Little, Brown

Just want to jot down for the record that for the past few days, Ali has had basically adult-like poos. Mini-turds, of course, but dark brown, well-formed, soft and moist, squishable and shakable. I think Play-Doh is the closest I can come to what they’re like, consistency-wise. Clean up is so incredibly easy with them. Just turn the diaper over and plop it in the toilet. And I can clean his bum easily with one or two wipes. Plus he doesn’t go as often. He once went 4 and then 5 days between poos, so I started giving him diluted apple cider in a bottle some days and only fruits, including prunes, for breakfast. Now he poos once every other day or so, and occasionally twice a day. There’s also a more distinct stink so that I can tell exactly when he’s gone. Since I’m his mom, I don’t mind it at all.

Yes, I think even my son’s poos are adorable.

Sleep has been not quite awesome. I think we’re in the stage where he’s trying to transition from 3 to 2 naps, and I’m trying to help him stretch his wake times, and that plus a few days where everything just got off schedule has resulted in lots of crappy 30 minute naps and plenty of night waking. Right now I’m trying for 2:15 wake time in the morning, then 2:30, then 2:45, and it seems to be working better. (I think I tried to stretch them too much too quickly at first.) It means quite early bed times for a while until I can stretch those times a bit more. It’s nice that it’s happening while the days are short. I’d hate to have to put him to bed in broad daylight at 6pm.

Daylight savings wasn’t much of a problem, either, strangely. He almost seemed to shift on his own. Just started waking up a bit later — usually 7:45am instead of 7am as we expected (changing from 8am previously).

He really will eat just about anything we give him, and I wanted to give him a little of everything at Golden Corral yesterday, and I think I kinda stuffed him. But he handled it like a champ. He even ate liver!

He’s seven months and a bit now. Such a busy little guy. He wants to know how everything works. He loves nothing more than electronics, and I’d be glad to let him play with them if he didn’t try to eat the remote and bang randomly on my keyboard.

Everything is such a joy. He’s such a marvel. We are lucky parents, indeed.

(I had to hold him down with my foot to get his 7 months photo. This guy is always on the move! My little “play corral” in the living room won’t contain him much longer…)

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Ali-oween

OK, not as good as “Valloween” (my sister Val’s birthday is today), but it’ll have to do!

One year ago today I had a happy 20 week scan of my little kicking alien, and when we went out to celebrate, someone smashed the back of our car with his car and ran off.

Think I’ll stay home with my still-healthy kicking alien tonight 😉

This is our only “celebration” this year — putting him in a random too-big hand-me-down costume and taking a few pics 🙂

Naps are finally going pretty well but now the nights have fallen apart a bit. I can’t seem to get his bed time right, especially since he’s so inconsistent with his third nap. It always seems too early or too late, and he usually falls so deeply, peacefully asleep while I’m feeding him I hate to wake him and read him a story or whatever so I can put him down awake, plus I don’t want to hear him cry, and I feel awful that I apparently mis-timed it YET AGAIN.

But then he usually wakes up after an hour or so and cries anyway, and then Ahmed usually breaks down and pats him to sleep and stays in the room with him until he falls asleep again, then I feed him to sleep the next time he wakes up, then he might wake up again after another hour, and then I might bring him into our room, which virtually guarantees no more good sleep for the night for me… And when you’re so tired it’s hard to make a good decision or even know what that really is.

Jesus, one week of sleep training was bad enough. This ongoing, regular crying thing is an absolute soul-killer, and I feel so incomptent sometimes, like I’m failing him. Like maybe if I was stricter he would cry less. Or maybe if I was less strict he would cry less. Gaaaah. I wish I knew what the hell I was doing. And of course when I’m not getting good sleep it’s so much harder to be the kind of mom (or human) I want to be. It’s another rough sleep patch for sure, but all in all things are good.

Parenting is just hard. I love it, but I don’t how so many people do it — especially with more than one. Definitely the hardest and most all-consuming job I’ve ever had. But also the sweetest!

Eating and Crawling

Just a quick check-in. He continues to cruise and cross-crawl with increasing deftness. He continues to be fascinated by electrical cords. He’s started pulling up on the bookshelf, which means we need to screw it to the wall, pronto. He’ll soon figure out he can stand up in his crib, too, so we need to put it down to its lowest setting.

Still grateful we did sleep training, as awful as it was. There’s a sense of peace and order in the house now, and Ali seems to be thriving on it. Everyone is happier, and I’m sure the adequate sleep is helping his little brain grow with all these new skills. There have been some sleep setbacks, usually when I’ve allowed the schedule to get messed up. Once we let him get so over-tired he cried for 30 minutes in the crib, so we brought him to our bed. No one got any sleep. It reminded us why we did what we did. Thankfully it wasn’t too hard to get back on schedule after that.

One thing I’m most impressed with is how good he’s gotten at eating. At first it was more or less random whether things ended up in his mouth when he was playing with them, and most ended up on the floor or in his lap. He’s still learning, of course, and has a ways to go, but the improvement is remarkable. And when I’m in the kitchen cooking (and/or having my breakfast), I can just poke little bits of my own food into his mouth (waiting for him to open his mouth to indicate he wants it, of course), and he’ll eat it with virtually no mess.

At dinner he handles his own food and there’s plenty of mess — especially if it’s spaghetti bolognese on the menu. Beef fat / tomato sludge smeared everywhere, haha. But so far he’ll eat anything we’ve put in front of him, even fairly spicy pan-fried tilapia. It’s a little annoying not salting anything until the end (after setting aside a small portion for Ali), but not nearly as annoying as making a whole separate dinner for him or paying for store-bought baby food. And it’s so sweet and easy to have “dessert” by splitting a grape with him, peeling the grape with my teeth and biting off baby bite-sized chunks for him.

His diapers are starting to get that peanut butter consistency of transitional poo, and a part of me is wistful that the little exclusively breastfed baby phase really is well and truly over. But I’m even more excited by the progress and love watching my little guy grow so much!

Cross-crawling

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a cross-crawler! We took him to Volcanoville at the Gathering Place — a little playground for babies 6 months to 2 years that has a rubberized ground and some shallowly inclined wooden structures to play on — and put on the crawling pants Grandma got him (with little sticky fish on the knees), and lo and behold he just kind of got it. We were so impressed.

I was also impressed when I put him on the wooden structure and he immediately started climbing, using my hands as little boosts. Then he tried to crawl downhill and, well, that didn’t go so well. He ended up doing some kind of super fast somersault that scared both of us and bumped his head a little.

By the end he was so tired he went back to doing his inchworm thing and started trying to suck his fingers, and we headed home.

Meanwhile he’s been getting so much better at feeding himself. So much more goes down the hatch! It’s still a messy affair, but it feels much more deliberate and less random. He also seems to understand that food can fill his belly, so he’ll ask for it when he’s hungry if we’re eating. He’s now had brisket, guacamole, mashed brown beans, sesame udon noodles, cabbage, soy marinated chicken, chicken sausage, feta cheese…

It’s just so amazing what they can do if you give them the space to figure it out ❤

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Silent Night

I didn’t realize the resonance of the song I chose to sing to him before bed every night. But it is, indeed, a silent night these days. All is calm, all is bright. He regularly goes to sleep without even a fuss. He just rolls over and he’s down. It’s fantastical. Magical. I couldn’t even have dreamed.

Today was his 6 month check-up, and he’s doing great — 27.75 inches (86%ile), 16 pounds (20%ile), 42.4 cm head (14%ile). Still our tall, skinny dude. He started fussing even before the needles came out when he found himself in the familiar position — on his back on a table with a lady putting on purple gloves. His horrible screams escalated when the needles went in. But he was consoled pretty quickly in my arms. (My mom, who was along for the ride, was not so easily consoled. I think she was traumatized.)

Then — of all stupid things — we got home and were so relieved to have that all over with when they called and said they’d forgotten to give him his flu shot. I had consented to it and signed a paper for it, but something got lost in translation. So we had to bundle him up again and take him back for yet another horror show 😦

He was not pleased. But thankfully he was even more resilient this time. He did scream, but he calmed even faster. Poor guy.

But then he was so happy back at home, especially once Dad came home (though he was also happy with Grandma — they really seem bonded), and at one point Dad let him stand up and hold onto the couch, and he wanted my foot for some reason, and he started taking steps toward me while holding onto the couch. This little dude cruised at 6 months 7 days! Gosh, he’s gonna be running circles around us before we know it…

And it’s hard not to think maybe the extra sleep is helping him be happier and “cruise” through his milestones.

Grandma snapped these photos today. In the one on the left he’s clutching Rattle Bear, my favorite stuffed animal from when I was a baby. In the one on the right I’m feeding him at the pediatrician’s office. Isn’t he the preciousest?

Hangover

Well, I’m about to stop keeping sleep logs because they are so boring. I rock and sing to him, he fusses a little then relaxes, I put him in the crib, he cries a little and then turns over, maybe fusses for two more minutes, and he’s asleep. (I’ve lengthened his wake times a little, and I think it helps. His naps have also gotten a bit shorter, maybe because he’s finally caught up on sleep a bit.)

He’s usually up around 4 or 5am for a feed, and that’s OK by me.

I’m so glad it’s all working out.

But now that we’re not in Emergency Mode — now that I no longer have to be a rock to get the family through something emotionally so tough but necessary — I had a little bit of a feelings overload. I couldn’t bear to put him in the crib when he fell asleep on the play room mattress with his hand holding onto my fuzzy robe. He looked so serene and happy on his back in this cozier place. Ahmed finally moved him at 9:20 and he woke up and would not go back to sleep until I nursed and rocked him again. Poor guy.

I happened to wake around 8:20am and see him awake in his crib, though I couldn’t hear his little grunts.

He is so precious. I miss him in our bed so much.

But I feel human again, and he’s getting the sleep he needs.

But I miss him when he’s not in our room.

But I am better able to be present with the cuddles we do have instead of kind of resenting them and getting tired of them after a while. Such sweet cuddles.

And on the Seventh Day, He Rested

Well, it’s sad to have the boy in his own room. I was not prepared for that to happen so soon. And it’s sad to wonder what on earth we’ll do now if we have guests. Our couch (arriving today!) isn’t one that people can really sleep on. I suppose we can drag the mattress into the living room for guests, but that’s not the most comfortable way to sleep.

Anyway. His second nap yesterday at 1pm was his first in his new room. Here are my notes from the day:

  • Crying 15 min, wandering around still a bit after. 1:25 seems asleep. 1:58 his head popped up and he settled himself down again, then started playing with his bunny, then rubbing his face on the mattress, playing with bunny again, rubbing his face with bunny, rubbing his face on mattress again. Still messing around, up on all fours, at 2:05. Lying down and quiet at 2:07, up at 2:50.
  • Catnap down at 5:20, asleep at 5:30, up at 6
  • Down at 8:14, quiet at 8:30
  • Woke at 11:45, made noises a little while, back to sleep

And then… nothing until 7:30am! The little booger slept through the night for the first time since he accidentally did it a few times when he was 3 or 4 months old!

So there ya go, I guess. He needed his own space. He still cries whenever we go near the crib, and today for his morning nap, he was really crying when I put him in there. To be fair, after Ahmed brought him to me around 7:40 to feed him, he drained both boobs on and off and we cuddled until 9:30! So I wasn’t sure when to put him down.

  • Down at 10:05, grumbly but quiet pretty soon, stupid cat started meowing outside the door, up again, down and quiet again a few min later, then up again, rocking on all fours, grumbling until 10:15 or so, 10:19 down and quiet again, then up again (sigh), down again at 10:23, up and down and up and down, asleep by about 10:50? Made a noise at 11:35 and apparently back to sleep

Now at 11:40 he’s stirring again, we’ll see if he drifts back off. (He didn’t.)

Ahmed asked to take the bunny lovey out of his bed after he fell asleep face-down on it one time and I had to sneak in and pull it out from under his face. So he doesn’t have that to play with since last night. Didn’t seem to make too much of a difference, but I do hate to see him in there on a totally bare mattress. I certainly wouldn’t want to sleep like that, especially after sleeping with two big warm humans. But who knows how he really feels about it, or if he even notices?

Sigh. There’s never a “right answer” with parenting. You just have to try to figure out what’s the best answer for your family, every time, and there are always compromises, it seems, and when the compromise goes against the baby in some way, it’s really hard not to feel like an asshole.

But that Co-sleeping and Attachment Facebook group is a cautionary tale. Some of those kids are so coddled for so long they seem to end up with no resilience whatsoever, and some of the mamas end up tired and depressed and at the end of their ropes, with nothing from that group except exhortations to soldier on because they owe it to their kids and otherwise (it’s heavily implied) you’re, ya know, selfish assholes. Little Muffy Quinoa should never, ever, ever have to shed a tear!

To be fair, I don’t think this is what attachment parenting is actually about. I think a lot of people misinterpret it to be a kind of holy martyrdom not backed up by any science whatsoever. They take the real science of attachment (which is not affiliated with attachment parenting; it’s unfortunate they use the same word) and interpret it to mean babies should never have to endure anything more stressful than a diaper change, ever, and you have to wrap your lives around them completely to the point that there are basically no boundaries. And this has to be quite stressful for a kid. I mean, imagine if you found yourself at a nuclear power plant one day, and little by little you began to realize, with dawning horror, that they had appointed you Safety Inspector and CEO, even though you know nothing about the science or economics of a nuclear plant.

You might reasonably ask yourself, “What kind of shit show are they running around here?”

I am a firm believer that you should grant your kids as much autonomy and freedom as they can handle, and as much as is practical, but within reasonable boundaries. I was happy to defer to the whims of my child for the first six months, even when it wasn’t totally practical. Until it was completely untenable. And as painful as sleep training has been, I don’t want to fall into the trap of underestimating what my son is capable of and therefore stunting his growth. (And as previously mentioned, he deserves a happy, well-rested mama who’s emotionally available and emotionally stable.)

He’s still learning, but he has really impressed me with what he’s been able to do when I give him the space to learn it and do it. With crawling, climbing, eating, and now with sleeping. Yes, he falls and bumps his head sometimes, but that’s how you learn. Learning is hard. It inevitably involves struggle and failure. If learning was easy, every baby would rip through all the milestones in the first month and I’d be a concert pianist.

With space to learn and love and encouragement to continue, humans can do truly amazing things.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when he’s trying to soothe himself to sleep, he rocks back and forth on all fours (the same way he does while awake and trying to figure out crawling). He also sucks his fingers and makes grumbling noises (two things he’s been doing for months when trying to fall asleep, even if we’re rocking him). He still cries every time we put him in the crib, but that quickly turns to frustrated mini-yells mixed with silence and grumbling. He often ends up falling asleep with his knees under him and his butt up in the air a little bit, but sometimes he wiggles his knees out from under him to sleep on his belly.

It’s hard to let go of the bike seat, not knowing how many times your kid will crash before he gets the hang of it. But I have faith in him. I feel like he’s ready.

I’ve fallen into a routine of singing three songs to him at specific times. Before naps I rock him and sing this to the tune of Brahms’ Lullaby:

Go to sleeeeeep
Go to sleeeeeep
Go to sleep, little Ali
Go to sleep now
Go to sleep
Go to sleep it’s time to sleep

Go to sleeeeeep
Go to sleeeeeep
Go to sleep, little Ali
Go to sleeeeeep
Go to sleeeeeep
Go to sleep, babe, it’s time to sleep

Before night time I rock him and sing Silent Night, but I say “woman” instead of “virgin” and “sleepy infant” instead of “holy infant.” It’s such a sweet, lovely, peaceful song.

When he wakes up I sing “You are My Sunshine” in an upbeat way, but instead of “Please don’t take my sunshine away” (this sounds scary, tbh) I sing “And I love you more every day!” I also lie on my back and hold him up by the shoulders with my hands and by the hips with my feet, like Superman, and I lift him up and down and touch his nose with mine. This always makes him smile so big! It’s so nice to greet him after sleeps with such genuine happiness and pride. (He’s usually sniffly and crying when I come and get him but immediately gets animated and happy as soon as I cuddle him a little, sing happily to him, and do the Superman thing.)

He’s also trying so hard to climb everything, and he’s sitting up much better than before. He is so close to being ready to join the vertical world! And he is obsessed with his cat brother. He LOVES slowly stalking Mateo around the living room. The cat can easily outrun him (or jump up on a chair), but he keeps trying. It’s just amazing to me how much babies can learn and do on their own if you give them the space to do it.

And I gotta admit, it is nice to have our space back after six long months. Just being able to fold laundry on the bed after Ali’s bedtime is a revelation, and I can take a shower and brush my teeth whenever I want without sneaking around. Etc. 😉

UPDATE: For his afternoon nap, he was down at 1:35, asleep by about 1:50, and slept until 3:05. He woke up then and has so far spent more than ten minutes just exploring his crib quietly, looking around, bouncing on all fours, and feeling the sheets. He’s just now making little fussy noises like he wants me to come get him.

Time to take the cloth diapers in and play laundry!

It’s so nice to see him approaching his crib with curiosity instead of terror 🙂

UPDATE 2: He was down in 5 minutes for his catnap, and less than 5 minutes at bed time!

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I tried to get a photo of him pulling up to semi-standing, but as soon
as he saw me with the camera, he crawled right over to have a look!

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I finally caught him semi-standing from the back 🙂

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Trying to dismember his daddy’s face

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Lemons, whatev, NBD