Monday, November 29, 2010

Caleb: 21 weeks

It's been an awesome week, and not just because everyone is finally sleeping : )

Sleep training seems to have helped Caleb in so many ways. Not only is he happier now, but his attention span is longer and his frustration is lower so we've seen some really cool new behaviors. He now rolls to play on both his back and stomach. It's so cute to see him scooting all around his play mat. If he gets too much better at scooting we are going to have to get the Pack-and-Play out! He also decided now that he can roll, he likes sleeping on his tummy, thank you very much! He is starting to really like bath time. He has figured out to splash, but gets upset if the water gets into his face : ) He also likes to watch and try anything we do. He loves watching me cook dinner especially. In the tub, we have to have two rags because if I don't give him his own, he steals mine! Of course, we still have to encourage him not to try and suck the water out of his rag!

In other news, it was a great weekend. I found a big kids consignment sale they have 3x's/year at a church down the road from us. For about $50 I got bags of clothes, books and shoes. My favorite finds were a set of Alphabet books from Baby Einstein for $3 and a pair of OshKosh flannel lined overalls with a flannel Carters shirt for $5 (too bad we aren't in PA to use that outfit, but it does occasionally get cold here too hehe). Then David's mom and brother, Isaac, came to visit us for the weekend. We had a great time with them and they even babysat for us while David and I had our first baby-free date since Caleb was born. We went to Starbucks armed with coupons and got a tall coffee, tall latte, and danish for $2.60. If you can't tell, we love finding good deals : )

Headline News:

-Caleb continues to think he feet are the coolest toy ever made
-With just a little help on the side-to-side sway, Caleb is able to sit up, using his hands in front of him like a tripod
-Although still crying before most daytime naps, when Caleb eats at night he goes back to sleep with NO crying : )
-We have officially moved up to 6-9 month sleepers (oh my!)
-Caleb says "mama" when he's not angry for the first time (He's been saying "mama" when he cries for a few weeks now

Monday, November 15, 2010

Where Are We Going?

If you're familiar with the amount of change our family has seen in the past couple years, you might naturally assume that title is a musing about where God might move us next. In a way you'd be right.

Lately, David and I have been much less concerned about the physical location of our family, but the spiritual one. It's become clear to us that our lives too often revolve around enjoying this life and focus much less on the simple question, "What work does God have for me today?"

So we've decided to begin a journey from now until the new year of delving into our family mission statement. What gifts have we been given, what are our goals in the long term, and what steps do we need to take today? We see the daily routines such as work and meeting Caleb's needs define our days now, with most of our free time spent on entertainment or relaxing. I feel like God has more for us. When I spend time as a family, I want to be intentional about it, not zoned in front of the TV. When I have a free Saturday I want to do more than laundry. I want to serve, learn, do.

I have no idea where this journey will lead us, but I'm looking forward to the ride. Right now the only "new" habit we are instituting is daily Word and prayer time. We are trusting God to lead us to the rest.

We'll be sharing more as the story continues. If you've done something similar I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you're interested in doing something similar this is our springboard:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Special Report: Our Sleep Training Journey

So many things change once you become a parent. Before Caleb was born, I never thought I’d have a problem letting him cry some. I’d babysat plenty of kids and knew bedtime and a few tears tend to go together. Once he was in my arms though, I realized this was a whole new rodeo : )

From the beginning, Caleb was colicy, crying almost constantly for the first 8 weeks of life. I say this because I learned later that research shows colicy kids tend to have sleep problems that linger long past when colic has ended. In Caleb’s earliest days, we just didn’t sleep. Later, around 7 weeks, we began cosleeping, which worked wonderfully. When he woke to nurse, I was able to barely awaken and we both drifted off to sleep much faster. At around 10 weeks Caleb was sleeping 5-7 hour stretches most nights so we moved him into the crib for the big stretch of sleep and continued cosleeping after that.

Then around 3 months, Caleb’s sleep started deteriorating. He no longer woke just to nurse, he woke many times throughout the night, each time needing our help to return to sleep. So back to cosleeping we went. Except, this didn’t stop the night wakings. They continued to increase until Caleb was literally waking every hour. Sometimes nursing would even fail to put him back to sleep and I needed to get out of bed and rock him. We kept this difficult routine up for a month because I just couldn’t bear the idea of sleep training him so young. Because his sleep was so fragmented he became increasingly fussier during the day, and by the time we were rocking him to sleep he was scratching us and himself, pinching us and screaming at the top of his lungs. We tried earlier bed times, soothing him sooner, routines, but each night he ended up in our bed, waking every 45-90 minutes.

After talking to his pediatrician and explaining how…persistent…Caleb can be, she recommended we try using the “fading” approach. The first night we would do his routine (bath, diaper, PJs, nurse, song/rocking), put him down drowsy but awake and stand right over him offering any comfort other than picking up and pacifiers. Each night we’d move further away until we were out of the room. I felt ok with this, at least he would know we were still there. However, I continued to put actually doing it off. How can you choose the night to let your baby cry? I knew he needed to learn to sleep, but I was just hoping it would happen “on it’s own”.

Finally, Tuesday night he was beside himself. Screaming, flailing, pinching, scratching for 2 hours (that would be with us rocking him, swaddled, with a pacifier). David and I looked into each other’s eyes and knew the night had come. The next 2 hours were the hardest of my life. We sat next to him as he cried and cried. Amazingly, he rarely screamed the way he had in our arms. In the end, he stopped, put his finger in his mouth for about 2 seconds, stretched, rubbed his eyes and went to sleep.

Lest you think letting your baby cry for 2 hours is horrible, I can assure you…it is. However, until you have heard the piercing scream of a baby who doesn’t understand why he keeps waking up in the middle of the night every 45-90 minutes for a month, bear the bruises and scratches all over your upper body from him fighting the exhaustion, and felt your heart break as you see the same scratches on his legs and face (despite me cutting his nails almost to the quick) then you have not been in the place we were in. I’m sure there are still some hardcore people who would say we had other options, but I can honestly say, I have no regrets.

For the rest of the first night, Caleb continued to wake every 45-90 minutes, which we were told to expect because he is still one overtired baby (overtiredness leads to night waking). Each time however, the amount of crying cut in half, until by his 3am wake up he didn’t cry at all, but merely fussed quietly while he sucked on his hands. It was amazing to see him actually learning how to go back to sleep on his own. By 5:00 that morning he cried for 10 minutes and soothed himself before I could respond! I was so proud of him. Oh and don’t worry, he still got 3 night feedings in the midst of all this.

Throughout the whole next day, he was so tired he napped 1 hour out of every 2. At this point, he was doing so well using his hands to put himself to sleep I let him cry by himself. He never took longer than 25 mins to put himself to sleep, many times as short as 9 minutes. And this crying wasn’t the piercing over tired cry, more of a heavy fuss.

Then evening came, we started his bedtime routine nice and early as the book recommended during this time. We laid him down at 5:30p. He cried lightly until 6:30p and went to sleep. He woke at 8:45p and cried for 15 minutes, as I was getting ready to respond to him (David and I were already in bed trying to catch up on our sleep!), he stopped and fell asleep. The next time I heard him was at 1am. He cried less than a minute and fell back asleep. Then at 3am he cried and I could tell it was for food, I responded promptly and he looked up at me, all smiles. I haven’t seen him so happy and alert in a long time! In fact, after I nursed him, I was scared he wouldn’t go back to sleep, but I sang his song, laid him down and amazingly, he just started talking to himself. I listened to him happily talk to himself on the baby monitor for 5 minutes, and then he fell asleep: NO crying! I couldn’t believe it, he’d never done that before! How different being well rested makes things. The next time he woke up was at 6:25a, all smiles and ready to start the day.

I could not be more proud of our little guy or of us. It was such a hard decision to make, but I know we did what was best for him. All babies and all parents are different, but I have no doubt that we found the right path for our family.

Caleb: 18/19/20 Weeks

Well everyone we have officially arrived in our new home for the next 6 months. We had a great trip. Granny Robin kept Caleb entertained in the back seat. We spent an all-to-brief 2 day visit with the Tews. It was so neat to see the kids meet Caleb for the first time. James nicknamed him "Cocoon Boy" because of his swaddle : )

David is enjoying his new job, the apartment they set us up in is beautiful and close to everything (as long as it isn't rush hour, but hey, that's city life!). We have a small screened balcony that looks out over a pond. I love to watch the egrets and ducks and Caleb is fascinated by the big palm tree- don't have any of those in PA! Of course, our favorite part has been actually getting to spend time with our wonderful family.

Caleb is doing wonderfully. He has changed so much over the past 3 weeks. He has found his toes, rolled from back to tummy and tummy to back, and, the best news ever: His poop is normal! I had to go off my special diet on the trip because I found it almost impossible to follow on the road. Amazingly, during our trip his symptoms resolved. Talking to his pediatrician down here (whom I love as much as the one in PA) he said the bowels are the last system to mature and he probably just needed some extra time. So yay, Caleb is all better and I can drink milk again!

Caleb did wonderfully at his 4 month check up. Again, he barely let out a whimper when they gave him the DTaP. He now measure's a whopping 26 and 1/8 inches, putting him in the 90th percentile yet again. His weight gain has slowed down. He's 14lbs and in between the 25th-50th percentile. As the doctor says, we have a long and lean one : )

Check out our cute lil' Cowboy- thanks Brian and Amy for his 1st Halloween outfit : )

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Caleb: 16/17 Weeks

Headline News:

-Caleb has a new favorite noise: the squeal. I'm sure he's looking forward to practicing it during community prayer time at church...
- Caleb is using his hands much more intentionally, sucking on his fingers almost constantly and putting all toys directly into his mouth. He's also used them to discover another fascinating toy...his feet!
-Still not rolling yet, but he is spending more and more time on his side both awake and asleep.

Other news- On the trip following my special diet was almost impossible so I decided to take a break and resume in FL if necessary. So far there has been no change in his stool or behavior. So I guess I will talk to our new pediatrician and see what he thinks. It's certainly been nice to eat freely again. I have a new respect for everyone who lives with food allergies. His sleep is still unpredictable. Some nights he's up every hour, others he sleeps 4-5 hour stretches at a time. David has been amazing about helping us through the nights where he is up every hour, I am so blessed!

Caleb: 14/15 Weeks

Headline News:

-Caleb has amazing head control now. He can hold his head up and turn it in all directions while we hold him. When I pull him into a sitting position he can keep his head level with his body (instead of flopping backwards).
-His hands are still his favorite toys. He's discovered they can be used to put things into his mouth and his aim improves each day. Still not quite sucking his thumb yet, but he's trying!
-I think he has at least 2 new facial expressions everyday, he is also getting more "chatty" each week.
-We started having some late night fussiness issues and realized he just needed to go to bed earlier. We just started the new routine last night, but signs are good that it's a winner.
-Caleb still has trouble sleeping more than 45 minutes during naps in his crib, but we've discovered that if he's cuddled up to mom, 1.5 hour naps are the norm. This has been great for getting a little extra zzzz's on the days where we are both painfully short.
-Last week Caleb tipped the scale at 13lbs 8oz at the pediatricians
-Mommy has let him stay in church nursery the last 3 Sundays with only 1 check-up each time.

Caleb: 13 Weeks

Headline News:

-Caleb is starting to make *some* peace with the carseat. If I can time our trip around his naptime and hold the pacifier in this mouth for a few minutes (no easy trick while driving) he goes to sleep.
-Bedtimes and naptimes are getting much easier. We still put him to sleep before laying him down, but it takes much less time and he doesn't wake back up after being set down very often any more.
-Caleb even put himself to sleep in the swing one morning, which made daddy (who was on duty at the time) feel sad that his little boy is getting so grown up. Caleb made up for it by falling asleep on David's shoulder at Moe's that night : )
-Caleb has started stretching out his legs to "stand" on our laps (with out hands supporting his underarms). He loves doing this over and over again (more mommy muscles!).

He continues to get better at getting his hands into his mouth, although he still hasn't learned he can close his lips around his fingers. It is so amazing to see him grow and change each day.

Caleb: 12 Weeks

This week was like A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The best of times part is that Caleb gets to be more and more fun each week. He is really getting good at getting his hands into his mouth and it is the cutest thing ever! He also enjoys sitting propped up on the couch (as you can see from the pics), and he is getting better at going down for bed at night with much less help from us.

The worst of times part...We found out Caleb most likely has a dairy allergy when he passed some blood in his stool. It would also explain some of the fussiness. So after a fun farewell-to-dairy dinner at chick-fil-a, I am now a dairy free mommy. So far it has been a little inconvenient, but not too bad. I have a feeling I will be really sad around the holidays though! No huge changes in Caleb, but no more blood either, so we shall see.

The other not-so-good news is that my doctor found a small 1cm lump where I've been having pain in my abdomen for the last 5 months. CT scan on Thurs should tell us more. Fortunately, it looks like I have enough pumped milk in the freezer to last Caleb the whole 24 hours I need to pump and dump to get the contrast out of my system.

So that is where we are at right now. David has taken some extra days off at the end of this week and we've committed to minimal housework, no visitors and lots and lots of bonding as just the 3 of us. I'm really looking forward to it, it's been a busy time.

***Update: CT scan found nothing, apparently I'm just lumpy. Unfortunately, as of 11/4, I'm still having pain, so prayers are appreciated.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caleb: 11 Weeks

Headline News:

* Caleb sets a sleep record 8:30pm-5:30am and mommy sets a record by not checking on him once during that time!
* Caleb is really learning how to work those hands of his! I frequently catch him stuffing his fist in his mouth, moving blankets a bit closer to be gnawed on and deliberately batting at the toys in his floor gym. It's amazing how much more he can do each day.
* The variety of sounds he can make is exploding. He enjoys "talking" to us when he doesn't like something rather than immediately crying.
* We officially move him into his room. He's been sleeping there for over a week, but now his bassinet in our room is put away, the nursing chair has moved to the nursery and once I clean off his dresser, the changing table is leaving our room too. It's bittersweet for sure. Our baby is growing up, but we are getting some adult space again!

Caleb:10 Weeks

Wow, the changes in Caleb are coming almost faster than I can write about them now. He is sleeping tons more, usually 7/8 hours at night in his pack and play and then (sometimes) another 2 hour nap in the morning snuggled up next to mommy in bed. Perhaps, not coincidentally, he's also much happier now. Smiles and coos are much more frequent, although he still leans towards the serious side as he gazes all around checking out his surroundings. He's able to play by himself for 10-20 minutes in the floor gym, and will play up to an hour when we are with him talking, reading, and singing.

Headline News:

* Caleb moved out of 0-3 month onesies and sleepers (anything that has to fit him lengthwise) and into 3-6 month sizes, which already fit him quite nicely!
* We all start sleeping through the night from about 10/11p to 5/6a. Such a huge and sudden change from nursing every 2/3 hours! Caleb even goes to sleep as early as 8:15 one night!
* I start putting Caleb down for naps in his crib to get him used to sleeping there. If he keeps sleeping through the night we will be making the move soon. I'm looking forward to not having to tiptoe as we get ready for bed, but it still feels a little bittersweet to be letting this little one, who has scarcely left my side since he was born sleep in his own room.
* Uncle Brian and Aunt Amy come to visit and spoil him rotten. Looks like he's going to be a cowboy for Halloween : ) Amy's great at putting him to sleep, I told her she's hired!
* Caleb's discovered he can use his mouth to explore his world. Stuffed animals, blankets and his own fingers are no longer safe!
* In the past, we used to always have to pick him up to soothe him. Now, often just hearing our voice and seeing us enter the room stops the crying and causes a big smile. It's such a joy to see him recognize us!

Caleb: 9 Weeks

Headline News:

-Tues Caleb sleeps 5 straight, nurses and sleeps for 3 more.
-During Caleb's happy play time in the morning he now "listens" to 1-2 books, watches the ceiling fan and is able to play happily for about 30 mins
-The cool weather we've been having has meant a lot more walks. He loves his time in the stroller and hardly ever falls asleep during this time because he is so busy looking all around checking his world out.
- He is really cooing a lot now "aaaah" and "owwww" are his two favorites.

Caleb: 8 Weeks

Headline News:

* Caleb finally sleeps through an entire church service (never thought I'd be proud of that accomplishment!)
* Lots of friends come to visit Caleb this week and give mommy a break so he's gotten to make some new friends
* He has finally started to enjoy the swing as long as he's mostly asleep when I put him in it
* He will also spend some time in the sling each day now
* Tummy time is getting more and more exciting. We always do it in the morning, which is his happiest time of day. Check out the picture!

Caleb: 7 Weeks

Headline News:

* David feeds Caleb his first bottle, which goes wonderfully. That will make church time much easier not to mention our trips down to Florida!
* This kid is growing like a weed. We moved his carseat straps up to the next notch last night and he's already outgrown a few 0-3 month items in length
* He continues to make more cooing sounds and is now definitely giving us the occasional social smile. We are still waiting for a really big one that shows off his gums and is accompanied by a gurgle though.

Caleb: 6 Weeks

I am finally getting around to adding the weekly updates we send the family to the blog. It's really neat looking back at how much has changed in just a short time.

Headline News this week:

* We survive his 6-week growth spurt, which began with a 4-feeding night and culminated with a 24 hour cycle where I fed him 15 times! He gave us a nice break the next day by sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. We even got to catch up on a few of our favorite TV shows.
* He is getting to be more and more engaged with the world. Not only does he pay attention to his mobile and enjoy knocking Mr. Bear over, he looks at the pages in a book when I read to him and seems to be listening to music. Each morning around 10/10:30 he seems to like a bit of play time on his mat. I sing, clap and dance for him and he just loves it. After about 20 minutes or so he usually lets me know it's time to be held again.
* The swing and sling are taking some warming up to, but he has spent up to 20 minutes in both happily. I'm also able to lay him down for a few 30 minute naps each day which helps me catch up on chores and write emails : ) I still get lots of rest though, since the first half of his nap is usually spent snuggling on my chest while I read and he falls into a deep sleep.
* Yesterday we took him out on a few errands (we needed to get them done, but we also needed to get out of our 90 degree house) and Caleb had a poop-splosion all over mommy's shirt and his onesie. Good thing I carry spares of each!
* Another big milestone yesterday was Caleb giving us his first practice smiles. They weren't milk related, but they don't seem to be true social smiles yet. I have a feeling we'll be seeing one soon though!
* News from the parent side of life: Our AC is getting fixed this coming Weds, yay! And Caleb and I are going to stay with friends on the 2 days the workmen are here so A.) We don't have to worry about lead paint exposure and B.) We don't have to worry about Caleb not getting to sleep with all the noise (the downside of him being more aware of his environment).