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Four Months Old!

Baby2 has really been coming into her own lately – in just four short months she has grown and changed so much. This is Mr. Handsome’s and my second time watching a baby become a little person and we still can’t believe how amazing it is. Here are some of the things she’s been working on…

She has the sweetest smile. Ever. When she wakes up in the morning she is just the happiest thing that has ever lived, smiling and giggling and batting her adorable eye lashes. She grunts and coos and squeals. She squirms her little body all around and clenches her fists in excitement. It is very fun to watch.

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She’s all smiles at home but she seems to be a bit weary of strangers lately. In the last month, we’ve had a couple events out and and about and she hasn’t been too excited about them. I think being around a lot of people is a little over-stimulating for her at times, especially if she’s being passed around. Too many faces for her or something.

Baby2 starting recognizing and zoning out on her hands sometime around six weeks I think, but this month she has started to have a bit more control of those little hands. She can get her thumb in her mouth with fairly consistent success.

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She reaches out for things that she wants badly enough. Her concentration is palpable: she stares at the object, she shakes her arm as her little hand starts to move, fingers moving, trying to get all the needed parts working together to achieve her goal of grabbing her toy. She’s started to enjoying “playing” and she seems to show some excitement when shown a familiar toy. Her eyes get wide, her hands shake a little, maybe she lets out a little squeal. Adorable!

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She rolled over this month from front to back. She can get from her back to her side very easily so I’m sure it won’t be long until she is rolling from back to front, too. She is also quite good at rotating her body around when lying on her back. Most nights she’ll fall asleep in her crib with her feet pointing one direction but by the time I come back and check on her she’s rotated around so her head is where her feet were. Now she does it when on her play mat which is quite fun to watch as she moves her little legs and pushes around.

She’s started to get much better at napping. As I type, Baby2 has been asleep for almost two hours and is on her second extended (meaning more than 45-minute) nap of the day (of course she just woke up). Mr. Handsome is feeling very happy about this as her naps either enable or distract from him getting to accomplish much during the day (he’s a SAHD).

As far as night-time sleep, just does pretty well. I’ve stopped giving a shit about all the “rules” I had established for sleep. My methods worked so well for Kiddo1 but with Baby2 I feel differently. I’m just kind of rolling with the punches now. She wakes up sometime between midnight and two or three am. I don’t pay attention to the time at all, I just pull Baby2 in bed with me and relax. She probably wakes up two or three times per night but I hardly notice. She eats, we sleep, it works out pretty well.

Eventually I’d like to get back to having her in her crib all night, but I have time. I also want to make sure my breast milk supply stays up and I recall that once Kiddo1 started sleeping through the night my supply dipped pretty fast and breastfeeding was over. So I’m trying to prevent that this time around by keeping up the night-time feedings. It may be establishing the wrong sleep routine but I suppose I’ll tackle that issue once it actually becomes an issue. Again, I’m going with the flow rather than trying to keep over-thinking things.

Finally, we did celebrate Halloween this year, even though I didn’t write a post about it at all. I leave with a few snapshots.

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Pumpkin farming

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Baby2 and her little punkin

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Kiddo1 trick-or-treating with friends (he was a zombie)

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Baby2 and I in our homemade two-peas-in-a-pod costume

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PhotobucketOften it feels like I hold a ticking alarm that, if not addressed every 108 minutes by plugging a code into a computer, will result in a build-up of a magnetic force so strong my whole world will implode. Except in my case the alarm is my breasts, the magnetic force field is breast milk and the code is either Baby2 or my pump (which has now been affectionately named Matilda). Oh and I have more like 180 minutes rather than 108. But the situations are fundamentally the same: address the alarm or face imminent doom!

Sometimes this is what breastfeeding feels like: a never-ending cycle, a job that will never be complete, a computer that will never stop asking for a code. Whether I’m in the midst of my commute, in back-to-back meetings or trying to sleep, breastfeeding never takes a day off.

Don’t get me wrong – there are things about breastfeeding that I absolutely love. I love that it’s best for my baby, easy for me to do, ready when Baby2 needs it and, the best part, FREE. And I’m not going to let a little thing like a three-hour countdown stop me. But after a day in which I woke up engorged (ugh!), missed a pumping session due to back-to-back meetings and then straight-up forgot about it (distracted by a pot luck!) so I ended up engorged again, I need to complain a little.

Rant over, troubles forgotten, back to breastfeeding goodness!

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!

Two, Two, Two Months of Fun

So what’s new with Baby2? Seems to me like she is loving life. She is smiling, she makes sweet baby noises, she is getting so strong. She’s holding her head up most of the time now, although sometimes she’ll cheat a little and touch her head to my chin while she looks over my shoulder.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosMr. Handsome says her favorite place to be is right there on my shoulder. Putting her up there does seem to quiet her down almost every time she’s fussy. It’s a good place for me to hold her since it gives me a free hand to grab things, pat her back, type, or what have you.

Her fussy times are pretty much restricted to sleepy times, at the moment. She still loathes naps, but we’re working on it by at least attempting naps often. Sometimes she’ll just scream in utter terror, though, and neither Mr. Handsome or I can take too much of that (or Kiddo1, come to think of it!). I get concerned that she isn’t getting enough sleep, even though she gets about 12 hours at night. She wakes once or twice in that time but overall she’s a great night sleeper. Thank goodness because I can not imagine doing this whole work-full-time thing while getting only small stretches of sleep.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosAnytime that she is fussy, there are two things that almost always soothe her: nursing is of course one of them (and I’m trying to wean myself from relying on that all the time) and getting outside is another. Baby2 loves to be outside – walking or not. Inside she has to be up and moving around but outside she is happy doing whatever. Her preference is still to be moving, of course, but sitting on a blanket in the shade is just fine too. She looks at the clouds and trees and makes her little baby coos. It’s the cutest thing ever. Ever!

She’s a champ at nursing. Around six weeks or so she finally starting eating in longer stretches. This seemed to be about the same time she started skipping a nighttime feeding. Since I’ve gone back to work she has eaten less and less during the day and more during the evenings. After work the last couple days she ate so long I think I ran out of milk! I hope she isn’t reverse cycling because I have a whole lot of milk stashed up for her! Then again we’re only two weeks into the bottles-all-day thing so we’ll see how this plays out.

We visited the pediatrician yesterday and learned that Baby2 is growing right on track. She even shot up a whole 3.5 inches from her birth height. She went from the tenth to the fiftieth percentile in height which they say is quite a jump! Doc says this shows that Baby2 is clearly getting enough calories and that makes a mama felt real damn good. Go, boobies, go.

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!

Earth to Mother Mary

Where the hell have I been lately? I don’t even know. It must be some other planet – Planet Baby – because not only is life so very different here but it is so out of touch as well! The fog/high of delivery gave way to a fog of visitors followed by a brief fog of routineless, carefree summer, all mixed in with a whole lot of Baby Time.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppSo much is new. Baby2 is growing so fast – why must they grow so quickly? She loves working on holding her head up, pushing her feet down in a “standing” position, moving her head and holding it up during tummy time, all that good baby exercise stuff. She already seems and feels so much bigger. She doesn’t fit in the dress she wore when we took her home from the hospital. That was a little sad to discover! But she did just start smiling so the blow of ill-fitting newborn outfits has been softened, somewhat.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppKiddo1 started fourth grade on Wednesday. Deep breath. Fourth grade feels so… old! This year he is applying to be a safety helper or recess helper – only fourth and fifth grade students can do those jobs, so he’s very excited. He’s talked about doing those since kindergarten.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppLuckily before school started we could fit in a camping trip. Baby2 is pretty good at night so we knew it wouldn’t be too bad. We stayed pretty close to home and found a great site on a river (river noise covers baby noise!) with only one other close campsite. Baby2 did great all night anyway so I didn’t have to worry so much about finding a good site. She gets up to eat but as long as she’s dry she’ll go right back to sleep.

I have so much more to write about with her sleeping and baby-wearing and of course breastfeeding, which specifically needs a lot more attention since I wussed out on most of my planned posts for August’s National Breastfeeding Month. Sigh. I’m slowly working my way out of this baby fog!

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!