Sunday, January 01, 2012

Of late

Happy 2012! Hopefully there will be a 'year in review' post up soon, 2011 was obviously an eventful one for us.

Looking back on the few posts I wrote since baby A. was born has been a trip - we have come a long way!

1. Sleep. Things got pretty bad there for a while. I can't even tell you when/how it all went down, I think because it was a relatively slow disintegration that bottomed out a few weeks ago. Enter the magical, wonderful Sleepeasy Solution. Definitely worth a read, especially if you are looking to night wean and are comfortable letting your babe cry a bit. We really just needed to work on the night wakings/feeds; baby A. has always been a pretty good napper and puts himself to sleep fairly easily too. We had also established a nighttime routine when he was a few months old. We decided to:

- run a fan for white noise during naps and nightime
- place 6-7 binkies in the crib for easy self-soothing
- wake him 1 hour before he usually wakes to eat (for us that meant 9 pm and 1 am). I was seriously skeptical about how this would work but he would literally nurse while half-asleep and then go straight back down in the crib. This was one of the major strategies in the book and the one that helped us the most.
- Nurse him for 10 minutes the first night, 8 the next, 6 the next, etc. until a feed session was eliminated
- employ a modified cry-it-out (go in after 5 minutes, then after 10, then after 15) in which we would enter the room and speak soothingly but not pull him out of the crib.

We eliminated night feedings after 5 days, and he's been sleeping from 7 pm to 7 am for a few weeks now. We never had to let him CIO either - when he wakes up, he fusses for 1-2 minutes, finds a binky, and settles back to sleep.

I don't need to tell you how fantastic a full night of rest feels. It's been great. Of course there will always be rough patches (his first tooth appeared about a week ago, we're waiting for more to erupt) but at least we have a plan to fall back on when necessary. I've also realized that probably our biggest mistake was being inconsistent - sometimes we would go in and give him a pat, sometimes I would let him sleep with me, sometimes we would try and let him cry. The poor little guy was probably so confused. I still don't understand how the simple components of our plan somehow add up to 12 hours of sleep, but I'll take it.

2. Breastfeeding - I am proud to say we are still going strong 10 months in. Baby has milk every ~4 hours, usually 4-5 times a day. On the days I go to school I nurse him in the morning and right before bed; in between he will have 3 - 8 oz. bottles of breastmilk+formula. I am pumping twice a day, and plan to reduce it down to once a day soon. I'd like to have him mostly weaned by a year old (in February) but wouldn't mind retaining the early morning and/or nighttime feeds. We'll see what he wants to do, there are times when he seems pretty disinterested in nursing (especially at bedtime) but I don't know if that's just a phase or what. I'm hoping to stay flexible and not stress about it too much.

3. Solid food - In between milk feeds he gets solids, mostly Earth's Best jars but lately we've graduated to rice rusks and veggie puffs. He loves yogurt and cottage cheese, and is definitely into tasting new things (for now at least!). A few nights ago I made a soba noodle soup with spinach and mushrooms and he loved the broth. He has also had a few bites of meatball and is definitely getting better at chewing. I'm looking forward to introducing him to all sorts of new tastes, it's entertaining to see his reactions.

4. Child care - I went back to school for 3 days/week when baby was 6 weeks (!). Still not sure how I managed, but for the first 5 months me, my husband and my mom watched him. In September I went back to four days/week and after much agonizing we hired a nanny to come to our home three days per week. She is wonderful and the baby loves her. It's worked out surprisingly well.

Starting this week I will be back at school five days/week, and the nanny will be with us on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays he will be attending a daycare that is really more like a school. We found one that we are really happy with, so I'm hoping this transition goes well. I'm excited for baby A. to meet some other babies and have some structure to his day, I really think he's going to love it. He's visited the infant room twice now, and each time he has happily crawled away from me to explore. I'm dreading the booger noses and fevers that are surely heading our way, but all I can do is continue breastfeeding and get through the cold and flu season.

Otherwise we are totally loving our little guy, he's the sweetest thing and is starting to interact with us more and more (waving hello, pointing to things and playing games). It's the biggest cliche but I can't believe how big he is getting and how time flies. I also feel pretty good about where we are with this parenting gig. It's not at all that I think we've mastered anything, just that I realize we have to roll with it all and enjoy each new stage.