Thursday, December 29, 2011

Riding the Christmas toy high

How do you know when a toy is a hit? When you see smiles like this! N loves his new Fisher Price Stride to Ride Dino. I swear, we should buy stock in Fisher Price! Almost all of his Christmas gifts were from them. Ho ho ho!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I've been very delinquent in my posts lately.  I've been caught up in our ever-changing sweet boy (who is now sitting up all by himself, trying to crawl, and has SIX teeth!), and endless holiday preparations (shopping, wrapping, and more shopping!).  I sometimes think about Olivia and how this would be her second Christmas.  I know she's in heaven with our grandparents looking down on us.  I wish you, your angel babies and your loved ones a very happy and love-filled holiday. 

Here's a few pictures of Noah showing his holiday spirit (and his distaste for Santa!):

One of our Christmas card shots

Who the heck are you?

I hate this hat!

This was a total fluke at the mall, he didn't turn around to see who was holding him!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Halloween Photos - better late than never!

I just realized I forgot to post pictures from Noah's first Halloween.  I can't believe almost a month has passed since my last post.  We finally have some consistency with his sleep, thank goodness!  He goes to bed around 8pm, we dream feed around 10:45 and he sleeps till 6:55am (to the dot).  He's great about staying in his crib for up to half an hour until we go to retrieve him.  He likes to play with his animal comfort blankets, and we usually get up and turn on his Baby Einstein aquarium to keep him entertained.  Getting a full night's sleep is heavenly!

Now back to Halloween.  We took Noah to Springridge Farm, only 15 minutes from our house, to do an informal photo shoot amongst the pumpkins in his monkey costume.  We also took some shots at home in his pumpkin pj's.  I know I'm biased, but I think he looks pretty adorable!  And if you look closely, you'll see his two bottom teeth peeking out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I can be....myself

I hated elementary school. I liked high school even less. I had a hard time fitting in. I was too short. Too skinny. Too smart. I belonged to the "geek brigade", the name they gave to the kids in the weekly enrichment program, those of us who were ahead of the others in our classes. People called me "rich girl" because my parents owned their own business.  We were comfortable but far from rich.

All I wanted was to fit in. Instead I was the target of endless teasing, nitpicking from mean girls, many of whom I considered my friends at one point. I didn't have any friends I could really trust, because eventually they would betray that trust and hurt my feelings.  The few times that I stood up for myself, things got worse, so I tried to just ignore the teasing (advice from my mom) and take each day as it came.  I remember lying in bed at night, praying that the next day would go smoothly and that my friends wouldn't get into a "fight" with me.  Remember those "fights"?  When girls decided they wouldn't like you for a day or a week because of something really stupid?  Then they would move onto someone else and you were back "in" until you became the target again?  I tried to be careful and not draw unnecessary attention to myself, thinking that was the best way to stay "in".  It wasn't.  I tried to get bad grades, thinking that people wouldn't call me a nerd anymore, but it didn't help and ended up hurting me more.  Girls were girls and there was no rational reason for why we behaved the way we did.  All I wanted was to be like everyone else and fit in.

In high school, I found a few close friends, but eventually things fell apart with most of them too. I know I was partially to blame, because I was cautious and untrusting.  I never really let my guard down, except with a few key people, because I figured I would get burned yet again.  I struggled to find myself in high school.  I wasn't a cool kid, I definitely wasn't a jock, so where did that leave me?  I continued to try to "lay low" and not draw too much attention to myself.  I counted down the days until I could move away and start fresh.

After graduation, I was beyond excited leave my small town and to go to university to start with a clean slate. It was there that I met so many wonderful women, all bringing diverse backgrounds and experiences I could learn from. I met women who showed me the true meaning of friendship, many of whom I still connect with today.

In those 4 years I learned to embrace who I am, and embrace the endless options ahead of me. I wasn't trying to please anyone but myself, and I finally felt free to be myself - not the person everyone else around me thought I should be.

I discovered a lot about myself, namely that I was a stronger person than I gave myself credit for. I moved five hours away from my family and friends to start fresh and find myself. I discovered that I actually loved being around people, being social and helping people. I also discovered I had a sense of humour that drew people to me. At the end of those four years, I met a wonderful man who eventually became my husband. And I've now gone from wife to mother with the addition of Noah earlier this year. I couldn't feel more complete.  I have a number of close female friends who support me every day.  I value their friendship more than anything.

I've had so many positive female influences in my life, on "I Can Be Day", I'd like to acknowledge these wonderful women and what I learned from them:

  • My Mom - She taught me that family is important, and it's ok to put your children before your own dreams.  She gave up a great job when my sister was born and didn't go back to work for 16 years.  She was always there when we needed her, and even when we didn't think we needed her.  She always told me to be strong and not let others get to me.  That advice is what helped me survive all those years of unnecessary drama.
  • My Sister - She was always there to stand up for me, pick me up when I stumbled, and kick my butt when I needed a jolt of reality.  She was like a mirror that helped me discover the best and worst things about myself, and wasn't afraid to tell me the truth, whether I wanted to hear it or not.
  • Diana - She was one of my bosses early in my PR career, and my first career role model.  She was pretty, smart and successful, and showed me that all three were possible at the same time.  She pushed me to become better in my career, and to tackle challenges well outside my comfort zone.  She was a mentor and friend.  I will always be thankful for her support.
  • Jane Goodall - I discovered her work in high school, and she was a total inspiration.  She chased her dreams despite what everyone around her told her she could do.  I decided to pursue a career in marine biology (which ended up shifting to psychology after some bad grades and self reflection early in university).  I met her once, years ago, and was surprised a woman so seemingly delicate could be so strong and have a huge impact on the world.  Click here to find out more about Jane and her work.
  • Dixie Chicks - After their criticism of Bush many years ago, they received a lot of death threats and were told to "shut up and sing".  They never apologized for their opinions and speaking their mind.  When their song, "Not Ready To Make Nice", came out, it felt like an anthem to anyone who ever spoke their mind and felt the consequences, but didn't feel the need to apologize for it.  That song reminds me of all the mean spirits I've encountered throughout the years, and my belief that I don't have to apologize for who I am.  They showed me that you don't have to make everyone else happy, as long as you are happy with yourself, that's all that matters.  As they say in the song, "forgive - sounds good, forget - I'm not sure I could.  They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting...."
  • Twitter #zombiemoms - This informal group sprung up around the time Noah was born.  It was a group of women all facing the challenges of caring for infants and young children.  Since then, it's exploded and become an international network of moms (and some dads) who provide 24/7 support to each other.  It's still hard to believe that you can be having a really bad day (or morning) and you have a huge group of women who are ready to boost your spirits and make you feel better.  I've never encountered such selflessness.  This group has really renewed my faith in friendship (even if most of us have and will never meet IRL).  Click here to check out the #zombiemoms twitter stream.
  • Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope - After we lost Olivia last year, I was searching for people who would understand what we were going through.  And I found this group.  There are unfortunately thousands of couples who have lost babies, all to different circumstances.  But the one common thread is the pain of losing a child, and the challenge of moving on afterward.  I've met a number of amazing women through this network, all who have picked me up on my bad days, and have let me do the same for them.  I couldn't have made it through the last year without their support.  Click here to find out more.
Thank you to everyone on this list, and to those who I didn't mention but play a role in my life every day.  I wouldn't be who I am without you all, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Travelling to New York with an infant - lessons learned

    This past weekend, Noah and I went to NY to visit hubby who is there for eleven days for work.  We left on Friday and came home on Monday.  I did a lot of research leading up to this trip to make it go as smoothly as possible.  I thought I'd put all my learnings in one place, so hopefully other parents travelling with infants can benefit!

    Follow-up note:  this trip was FAR from easy.  The travel days alone were long and exhausting.  I had no time to myself, and spent most of those days trying to keep the baby quiet and happy so he would drive me and the other passengers crazy.  He was great in NY, but got very fed up of shopping and being in the stroller, so we had to take him out and feed him frequently to keep him happy.  None of us had great sleeps because he woke several times, plus he's just a noisy sleeper in general, and he was at the foot of the bed.  That said, we had a lot of fun and wouldn't trade it for anything.  But be warned....travelling with an infant isn't for the faint of heart!

    Lesson 1: plan flights around naptime

    Hubby thought I was a bit nuts, but I was insistent on booking our flights to ensure Noah could nap beforehand.  He doesn't do well when he's tired, and I didn't want to expose the other passengers to an extremely crabby baby.  On Friday we left at 12:30, which meant we left the house at 10am to be at the airport two hours beforehand.  It was perfect because he went down to nap at 8:40 and slept till 10, so he had a solid nap.  On Monday we left at 8am.  A few weeks ago we yanked him out of bed super early to go to Buffalo and discovered he did really well in the morning.  So on Friday I got up at 4:30am, got myself ready and finished packing, and woke Noah at 5 for a 5:15am pickup.  He was a bit cranky initially but then was all smiles as we headed to the airport.  In both instances, I fed him a bottle after we got through security, and he fell asleep before takeoff.  Score!

    Lesson 2: pack LIGHT

    Since we now have to pay for every checked bag, I decided we would share a suitcase.  This meant mommy only brought 2 pairs of jeans (one pair I wore), a pair of yoga pants, and several long sleeved t-shirts and a warm wool cardigan.  I also brought a couple pairs of shoes.  It's nice to wear different shoes at night when you've been walking in one pair for 6 hours during the day.  For Noah I packed an outfit for each day and jammies for each night, plus a few extras - just in case.  I also packed a few extra toys, some empty bottles, linens for the playpen the hotel provided and a can of powdered formula.  I had a very small purse that I could wear across my body, which provided easy access to my wallet, passports, blackberry and camera.  Everything else was in the diaper bag.  Plus we had the stroller.  Maneuvering an airport with an infant is tricky, especially when you're alone.  You need as few bags as possible because at some point you'll be carrying them PLUS baby.  Here's some good info from Air Canada for travelling with an infant:

    Lesson 3: anticipate security obstacles

    As Noah had to eat before and during the flight, I put his pre-measured formula, a small container of cereal and several jars of baby food in a ziplock bag at the top of the diaper bag.  I had all my electronics (flip camera, blackberry, digital camera, ipod) in my purse so they were easily accessed.  When we hit security in Toronto, we were told we were chosen for a random search.  Awesome!  I went through the usual steps and took off everything (coat, shoes, purse) and put it all into bins.  I had to take Noah out of the stroller and show the security guy how to collapse it so it could be scanned.  Of course when I took him out, I discovered he had pooped and was very stinky!  When we came out the other side the guard patted me down and began swabbing and searching everything in the diaper bag, and made me turn on all my electronics.  It took about 15 minutes and by the end, Noah was VERY cranky.  I was too, especially when the guard started asking me random questions like "are you wearing makeup? are you wearing any lotions?".  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    Lesson 4:  make sure you have enough baby food

    I pre-measured enough formula for two bottles.  One for before we boarded the plane, and one for landing.  I also brought several jars of baby food so I could feed him before/during/after as needed.  I bought a bottle of water once I passed security, I just asked for unchilled water so it was the right temperature.  Both times he drank his bottle before the flight, and then when he woke up and during the landing.  It worked perfectly.  It was also good to have jars handy.  Our departing flight was delayed so he was starving, so I fed him before we boarded.  Since we were delayed, we got stuck in rush hour traffic in NY so it took almost three hours to get to the hotel.  That jar of sweet potato really calmed him down when he had a meltdown in the last 45 mins!  Make sure you only pack what seems reasonable for the baby to consume during the flight, it's all they'll allow.  We brought a can of formula (a friend tried her brand in the US and her kids refused, so recipes MAY be different) as I didn't want to take a chance.  Once we got to the hotel, we went to a store and got a jug of water and several containers of baby food.  Easy peasy!

    Lesson 5:  make sure you have the right travel documents

    We got Noah's passport over a month before our trip.  It only took two weeks to arrive, which was surprising.  We also got a letter notarized from my husband giving me permission to travel with him alone.  I packed the long form of his birth certificate which states that we're his parents.  That form lists both my maiden and married names, which is helpful because my passport has my maiden name.  Not one person asked to see the notarized letter or birth certificate, but I would've been ready if they did.  Better safe than sorry.  You don't need any hassles when you're travelling with a baby.  Here's a link with info about travelling to the US with an infant:

    Lesson 6: take advantage of hotel services

    We discussed buying a travel crib for this journey, and looked at the Phil & Teds Traveller, but it seemed like a big investment.  We called the hotel and were told they provided cribs.  Since hubby went before us, it gave us the opportunity to check out what they offered so we could make an informed decision.  The crib was actually a pack and play, which was perfect.  They provided two flat bedsheets, one we wrapped around the mattress and one we draped around the sides so Noah couldn't see us while he slept.  They worked like a charm!  We forgot to buy dish soap so the front desk provided some shower gel, which worked great to clean his bottles and spoons.  We probably could've stored the stroller, since the room was REALLY small, but it would've been a a huge pain to get it out every time we left.  I also found a company that rents baby gear, but I send them my order form and they never responded.  I could've called to follow-up, but I actually changed my mind about renting a bouncy chair and playmat as hubby said our room was tiny.  Here's the link to a directory of baby gear rental companies in the US that's useful: 

    Lesson 7: do whatever it takes to keep baby happy

    We fully expected that Noah would be out of sorts since his routine would be upside down, so we were prepared with food and toys to keep him happy when he fussed.  Since he's not a fan of his car seat for extended periods of time, I found a car service that would take us to and from the airport and they provided infant car seats!  This meant he could sit in his toddler seat for his stroller, which we knew would make him very happy.  We also have a flannel bag for the seat so we can easily zip him up and keep him cozy when he would fall asleep.  We tried to keep his feeds on track as much as possible, but we would make sure we fed him when he was hungry, regardless of the time.  When it came to naps, most of them were in the stroller.  Thankfully he can sleep in there.  We brought a light playmat with us and at some point each day we would find a place to put it on the ground and let him lie down and play.  When we got back to the room at the end of the day, we would let him stretch out and roll around on the bed with some toys.  He needs that time each day, otherwise he's super edgy!  His bedtimes were later than usual, but he handled it well.  He could easily sleep in the stroller when he wanted, which helped a lot.  Unfortunately the walls of our room were thin, so he was woken several times each night by street or hallway noise.  Thankfully he's sleeping through the night now, so we didn't have to worry about him freaking out every few hours.  When he woke, he'd settle himself fairly quickly.  I can't imagine travelling with him any earlier, I think it would've been a disaster.

    Lesson 8: strollers ARE doable

    Before our trip, everything I read said that taking a stroller to New York was a total hassle.  I will be the first to admit it was a total lifesaver!  At the airport, it gave me a place to store gear.  Sure it was a pain collapsing it with him in my arms, but I was able to get to the plane door with him inside, and then it was waiting for us when we got off.  Sure the sidewalks of New York are crowded, and not for the timid stroller driver.  You basically have to look for an opening (sometimes using your partner to clear the way) and then barrell through.  People WILL move if you charge through.  Putting an 18lb baby in a carrier isn't reasonable.  Your back would be destroyed after an hour (hubby could only handle 30 mins).  PLUS, you have a place to store all your gear and purchases while you're out and about.  I highly reco bringing your stroller, particularly if it has a large storage space and collapses easily.

    Lesson 9:  relax, go with the flow, have fun and take pictures!

    When you travel, inevitably there's going to be bumps along the way (like security searches, three hour cab rides, delayed flights, etc).  You had to expect these and just roll with it, otherwise you'll make yourself CRAZY!  We tried to balance our itinerary with things we liked, and things we knew Noah would enjoy.  We made sure to take pictures to remember this trip.  After all, it's about having fun, right?  Here's a few pics from our journey.

    He loved to roll around on a blanket at the airport gate. 
    Great way to kill time and make friends with the other passengers!

    Content before his first flight!

    Comfy in his toddler seat and Baby Ganoosh!

    Proud papa.

    A little windy!

    Some downtime after a long day of shopping and sightseeing!

    Enjoying a swing in Central Park!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    I wanna be a Fisher Price mom!

    My son LOVES to play.  He spends hours a day in his Fisher Price Ocean Wonders bouncy chair.  He loves to watch his Ocean Wonders Aquarium when he wakes up in the morning and from his naps.  And did I mention that his room is decked out in Fisher Price Zen bedding, draperies and even a matching Zen bouncy chair?

    Fisher Price is now accepting applications for mom ambassadors.  Here's why I should be chosen (I have to say, he's a pretty convincing little guy!):

    Baby Bullet review

    Before I begin, let me say that if you have the Magic Bullet, you probably don't need the Baby Bullet.  That said, you get a lot of cool accessories with the Baby Bullet that are super handy!

    We got the Baby Bullet as a shower gift.  My 7 year old nephew is a tv shopping junkie and insisted they buy it for us.  I was so excited to open it because I was secretly coveting it after seeing the teaser commercials.

    After the doctor gave us the green light to start solids, I eagerly pulled the Baby Bullet (from this point forward known as BB) and accessories from the box to wash them.  The kit contains:

    The Batchbowl
    The larger vessel, the Batchbowl, is for creating large amounts of baby food for storing. The Batchbowl is BPA-free and dishwasher safe (top shelf only). I use this most of the time.  Never operate without the cover on. (and make sure the cover is tight otherwise the liquid shoots everywhere! I found that out the hard way.)

    Two Short Cups
    These cups are used to mix and store your ingredients. They are BPA-free and dishwasher-safe (top shelf only). I used these initially when I was making smaller batches.

    The Power Base
    The Power Base is the heart of the Baby Bullet system. Simply place either the Batchbowl or one of the Short Cups on to the High-Torque Power Base, press down and twist! It couldn't be easier!  I use this daily, sometimes to re-puree frozen food that got chunky.  It's small enough to store on the counter.

    The Baby Blend Blade and Milling Blade
    The Baby Bullet comes with two blades: The Baby Blend Blade is for puréeing and blending foods. This is my primary blade.  The Milling Blade is for milling grains to make cereals. Note: The Milling Blade is only used on the Short Cup. I've never used this.  I can't be bothered to make cereal.  I buy Gerber cereals.  Both blades are BPA-free and dishwasher-safe.

    The Pocket Nutritionist
    The "magic" behind the Baby Bullet Baby Food Making System starts with your handy in-store companion, the "Pocket Nutritionist" which teaches parents:
    • Which foods to avoid in the first year
    • Which foods should be organic
    • How to choose a well rounded weekly menu
    • How to select the freshest produce
    • Exactly how much produce to buy to meet your baby's needs
    • The health benefits associated with the foods your baby eats
    • And more!
    This book is has some good info, although I admit I've never used it.

    The Baby Bullet User Manual and Cookbook
    This wonderfully comprehensive, easy to follow book contains everything you need to know about operating the Baby Bullet and feeding your child for the first 18 months.
    The book includes:
    • The signs that Baby is ready to start on solids
    • The "No-No" Food List for the first year
    • A Step-By-Step plan for Baby's first meal
    • The proper schedule for introducing new foods
    • Eating schedules for each stage of development
    • Wholesome recipes!
    • A food journal for tracking favorites and reactions to foods
    • How to choose a well rounded weekly menu
    • And much, much more!
    LOTS of great info in this book!

    Six Storage Cups with Date-Dial Lids
    Your Baby Bullet System comes with 6 revolutionary Date-Dial Storage Cups that are both refrigerator and freezer friendly. Simply spoon your baby food in, twist on the lid and turn the Date-Dial to show the date you created the food. Now you never have to guess when you made the food - you'll know exactly when you made it. The Date-Dial Storage Cups are BPA-free and dishwasher-safe (top rack only).  These are in a CONSTANT rotation.  They're either in the freezer, fridge thawing or empty in the cupboard awaiting the next batch of food.  The kit also includes a handy storage tray that keeps them in place.  These are microwave safe, so to thaw food I either microwave in 10 second intervals, or put the jar in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes and shake to mix.

    The Batch Tray
    To save even more time and money, it's easy to make large batches of your baby's favorite foods and freeze them for later use. The Baby Bullet Batch Tray is perfect for freezing over 24 ounces of baby food and the BPA-free silicone "easy pop" cups make it a breeze to pop out one serving, several servings, or all 12 Baby Bullet servings with ease. This tray is awesome.  Not too big, it's soft so it's relatively easy to push out the frozen cubes (if they're REALLY stuck, I let the tray sit on the counter for a few minutes so the outside starts to melt, and they pop out easily).  And it holds a lot.  The cubes are the exact same size as the jars.  So I've been popping out the cubes into "fruit" and "vegetable" ziplock bags and then I thaw the food in an empty storage cup.  This way I can use the tray for additional batches.

    The Soft Tip Spatula
    The Baby Bullet Soft-Tip Spatula has been specifically designed to get your baby food creations into the Baby Bullet storage vessels with ease. This spatula is dishwasher safe (top shelf only), but can typically be cleaned with just a quick rinse with warm soapy water.  This is a little big but it does a decent job of scraping out stuck purees.  That said, a spoon works just as well!

    I LOVE this system.  I LOVE the fact that I know exactly what's in my baby's food - water and fruit/vegetables.  So far we've made peas, sweet potato, butternut squash, apples, bananas, pears, green beans and peaches.  We haven't attempted meats yet, but that's next on the agenda,  Jarred meats are not that appetizing, so I'm hoping I can do a better job myself.

    Other moms ask me how I find the time to make baby food in the midst of everything else.  To be honest, it really is easy with the BB!  Today I made 5 servings of bananas from 3 over-ripe bananas that I would've tossed tomorrow (I like them on the greener side).  It literally took 5 minutes to peel, puree, pour in the tray and pop into the freezer.  On a night where I had more time, I got 34 servings of food for $7.  It was a combination of pears, sweet potato, green beans and bananas.  There's NO WAY you could buy that much food for so little.

    Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against jarred food.  In fact, I buy organic prunes (Noah gets constipated easily and they help to keep things moving) and jarred meats (Noah's liking chicken casserole and beef/veg and spaghetti).  I also keep some jars on hand for times when we aren't able to keep food cold.  I just like the idea that I can make it fresh, control the ingredients, and save some money!

    I've used it so much that I bought the storage expansion kit, which includes an extra freezer tray and 6 extra storage jars and a storage tray.  I also got the recipe book, which has lots of great suggestions for combo meals, which we will be moving to very soon.

    What's your favourite baby food to make?

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Breaking the swaddle habit

    After 6 months of swaddling, reswaddling and uber-swaddling, we finally decided it was time to move Noah to a sleep sack.  He's at a point where he's very adept at maneuvering his soother back into his mouth, and after we sleep trained him, we realized he was only waking for his soother (which meant we were up several times a night, staggering down the hall to put it back in).  He's a very tactile baby, and he's always holding onto something when he's awake.  When he's upset his arms flail and his hands/fingers move spastically.  We were worried it would be a rough but necessary transition, for all our sakes!

    On day 1, I decided to try the sleep sack with his afternoon nap, when he was REALLY tired.  It worked great!  Almost too good to be true.  I decided to push my luck and try it at bedtime and it was a disaster.  He wasn't quite ready for bed when we put him down, and usually we can put him down awake and he'll soothe himself, but this was too much for him.  So after 40 minutes of him crying and shouting, I swaddled him and he was asleep within ten minutes.  At that point I decided we needed to master naps before we could tackle overnight.

    For the next three days, he was in the sack for his morning and afternoon naps.  I made sure there were plenty of soothers nearby so he could easily find one when he wanted it.  He also had his two comfort blankets (a bunny and a lamb) on either side so he could hold onto them.

    Once we mastered the naps, which went a lot smoother than I expected, we decided to try bedtime again.  The first night we tried it, I let him fall asleep in my arms before transitioning him to the sack in his crib.  He didn't wake during the process, and he even slept through the night!  Success!  The only "bump" was putting him back to bed after his dream feed.  He woke up and it took him about ten minutes to settle.

    After a few nights, we were able to put him down like we used to - awake with his bedside light on.  After we zip him up, we kiss his forehead and turn off the light.  He settles in about ten minutes and he's been sleeping through the night for about a week now - whoo hoo!

    I have three sacks, one that's lightweight for hot days, and two heavier ones for the cooler nights.  We make sure to adjust his jammies and sack according to the weather so he isn't too hot or cold.  It's also good to have a backup in case of "accidents"!

    He seems to have adjusted to the "freedom" nicely.  In fact, he's become quite mobile during the night.  Sometimes we find him sleeping on his side, sometimes he's turned sideways with his head against one bumper and his feet on the opposite bumper.  A few times we've even found him turned around with his head at the other end of the crib.

    Funny kid.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Moving so fast!

    Noah is six months this Sunday.  I can't believe how fast (and at times, how slowly) the last six months have gone by.  His baptism is Sunday afternoon and we're hosting about 30 family members at our house afterward.  Everyone is excited to see our little man.

    The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  He's absolutely loving his solids, including rice cereal, peas (took some time to warm up to them), sweet potato, butternut squash, pears, bananas and apples.  He's drinking a little bit less, so we give him his bottle first and top up with solids about half an hour later.

    Last week, after many months of drooling, red cheeks and diaper rash, two teeth finally poked through.  We were convinced it was his eye teeth bugging him, but lo and behold it's his bottom middle teeth.  They're taking forever to come in, but he seems to be in better spirits now.  I can't wait for them to be all the way in, he looks SO cute!

    He's moving around a lot now.  He can roll easily from side to side but still gets stuck on his tummy.  His latest move is what I call the "baby plank" - he lifts his head/torso and points his toes in the air like he's trying to do a situp.  It's hilarious to watch.  I'm sure it's strengthening his core, which he needs because he still topples over when I sit him up.

    Sleep patterns are still erratic.  We haven't tried sleep training again (yet) because I know in many instances his teeth are the reason for his wakeups.  But I also know that he's hopelessly addicted to his soother because as soon as we pop it back in, he falls asleep again.  We've been double swaddling him (a la uber swaddle), which means he can't put his soother back in himself (which he's gotten quite adept at during the day).  So yesterday I decided to try him in a sleep sack - arms out - for his naps.  It was a success!  We attempted it at bedtime, but hubby was making a huge racket in the garage underneath him as he went down, so we started on the wrong foot.  It takes him a little longer to settle in the sleep sack, but boy does he look cute once he's out!  He's napping now and I have five soothers in his crib, so if it falls out, he can easily find a replacement.  We will keep trying at nighttime, because I feel bad that he has to be "tied up".  It also makes it difficult when other people put him to bed and they don't know the "technique".

    Our little man is growing and changing so fast.  We've really seen his personality come out over the last month.  He's very fiery at times, but he laughs and smiles a lot, and boy does he love his mommy (his face lights up when he sees me).  I know it may cause problems if he's too attached, but right now I don't care.  I love the look of excitement on his face when I go up to "rescue" him from his crib!

    Speaking of which....I think he's waking up!!

    Sleep sack nap....success! Now to get him to do it at nite! #... on Twitpic

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Sleep training - an ongoing journey

    The last few weeks has been a rollercoaster of sleep patterns.  At first, Noah took to the new sleep routine really well.  For about 10 days, he was able to settle himself without hubby or I intervening.  It was wonderful to not get out of bed at night! 

    And then the teething started again.  He would wake up shrieking like someone hurt him, so I would get up and give him Tempra and Oragel and his soother to calm him.  I'd only have to get up once, usually around 2am, and then he'd sleep till 7:30 or so.  This lasted nearly a week.  Unfortunately Noah took this to mean that when he'd scream, we'd come running.

    So now we're back to a few wakeups a night, and him wanting his soother.  Last week we got lazy and gave it to him right away.  But then we noticed he was waking more frequently every night.  On Sunday I decided to let him cry, and he went on and off for 1.5 hours (from 2:30-4am) and it was exhausting!  But then he slept for the rest of the night and was fine in the morning.  I attempted to let him cry last night but hubby lost patience (the broken sleep is making it hard for him to focus at work) and asked me to give him the soother.  So I ended up getting up THREE times last night.

    This will not happen again tonight.  If I have to sleep in the guest room so hubby gets a decent sleep for the next few nights, we WILL get him back on track.  I know he can do it.  The frustrating part is that he slept thru the night on Friday, and his routine was identical to every other day.

    Sleep training isn't a one shot deal.  You have to stick to it and not go back on bad habits, because babies will happily let you come in and soothe them.  We've been through this once before, hopefully this time he'll get the point a little faster!

    Wish us luck!

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    Sweet Potato....he likes it!

    On the move

    After about a month of trying, Noah is FINALLY rolling over!  You'll see in the videos that he swings his torso and legs to flip himself.  At first he could only roll to the right, but now he's rolling both ways.  The only challenge is that he doesn't realize he can flip from his tummy to his back (he was doing that before he could roll the other way, but I think he's forgotten), so I'm eternally running to flip him when he's screaming because he's stuck.  What a funny boy!

    I'm a little worried because I know this is only the beginning and soon he'll be crawling and then running around the house. Soon it will be time for baby gates and moving to our basement where he can't get into as much trouble as our living room!  How time flies!


    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Our solid food adventure

    Once Noah was successful at sleeping through the night (he still wakes once or twice but is able to settle himself), we decided it was time to start solid foods.  The doctor said he could try them at 5 months (which is technically tomorrow), but he's been eating so much lately that we figured a week or two early wouldn't hurt.

    Our first solid food was rice cereal.  At first it was pretty watered down, to get him used to the taste.  But now I'm making it a bit thicker because it's easier to feed him.  And he LOVES it!!

    A week after starting rice cereal (you're supposed to wait at least 4 days between food introductions to monitor for allergic reactions), we decided it was time for vegetables.  We received a Baby Bullet as a shower gift and I couldn't wait to try it!  I decided to try peas as our first vegetable.  Little did I know that it's not always a baby pleaser.  I pureed fresh peas with a bit of water and portioned them into the cute Baby Bullet cups.  Watch the video below to see how our first pea experience went:

    Needless to say, he wasn't a fan.  We decided to wait a couple days before trying them again (I read you should try everything 3 times before giving up).  So last night we tried them again.

    You'll see by his expression that he's not completely won over, but his reaction this time was much less dramatic.  We shall try again tonight before moving on to sweet potato!

    What foods did you start with?  Any suggestions for making peas a little more tolerable?

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Drifting thoughts

    Yesterday I was holding Noah as he was falling asleep and he was staring up at me from his big blue eyes and cooing at me.  At that moment I began to wonder what Olivia's eyes would have looked like.  Would her face have looked like his?  Tears began to flow and he continued to stare quizzically at me, like he was trying to understand what was wrong.

    I will never know the answers to those questions, and that makes my heart ache.  But at the same time, we are blessed with a beautiful child who brightens each and every day and warms our hearts.  We will never forget our little girl, but we also can't live in the past.  Life must go on, and we need to celebrate life rather than wallow in death.

    Robert Munsch wrote "Love You Forever" as a song after his wife delivered two stillborn babies.  You can read his post about it here:

    I can't think of any better words to sum up how we feel about our angel and rainbow babies:

    “I’ll love you forever,
    I’ll like you for always,
    as long as I’m living
    my baby you’ll be.”

    Today, August 19, is a day of hope.  A day of "honouring and remembering the lives of babies and children that could not stay with us. By doing this we are speaking out about the death of babies whether it is through pregnancy, infant or even child loss."  For me, this is every day.  But it's nice to have special days where angel baby parents can come together and gain strength from each other's sorrows.

    Click here for more information and resources.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Someone is proud and well rested!

    Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

    Sleep Training - Days 4 to 6

    And he's sleeping through the night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    On Sunday night he woke briefly at 1:30am, but settled himself fast.  Then he slept till 6:55am without stirring.  I was so shocked, I woke up every hour just to listen for him!

    On Monday he woke at 1:40am and 5:20am, but settled himself.  He tried to wake up for the day at 6:20am but I gave him his soother and he slept till 7:45am.

    Last night he woke briefly at 2:30am, settled himself and then slept till 7:20am.

    A few sleepless nights was DEFINITELY worth it.  Now if only I could sleep through the night without waking up!  I suspect it will take me a few days to break out of my automatic waking.  But for now, we shall celebrate!!!

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Sleep Training - Day 3

    As I mentioned in my previous post, my sister in law had Noah for the day while we went to a wedding.  He napped for 90 mins for us in the morning, so we knew we'd set him on the right path for the day.  We dropped him off at noon, and headed to Toronto.  We were so excited to stay in a hotel and get a full night of interrupted sleep.  So much so that we snuck in a nap between the wedding and reception!

    She said he had some good naps in the afternoon and went to sleep easily for her.  He slept through until 2am but was up on and off till 4am.  After that, he slept till 7:30.  We were SO thankful that she was committed to upholding our training.  She once did it with her kids (now 5 and 7) so we knew she'd be good at it (I remember her calling me crying when she did it with her first and you could hear him wailing in the background.  Poor girl!).  The nice thing is that when Noah cries, he sounds more ticked off than anything, so it's fairly easy to leave him there to work it out himself.

    So that's three days.....let's see what night 4 brings!

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Sleep Training - Day 2

    Night two was pretty much the same as night one.  We continued the approach during the day for naps, and were able to stretch his afternoon nap to 90 minutes.  He went to bed easily (as always) and had a brief wakeup at 9:30pm.  We let him go and he settled himself in less than 10 minutes.  Once we went to bed, we were hopeful, yet realistic, about what the night ahead held in store for us.  He woke briefly at 1:30 and settled himself in less than 10 minutes, without us going in.  He then slept till 3:20...and was up on and off until 5am!  We went in a couple times after waiting at least 10 minutes, and found he actually got angrier when he saw us.  I suspect it confused him and ticked him off that we were standing over him and not picking him up.  By 5am he was exhausted and finally crashed, and he slept till 8am.

    Everyone says it takes three days for something to stick...we shall see if that theory is accurate.  We're headed to a wedding tonight so my sister in law is babysitting.  Bless her commitment to upholding our efforts!  She doesn't want to derail everything so she's bringing him back to our house to sleep.  We wish her luck!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Sleep Training - Day 1

    A few weeks ago we tried letting Noah cry at the times of the night where we knew he was waking out of habit instead of hunger.  We knew it was habit because he was waking at the EXACT same time every night for multiple days and would go right back to sleep with his soother.  After one night, he dropped 1 of his 2 night feeds and slept till 4:30am.  He would then sleep till 7-8am.  We were ecstatic!  Unfortunately it was short lived and within a few days his sleep actually got worse!  He started waking at 145 and 245 EVERY night, and fed around 4am.  After 2 weeks of battling him without success, I threw in the towel and went back to 2 feeds.  But it didn't stop those first 2 wakeups!

    2 nights ago was the worst, he was WIDE awake for those first 2 wakeups and refused to settle.  The feeds weren't helping and I was exhausted!  I had tried moving him to a 4 hour eating schedule during the day but I think it made him worse at night.  4 hours was too long between bottles and he was absolutely famished by feed time.  Plus it was a long time to keep him awake.

    So yesterday morning I woke up and decided I was taking back the control.  We would go back to 3 hour feeds, and try bigger bottles at each feed.  For the last month we'd been alternating 4 and 6oz bottles during the day, so yesterday I offered 6oz at EVERY feed and he finished EVERY last drop!  He ate 38oz yesterday, and he's been trending at 32-34 for the past month, which tells me he needs bigger bottles more frequently.

    So now we had the feeding part tackled, it was time to attack the unnecessary wakeups.  We decided to give Controlled Crying a go, because we've heard of its success from a number of friends.  I tried the Baby Whisperer Pick Up/Put Down approach, but all it did was tick him off more.

    Noah is generally a good napper, and always sleeps 90 mins in the morning.  He USED to sleep 90 mins in the afternoon but the last few weeks that nap has been getting shorter, with him waking at 45-60 mins for his soother or just to get up.  So yesterday when he woke up at 45 minutes, I didn't go in.  Instead I waited 10 mins and THEN went in.  I stroked his head and cheek for 2 mins and when he didn't settle I left.  I waited another 10, and then went back in again.  He still didn't settle so I left.  And then miraculously he stopped crying on his own after a few minutes.  He let out one last whimper and then went back to sleep for another half hour.  Success!

    We've been dream feeding him since week 3 and lately he's started waking early for that too.  Usually it's around 1045/1100, depending on when his last feed was.  Last night he was due at 11 but woke at 1015.  I used the same technique as nap time and after 2x10min sessions he settled and fell asleep.  I've noticed he can't settle with me in the room, I think because he can't understand why I'm not picking him up.  But as soon as I leave, he lets out one final shout, and then settles down.  So his dream feed was at the proper time, but he only at 3 of the 6oz I offered, which told me I had "loaded him up" adequately during the day.

    I was optimistic but realistic about the night ahead.  Here's how it went:

    120am - wakeup, let cry for 10 mins
    130am - attempt to console for 2 mins
    132am - let cry for another 10 mins
    142am - attempt to console for 2 mins, leave and he let out a final "shout" and settled down
    2:05 - wakeup, let cry for 10 mins
    2:15 - attempt to console for 2 mins
    2:17 - let cry...he settles after less than 10 on his own!

    This went on until 2:40, and he continued to squeak and settle himself in shorter increments of time.  At 2:40 he fell asleep and stayed asleep till 430.

    When he woke at 4:30 we decided to let him cry rather than feed, just to see what would happen.  He cried for 10 and hubby went in.  After 2 mins he left, Noah let out a final shout, and passed out till.....wait for it....8am!!

    So he made it through the night without a feed.  He ate 8oz for breakfast but he woke up happy and squealing, so he wasn't damaged by the night's events.  My goal today is to get close to 38oz into him during the waking hours and dream feed, and continue what we started yesterday.  I will also leave him for 15 minutes today to see if he can self soothe.

    While I'm utterly exhausted, I'm also excited about the prospect that my little guy COULD be sleeping through the night soon.  Fingers crossed!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Favourite toys

    Recently I've been chatting with other new moms about age-appropriate toys for our infants.  Noah has a lot of toys but there's a number of favourites among the bunch.  I thought I'd share them here in case you're looking for ideas.  All of these are easy for him to hold (he's just learned to use his fingers) and put in his mouth (everything goes in there these days because of teething) and he plays with them multiple times a day.

    Baby Neptune Ocean Adventure Play Mat (Baby Einstein):  Noah spends HOURS a day on this mat.  Our favourite feature is the sound and light machine that keeps him entertained.  It's very easy to fold into the carrying bag so you can take it with you.  We usually toss a bunch of toys on it so he has lots to choose from.

    Owl & Friends Ball Trio (Skip Hop):  We have these hanging on hooks beside his change pad.  Two of them have bells inside and he loves to swat at and kick them while we're changing his diaper and clothes.

    Skwish Classic (Manhattan Toys):  This is the newest addition and was an immediate hit.  It's held together with bungee cords so it's flexible and very easy to hold.  He loves to put the corner balls in his mouth.

    Snuggle & Teethe Elephant (Bright Starts):  This guy goes with Noah in his car seat.  He loves the crinkly belly and loves to stroke his fur while we're on the go.  There's teething bits on the feet as well (he hasn't discovered those yet).

    Soft Activity Book (Skip Hop):  He's still learning to use the book but when we're out shopping and he gets bored, I give this to him and it occupies him for a bit.  There's crinkly pages, soft textures and moving pieces inside.

    Sophie The Giraffe:  What child doesn't love Sophie?  Even though she's a bit expensive, she's a great toy.  Easy to hold, and her rubber is super soft so he LOVES to gnaw on her head and legs.

    Start Your Senses Rattle A Round (Bright Starts):  We got this one in a birthday party loot bag and he LOVES it!  The ring is the perfect size to hold and he loves to shake it and gnaw on it.  I think he also likes the noise of the shaker ball.

    Whoozit (Manhattan Toys):  We have this guy hanging on one of his bouncy chairs (one with no activities so otherwise he'd be bored and fed up fast).  There's lots to look at and grab, he's a big fan of the Whoozit.

    Neptune Soother (Baby Einstein):  We have this hanging on the side of the crib and we turn it on in the morning when he's waking up.  He loves to lie and watch the fish go by.  I only use the aquarium sounds feature, I don't love the music playlist.  I like that it has a remote so we can turn it back on from his doorway.  The only downside is that it doesn't stay on for very long.

    Whoozit Grabbitz Ball (Manhattan Toys):  I found this on a clearance table at Babies R Us and he loved it immediately.  It looks strange but the plastic rings are easy for him to hold and the "balls" are soft and crinkly.  This is another playmat regular toy.

    Any suggestions for other must-have toys for a 4.5 month old?  I'd love to hear them!

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    4.5 months and growing fast!

    Noah had his four month appointment last week (a couple weeks late because his doctor was away - he was 19 weeks on Friday).  He's now 15.5lbs and 62cm long (he gained 3lbs and 4cm in two months).  He's developing beautifully!  He can roll from his tummy to his back and he's working on rolling both ways from his back.  He's laughing a lot and vocalizing constantly.  He LOVES to be sung to, and to watch other kids play.  It's hard to believe he's nearly five months, I can't imagine life without him!  Here's a few new pictures of our little man:
    Relaxing at his first pool party

    Beach baby

    Swimming with daddy, his new favourite activity (check out his footprint tattoo on daddy's shoulder!)

    Hamming it up for the camera

    Who could resist those eyes?

    Very focused playing - he loves his highchair!

    And the adventure continues

    I know I say this every time I post, but I can't believe a whole month has passed and I haven't posted!  You would think with all the nap time that happens these days that I'd have time, but usually that "free" time is spent cleaning, doing laundry, washing bottles or napping myself!

    The last month has been a sleeping roller coaster.  Noah has two upper eye teeth coming in and he's been pretty moody.  On top of that, he's been waking up screaming on a regular basis (and not just a "I need my soother" scream, a blood-curdling "I'm in pain" scream).  Needless to say, nighttime has been an adventure.

    Last weekend we decided to start sleep training him, because he was eating less and less each night (he was waking at 2 and 5 and sleeping till 7), which made me think the wake ups were more out of habit.  Hubby and I agreed we'd let him cry for 5 minutes before going in, and we wouldn't pick him up - instead we'd try to soothe him by talking to him and stroking his cheek/head.  If he didn't settle within a minute, we'd leave for another 5.  If that didn't work, THEN we'd pick him up.  We wanted to ease him into it so it wasn't too traumatic.

    Well it worked...for a few nights.  After two nights he dropped the first feed and slept till 3 and then till 7.  We were thrilled!  Until the teething cough appeared.  He has so much saliva right now that it's choking him up.  He sounds like he has a chest cold but the Dr. said his chest was clear and it was drool-driven.  Great....there's nothing we can do.  Well this cough has worsened and now it wakes him up.  I've tried using a steam vaporizer and while there's been an improvement, he's now waking at 145, 245 and 400 each night.  The first two wake ups are habit/comfort, I'm convinced of it, because he doesn't need to eat till 4.  The last two nights we let him cry for 5 mins for both of those wake ups and when we went in, he settled right away.  The problem is that those wake ups aren't going away, and it's been almost a week.  I think it started with the cough but now he's fallen into old habits.

    So tonight we'll leave him for ten minutes and see how it goes.  Last night he slept till 5:30 after those wake ups.  In fact, WE woke up and he was still sleeping.  I suppose we should have left him but we were so confused and tired, we decided to dream feed him.  Then he slept till 8:20.  I'm not complaining about the sleep-in but I would LOVE if he dropped the wake ups and only slept till 7.

    I know we'll get there, he's shown me he CAN do it, we just need to show him HOW to.  Wish us luck!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011


    And so continues the struggle of getting some consistency in Noah's routine.  Every night is different!  Last week he was every 3 hours for a few days, then on Friday he slept 6 hours (then 3 more), Sat he was up every 3, Sunday he gave me two 4 hour stretches, and last night he was back to every 3 hours.

    I give up trying to predict how he'll sleep, and just pray that eventually he will become a little more consistent.  Until then, I will try not to get too frustrated and stay optimistic that it will...indeed...get better!

    Remembering our little angel

    For some time now, I've been thinking about getting a memorial tattoo for Olivia. B got Olivia's name in Japanese characters on his back a few months after she passed.  When Noah was born, B decided to get a tattoo of his footprints on his shoulder.  I decided to use this as an opportunity to do something.  I decided to cover up a small whale tattoo I got when I was 15 (not a well thought out decision!) with a forget-me-not flower and her footprint. I'm really happy with the final result:

    Now I have a permanent and daily reminder of our little angel.  And someday we will tell Noah about his big sister watching over him from heaven.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    The wild wild west

    I swear, just when I think I have Noah figured out, he turns the tables on me!

    For the past few weeks, he's been giving us a 4-5 hour stretch from his dream feed to his first feed, and then another 3 hours until wakeup.  It means he's waking a lot earlier (between 6-7am) but I'm getting more uninterrupted sleep so I don't mind.

    Last night he fed every 3 hours, plus woke up another 2 times for his soother and once to be reswaddled (hubby needs to learn the art of tying him up tight!).  Both of us are pretty tired today.  He's napping right now, hopefully for a good stretch so he'll be in a good mood today.

    I've been tracking his eating and napping patterns for the last few days to identify patterns that will help me get him to sleep longer (yes I know I'm delusional to think I can "control" his routine, but I have to try, right?).  I noticed he ate 4oz less yesterday than the last few days, which is basically an entire meal.

    I'm praying this is a blip and he'll go back to his "new" routine soon.  Wish us luck!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Is anyone out there?

    Based on my blog stats, there's lots of people reading my posts, but not many are commenting!  I would LOVE to hear from you, to know why you're reading and hear YOUR story.  Please post a comment to say hello and introduce yourself.  I won't bite, I promise :)

    Cracking the newborn sleeping puzzle

    Over the past week, Noah has been giving us a 4-5 hour stretch each night.  I've noticed that he's finishing more of his bottles during the day, which is probably helping to keep him full so he can sleep longer.  Unfortunately the last two nights he woke up at 1:30 (he broke out of his swaddle) and 2:30 (he dropped his soother) respectively, but then went till about 3:30am.  It's certainly nice to get the longer stretch, the ONLY downside is he's now waking up a lot earlier.  This morning he woke at 6:25am (despite drinking 6oz, 2 more than his usual feed) at 3:30.  We put his soother in and he slept another 20 minutes.  I suspect it was because he was wet and not tired anymore because he refused his bottle until nearly 8am. 

    Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful he's sleeping longer, I just wish there was a 7 on the clock when he decides to start his day.  They're very long days when he gets up that early and hubby doesn't get home from work till 12 hours later!

    I know eventually we'll get all of this sorted out, so for now I will remind myself of those nights where I was lucky to get an hour sleep between each feed...which was pure torture!

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    The second newborn hurdle: sleeping at night

    During the last few months of pregnancy, I barely slept.  I woke several times during the night to pee, get a drink, or for no reason whatsoever.  Near the end I started to embrace it and watch a little TV to get sleepy again.  I knew that once Noah arrived, my sleep would get even worse.  And countless people said "get your sleep while you can"...which really does nothing for an expectant mom.  I don't care how many naps I took before he arrived, nothing could prepare me for true sleep deprivation.
    The first night at the hospital, hubby and I had to share my single bed because we were in a semi-private room (all the private rooms were full).  Noah was in a bassinet three feet away, and woke us frequently with his noises or cries to be fed or changed.  The next morning, we were tired, but still on that "high" you get after your baby is born.

    His first night home, we had him in a co-sleeper in our bed.  It was nice to have him close, because we were both super paranoid, however our queen size bed was not really big enough to accommodate the three of us.  After two uncomfortable nights with him in our bed, we moved him to a bassinet in our room.  He was a few feet away on my side, close enough for me to reach him if he cried during the night.
    I honestly can't remember how frequently he fed in those first weeks.  I suspect it was every 2 hours or so until my milk came in.  For the first week, hubby was off work and helping me.  I would often feed Noah in bed and then put him back in the bassinet.  But when he went back to work, I felt bad and took Noah to his room down the hall to feed so we wouldn't wake him.  It took about an hour each time I woke, as I would feed and change him every time.  I later figured out that changing him woke him up too much, and started to do it every second feed.  Once he caught onto nursing, he would feed for about 15-20 minutes total.  Sometimes he was so tired he would fall asleep on me.  Then I'd have to pull his legs out of his sleeper to wake him up so he could focus (and so I could go back to bed!).

    Noah was swaddled from the very first night.  He quickly figured out how to wriggle out of it, and his flailing arms would wake him up.  We quickly got better at wrapping him up super tight, desperately hoping the swaddle would hold until the next feed.  After he ate and was changed, I wrapped him back up and rocked him to sleep.

    Once we introduced a bottle for a few night feeds, hubby was able to help with the dream feed and on weekends so I could get one longer stretch of sleep.  The dream feed at 10:30 was a big help....hubby would pluck him out of bed asleep and feed him, and then put him back down.  Then he would sleep for another 3 hours.  I would go to bed around 9/9:30 and sleep till 1:30, which was heavenly.  When he's home, he still does the dream feed, and I try to go to bed before he does it so I get a solid 3 hours.

    On weekends, hubby takes the dream feed and the second (4:30 approx) feed so we can both get a long stretch.  It's a HUGE help!  Unfortunately in the first few weeks, rather than stay in Noah's room to settle him (he didn't want his crying to wake me up), he started walking around the house to get him back to sleep.  While he had the best of intentions, it became a huge pain after a few weeks.  I would end up walking from the front to the back of the house for 30-40 minutes after every night feed to get him to sleep.  I was losing my mind!

    Eventually, I put my foot down and decided we needed to break the cycle.  So I started keeping Noah in his room and we would walk around his room to get him to sleep.  I noticed it was starting to take less time, and decided to try putting him down without much rocking, but swaddled and with his soother.  To my surprise, it worked!  He could still be slightly awake, and I could put him down and he would settle himself.  Sometimes I would have to get up a few times and pop his soother back in.

    After rereading the Baby Whisperer for the hundredth time, I decided to try her "shush pat" method, which promised to get baby to sleep so I wouldn't have to keep getting up to put the soother in.  It worked very well, and took anywhere from 2-10 minutes for him to fall into a deep sleep.  The idea is simple, put baby down and pat their tummy while saying "shhhh" until they fall asleep.  I could tell when he was "out" when his breathing changed from quick panting to a slow pace.  Usually he would take one big breath and sigh as a transition. 

    The last week, I've started putting him down semi awake again.  The moment he's done feeding and burping, I pick him up and put him down.  We used to use a nightlight, and now I only use the light of the clock radio in his room.  I'm convinced the darkness helps him stay sleepy.  I pat him briefly, make sure the soother is in, and then tiptoe out. 

    For the last two months, Noah has been waking every three hours.  The big difference is how long he's up for.  It used to be an hour, then I was able to get the first feed to 20 minutes and the second to 45-60 (for some reason he was wide awake at the 4:30 feed for WEEKS and it took forever to get him down), and how he's down in 20-25 minutes at both feeds. 
    Over the last week, Noah started giving me a three and a half to four hour stretch from his dream feed.  On Monday he slept FIVE HOURS!  I woke at 3:30 totally confused and asked hubby if he fed him at 1:30.  He said he didn't, and we realized he finally dropped the first feed.  I was so proud and excited at the promise of more sleep.  But last night he went back to every three hours.  I wish I knew what I did to trigger the longer stretch, or maybe I didn't do anything!  It's all such a frustrating guessing game sometimes!

    Needless to say, more sleep is definitely on the horizon, and I know if I'm patient, he will get there eventually.  In the meantime, I will continue to live the life of a #zombiemom.

    Do you have a newborn who's sleeping through the night?  What's your secret?

    1 day old (the morning after he was born)
    1 week old (when he was so small we could use receiving blankets to swaddle,
    now we need the heavy-duty swaddle blankets!)
    1 month old (arms are always over his head during daytime naps)

    2 months old (he loves to nap with mommy & daddy)
    3 months old (while I'm writing this post!)

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    The first newborn hurdle: feeding

    Moments after Noah was born, the nurse lay him across my chest so we could meet for the first time.  Then they swept him away to clean him up, check his vitals and assign an Apgar Score (I found out later he got a 9).  In the meantime, the Dr. delivered the placenta, added some stitches (ouch!) and cleaned me up.  Within minutes we were both wrapped in cozy blankets and staring into each other's eyes again.

    I asked the nurse about breastfeeding and she helped me to place him onto my breast for the first time.  I will never forget the look on his face - his mouth was WIDE open and he latched onto me like a hungry animal!  At first it pinched, which surprised me, and then it slowly got better.  Over the next day at the hospital, I nursed Noah every few hours.  He was only getting colostrum but it seemed to satisfy his tiny tummy.

    As we were leaving the hospital, the nurse gave me a small box of ready to feed formula, "just in case" we needed a late night top up.  Later when I told the lactation consultant about this, she was furious!

    The next day, I started pumping.  The nurse suggested I try it to get my supply going.  For the first few days there wasn't much, but then my milk came in.  And boy did it come in!  I had SO much that when I was feeding Noah and I would "let down", it would often choke him and he would pull off.  And then, of course, the milk would keep coming, so both of us were frequently wet and frustrated.

    Generally breastfeeding went well.  He fed better on the left side than the right side, possibly because the right supply was significantly more.  At times he was screaming because he was hungry, and I was trying desperately to help him latch, but he had his hand on my chest pushing me away.  It was extremely frustrating because I knew his anger could be solved easily.  But still, we pressed on.  We went to see the lactation consultant at the hospital, and she gave us some great tips for position and approach, but she was even surprised about how strong he was when he fought me.

    I started pumping regularly so we could alternate feeds with a bottle, and so hubby could help with a few night feeds.  It was a big help but also became a huge chore.  Every time Noah napped, I was pumping.  And I was constantly worried about where his next meal would come from, and if I could pump enough.  It became very stressful, especially when I tried to pump exclusively and my supply started to drop.  When that happened, I went back to 1-2 bottle feeds a day, and the rest on the breast.

    After a few weeks, I noticed that it took a long time to settle Noah after feeds, especially at night.  He was very hard to burp, and it would take about an hour of walking the floor and burping him at night to get him to settle.  And when he was waking every 2.5-3 hours, you can do the math on how much sleep I was actually getting.

    Needless to say, I was exhausted and frustrated (and also very concerned about his gas and subsequent screaming).  I asked the Dr about it and he said that gas was normal, and I shouldn't worry about it.  I pressed at several appointments that something was wrong, but he wasn't concerned.

    At that point I decided to take things into my own hands.  I did some reading and discovered that something in my diet, usually lactose or wheat, could be affecting him and I could do an elimination diet to figure out the cause.  I was barely eating anything That's when I started to consider formula. I spoke to some friends with newborns and they mentioned that there were formulas made for sensitive tummies.  I tried him on Enfamil Gentlease and started to notice a difference.  I was trying to transition him slowly so we were alternating feeds with formula and breastmilk.  Then I noticed that he was screaming in the breastmilk feeds (I was pumping and bottle feeding), but not the formula feeds.  I wasn't sure if it was a latent reaction to the formula or an immediate reaction to my milk.  So we decided to go "cold turkey" to figure out the cause.

    We started him on formula exclusively and overnight he was like a new baby.  He was burping easier and screaming a lot less.  The feeds were much more pleasant.  Then I was faced with a dilemma, try to solve the breastmilk mystery or leave him on the formula.  After much guilt and reflection, I decided that we needed to do what was best for him and what made him we left him on formula.  I continued to pump for a week after, just in case I changed my mind.  But he was doing wonderfully!

    I breastfed Noah for the first six weeks and he's been on formula for the last five.  I have to admit, it's nice to make all of his bottles for the day at once.  No worrying about pumping, whether I have enough supply, keeping a stash of towels nearby for the inevitable "pull off/soaking".  I loved the intimacy and bonding of nursing him for the first six weeks, and I will definitely breastfeed our next child.  But this was the right decision for Noah.  If it was jiving with his tummy, we would still be giving him breastmilk, but since it wasn't, we had to make a decision based on his happiness and well being.

    Before I had Noah, I had low expectations for breastfeeding.  I knew a lot of people who had supply issues or general frustration with the process, so I fully expected I would face some obstacles myself.  That said, it went way better than I ever expected, and I was pleasantly surprised.  I see so many women putting pressure on themselves to nurse, and when it doesn't work out, it's crushing.  I think that going into it with my eyes wide open helped me.  And yes, I got lucky with my supply, but in the end it's about what's best for my baby.

    What were your breastfeeding experiences?