Saturday, June 30, 2007

Random Interactive Stuff & Links

Here's a neat device with which to find your best place to have a baby. Change the weighting of various factors to change the rankings. You can also look up your own city (assuming you live in a major metropolis). Portland looks pretty darn good, while Detroit looks abysmal. Anywhere on the west coast looks pretty good, in fact.

And don't forget the Name Voyager, which I'm sure I posted before. But it's just so cool. I think I would have still chosen the name we did, though I had no idea it had become so popular.

And for those who don't already know, or who lost the link, or whatever, all Limelet's photos get posted here on Flick'r from time to time. Don't I have a link on the sidebar? Guess not. Better do that sometime.

And finally, c'mon! Try listening to a robot reading this blog (links also still on sidebar). It's funny! Especially when it has to read the phrase, here comes your milkies, deet deet.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nine Months or "Sleepie Beepie"

I missed posting for his nine-month birthday earlier this week, though I thought about it.

Anyway, it works. Hallelujah, it works.

I wish that I had known it was okay to be a little bit arbitrary in choosing naptimes. I was too concerned with finding the exactly right sleepy times according to Limelet's circadian cycle, and too concerned with never ever letting him be sleepy for fear of the Dreaded Overtired. I guess maybe it's a common thing that parents keep their babies awake too much, too long--and then can't get them to sleep at night. Turns out I actually had the opposite problem!

Once I decided that we were going to have two naps, darnit--sleepy afternoon or not--things have gone much better. Instead of several half-hour naps and cumulative hours of daylight spent trying to facilitate that sleep, he now sleeps twice a day. It only took a few days to get him into the schedule, too.

I kept his 9:00 a.m. naptime, and then took the average (more or less) of his sleepy times in the afternoon for a 1:30 naptime. The length of his naps has increased and become more stable, and he is actually starting to fall asleep at bedtime now instead of requiring several hours of coaxing to sleep many nights. Thank heavens!

The other thing that has helped a whole lot is the addition of a "calmness" break after Limelet's evening bath. It seemed that bathtime was so exciting that it was actually getting him all riled up each night, no matter how sleepy he was to begin with. So I made bathtime a little earlier, and then once he's bathed and dressed there's a half hour break (with reading and possibly a healthful but complex-carbohydrate-ridden snack, like potatoes) before I actually put him to sleep. This seems to work a whole lot better--he usually falls asleep.

He often still needs a few top-ups for the first few hours, but still that's loads easier than spending the entire four hours (or whatever) trying to get him to sleep in the first place. Part of that is also probably a matter of consolidation of his sleep cycle (maturation-related). He's sleeping much better, at any rate.

Lucky, too, because the disruptive teething is back. Or continuing. But it seems less disruptive to his sleep now--more disruptive to his daytimes. When he's like that, he wants the distraction of 1: being carried constantly and 2: grabbing all interesting objects, or else.

I carried him around so much yesterday that I ended up straining my back when I bent down to pick him up just once more. (Now Daddy has to carry him around all day for a couple days.) The grabbiness made the grocery trip extremely difficult, since everything in the store was apparently highly desirable. At home he mostly wants stuff he can't have, such as the antenna on my phone, raw onions, the hot teakettle, and cleansers. Many times he'll look away while grabbing at something forbidden, as though we can't see it if he can't. So funny.

In other news, we finally realized that Limelet now signs to get his wet nappy changed. It took a while because he makes the sign a lot like he makes the "gimme ride" sign (though more slappy). But now that we realized he's doing it, it's hard to miss. So funny! He also signs for food. It can be easy to miss his signs, because he doesn't usually make eye contact while doing them. He just sort of looks around the room and casually drops a sign out there. But he gets really excited if we respond correctly.

Limelet's nine-month check-up went well, although I can't help worrying because he's now dropped to the 30th percentile for weight. I forgot to ask if that's based on all babies or breastfed ones. However, he is eating a lot of solid foods now (3 to 5 small meals/snacks a day), so I assume that will become somewhat less of a factor. I think a lot of the weight thing's hereditary, rather than a lack of nutrition. I certainly try to feed him all the time, both milk and solid food.

Limelet also seems more interested in crawling these days--he's finally starting to try to get up. It was only a few weeks ago that he started sitting up reliably! I bet it won't be long before he's crawling. He seems to enter developmental stages suddenly instead of gradually.

I'm not looking forward to the transition and to not being around him all the time (let alone pumping milk), although I am looking forward to the internship itself.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Frayed End of My Sleep Rope

I've gotten varied responses as to how to approach Limelet's sleep, even some from non-parents. (If you are a parent yourself, you will quickly guess which is the non-parental response.)

One type of suggestion is that I should basically just wait until he falls asleep on his own, instead of spending so much frustrating time trying to "get" him to sleep. Which is tempting, since that is the frustrating part after all. Unfortunately, this would be analogous to my deciding that instead of going to bed, dimming the lights, and closing my eyes, I will just stay up doing stuff until I fall asleep in my tracks.

While some babies just fall asleep in their cereal bowls (you lucky person who told me that, you), most of them need their sleep to be facilitated, just as we facilitate our own sleep by going to bed and so forth. Some babies seem to need a lot more facilitation than others.

Limelet -- I don't know what his deal is. I really don't. I'm not a dumb or unobservant person. I watch him for even the tiniest signs of sleepiness, so I don't miss that "window" of sleeportunity. He nearly always goes down for his morning nap just fine--often with very little parenting-to-sleep, in just minutes. But that's often the only time. (And I can't predict if it'll be a 20-minute nap, or a 90-minute nap, anyway.)

So anyway. I digress. The other sort of advice is on the opposite end (comment from my two-time-mother friend Karen quoted here:)

I wish you lots of luck in the getting-baby-to-sleep department. I've found that
my kids sleep best when their sleep times are regular and they don't skip naps
or stay up past bedtime. When they're too tired, it takes them much much longer
to get them to fall asleep.

>sigh< .... Oh Karen, you're preaching to the choir here. I totally agree with you; I believe in sleep routines, I really do. I recommend them for my (adult) clients with sleep problems. I even recommend them for myself! I know that establishing a regular sleep rhythm is very important. So he does have a schedule, and it's based on his natural sleepy rhythms as charted very scientifically in a spreadsheet and everything (and what he does looks very much like what most people's babies do, according to the examples I've seen.)

He gets up at the same time every day, he goes to sleep for his first (9:00) nap every morning (for some reason), he has a very regular evening bathtime & bedtime (also established by the circadian observation method) etc.

The problem comes in the afternoon, when he either won't take his second nap, or takes it and then wants a third, or -- who knows. I have been trying for months to establish regular sleep in the afternoon for him, and he just won't go along with it. It's like he can't decide whether he's a two-napper or a three-napper, and it's been like that since he was about 4 months old. His afternoon just usually "messes up" his evening schedule.

I do have to say that the 4-months to 8-months teething bout didn't help at all. It's almost like it established a bad precedent, because afternoons were when the teething became more painful (and disruptive), so his chance to get good sleep habits was undermined. He's teething again lately, but it doesn't seem as bad as those four months were.

As far as sleeply laissez-faire, I've never "skipped" his naps--but I have spent every day for months and months and months trying to actually get him to have those naps! I even use labor-intensive nap-extension techniques (like listening closely to his breathing on the monitor, and running in to nurse him in his sleep before he actually wakes up, which occasionally works.) Obviously, I can't just keep him up all afternoon, because then he's miserable and overtired and would just cry at bedtime.

I have heard so many times and from so many respected sources that overtiredness is the cause of sleep woes, that now I think I've actually been overdoing it the other direction for a long time, maybe from the beginning. I think I have been trying to catch all his sleep windows too early, and then lulling him into too many naps (which end up being too short because he's not that tired). Of course I don't know this for certain, but this making-him-go-to-sleep-all-the-time thing is not working for any of us, so I have to try something different.

So as of this weekend, I've decided that it's going to be two naps. That's all there is to it. He's been teetering on the cusp of two versus three naps for months now, and he's nearly 9 months old. Plenty old enough to be out of the three-nap stage. So I'm making an executive decision to make an afternoon sleepytime and then accustom him to it.

I really want to get him firmly napping and sleeping before I have to go to internship and Daddy has to start staying home, as that will be enough of a big shock to Limelet's routine as is. I guess I can't force him to sleep, but it just seems like this will be a better chance of there being more regularity. We have eight weeks.

If I hear you wishing me luck, then thanks!

I'll need it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Surge Ahead

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I felt Limelet was on the cusp of one of those developmental surges. As indeed he was. So many things have once again changed so quickly, in some cases nearly overnight.

A week ago he was lying down most of the time he wasn't in arms, now he's often sitting up (mostly) unassisted and playing with his little bin of toys. It's so cute. And he's much less frustrated, because now he can be upright and see things even when he's not being carried, as well as reach out and grab the toys he wants instead of waiting for someone to figure out which one and give it to him.

He eats four little meals a day: breakfast, usually chicken and sweet potatoes; second breakfast, usually pintos and pumpkin; lunch, usually oatmeal with fruit; and dinner, usually beef with broccoli and oats. And he has begun having little drinks from his sippy cup at some meals--enriched rice milk or diluted apple juice. He carefully and concentratedly pinches his little crispy fruit puffs and eats them, though they often fall just as he gets one up to his mouth, poor little thing. The other day he actually asked (signed) for food a little while after rejecting the porridge. Guess he just wanted something else, because he was happy to eat.

It's easy to miss his signs unless I'm looking for them. His little hands are always active anyway, and it's not like he's terribly exact with the signs, so I was very happy to figure out that he meant "food." He was becoming frustrated at my denseness.

I'm working on moving his wake-up time to an hour earlier, just by 15 minutes a week, so that by the time I have to go to work, I can still have an hour in the morning with him to get him nursed and perhaps fed. If I say "it's two months until the internship starts" it sounds like a long time, but if I say "it's 8 weeks" then it's clear it's just around the corner.

I'm worried about the transition from me being primary caretaker during the day to Daddy. Not that he'll do anything wrong--he's a great caretaker--but just that Limelet is really attached to having me around all the time. We have to find some more time to have them do things on their own. I also am trying to consolidate the daytime nursing, as he's been such a grazer, casually nursing ten times a day. If we can consolidate it a little, then it will be easier for TheLimey to know when to give him milk, and less traumatic for Limelet.

I hear little sounds--must go try to extend his current nap!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Multipurpose Utility Fluid

Caution! This post mentions eyeballs and infections and gross biological stuff. In case you can't handle that.

Did I mention how cool breastmilk is?

That sore throat I mentioned turned into a bad one, and Limelet had been runny-nosed for a couple days, so we all went to the pedi/family caregiver. Not strep, luckily. The pedi thought it was likely haemophilus (a bacteria), since it was going around, and we'd had contact with children the weekend before. Since the teething trauma had been especially bad last week, I was up really late for several nights in a row, so my immune system was apparently down pretty low.

I think Limelet got the infection first and got better first, I was next, and TheLimey was the last. I was miserable Friday and got steadily better over the weekend, except that it somehow migrated up through my stuffy nose into my right eye. I realized last night that it was not allergies--it was full-blown pinkeye.

I was really annoyed for a few hours thinking that I'd have to go all the way back to the doc and pay for yet another office visit and also get antibiotic eye drops. Then when Limelet awoke me at 11 for a brief nighttime social visit, I suddenly remembered that I already had the cure on hand. As it were.

I've used breastmilk for Limelet's eyes and for his ears, too, which was recommended by the pedi (and La Leche League, of course.) So why not mine? I started last night, rinsing the eye with saline first. I've been using it for less than 24 hours, and the eye is vastly improved. Almost better.

It's like magic! I guess it's also like immunoglobin A, keeping bacteria off mucosal surfaces, 'n' stuff. Not to mention the environment-specific antibodies.

I was already going to nurse as long as I could, but now I'm even more enthused.