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Category Archives: Sleep

Holiday Wrap-Up

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The 9YL family wishes everyone on the internet a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Ours was fun but exhausting…

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Unwrapping at home

We spent Christmas Eve and Day at home just hanging out. Baby2 discovered a love for wrapping paper. As we unwrapped her gifts with her she stared with wonder at the paper. Even after her gift was uncovered she reached for paper first every time.

Kiddo1 got the 3DS XL that he’s been wanting and saving up for. Mr. Handsome wrapped a box in a box in a box so Kiddo1 had to unwrap a few boxes to get to it. Although I don’t agree with the practice it was fun to watch Kiddo1 get a little frustrated and then SO excited when he saw the actual gift.

Kiddo1 had some, what I’ll call, “milestone” interactions with his younger sister as he handed her presents and said things like, “this one’s for you, [Baby2],” and said them while looking her in the face. This is a milestone as he doesn’t tend to acknowledge her much. I really need to write a whole post about this subject because it is interesting how Kiddo1 makes little baby steps toward interaction with his sibling. I have heard that it can take most kids (and I’d think especially older kids) at least six months to start really acknowledging the new family member. I’m trying not to pressure him too much because I don’t want to do any damage but at the same time it’s like, dude, she’s not going away get over it already. But that’s not fair. Ugh, I could really get going but I’m saving it for another time.

Anyway, Mr. Handsome and I spent the rest of Christmas Day preparing for our annual trip to Phoenix to visit family. My parents and his parents live there, as well as my only living grandparent, my only brother and one of Mr. Handsome’s two brothers, although none of us is actually from the area (Kiddo1 was born there though). It’s always good times seeing our family, and this year was especially sweet to re-introduce people to Baby2. Babies change so much in such a short time; she’s so different now than when they saw her as a newborn!

This was Baby2’s first trip away from home and logistically it was great. We traveled with cloth diapers and I gotta tell ya, it was super easy. I don’t know if cloth diapering is so easy for us because I pretty much refuse to acknowledge that disposables exist at this point or if we’re just really lucky. Baby2 still being exclusively breastfed probably helps a little, too. We took about 15 diapers with us and did diaper laundry three times during our five-day stay. My carry on bag (backpack) was about half full of diapers, but honestly there’s not much else I need except for my wallet and water bottle.

Of course breastfeeding simplified things a ton because we never had to worry about when Baby2 was going to eat or how she would get fed. One less thing to plan for us to worry about, thank goodness. I did take my pump with me and I’m glad I took the whole big electric pump instead of just my manual one. I worried about putting it in our checked luggage (what if it got lost?! Or damaged?? The horror!!) but everything turned out fine. I strapped it in our checked car seat for some extra security. I was able to donate all the extra milk that I pumped during our trip so I didn’t have to hassle with bringing it back and I met another very sweet mama of an adopted baby girl who was grateful for a little extra milk.

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She loves the peanut packets!

Baby2 did very well during her first trip. The flights were fine (direct on the way there, one connection on the way back) and the altitude change didn’t seem to bother her sweet baby ears at all, although she was eating during take off for each flight so I hope that helped. She made what she probably considers the greatest discovery of her life so far when she saw the airlines packets of peanuts. I’ve never seen her so excited or grab an object so quickly. We asked for extra on the flight back and we now have a couple sitting around just in case she needs a major distraction. They’re shiny and crinkly! What’s not to like?

Kiddo1 is a seasoned traveler and was not at all phased by the extra family member during this trip. He’s been handling his own bags for years so we were free to manage everything else. There’s one of the major benefits of having kids several years apart – you really only have one “wild card” kid at a time. Baby2 could (potentially) freak out at any moment but Kiddo1’s behavior is fairly constant at this point.

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Baby2 watches Mr. Handsome play in the water from her warm and dry Ergo

Wearing Baby2 through the airport and during all our “site-seeing” worked wonderfully. We had hands free in the airport to mess with bags and check in. You don’t have to take off your baby carrier when you go through x-ray which was great (although they do an alcohol-swab test on your hands for explosives which only takes a second). We could walk through the tiny terminal stores and restaurants without getting stuck – a stroller would never make it through some of those spots. My mom  had bought a stroller for us to use while we were there (even though I asked her not to) and we didn’t use it at all. Anytime we went somewhere we either held Baby2 or used our Ergo. It worked out quite well.

All in all it was a good trip for everyone. We were super grateful to return on New Years Eve at around 11 so we made it home and snuggled in to watch the ball drop just before midnight. We counted down the seconds left of 2012 and cheered in the new year together. Then we finally had a good night’s sleep in our own beds. I’m sure I can speak for everyone in the family when I say it was so very wonderful to sleep in our own beds again.

Happy 2013, internet!

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Has it really been a month?

…since I’ve written a post? Over the past whole three months, I’ve wanted to write so much more than I actually have. But, at the end of the day, it is hard to pull myself away to write. Baby2 is growing so fast I’ll miss something if I blink and Kiddo1 is just blowing me away with his awesomeness lately. But, before I completely forget everything I had better take some time to get my thoughts down, so here’s a huge wrap up of things from the last month or so…

First, Baby2 is so freaking amazing. She will be three months old this Thursday. She holds her head up on her own all the time now. She barely lays her head on my shoulder anymore! Only when she’s super duper tired will she give in to a little head support assistance. She’d much rather be looking around and taking in all her surroundings than laying down like a little newborn. Sheesh, we’ve totally outgrown that phase. She likes to “sit” or “stand” while we hold her sides. No more craddle baby hold for her, much to Mr. Handsome’s dismay.

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For awhile there she was not having much of tummy time – it is still hit and miss but I see more hits than misses. She’ll lift her neck and legs until she looks like a little airplane about to take off! It looks like she’s gearing up to roll over soon, although I’m sure it will be several more weeks until that milestone. At least I hope so! Don’t grow too fast baby!

She smiles and it is so freaking cute. When I come home from work and met her eyes for the first time she gives me a little grin and it just melts my heart every time! Of course the second I pull out a camera the smile fades so it has been difficult to get many of them captured! Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppAlthough, the other day I put her down in her crib for just a moment while I put some laundry away in the bedroom. I caught her smiling and looking up at her mobile. That made me pretty happy since I spent so much time on making that dang mobile with its huge balls! Baby2 was just looking at them and waving her arms and smiling. Super cute!

This week I’ve been trying so hard to get her to laugh. I really don’t want to miss that first laugh but I know that I will miss some firsts while I’m at work. Knowing that Mr. Handsome will witness what I don’t does soften the blow a little bit, but it still stings. Most of the time going to work isn’t too hard, but I’ve had a couple days in the last month that I really haven’t wanted to leave. Last Monday was one of those days. When I got home I learned that Baby2 didn’t have too easy of a day herself. We commiserated a bit and felt better.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWork is great; really, I have it pretty easy. I have a nice room to pump in and I’m down to using it just a couple times a day. Pumping is usually pretty fast for me. It probably takes longer to walk to and from the room than it takes to actually pump! I keep my pump parts in the fridge all day so I only wash once when I get home. It saves so much time that way! I’ve been meaning to write a whole post dedicated to pumping but I’m not sure if I really have enough content for a whole post. I just pump and that’s it I suppose. I wish I had some pumping buddies, though. For a few weeks there was one other woman who used the lactation room but her son just turned one so I think she graduated. Good for her, though; knowing another person made it a whole year of pumping is really good motivation for me! I’m surprised more women aren’t using the lactation room. There are several new moms (or second- to fourth-time moms) in the building but I’m the only one still breastfeeding. I’m sure they have their reasons for not pumping, and I’m not judging them at all! But it’d be nice to have some company sometimes. Not to pump-in-tandem, that’s kind of weird, but to relate to and what-not.

Breastfeeding itself is still going really well. Baby2 doesn’t seem to have any confusion between the breast and bottle. I know I could use the bottle more on weekends but I like keeping the bottle use to times that I’m literally not around and can’t feed her. I like feeding her myself. I don’t want Baby2 to get too comfortable with the bottle so that she starts to prefer the immediate let-down and faster flow. Although, I shouldn’t be too worried. She doesn’t seem to really dig the bottle too much. She’s still eating a little less than I’d like her to during the day. I’m certainly not worried about our frozen stash, though, since I’m probably adding more to it than taking away. We use frozen milk on Mondays and freshly pumped milk Tuesday through Friday. Then on Friday afternoon I freeze the leftovers. I’m usually freezing between 20 and 50 ounces per week. Doesn’t look like I’ll be finishing off the frozen stash any time soon!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppBaby2 is still eating plenty overall, though. She certainly goes through enough diapers to convince us that her eating habits are quite healthy! Thank goodness for cloth diapers. I figure we’ve saved at least $200 so far, if you don’t count the cash I spent on building our cloth diaper stash, of course. I suppose if you count that then we’ve almost broke even. I don’t count the laundry spending because we don’t pay for water and the detergent is only half used and it cost like $10 or something.

We are still using prefolds and covers and I really love this method. We have about ten pocket diapers that are just starting to fit Baby2’s little frame. I have used the pockets a few times and they almost always leak for me. Maybe I leave her in them too long, I’m not sure. But I can never tell because the pocket material wicks the pee into the soaker so fast that most of the time I can’t tell if she’s wet. But when I use the prefolds they aren’t usually too soaked she’s not siting in wetness a lot. Who knows, but I’m thinking I’d like to sit with what works and keep the pockets in “reserve” status for when I’ve forgotten to finish up my cloth laundry. We wash just about every day, sometimes every other day. Most of the time that frequency isn’t too annoying. Sometimes it’s just like, ugh, laundry, you know? No one likes doing laundry all the time. You just tolerate it I think.

Overall Baby2 is a pretty good sleeper. She started sleeping in six to seven hour chunks several weeks ago, which was an awesome pre-return-to-work present. Since she hasn’t been eating as much during the day now though, I think she’s eating a bit more at night so she’s up more. I say I think because once she gets up the first time I keep her in bed with me so she could be eating every hour and I won’t really realize it because I hardly wake up anymore. I just pull out a boob and she does the rest, for the most part. Mr. Handsome kind of laughs at us (and spends a lot of time on the sofa with the dog!) but this is the method that nets me the most shut-eye so it is what it is. And I’m sure Baby2 is enjoying the snuggling. I might be enjoying it as well!

Finally, I know I don’t spend too much time on this blog talking about Kiddo1. I think that’s just the nature of starting as a pregnancy blog – I’m used to dishing baby stuff all the time. But this blog is really about having two kids with a crazy age gap, so I’d better get some more Kiddo1 memories down here!

So far there isn’t too much age gap drama or fun to report. Kiddo1 doesn’t do too much with Baby2 yet. She really isn’t all that interesting to him. He likes when she smiles so I think once she starts really laughing he’s going to have a good time trying to get her to do that.

4A2B0FC6-85B6-4642-BDD9-9ACFC880214C-1729-000001CE3E669687Right now he seems to be having a really good time getting involved at school. When he started kindergarten he said he really wanted to be a playground helper and safety helper once he got to fourth grade (which is when kids can start doing that at his school). Now that he’s in fourth grade he is doing both jobs and seems to be having a great time at it. He is so good with helping the younger kids at recess. Sometimes there’s a disagreement or something and he tells me how he helped. He’s such a good kid – he is going to be so awesome with Baby2 when she’s a little older and needs his help.

Finally, Kiddo1 went and got himself elected to Student Council this year! I believe fourth grade is when they can start doing that job, too. Mr. Handsome and I were so excited for him. We’re interested to see what is going to be his “thing” in school. For us it was always music (and also sports for Mr. Handsome, for me my second love was dating sports boys, haha). Kiddo1 is a little into music, not so much into sports, so we’re wondering if maybe school politics would be his thing. He now has this whole handout/book about public speaking, crafting an argument, etc. We got so excited when we saw it!

Overall things are quite awesome. We are loving our new life as four. Mr. Handsome and I love having a baby around (maybe too much!). Everything she does makes us appreciate life, appreciate Kiddo1, appreciate what we have that much more. Of course some days are a challenge but they are far between the good, amazing regular days. I can’t ask for much more!

Our Sleep Game, Vol. 3

Baby2 is amazing. Somehow, despite my inconsistencies with following my own baby sleep rules, she has managed to cross the threshold to lengthy nighttime sleep. She’s been riding a minimum five hour stretch of sleep every night for the past two weeks! At six weeks she started sleeping six hours, then a couple five hour nights, now this week I’m getting up to seven hours some nights! I love Baby2. I love her so much.

The timing couldn’t be better since I’m back to work starting Monday. Saddest face ever. But I think we’re both ready. I won’t be able to sleep until 10 like I did sometimes during maternity leave, so I am super grateful for these long stretches of sleep that Baby2 is giving me.

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This cutie is all ready for a good night’s sleep

So how did she do it? I have no clue. I have been trying to follow our Babywise routine as much as possible, but it has been difficult to get good naps during the day because we’ve been so busy. With people in town for a month, keeping Kiddo1 entertained and otherwise completing outside-the-house obligations we haven’t really put her on a set schedule per se. We do follow the eat/play/sleep routine but sometimes she’s got to eat and then it’s car seat time for a hour while we run around town. She’ll stay awake for a bit but this baby cannot fight the jiggling, sleep-lulling goodness of the car (or the wrap if we’re walking around). She’s too much like her daddy. Right to sleep she goes. And who could blame her, really? Full belly, cozy seat (or wrap), jiggling. It’s a recipe for a great nap if you ask me. There’s no stopping it.

If she isn’t being jiggled into dreamland then she seems to have a hard time giving herself over to sleep during the day. She’s just so alert a lot of the time now! Which is great, but when it comes time for a nap she will just fight, fight, fight. She doesn’t cry about it much, she’ll just be playing with us or laying around in our arms and her eyes will get droopy but then they’ll pop back open. We’ll put her in her crib and she’ll cry a bunch. I’ll let her cry for a few minutes but I end up giving in after a few rounds of put down, cry, soothe, cry, pick up and soothe, put down, cry, soothe, cry, blah, blah, blah. At that point she’s probably not going to nap. Eh, it is what it is.

Sometimes we can get her to nap in her bouncy seat though (we call it her chair). I think she wants to hang out with us so bad that she just can’t stand going to her crib. I’m making this up for her, of course, but I think it’s a reasonable explanation, right? So she sleeps in odd places, but most of the time that’s okay (and I kind of like that she is able to sleep anywhere!). The only problem is that she doesn’t nap very long. She’ll get to that 45-minute mark and start to stir. She has trouble moving from one sleep cycle to the next. We will give her a few minutes to see if she’ll get back to sleep but mostly it’s a no-go. So I’m reading about that right now to see how we can help her get full 90-minute naps.

Daytime naps, hit or miss. But nighttime, oh nighttime, she is a dream. Sometime between 8 and 9, depending on when she took her dinner feeding, I’ll start her bedtime routine. She gets fed again, then a new diaper and changed into her pajamas (babies look so incredibly cute in those little sleeper pajamas with the feet – like a little lump of amazing baby cuteness). Then we get the room all dark and walk around in it together. I pat her back and hold her close while she lays her head on my shoulder. I hug her and generally savor every moment of being able to hold her like this. Insert contented sigh. Then, and here’s where I hope I don’t jinx myself by disclosing this, I put her down in her crib, give her a little pat and walk away so she can quietly close her eyes and get herself to sleep. And lately that’s been working about 80% of the time. I’ll take it. Then she sleeps for that solid five to seven hours, wakes around 3 AM, gets changed and fed and goes right back to sleep for another three or four hours. Blissful sleep. Joy.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier about Baby2’s sleep progress. She doesn’t always make it to the crib for daytime naps, but I believe she is learning to self-soothe and we have been really good about not rushing to her if she wakes mid-nap. I’m interested to see how my return to work will change her sleep patterns. I am reading a bit about sleep regression, too, to keep myself from surprises around four months when apparently most babies turn their backs on their sleeping norms. I will probably have lots to update next time then! Happy sleeping!

Our Sleep Game, Vol. 2

Sunday I pledged to start working on Baby2’s sleep routine and start developing sleep habits that align with my philosophies. And that’s what we did. It has helped that all our visiting family has headed home. We appreciate their visit and time we got to spend with them! But… we’re relieved to have a little time to ourselves. Perfect time to start settling in to our “new normal,” as Mr. Handsome calls it.

Here’s how we have fared so far…

Rule #1: No sleep props.

50% success (progress, right?). We aren’t completely there with the naps yet. Both Sunday and Monday I used a lot of “Shh”ing, a technique from The Happiest Baby on the Block, to quiet down Baby2 a few times. Sunday she was just not having a good day in general. She didn’t eat a lot (always makes a mama worry!). She slept a good bit but struggled with falling asleep. Let’s just say I was done with Sunday!

Monday wasn’t too much better. Today I’d like to try waiting a little longer before putting her down for a nap. However, whenever I did put her down she was obviously tired. So we’ll do some experimenting there.

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Peaceful crib sleep

Nights were not bad, though. During the night Baby2 didn’t have an crying fits, a vast improvement over the Saturday night debacle which started this whole thing! Getting her down at the start of the night was just as difficult as the naps, though. She went to bed about 9:00 both nights, which is about an hour after her last “day” feeding, but I resorted to a little “comfort nursing” before going to sleep. I must stay strong tonight! She doesn’t seem hungry before bed (she doesn’t have a strong suck, she mostly just lies there and watches me, etc.) so I know she doesn’t need the before-bed nursing. But it does calm here really well!

Rule #2: Sleep in crib.

90% success! The past two nights were great: I successfully put Baby2 back in her crib after each feeding. Well, to be completely honest, we did sleep snuggle for 30 minutes or so after one early morning feeding (both days), but I’m giving us a pass. We do need some lazy snuggle time! Plus I do get her back to her crib to finish off the night eventually. So no harm, I say.

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One nap didn’t make it to the crib!

Baby2 slept in her crib for all but one at-home nap since I made the renewed commitment to healthy sleep habits. That one nap she was just not having. Mr. Handsome and I took turns every few minutes with her, but ultimately I felt like she was hungry so we abandoned the nap attempt. My suspicions were correct: she nursed for a solid ten minutes but then she was out like a light. No eat/play/sleep routine for that round, but I’m okay with that every now and then. Buuuut I did just let her fall asleep after eating and she slept in my arms for almost two hours. Eh, win some lose some right? (I don’t know… that loss felt like a win at the time!)

Rule #3: Self-soothe.

90% success! Baby2 stirred on every one of her naps and I did not immediately jump to pick her up! I did check on her, of course, but only one time did she actually need to be pulled from her crib. Okay, two times if you count the nap that just didn’t happen yesterday. Another time she woke about 45 minutes into her nap. She was obviously hungry so maybe that one was a pass. Maybe I should give myself more than 90% on this one.

Only time will tell if these scores keep up, but I do feel a ton better about getting on track with our sleep habits. Next I’ll be forming my own routines so I don’t go completely crazy during maternity leave. Wish me luck!

Getting on My Sleep Game

Ah, the woes of nighttime sleep, the bane of many newborns’ parents’ existence. Perhaps adding insult are the first couple relatively blissful weeks of newborn life during which sleepy babes tease parents with adequate stretches of slumber and quick returns to shut-eye.

I have fairly strict philosophies on sleep, which I’ll write more about when I review Babywise in about a week, but for now, here’s a short version. Also, I must say that this is the plan that I’ve found works best for me and our family, based on experiences with Kiddo1. It won’t work for everyone – we all have our own philosophies to follow. Here are a few of mine, though:

  • I won’t use “sleep props” such as comfort-nursing or swings to soothe my baby to sleep.
  • I will put baby in her crib for naps and nighttime sleep while she’s still awake so that she can learn to fall asleep on her own in her own crib.
  • I will teach baby to self-soothe (if they wake and do not need a diaper change, feeding, burping, etc.) by not rushing to her every time she makes the slightest peep.
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Day One: already a rule-breaker (but it was okay then!)

For Baby2’s first couple weeks of life, I pretty much ignored my own rules. I used sleep props like nursing to calm her down before sleep, I put her in her crib already sleeping, I rushed to her every time she stirred, I let her nap in her bouncy seat all day long and let her sleep in our bed all night. I did these things because she was (and still is!) so new, so tiny, so helpless, so adorable to look at!

An aside: some may think my rules are too strict for a newborn. I get that – I read them back to myself and yes, they are strict. But they are not hurtful, they don’t break our baby-mama attachment and they don’t cause psychological damage. If anything, they foster solid sleeping habits, increase our attachment because we’re both happily well-rested and give baby confidence in her abilities to self-soothe (I understand that last one seems like a stretch, but Kiddo1 is living proof that it’s true). Also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking these rules every now and then. Napping with Baby2 now and then or falling asleep together after a nighttime feeding once-in-awhile is really no big deal, but I’d like my habits to follow my rules a vast majority of the time.

Anyway, so after a rough night in which Baby2 couldn’t be ushered back to sleep on her own and I caved to comfort nursing and co-sleeping, I knew it was time to get on my game. That, and Mr. Handsome reminded me that the habits I’m starting go against my sleep principles… that, and he’s tired.

Today I’m practicing what I preach. Case in point: for Baby2’s first nap of the day I put her in her crib. She cried. But she only cried for a minute (seemed like an eternity!) and soothed herself right to sleep (she didn’t cry herself to sleep! I saw!) and slept so long I had to wake her up for her feeding (she’s probably tired after last night too!). All hope is not lost. Over the today and the next few days I plan on having her take more naps in her crib until she’s sleeping in there exclusively (with one exception, see below).

Over the next few nights I plan on trying my hardest to put Baby2 back in her crib after a feeding. My hurdle isn’t so much the desire to hold her close all night (although that does factor in!) it is more that I just plain fall asleep during a feeding. I’m tired! She falls asleep too, it’s a win-win, right? Except she isn’t learning to sleep on her own and that will escalate into bigger sleep problems later on if I’m not careful. So it’s time to break that habit.

When we’re out-and-about, Baby2 will have to sleep in her carrier or even car seat, which I’m okay with. But I don’t want her sleeping there all the time, either. I don’t feel like she gets as good-quality sleep there as she does at home. This brings me back to part of our dilemma over the past few days: we’ve been out too much! We’ve had family in town since Baby2 was born and we just haven’t had an opportunity to work on our routine or our habits. So I can’t blame myself completely (score!). Now that the visitors are gone, we can shift our focus back to Baby2’s sleep needs. Yay!

Updates will follow, so I’d better get on my game!