she tried to climb on my back. We laughed and had fun. It was so awesome to be able to share some poses with her.

And yesterday evening, I check our On Demand based on a tip that MommyEm gave me. Sure enough, under the Activity TV section of the kids programming, there was yoga for kids! We watched on and even did some of it. She is loving it, and I'm loving it!

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Teeth
I don't know if I mentioned this, but the Pookie's first tooth came in two weekends ago. It was the bottom right one. This week, the bottom left one broke through, but then it receded. Apparently, that can happen. But yesterday morning it poked back out. So he has two adorable teeth coming up on the bottom.

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Rolling and Physical Advancements
Over the last few weeks, the Pookie (who is 7 months old as of yesterday) has been rolling over like crazy. When I put him down on his blanket, he will roll across the whole of the living room floor! He also scoots around on his belly a lot. Not crawling, not even the army crawl, but moving and shifting around.

He also loves being in the exersaucer. He streches his legs and pushes up. He sits in it and leans forward. He turns himself around in it to play with all the toys.

He doesn't sit up on his own too much. He seems to have a lot of stomach and back control when he's in the exersaucer or the highchair, but he doesn't stay upright for long when we put him in the sitting position on the floor. Also, when you pull him up by his hands, he never wants you to pull him to the sitting position. He wants to go straight into the standing position.

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Playdate
I have a playdate tomorrow! Months ago, I had talked with one of moms of a school friend of the Pumpkin about doing a playdate. She actually brought it up. But it never happened. Then last week, she called me and told me that her daughter is no longer going to the pre-school with the Pumpkin, but she got my full name before she left because she still wanted to do a playdate. So I invited her and her daughter over for tomorrow morning!

This is how we make new friends as adults, isn't it? Our kids get along, so let's hang out while they play? I'm really excited!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby Sleep Boot Camp, Part II

My first Baby Sleep Boot Camp post was really all about our preparation for doing Baby Sleep Boot Camp.

But I have to say that by Friday night, I was exhausted and unsure of what we were doing. I felt like the baby was crying a lot, even though we were holding him and physically giving him comfort. I was uncomfortable in this new paradigm. The Pookie is such a different baby than the Pumpkin was, and I was just so confused about what was best for him.

So Friday night, when he woke up the first time, I just went to bed with him in the guest room and coslept with him all night. Which was miserable. He nursed all night long again, I didn't get any good sleep, and it felt like we were moving in the wrong direction. This just wasn't right for him or me anymore. I was back on board with doing Baby Sleep Boot Camp.

In order for both Londo and me to concentrate on the Pookie and his sleep, as well as our sleep, we set up a sleepover for the Pumpkin at my parents house Saturday night and Sunday night. This was especially important because the Pumpkin has been going through (yet another) sleep regression. I know it's the regression right before the next developmental leap around her 3rd birthday, but it's been a tough one in many ways. During the regressions, her sleep always goes totally out the window. So she's waking up crying and having fits and needing us, and that wakes the baby up. Or we've been trying to keep the baby quiet so he doesn't wake the Pumpkin up! Either way, we needed her sleeping elsewhere so we could focus on him.

Saturday night, after Londo dropped the Pumpkin off at my parents and I had put the Pookie to bed by walking him (he fell asleep within 5 minutes of walking with really no crying for the second night in a row!), my SIL came over to spend the night and help us out. She is planning to do this once a week for a while. We are eternally grateful!

When my SIL got to our house, we sat down with her and talked to her about what we had done in preparation for the night, from how we've been putting him to bed to how long we want to wait between feedings to the bottles of expressed milk we had set up (in a cooler in the bathroom across from the nursery, along with the bottle warmer) to when to come get me.

Because with the Pumpkin out of the house and someone taking night duty with the Pookie? We were going into the basement to sleep on the couches down there, far enough so that we wouldn't hear any crying. This was my SIL's intent: to give us a full night of sleep! We wanted, make that NEEDED to take her up on it. My plan was to set an alarm and wake up twice to pump, and otherwise sleep!

At this point, my SIL suggested that after giving him a bottle, she put him down awake and check in on him every 5 minutes or so if he was crying. Instinctively, I did not feel ready for this. But as the three of us talked it out, I realized that he was screaming when we were just holding him. Let me remind you that unless I was nursing him or sleeping with him, he has almost never soothed himself and gone to sleep. We've been trying to rock, bounce, walk, etc. with him, and the walking had just started working, but only when I first put him to bed. So if he's screaming in our arms for an hour, why not try and be there for him verbally and with physical closeness but not holding him?

We agreed to let my SIL try this method of controlled crying/fussing. We tried something similar with the Pumpkin, and it REALLY didn't work. But the Pookie doesn't not ramp up with crying the way she did. So maybe it would work for him. And if it didn't, it was only one night. One night of someone else willing to care for him and listen to him cry and be there for him and give us a night to sleep.

It worked. It wasn't perfect, no crying, sleeping through the night. But it worked!

The first time she put him down, he cried/fussed on and off for about 30-40 minutes. We had said if he was crying/fussing for an hour, then feed him again/pick him up/get us--whichever felt right to her. But it didn't make it to that point, and he was not getting really worked up. The second time she put him down awake, he didn't even fuss but fell asleep. The third time was the same as the first, except way more on the fussing side than the crying side. The fourth time he woke up, it was almost 6:00 and Londo and I were dying to know how the night went, so we all just got up then (although my SIL took a nap before leaving later that morning).

As for my night, I slept 4 HOURS IN A ROW before waking to pump the first time. And actually, I woke up just before my alarm when I heard walking above me, which would mean that my SIL was in the kitchen. So after I pumped, I went up to see what was up. My SIL had left the cooler and a note in the kitchen saying that she was out of bottles, so if I had more milk, please put it in bottles in the cooler and bring back up to the bathroom. Which I did. Then I slept for another 3.5 HOURS IN A ROW!!! I woke up at 5:30 to pump again, and like I said previously, Londo and I went upstairs around 6:00 to see how it went. Londo slept like a log all night long!

Not only was the night of sleep fantastic, but we had two major Doh discoveries:

1. The Pookie really is hungry during the night! He's not just nursing for comfort or to fall back asleep. He drank ALL the bottles I made for him. That was 10 ounces by 1:00 alone! So no wondering my feeding him one side and then trying to put him back to bed or going back to sleep with him next to me was not working. He was waking up still hungry in an hour or less. So now I know to feed him both sides when he wakes up. And that we needed to be giving him something more to help fill him up, since I can make only so much milk.

2. This method of sleep training really will work well for him. In fact, it will likely work better than holding him, since that seemed to be working him up more than leaving him in the crib.

So Sunday night, we continued this method, in addition to my being sure to feed him on both sides when he woke up and it was time to eat. It worked even better the second night than it had the first night! There was only one time I had to go in because he cried/fussed more than 5 minutes, and then he went to sleep just after that! And one time, he feel right asleep with no fussing at all! And he has been sleeping for 2 hours or longer since I've been feeding him both sides when he wakes. We are amazed!

Also, on Sunday night we started him on rice cereal at dinner time (which is usually an hour or less before bedtime). While I prefer the baby-led weaning/feeding method that worked great for the Pumpkin, it was becoming apparent that it wasn't working as well for the Pookie. We had noticed how frustrated he would get when he had to work to put the food in his mouth. He seemed hungry and upset that he couldn't get faster satisfaction. Add that to the fact that I haven't been pumping enough milk to keep up with his daytime demands, none to provide any nighttime bottles and my freezer stash was almost completely gone--well, it was time to either supplement with formula (which I didn't want to have to do) or try feeding him some cereal. This has been working really well, and he now eats the rice cereal or cream of wheat with some finger foods 2-3 times a day and seems very pleased about this.

So Baby Sleep Boot Camp went really well. We have found a way to work with the Pookie in getting to sleep and sleeping better that works for him. Although it is just outside of my comfort zone, I totally realize that this is best for him, me, Londo and our family. And having a "boot camp" where we focused just on him for two nights in a row was so perfect for our situation!

We've continued this method all this week, and it's been going well. There has been really only one bout of his crying/fussing for about 20 minutes, but most of the time he fusses for maybe a minute and then either falls asleep or babbles to himself for a few minutes before falling asleep. He's even been breaking out of his swaddle and still sleeping! And he's been waking up less often, usually about 3 times a night with the first time being before I go to sleep. Which means I'm only getting up 2 TIMES A NIGHT!

I'm getting more and better quality sleep than I have in over 7 months. I'm not worrying about the Pumpkin waking up the baby or worrying about both of them in our bed together. The Pookie seems to be sleeping better. It's been great.

I fully expect there to be sleep regressions and set backs. That's the norm with kids. But figuring out what works for him and seeing how well it works is going to be an important tool in our parenting toolbox. And now that the Pumpkin is almost 3 and starting to understand more, we (mostly Londo, who is really in charge of her at night) are beginning to work with her on her sleep. She might need a boot camp (although using a method that will work for her) soon, too, but it will be easier to work with her when we've got the other kid sleeping/going to sleep so much better!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Question of the Week - Mommy and Me Activities

I'll get to the second part of my Baby Sleep Boot Camp tomorrow. I don't have time to finish writing it now, and I didn't want to miss doing the Question of the Week this week!

So in my New Year's Resolutions, I put that I want to do a class or activity with each of my kids, ideally yoga with at least one of them. I've been looking into it, and so far it looks like there are no kids and mommy yoga classes for the Pumpkin and me close enough to me and the baby, and the Pookie will likely be too old for baby and mommy yoga classes by the time I'm ready to take them. I'll keep looking, but I might simply have to pick something else. And I will find something, because having an activity with my kids individually is very important to me.

Since my head is totally in this search for together activites, this week's Question of the Week is:

What activity/class have you done/do you currently do/do you want to do with your kids?

When the Pumpkin was little, I did a Water Babies class with her and a tumbling class. I hope to do at least one of those with the Pookie. For the Pumpkin now, I'm looking at tumbling classes again, and I'd love to put her in dance classes but those are just for the kids not the moms to do with them.

In the future, I think it would be fun to do art classes with them. And I really, really want to be a Swim Team Mom, so one of them better get as into swimming as I was as a kid!

How about you? What have done with your kids? What are you doing now? What do you hope to do? Or even what do you wish you had done?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baby Sleep Boot Camp, Part I

So this weekend, we had Baby Sleep Boot Camp. And let me tell you, it went pretty well! But let me start at the beginning.

We don't just sit around and complain about our crappy sleep in my house. I mean, we do, but we ALSO try to do things to improve it. With the Pumpkin, we tried just about everything except full-fledged cry it out (CIO). We did try some fuss it out (FIO), but sleep training along those lines simply was not right for the Pumpkin. We long ago came to the realization that she was not born with any self-soothing skills. She would be calmed only by a person holding her/lying with her/rocking/etc. The times we let her cry of fuss for a while were disasterous. Crying only increased her tension. But whatever, we have figured out what generally works for her, and it's been generally fine.

Then the Pookie was born into our lives, and our nights took on another layer. Not only does this boy simply LOVE to nurse, but as an infant it seemed to be the only was to get him to sleep. We did see that he had potential to be a better sleeper, including some ability to self-soothe and sometimes take a pacifier. He has a different personaly and different issues than the Pumpkin. And we figured out what generally worked for us.

Until recently. Recently, what was working is no longer working. For the Pumpkin, for the Pookie, for Londo and for me.

It appears to me that when the Pookie goes through a growth spurt, he starts nursing a lot more at night. For a while, he was waking up every hour to nurse. When he recently went through the 6 month growth spurt, he started basically nursing all. night. long. I thought it might be the teething or the comfort or whatever else, and I tried just cosleeping with him thinking the nearness was what he needed. And some nights it was okay. But more and more, he was nursing all night. I generally don't have a problem cosleeping, but I am apparently not good with all-night nursing. I am not able to get any real sleep when he does that.

After almost 7 months of very little in the way of decent sleep, including only a handful of times sleeping longer than 2 hours in a row, something was about to give. It was most likely my sanity, which is hanging on by a thread. It was time to close the all-night mommy milk bar and in. But I was having trouble doing that while cosleeping. Also, I was having a lot of trouble getting him off the nipple. Every time he fell asleep and I popped my nipple out of his mouth, he'd wake up and fuss around trying to find it. This was making it harder and harder to put him down in his crib, where I'd been starting him off for the night in his nursery because I need just a little time for myself and for the dishes and such.

Right when I was about to completely lose my mind, my brother's wife made the most awesome offer. In a pay-it-forward gesture, she basically insisted on coming over one night a week to take nighttime duty. Her twins are 3.5 years old and have been sleeping through the night for a long time now. When they were babies and she wasn't getting much sleep, one of her friends came over one night a week and did the same for her.

Londo and I quickly told her we'd take her up on the offer, but first we had to do some work to get the Pookie ready for someone else to put to bed/get back to bed.

So a week ago Sunday, I started changing the pattern of putting him to sleep and trying to set some time limits between his feedings. I started by feed him with the lights on at bedtime. After he was done eating, I would change him and wrap him up in his swaddle (yes, he's still swaddled, something we are going to work on soon). Then I would walk with him, bounce him or rock him to sleep. I decided that I would reserve the rocking chair for nursing in order to establish cues for when he's getting fed and when he is not. So when I'd rock him to sleep, it was on my lap sitting on the bed in the nursery. I also tried to give him the pacifier, which he would take about half the time.

The first night, he was full and content and fell asleep pretty easily. The next four nights, it was like he figured out what was going on and wasn't happy about it. He fussed and cried and squirmed and fussed some more. One night wasn't so bad, but then the dog made a big noise and started him awake, and it took almost an hour to get him back to sleep. BUT Friday and Saturday night, he feel asleep pretty easily while I was walking him. I'm talking within 5 minutes, with a pacifier, fast asleep. I put him down, and he stayed asleep.

I've been amazed! It's like the whole sleep training thing really does work for some kids!

The other aspect of our prepping this week was that I wanted to wait 2 hours between feedings. So if he woke up and it had been less than 2 hours since I feed him, Londo or I would go in and walk him, rock him or bounce him. If he kept crying for an hour, I would go ahead and feed him (because it would have been about 2 hours at that point anyway, and he would have worked up an appetite by then even if he hadn't been hungry originally). At this point, I would let him fall asleep nursing and put him down asleep.

After 11:00 or so, I was tired and would just nurse him cosleeping. I tried to put him back in his crib a few times, but he would wake up and fuss and I didn't have the energy to walk him back to sleep.

But we had moved forward into new territory. He was falling asleep better and starting to figure out how to fall asleep without being nursed. And Saturday night, we were going to start Baby Sleep Boot Camp!

Story continued in Baby Sleep Boot Camp, Part II