Monday, October 31, 2011


So going into this whole parenting adventure, one of the things I said constantly was that I wasn't going to start any bad habits that we would then have to break.
Well, as we all know, I've compromised on EVERYTHING so far, so why not this cardinal rule, too?
At the moment, there are three crutches that Finn seems to need in order to sleep:
1. Miracle blanket. The ultimate swaddling blanket which made our night-time lives so much better a couple of months ago when friends introduced them to us.  It's the only thing that will keep Mr Startle Wiggle contained enough to keep sleeping for five hour stretches.  Since his digestion is getting so much better, and he's not startling as much, I figured he'd be OK sleeping sans swaddle, but I've tried putting him down time and time again in just his jammies, in sleep sacks, more loosely swaddled in other blankets, but he either won't settle or will only sleep for half hour stretches.
2. Sleep Sheep. This little critter plays four different white noises, and I'm not even sure why we started using it. It was a shower gift that I really loved, but wanted to adhere to the aforementioned cardinal rule, so I didn't plan to use it...then we used it when we went away for a weekend, then it just became a part of our bedtime routine, and now it's like a subconscious signal to Finn that it's bedtime. I'm not terribly worried about this crutch, but don't want him growing up to be one of those kids who has to have a fan running or the TV on for him to sleep. I've really worked on making sure that I'm not tiptoeing around him when he's asleep so he doesn't need perfect silence to sleep, but I also don't want noise a requirement in order to get some z's.
3. Nursing to sleep. Oh man, this is the biggie.  It wasn't such a big deal for the first few months, then there was that week when Finn would just go down in his co-sleeper a little drowsy but not asleep, and just sort of settle and fade away. Now, though, I have to get him completely unconscious until his head literally falls off my boob before I can put him down, and even then, it only works about 75% of the time. There have been a few times when Chad or a babysitter has put him down to sleep, so obviously he's capable of it, so maybe I just need to become more creative about ways to get him to relax enough to pass out - boob just seems to do the trick every time. The swaddle helps, the sheep helps, and if we need to stick with those two for a while before he'll go down on his own, I can live with that, but I don't want to be the only one who can put him down if I'm around. I'd like to be able to cook dinner or write some emails (or a blog!) every now and then.
Of course, I'll probably miss it when he doesn't need me anymore. If I've learned anything so far as a mom, it's that I miss some of the things I never thought I would. I can't believe Finn's almost 4 months old. He almost rolled over a couple of times this weekend, is really working on grabbing and holding, has mostly mastered tummy time, and we've set up the Johnny Jump Up on Saturday.  Leaps and bounds, and yes - sometimes I miss his co-sleeper inches from me, being woken up by snuffles and grunts. I DON'T miss his digestive discomfort, or the screaming for three hours at night, that's for sure, but there are things from that time that I do cherish. Time does fly, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One small step for Finn, one giant leap for the wrong direction...

Well, they say that pride go-eth before a fall, and boy have we fallen this week.
Where did my little boy go who was sleeping 2+ hours twice a day, then only waking me once during the night for a quick snack? Where is my little boy who, when put down in bed, would roll over happily and fall asleep?
I guess it's silly for me to have expected a "routine" to have appeared out of nowhere, but it was so successful for almost a week, and I thought I'd hit on some magic solution. I thought Finn had been asking me for weeks to just put him the heck down so he could sleep already, and it was just getting through my thick skull.
Alas, I was mistaken.
This week has been a distinct step in the opposite direction - refusing to be put down, screaming his fool head off while I try to soothe him until I just can't take it anymore, napping in fits and starts for 45 minutes max, waking up oodles during the night, and becoming the lightest sleeper EVER.
I just don't get it. I'm trying to do everything right and it feels like I'm torturing myself and my son instead. No more baby steps forward, only leaps back.
Oops, there he goes. Well, that was a nice half hour.....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dare I say it?

a snoozing Finn - haven't had the guts to take one of him alseep in his room yet.

So it happened like this:
Last week, we went to visit my mom in Connecticut, about five hous qway, not including the 1.25 hour ferry ride. 2 adults, 1 infant, 1 medium sized dog, and all the stuff we would need for a week away from home.  We started our day at 5:30am, and reached our destination at 3:45pm. It was a long day for everyone involved, but I have to say, Finn was a ROCKSTAR. He slept for about 2 hours until we stopped for lunch and a quick outlet shop, nursed, hung out happily for a little
over an hour, and slept again for almost the entire rest of the trip.
I was expecting a hellacious night considering how much the little dude had slept that day, but it was one of the best nights he'd had in a while (up twice to nurse, but only for about an hour total). Not only that, but it was the first night he spent in a room separate from us. Normally at home, he was in a co-sleeper about a foot away from me all night, which didn't do much for my sleep cycle, as he's a really noisy sleeper.  I was a little sad that he didn't seem a little more upset to be separated from us, but must admit that it was blissful...apart from when I got up to check that he was still alive ;)
When we returned home, we spent one night with the little man next to us in the co-sleeper, but it was clear that he was happier in another room, and we were happier with him there.  Since my husband and father have been working on building a crib for Finn since....oh.....May.....and it isn't finished yet, we opted to take the co-sleeper out of our room and put it in Finn's, the open side facing a wall where his crib will eventually go. (Disclaimer: Dad and Chad thought they'd have three solid weeks to work on it, but since Finn decided to show up early and summer is crazy busy on the island, they kind of put the crib on hold for a few months...which is FINE because I expected the baby to be in the co-sleeper for at least six months. The design of the crib is pretty elaborate, too - a 3-in-1 jobber, and neither of them has done much furniture making, even though they're both carpenters).
So step 1: Move Finn out of the room
Step 2: Make sure Finn is getting substantial amounts of sleep during the day. (Step two is sooooo contradictory to me - it took me forever to actually admit that when he sleeps during the day, he sleeps at night... I have a sneaking suspicion that the "colic" we were experiencing was really just a tired baby, but more on that later).
Two days ago, a friend mailed us a little package (how she can be a full-time Master's student, a wife, a mother of three, and remain so thoughtful as to send us sweet and helpful packages, I will never know). Inside were two gifts for Finn, including the cutest L.L. Bean rain jacket EVER with multi-colored octopi on it and one article that I think has seriously changed our lives. It's called "sleep success!", by Maura Rhodes from Parenting Magazine, March 2004, and not only did it fully support Step 1 and Step 2, but it introduced Step 3: putting the baby down while he's still awake.
Let me describe to you our bedtime routine with Finn prior to reading this article:
6:45: start preparing bath and stripping Finn
6:50-7:10ish: bathtime
7:15: baby massage with lavender oil
7:20: swaddle and nursing in bed while Chad reads Winnie-the-Pooh stories (with voices!!!!!)
7:30ish: down for the night
Now, we'd only been doing this a few weeks, and it's not like it was some big intrusion on our lives, but I knew that eventually, we'd have to wean him off it and it might be a little tricky.
This was our bedtime routine last night:
Bathtime and massage the same, just because we like it, but started a little after 7.
Tried nursing and reading - not interested, got really fussy...
7:30: down in his crib, eyes wide open...not a peep until 2:30am.
Not only that, but he took an unprecedented 2&1/2 hour nap yesterday afternoon.
In his room.
WHAT? Are you serious? This is amazing. Not only do I have a solid block of time in the afternoon to be an adult and get stuff done, but I have a baby who is happier and only wakes up once in the night (instead of, oh, five times)?. No s**t.
Now, this has been my reality for a total of about 24 hours. I do realize that it probably won't last and that we may have to adjust, but for Finn to learn to put himself to sleep and to get on a routine at 15 weeks is HUGE for me.
In fact, this blog is brought to you by that article as Finn went down half an hour ago (wide awake), and I haven't heard a peep since. I've taken out the compost, hung a load of laundry on the line, and written a whole blog. I am a new woman.
Hallelujiah (and by the way, I just spelled that right on the first try).
Unfortunately, a friend introduced me to Pinterest last night, and I'm afraid that might be where some of this naptime free time goes today, but you know what? I deserve it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Betwixt and between

I'm still really struggling with how to be the person I was before Finn was born and the person I have to be now - not that I don't love being Finn's mom. I totally do, but I feel like I kind of have to re-learn how to live.
Example: Yesterday morning, I went for a run, and last night, I worked at the restaurant I've worked at during the summers for the past 13 years.  I love working at The Haven. So many of us have worked there forever, so it's more like a social hour than work, and we're treated extremely well by the owner.  It's been great to get back to it, and I've been filling in shifts here and there since early September, but would leave early so I could come home.  Last night (the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend), however, I needed to stay until close, and then we all sat down and had dinner.  It was a fabulous night - everyone was happy, the food was well-timed, and I just felt like I was doing a really good job and having a fun time.  By the time we finished up and I headed home, it was 11:30.  I don't remember the last time I was up until 11:30. By the time I had pumped and gotten into bed, it was 12. Finn woke up at 12:15 and was up every hour or so until he got up for the day at 5. Thank heaven for Chad, who got up with Finn and let me sleep for another couple of hours, even though he hadn't gone to sleep too much earlier.
WHAT made me think that going for a run, followed by toting Finn around all day, followed by running around a restaurant for the next 7 hours and staying up several hours past my normal bedtime was a good idea?!?!?!?  My legs are completely demolished, and I'm utterly exhausted, yet somehow I thought I could just slip back into my old life like a comfortable pair of sneakers?
On top of all of this, at the beginning of September, I was hired as the director of an arts-based non-profit out here. 12-15 hours per week, mostly from home, but with an outside meeting here or there so I can still feel like a productive member of society and have some good adult conversation. Awesome. It's already a really enriching and positive experience for me and I'm so excited to sink my teeth into grant writing and fund raising. I think this is a perfect job for me, and I'm so pumped to have it; however, getting those 12-15 hours in is proving to be a bit of a struggle some weeks. I figured Finn would be on a schedule by now, but the only thing he does regularly is go to sleep at 7:30. I need a solid 2 hour morning nap where I can put him down and get some work done (and, you know, maybe start up a yoga practice again). I feel like I'm constantly trying to do two things at once (I know most of you moms out there are saying, "only TWO?"). I feel guilty hanging out with Finn when I know I should be working, but I feel guilty doing work when Finn is awake and happy. This leaves me with 15 minute snatches while Finn's fallen asleep nursing to return emails or research foundations (before he regurgitates his entire last meal. Dude is having a bit of trouble keeping his lunch down).
It's strange experiencing the whirlwind of the evolution of my identity. I know I'll get there - that who I was and who I am will somehow merge. I mourn some of my old independence and naiveté and look forward to the blasé, "been there, done that" attitude of veteran parents who know what they're doing (or at least know how to pass). For now, I'm somewhere in between and am plugging along.

A side note: thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me - here, on the NPR blog, and elsewhere. It means a lot to me, and makes this experience that much more rewarding.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The answer is no.

No, no, no.
Finn is not sleeping through the night. Therefore, I am not sleeping through the night.
Most days, I'm OK with this, particularly when it slips my mind. Asking me about how I'm sleeping or if he's sleeping through the night YET (as though every other infant in the world already is, and he's some sort of weirdo for continuing to wake up for late night/early morning snacks) reminds me of the days not so long ago when I slept and woke at my own whim, not someone else's and makes me feel more tired).  Dude, he's only three months old and I'm nursing, therefore he still wakes up. There are good nights (10 hours of sleep!!!), and not so good nights (3...blurg), but for the most part, I'm surviving and still manage to have a semblance of a social life.  Ask me again in three months, and I hope to god I'm saying  YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In other news, we're working on our air swallowing situation, and after speaking to a lactation consultant at the hospital where Finn was born, we determined that I'm actually making too much milk.  Now, for a girl whose one huge fear was running out of milk and having to supplement with formula, this was music to my ears, but it's definitely something we've needed to work on.  He's still occasionally swallowing air, but we got some great suggestions, and now my supply has diminished enough so that my boobs aren't aching to the point of popping anymore.  Hurrah!

So now that we've hit the elusive 3 month marker that we've been waiting for, I think I'm starting to get it.  Things are getting a lot more fun - smiles, laughter, interaction, recognition (even though the Pooh on the mobile above his changing table still gets the majority of the squeals of delight).  It's definitely getting easier, and definitely getting more fun...most of the time.

I promise I'll be better about updating - starting a new job and Finn's increased interaction have taken me away from my abundance of free time, but I'm getting back to it, and want to thank you all for joining me on this crazy ride!