Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby Personalities

All caught up! Woo hoo! My Week Fourteen update can happen in real time!

In my New Mom's Group, it's been fun to see how different the babies are, even though they're all within a few weeks of each other in age. The Biggest. The Smallest. The Calmest. The Sleepiest. The Most Physically Advanced (eg, rolling over). LL has always had the distinction of being Most Expressive. When all the babies are lying on blankets on the floor, LL is always the one smiling and giggling and making eyes at all the mothers. The other women want to sit near us so that they can watch him, because it really is very entertaining. (Most of the other babies kick their legs and give an occasional smile, but nothing like the facial expressions and eye contact and giggles that LL does.) When the women are talking, LL is the one babbling continuously to try to join the conversation.

Being Most Expressive also has a dark side: when all the babies are crying, everyone in the room agrees that LL is the loudest. I had heard that a baby's cries always sound louder to its mother than to anyone else, so when LL's cries sounded really loud and his "I'm really pissed off now!" shriek sounded particularly shattering, I assumed it was just me. Then I noticed that in a room of a dozen crying infants, everyone was looking at us. And when the other women want to explain that their babies were upset, they say things like, "My baby was crying really loudly... I mean, like LL loud!" So I asked, and apparently, it's not just me -- his cries are objectively louder and shriller than everyone else's.

That's my LL. I use the word "expressive." Or "passionate." When he's in a playful mood, he's totally captivating. This kid can "talk" to me for 30 minutes at a time, babbling and cooing and giggling non-stop and being awfully cute. But you wouldn't like him when he's angry. There's a famous poem that my mom used to recite about me, with the line "When she was good, she was very very good. But when she was bad, she was horrid." (I really did have a curl right in the middle of my forehead, so it was particularly apt.) LL is the same way. He doesn't cry very often, and he doesn't cry very long, but when he does cry, he wants the entire world to know about it.

Among our friends, there are a lot of babies these days. They cover the full spectrum of baby personalities. At one end is Cranky-Baby, who is never ever happy. This kid is over a year old now, and never really got over his colicky start. He still cries at the slightest thing, and looks worried and mopey the rest of the time. At the other end of the spectrum is Robo-Baby. The calmest kid I've ever seen. We spend a lot of time with him, and I've only heard him cry once, and it only lasted 30 seconds. At first we thought he was just very content, but now that he's over a year old, I find it kind of creepy. The kid doesn't emote. He giggles occasionally when tickled, but mainly he just stares and soaks in the world around him.

Before LL was born, S and I said little prayers to not have a baby as miserable as Cranky-Baby. At the same time, we agreed that having a Robo-Baby would get kind of boring. LL is perfect for us -- he's overall a very happy kid, on the Robo-Baby end of the scale, but with a giant personality to go along with it. And now that LL is over three months old, his crying time has dramatically decreased, and his giggly playful time lasts even longer. He still has his moments, usually when he's over-tired, when I think that my eardrums will pop after just one or two torturous shrieks. But most of my day is now spent playing with him instead of soothing him, and we're having a grand ole time.

We're leaving tomorrow for a week-long visit with my family in the frigid Midwest. Reports on LL's second big vacation, and his first interaction with snow, when we return.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Week Thirteen (December 19)

Week Thirteen was just last week -- we're almost caught up!

LL is three months old! Thus, more professional photos. We also visited my tech start-up company, since there were still several of my coworkers that LL hadn't met. While there, LL posed for pictures with one of the robots, earning him a spot on the company's web page. There were some university visitors touring the company that day, and LL was introduced to them as a young intern. He's growing up so fast!

Week Thirteen was when we really started to get the whole nighttime sleep thing figured out. S responded to most of the nighttime crying, usually requiring only a minute or two of soothing. LL only needs to eat now once each night, and those are the only times I get out of bed. Finally, some decent sleep!

With sleep patterns coming together, we suddenly faced a different problem: poop. I'd read that breastfed babies can sometimes go up to a week without pooping. The previous week, I'd started to get concerned when LL didn't poop for 6 days, and I was all set to call the pediatrician the next morning, when suddenly the dam broke, so to speak. Four huge poops all in a row. LL had never looked uncomfortable or anything, so we assumed he was fine. This week, though, he again went several days without pooping, and by day 4, he was acting uncomfortable. Twisting his body, very fussy, reluctant to eat. The advice nurse gave us a progressive list of things to try, culminating in a glycerin suppository. The suppository finally worked that night, but he only pooped a little, and still didn't want to eat. Then the urine on his diaper started to appear bright yellow (it's usually colorless). These all seemed like bad signs to me. Also, I had taken LL to be weighed the previous week, after his growth spurt, because I was curious about how much he'd gained. When he wasn't eating this week, I took him to be weighed again, since I had the convenient baseline from the previous week. Infants this age are still supposed to be gaining an ounce a day, LL often gains slightly less, so I expected a 5-6 ounce change from the previous week. Instead, he'd only gained half an ounce. (And that included all the extra poop he was holding in!)

I called Dr. K, who had us start giving him bottles of diluted pear juice to try to get things moving. By Friday, he'd pooped one more time, but was still fussy and not wanting to eat. Poor guy! Dr. K was most concerned about his weight. At his two month appointment, LL had been right at the 50th percentile. We were told that the percentile itself isn't important; what matters is that babies are supposed to stay at approximately the same percentile from visit to visit. Unfortunately, LL's current weight drops him from 50th percentile to 30th, a huge drop in just one month.

I thought that maybe the weight loss was because of his increased sleep at night, but Dr. K assured me that it wasn't. So, we were under orders to keep an eye on him, encourage him to eat and poop as much as he can, and bring him in to be weighed again next week. Purely hypothetical question for the peanut gallery: do you know how to encourage a 3-month-old to poop? It's not pleasant for anyone involved.

Week Twelve (December 12)

That one good night of sleep last week was the precursor to quite the growth spurt, during which LL was constantly waking up to eat. It was exhausting, especially coming right after a very trying week at the in-laws and the clingy reprogramming days that followed it. By the end of the week, I was totally burnt out, more than at any other time in the last three months, leading to our sleep breakthrough, described here. We were on our way to better nights!

This week was also when we figured out what to do about day care. I'm going back to work in mid-January, one month away, so we needed to be firming up our day care plans. My top choice, sadly, won't have an opening until March or April, so instead we have reserved a spot at our second choice place. Visiting day cares and making a final decision was traumatic (it still makes my heart stop a bit to think about it) but that is definitely a full post on its own, so for the Week Twelve update I'll just say: we reserved LL a spot in daycare.

On a happier note, this week was LL's first holiday party! S called from work to invite us to a party that afternoon in his office, and LL had a lot of fun cooing and giggling at S's coworkers. Although it still surprises me how weird people are about Christmas. All of S's coworkers know that we're Jewish, yet almost all of them asked me if I was going to have LL's picture taken with Santa, and then looked at me like I was the worst mother in the world when I said "no." Why is it so hard for so many people to get the concept that we don't celebrate Christmas?

This week was also my first night away from LL. My New Mom's Group planned a dinner without babies! A group of us went out for Mexican food, leaving the babies at home with the daddies. The evening alone with LL was particularly easy for S, since LL was asleep when I left for dinner, and was still asleep when I came home. Evening out for Mommy; evening to stay home and play video games for Daddy. Everybody wins.

Week Eleven (December 5)

Week Eleven was all about recovering from Thanksgiving. As expected, LL was very clingy and needy this week, insisting on being carried around the majority of the time. His butt barely touched the floor during Week Ten, and he was reluctant to have it touch the floor this week as well, but without eight million relatives around, he only had me to carry him around. Also, after a week of not napping, he didn't really see the point in napping this week, either. I had to bring out the big guns -- my trusty sling -- to soothe him to sleep for every single nap this week.

Also related to sleep: this week, LL moved from the bassinet in our room to the crib in his nursery! We had planned to transition him next week, after he'd had some time to recover from Thanksgiving, so it was a total accident when it happened. I was soothing him to sleep one night, and he was yelling a lot about how he didn't want to sleep. After pacing around his nursery trying to get him calm, my back was hurting and I needed a moment to stretch. We had been using his crib as a kind of staging area for weeks, a safe place to put him down for a moment. So I put him down in the crib so that I could stretch my back a bit before picking him up again. I put him down... I stretched... and then I noticed that there was silence. And there he was, sound asleep in the crib. I slowly tip-toed out of the room, and that was it -- transition complete. He has slept in his crib every night since.

LL finished this week with his first ever one-wake-up night (as opposed to the 2-3 wake-ups he'd become accustomed to). I credit Charlie, one of the other little boys in my New Mom's Group. Charlie had been sleeping through the night since he was five weeks old (!), so on Thursday, I held LL up to Charlie and asked Charlie to explain to LL how it's done. That night, he only woke up once. Since then, every infant in our group who has had a "conversation" with Charlie has started sleeping better within a week. Charlie has magical powers!

Finally, one more milestone this week: LL adopted his first "transitional object" -- something he clings to when he wants to be soothed. His object of choice is a handmade burp cloth from one of my MIL's friends, white with blue stars and a hand-crocheted edging. He loves it, and no other burp cloth will do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Week Ten (November 28)

LL's first Thanksgiving! The sucky parts of Week Ten are already covered here, so for this Week Ten update, I'll focus on the good parts:
  • First College Football Game: Not just any game, this was The Game. The big college rivalry game. We brought LL to a local sports bar to watch The Game, so I guess this was also Baby's First Pub. And our team won! Woo hoo! Guess the football jinx only applies to NFL games.

  • First Airplane Flight: And thanks to a layover, this was quickly followed by airplane flight number two. (And to get home, flights three and four.) I was really nervous about flying with LL, but he handled it beautifully. He ate and slept and ate and slept and ate. Not so much as a peep out of him all afternoon. We had been advised to either sit in the very front row of the plane (extra leg room, useful for changing diapers) or the very back of the plane (near the bathrooms, space to stand and bounce the baby if needed). Instead, we sat in the very middle, right over the wing. This placement put us as close to the engines as possible, and the loud white noise was irresistible for LL. The dishwasher puts him to sleep at home; a jet engine is a nice substitute while traveling.

  • First Reach for a Toy: LL had been watching and tracking toys before, but he hadn't tried to reach for one himself until this week. His target: a very cute and very soft blue puppy with easy-to-grab big floppy ears.

Week Nine (November 21)

LL turned two months old in Week Nine! This milestone meant two things. First, more professional photos! LL had a great time posing for his photos this time, so we got a lot of great ones where LL is all smiles. Second, he had his two month pediatrician appointment with Dr. K, which included the first big batch of vaccines. The vaccines went well -- the three injected ones made him cry a little, but as soon as they gave him the oral one he calmed down and happily sucked it down. So, oral vaccines join thrush medication and bad kosher wine on the list of bizarre things that LL thinks are delicious. Later in the day, I did give him a single dose of infant Tylenol (which he also loved) when he was being particularly fussy, but other than that, step one of vaccination seemed to go very smoothly.

LL's measurements put him right at the 50th percentile for weight, but at the 70th for length and head size. The big head we knew about (hence, the c-section). But long and lean I didn't see coming, considering that I'm more the short plump type myself.

We kept up the sleep log again this week, and our routine was really coming together. He was getting better about going right back to sleep after eating in the middle of the night, so more often than not, he was getting the 14+ hours of sleep each day that we wanted him to be getting. This was my second week home alone with LL, even more so since S had some out-of-town coworkers visiting this week. His long meetings at work meant that he left early in the morning and stayed at work late, not coming home until after I had put LL to bed for the night. I know that S hated not seeing LL much this week, but left on my own, I was really starting to build my confidence in taking care of LL. Confidence and a routine, just in time to leave for Thanksgiving and mess everything up....

One additional first for this week: LL's first Shabbat service. LL had been to several religious services, both for holidays and for his bris, but he had never been to a weekly Shabbat service at our synagogue. We brought him this week, for my grandmother's yartzeit. (A yartzeit is the anniversary of someone's death, when the prayer for mourning is said to honor the memory. This was the yartzeit for the grandmother that LL is named for.) He was alert and quiet through the entire service, except for one moment of silence during which he let out a giant burp. He's quite the delicate flower, our LL.

Week Eight (November 14)

It was good timing to regain all that independence during Week Seven, because I needed it this week when S went back to work. Week Eight was my first real time alone with LL for more than an hour or two. I was very nervous about doing everything myself without relief, especially since S was generally better at soothing LL than I was. Also, until this week, S had been changing the majority of the diapers. I'd been doing the diaper changes in the middle of the night, since S generally slept all night and left all of LL's care to me until morning, but during the day, he did more than his share of the non-feeding care. (Before LL was born, S and I had agreed: I was in charge of input, S was in charge of output.) Still, the week went fairly well. I was definitely exhausted, but S came home from work every day by 5:30, which helped. We also managed to bring LL to his first "dinner party" this week -- dinner at my cousin's house. As expected, LL slept the entire time.

We really focused on sleep this week, keeping a journal of when LL was sleeping, day and night. He generally was good about going to sleep around 7:00 every night, in his bassinet in our bedroom, but he was still waking up 2-3 times during the night to eat. Also, while he was very considerate about sleeping whenever we went out, he rarely agreed to nap at home, and I had my doubts about how deeply he was sleeping in restaurants and coffeeshops. I hoped that getting him to nap more at home during the day might encourage him to also sleep longer at night. ("Sleep begets sleep" according to the experts.) It worked a little, and by midweek, I'd established a pretty good rhythm with LL, with eat-play-nap cycles every three hours or so during the day.

This week's big milestone: LL discovered his hands! As we were driving home from New Mom's Group, I heard him spit out his pacifier. I braced myself for some crying, but instead, I heard loud messy slurping coming from the back seat. Fingers -- yum! From this point on, we only use the pacifier when we're soothing LL to sleep. When he's out and about, playing or observing the world, he relies on his fingers to satisfy his comfort sucking needs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week Seven (November 7)

LL's first Day Light Savings! (How's that for an important milestone?) Other firsts this week:
  • First Football Party: Well, first football party outside of the hospital. One of our friends actually built a Packers bar inside his house, so we watched the Packers-Titans game there. Sunday's party was quickly followed by LL's second football party, when we watched Monday Night Football at another friend's place. This week was also when we discovered that LL is a little football jinx. Every time he watches a game with me, my team loses. This trend continued all season. You can blame him for the Packers missing the playoffs this year.

  • First Visit to Mommy's Lab: I already wrote about this here but the milestone of being on a university campus for the first time is at least worth noting. If LL is anything like his parents, that's the kind of first that he'll want to know about.

  • First Election: S and I took LL with us to the polls. Despite all the reports of long lines in many precincts in our area, ours was surprisingly empty -- just the three of us and eight poll workers. LL totally charmed the workers, who posed for photos with us as we turned in our ballots, and they let him have his own "I Voted" sticker to wear. All day, when people saw the sticker on an infant, we told them that ACORN had registered him to vote.

  • First Long Sleep: I will forever be convinced that this is related to the voting. The night of the election, while S and I watched election returns on television, LL had his longest stretch of sleep in weeks, from 6:00pm to 1:00am, the start of a solid pattern of good sleep to start each night. We think that LL was so relieved at the imminent change in presidential administrations that he finally relaxed and slept. The election was called early for Obama, which meant that S and I slept peacefully that night as well.
This week was also my post-partum checkup with Dr. M. I was still fairly weak and tender and bleeding at this point, but that all cleared up over the next two weeks or so. Most important was that Dr. M cleared me of all the restrictions I'd been under since the c-section. I drove around running errands all week just because it felt so good to be a bit independent again.

Week Six (October 31)

Week Six was a tough one, since this was also Thrush Week -- the time when breast feeding suddenly and unexpectedly became painful. Thankfully, we met with a lactation consultant (a good one!) and the problem resolved quickly. LL also gained enough by this week to break the 10 pound barrier (double digits!) and was really starting to fill out and plump up.

For LL's first Halloween, we first had coffee with some members of my New Mom's Group. From there, we met S at his office for a Halloween Party, so that LL could meet S's coworkers (and show off his costume -- he was a peapod, very healthy). When we got home, we went trick or treating, just stopping by to visit two neighbors we're friendly with. Mainly, we just wanted to be able to say that LL went trick or treating. He promptly fell asleep when we got home, and then slept through all of the doorbells for the rest of the night.

Week Five (October 24)

After one week on our own, we again had a visitor during Week Five: S's sister stayed with us for several days, and was an awesome help with the cooking and laundry. She's single and has always sworn that she never wants to get married or have children, but watching her with LL, I'm getting the feeling that she's changing her mind.

LL turned one month old this week! In honor of the occasion, we took him to have professional photos taken, which we're planning to do on each of his monthly birthdays. The first photo shoot was a little tough -- he was cranky the entire time, so it was hard to get a good photo. After the photographer finished, we realized that the crankiness was because of a wet diaper. Oops! What a rookie parent mistake.

This week also marked our increased willingness to venture out of the house with LL. As a result, our very social baby had many, many firsts this week:
  • First Birthday Party: LL attended our friend M's birthday party at a restaurant, and slept the entire time.

  • First Coffeeshop: We had such a good morning on Tuesday, we ventured out and met up with a bunch of friends at our favorite local java joint. LL slept the entire time.

  • First Pho: (This one might sound bizarre, but it's tradition, so just go with it.) We have a group of friends who, for nearly ten years now, has been getting together every Thursday at lunch to eat pho together. It's a nice weekly tradition, breaks up the work week a bit, and honestly has been how I've met many of my closest friends. I hadn't been to pho for a long time, but this week we felt brave enough to go with LL, who slept the entire time. Noticing a pattern?

  • First Playdate: I've mentioned that our friends, C and S, were due with their first baby just one day before we were. Because LL was so late, their daughter was born 10 days before him (otherwise known as right on time). They had some health problems, though (first their daughter had to spend some time in the NICU, then C had to be readmitted to the hospital 3 weeks post-partum, very scary) so we weren't able to see them until Week Five. By now, they're all doing great and all at home together, so we were able to introduce the babies for the first time. And yes, LL slept nearly the entire time.

  • First Real Bath: Sitting in the bath: not so fun. Having water poured over the head: tons of fun! LL isn't so keen on baths, but showers are awesome.

  • First Tracking of a Toy: After LL discovered his mobile last week, we thought that he might be old enough to track toys with his eyes. We had a lot of fun slowly moving things in front of his face, side to side. His favorite: this stuffed bunny that my mom bought him, to go with the book Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale which I highly recommend. Great picture book.

  • First Reliable Social Smiles: LL had smiled before, but this was the week when he really figured out the social smiling, and it became easier to coax them out of him. He gets more and more smiley as the weeks go by!
Other fun this week: a good friend of ours was visiting from out of town with her two children, so in addition to getting together with them at our house for a quiet afternoon, we also got together for a giant gathering of children at another friend's house (three infants, two one-year-olds, and a two-year-old). It was quite hectic, and gave us a glimpse of what's to come once LL becomes mobile.

Finally, this very busy week also included the start of my New Mom's Group, which meets at the hospital where LL was born. Thirteen women, all with infants under three months old, meet weekly with a discussion leader to talk about relevant topics. Mainly, though, it's a way to meet other women in the same phase of life. I joined with my friend C. The group ended up being awesome. I've really bonded with many of the women in the group, we get together regularly outside of the weekly scheduled meetings, and we have a group mailing list that has been a great way to ask questions and share tips.

All in all, I will always think of Week Five as LL's real introduction to the world. Enough being sheltered at home: time to venture out!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Week Four (October 17)

On our own at last! Week Four was the first week without visitors, and it really did feel like the first time that I got to spend real quality time with my son. It was a fun week, too. LL noticed a toy for the first time, as we found him staring intently up at his mobile while lying in his crib. When we turned it on, he also gave his first true smile, which we were lucky enough to capture on film. Social smiles weren't quite reliable yet (it was still tough to coax them out of him) but given the right stimulation (usually his mobile or a brightly colored toy or tickling him on his cheek) it was possible. It felt great to finally get some positive feedback!

Overall, this was a quiet week at home. S and I barely left the house, relishing in just being home alone with our son. We didn't even have to cook, since the grandparents had left us with a freezer full of food. Good times! By the end of the week, I felt pleasantly replenished, and ready to face what turned out to be several hectic weeks to come.

Week Three (October 10)

One grandma left, and another set of grandparents arrived. S's parents were around this week. They did a little shopping and cooking as well, but they were much more interested in holding their grandson. S's mom also had the habit of running and picking him up every time he made the smallest sound, even if he was still sound asleep (which, inevitably, would wake him up). The result was that, outside of nursing time, I barely saw my son at all this week, and only when he was hungry or crabby. The stress of having people in our house, constantly, was starting to get to me. Not being able to spend any time with LL was even worse. This week was probably the post-partum low point for me. We were relieved to have the house to ourselves after this week was over, so that we could start establishing our own routines as a family.

The one time that we did have together: Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, for which we again attended the family service. (Yom Kippur also added to the post-partum blues, I think, since it's a very solemn day and always makes me rather melancholy.) When we told Dr. K, at LL's two week checkup, that we had brought him to a Rosh Hashanah children's service, she was a little shocked. ("Normally I tell patients to avoid large crowds and places with lots of kids until Baby is 5-6 weeks old. You went to a place crowded with children with a not-quite-two-week-old? You're awfully brave for first-time parents!") So we did have a bit of a discussion on whether to attend Yom Kippur services at all. Ultimately, though, we decided that we needed to teach LL what we value, right from the start. It felt good to be celebrating such a holy day as our little family of three.

More mundane milestone: LL's umbilical stump fell off! This achievement qualified him for a full bath, though we waited a bit and stuck with sponge baths for a while.

Week Two (October 3)

After a full house for the week of the bris, only my mom was around during Week Two. She was fantastic -- cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping for us while we took care of LL (though we did make sure that she got to spend some quality time with the little one every day, as a reward for her hard work!).

This week was also when we experimented with on-demand feeding. During Week One, we had been told not to let LL go longer than 3 hours without eating, which meant that we kept having to wake him up from a deep sleep in order to force him to eat. We were still figuring out the whole breast feeding thing, and it was hard enough with an awake baby, much less an extremely sleepy one. When we saw the pediatrician, Dr. K., we begged her for permission to let him eat just when he showed us he was hungry. She agreed to let us try it for three days, then come back and weigh him. If he was still gaining weight at a good clip even with fewer feedings, we could make the switch permanently. That night, he slept for 5 hours straight (woo hoo!) and after three days he'd gained plenty, so he's been making his own schedule ever since. (Though it would be several more weeks before he slept like that again!)

This week was also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Me, S, LL, and my mom skipped the long morning service, wanting to avoid the big crowds, and instead attended the afternoon children's service. The rabbi did a special blessing for all of the babies born during the past year, so S and I got to bring LL up to the bimah, where we were singled out for having the youngest baby in the congregation. (When you're only 10 days old, the odds are in your favor that you're the youngest in the crowd.) There were about 25 babies on the bimah, and the rabbi had everyone look around at each other as she remarked that these would be the children who would share Hebrew classes, Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes, and all of childhood's milestones together. ("You're 10 days old. Meet your high school graduation class.") It gave me the chills.

One more milestone for this week: LL was read to for the first time. Grandma read Brown Bear to him, among many many others, all of which he dutifully ignored, but Grandma persisted anyway. Did I mention that Grandma is a children's librarian? Did I mention that, 3 months later, I'm still reading books to LL, and he's still totally ignoring them?

Week One (September 26)

LL is 13 weeks old now, a full three months. I should really be updating on a weekly basis what he's up to, how he's doing, things of that nature. He's changing so fast! I've been really sucky about updating so far, so I'm doing summaries of each week, and posting them all in quick succession over the next few days. My plan is to give a quick accounting of what was going on that week, highlighting important milestones and cute stories that I want to remember. Some of them are probably going to be pretty short, but some of the weeks so far have actually been quite eventful, so no promises on lengths. These might get tedious, since there's (hopefully) about to be 14 of them in a row, but I want to get this all down before it's lost forever.

We start with Week One, which was mostly spent in the hospital. Blech. Nobody enjoyed that. On the positive side, when LL was only two days old, he saw his first Green Bay Packers game. Grandma and Grandpa were already in town, and they brought LL an infant-sized cheesehead for the occasion. Grandma and Grandpa and S and LL and I watched the game from my hospital room, and the nurses even let us order in pizza. (The pizzeria manager was so tickled that we wanted a pizza delivered to the hospital maternity ward that he delivered the pizza himself, then stayed to ooh and aah over LL; it was very cute.) Too bad the Packers lost to the Cowboys.

People who flew or drove in from out of town during Week One: all four grandparents, Great-Grandpa, Uncle M, Auntie S, and Great-Uncle S. They were all here for the bris, the grand culmination of Week One. Considering that, between me and S, we have exactly one blood relative living within a several hundred mile radius, it was amazing to have over 60 family and friends at the bris.

One thing LL is going to have to get used to: our family is incorrigibly into puns and word play. This conversation happened the day before the bris:

Me: The mohel said he might be late, if there's traffic.
Great-Uncle S: If there's a line of cars ahead of him, can't he just "cut in" ?
S: He should be careful, though -- he wouldn't want to get "cut off."

Puns aside, the bris went great. LL didn't cry at all, and in fact we have some very cute pictures of him looking downright serene while the mohel was working. Probably because he was drunk on the baby bottle of sugar water and Manischewitz he was given before the ceremony -- yum! Our little drunkard gets his start.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sleep Breakthrough

Ever since we brought him home from the hospital, LL has been waking up every 3-4 hours during the night to eat. He occasionally does a longer stretch when he first goes to bed, but then he's up every 3 hours after that. That initial long stretch doesn't do me any good, though, since I don't go to sleep at 7:00 when he does. And the following 3-hours stretches are actually only 2 hours of sleep for me at a time, since the kid tends to eat for 45 minutes for each meal. (Our little gourmet....)

We had one good night last week Friday when he went to sleep at 6:00pm, woke up to eat at 1:00am, and then actually stayed asleep until 7:00am. I didn't benefit very much, though, since I was still awake from 3:30-4:30am, as my body refused to believe that I didn't need to be up. And the very next day, LL started a growth spurt, which lasted through mid-day Monday, during which he ate every two and a half hours, for 90 minutes at a time. (Yes, each meal lasted a continuous hour and a half!) It was totally exhausting, I got no sleep at all, and when the growth spurt was over, he'd forgotten that he was starting to sleep more, and went back to waking up every 3 hours.

Thursday morning, I completely lost it. I hadn't had more than four hours of consecutive sleep in five months (the last two months of pregnancy, plus almost three months of nighttime feedings for LL), and most nights my sleep was in two hour chunks. After feeding LL at 7:00am on Thursday, I handed him over to S and then broke down crying and sobbing for almost an hour. My breakdown included pointing out to S that I was pretty sure that LL was violating the sleep torture provisions of the Geneva Convention, and I was seriously going to lose my mind soon if something didn't give. I was just so exhausted.

So, Thursday night we tried The Experiment. LL had proven that he could go long stretches without eating at night when he wanted to, so we would try to convince him to just go back to sleep when he woke up. The plan was that when he cried, S would go in and try to get him to go back to sleep without eating. Change a diaper, put a pacifier back in, rock and sway and soothe... whatever was needed. If he was still crying after several minutes, I'd come in and feed him, but we'd let S try to manage without me if he could. LL went to sleep at 6:30pm. He woke up at 11:00pm and cried and cried, so I fed him. He woke up several more times (2am, 4am, 5am) but each time, S was able to immediately put him back to sleep, without involving me at all. Score! Mind you, I still woke up each time LL woke up, but I didn't have to get out of bed, and I was asleep again 5 minutes later. Good stuff.

Friday night, we tried the same strategy. Same pattern: asleep at 7:00, fed again at midnight, and didn't need Mom again until morning (7:30am). That's only one feeding in 12+ hours!

Saturday night, we decided to skip the crying at that midnight-ish wake-up. We'd put him to bed at 7:00, I'd feed him the first time he woke up, and S would handle the rest of the wake-ups until morning. You can imagine our surprise when his first wake-up wasn't until 5:00am. Yes, that's right, he slept from 7:00pm until 5:00am, continuously. And after I fed him at 5:00, he went right back to sleep and slept until his usual 7:30am.

Last night, we avoided even the 5am feeding. Asleep at 6:30pm, woke up at 7:30am. Not a peep in between. After four nights, I'm ready to say that this isn't a fluke. It still may not happen every night, I fully expect the occasional needy night, and who knows what happens when we travel next month to visit my family in Wisconsin for a week. But for now, life around here is great.

Oh, and did I mention how totally cheerful LL has been the past several days? Getting lots of sleep clearly agrees with him. He's all smiles and giggles, goes down easily for naps in his crib, hardly ever cries. I could get used to this! We're one happy well-rested family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

Holy cow, LL is more than two months old, halfway to three! And wow, he's huge! I was looking at some of the photos from his first week or two and I can hardly believe how much he's changed. Crazy.

I've been meaning to write weekly updates on what he's up to, but somehow I can never find the time. During my pregnancy, I was really good about, at a minimum, writing a post every Tuesday when I "rolled over" to the next week. I've been meaning to do the same thing now every Friday, when LL hits his weekly "birthdays," but so far, I haven't managed to do a single one. I do actually have some of them written, though, from the early weeks, and I'm debating whether I should backdate them when posting them, or just append them all together as one giant catch-up post. We'll see.

In the mean time, I'll just mention that Thanksgiving kind of sucked. Last year, Thanksgiving sucked because we spent the holiday with S's family, including a close family friend who brought their 2-month-old along. S and I were in the middle of fertility treatments at the time, so I was hopped up on hormones, physically sick from the side effects, and depressed after more than two years of trying to get pregnant. Everybody was totally charmed by the baby, but I couldn't even bring myself to hold him because it made me cry. The entire weekend revolved around the baby, and with S's family pressuring us to have children. S's mom, in particular, kept holding up the baby in front of me, exclaiming about how cute he was and bemoaning the fact that her selfish son and daughter-in-law hadn't made her a grandmother yet. I was miserable the entire time.

This year, Thanksgiving sucked for different reasons. After last year's holiday, I kind of expected that LL would get the same treatment that our friend's 2-month-old received last year. Instead, my in-laws had planned all sorts of events that are impossible with a young infant. Last year, we spent the entire 4-day weekend at one uncle's house, and the baby (and his family) were staying at a hotel 5 minutes away, so they could return to their hotel whenever they needed to (though things were very calm at the uncle's house, so they rarely needed to). This year, S's family had us running all over the fracking city. After a day of airports and layovers and air travel, we discovered that we were expected to go immediately from the airport to a cousin's house 45 minutes away, have dinner there, and stay late before being driven home to S's parents house (another 45 minute drive). After much discussion and attempts at guilt trips, we put our foot down and just refused to go, because poor exhausted LL needed to just go home and go to sleep. Things got worse from there. (You expect us to bring a jet-lagged infant on family outings to art galleries and casinos? Really?)

So, the scheduling is the first reason that Thanksgiving sucked. The second reason was that nobody actually respected that I was LL's mother and needed to look out for his welfare. After struggling to get him to nap in yet another different location, I'd walk away for 30 seconds to get something to drink, only to return to find out that someone (usually my MIL) had woken him up so that they could play with him. Once, I finally got him to sleep, but he was in a bedroom at the far end of the house, so I needed to leave the door open so that I'd be able to hear him if he cried. The problem was that there was a cat in the house that kept trying to sit on LL and smother him. When I asked the people whose house we were at if we could put the cat in a different room for an hour while LL napped, I was told no, because the cat didn't like being cooped up. Yes, the cat's comfort was put ahead of my child's health. Sigh.

So, the only way for LL to nap was if I was with him and holding him the entire time, yet I had people reach over and wake LL up while I was carrying him, and whenever I protested that he needed to nap, I was told that I didn't know what I was doing, LL wanted to play not nap, and I was keeping him from his family. And then every evening, when LL completely melted down from exhaustion, everyone scolded me for clearly not meeting his needs (or else he wouldn't be crying). Consider this interaction with my mother-in-law:

MIL: Wow, he's really crying a lot.
Me: Yes, he's really over-tired.
MIL: No, I think it's probably something he ate.
Me: Um, really? Because he has a pretty limited diet these days.
MIL: Okay, then it's probably something that you ate that you shouldn't have. What bad thing have you eaten?
Me: We're staying at your house. I've pretty much only eaten the food you've cooked for us.
MIL: Oh.... So, then, maybe he's just tired.

Did I mention how happy I am to be home?

So, yeah, that was LL's 10th week. Today he's 11 weeks old, so I owe you 10 more weekly updates (including one for this week!). They're coming soon, I promise.