Sleep Training basically worked

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Last time I posted about sleep training, I said we basically gave it up. Actually, after a few days, we modified it just a bit with great success.

The modification is this: Follow the sleep training, but if the baby sounds scared or distressed, go in and soothe immediately.

Sebastian has two types of cries:

  1. Fussing, frustrated “Why can’t I sleep” cry.
  2. Scared, distressed, in-pain cry.

If it’s the first type, we follow the sleep training, and allow him to try, checking on him in intervals. If it’s the second type, we go in to soothe him immediately. This is pretty successful, and he falls asleep pretty well (usually within 10 minutes).

I will say – Mary often doesn’t use sleep training, and opts to lay next to him and boob him to sleep. Since I don’t have that tool, I resort to sleep training, and it works for me.

I (almost) miss being pregnant

I have a friend who is 36 weeks along. She started experiencing nausea again and asked if it was a sign of impending labor.

I told her that it could be her body starting to get rid of any excess waste before the baby comes, or she could have just eaten something funny. So many things can make a pregnant woman throw up. What I didn’t tell her was that her question made me…jealous?

Not sure if jealous is the right word. But I actually miss being that pregnant. It seemed as if the entire world new and cared about me. Strangers wanted to share in my joy. The anticipation was annoying at times, but mostly exciting.

As soon as my son was born, the attention immediately shifted from me to him. Granted, that’s how things should be, but it was (and still is) hard to accept sometimes. I carried and pushed this kid out, yet I am expected to care for him 24/7 and recover at the same time while everyone else just gives me unwanted advice and gets to do the fun things with him.

I miss not knowing how he would look or what his personality would be like.

I miss still having the freedom to go out without worrying if I left enough pumped milk at home.

That being said, I also remember wishing that it would be the day after I gave birth. Labor would be over and I would finally get to hold my baby in my arms.

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It’s been 5 months, and although my son is an attention hog, my husband’s side of the family often comments on his big eyes, which the baby gets from me. So in a way, I still get attention right?

I honestly don’t quite know how the baby will look or act as he is constantly packing on the pounds and revealing new aspects of his personality. Every week it’s like being with a new kid.

While I still worry about the pumped milk, I’m also getting sad as the 6 month mark gets closer. We will be starting him on solids then. Although breast milk will still be the majority of his diet, in a month it will slowly decrease. We struggled with breastfeeding the first month, and now that we are able to do it I think I get just as much comfort and joy from it as the baby does.

I guess this means I want to have another baby, though maybe I should wait until I’ve gotten one full night of sleep first!

My “office”

So my sister decided to send me a picture from her new job…

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Man I got so mad. At first I was going to reply, “Oh shut up.” Then, I decided to take a picture of my own…

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My office. I win! ;)

Although I am currently wearing old pjs (the oversized, unattractive kind that are only comfy because they are worn to the point of developing holes) , smelly because I haven’t showered, eating a leftover sandwich at 10 am for “lunch” since I won’t have time to later, and writing this post to do something remotely adult with myself, I am, as my husband pointed out in the group text “living the life.”

I have a happy and healthy baby sleeping next to me. When he wakes up soon and interrupts whatever activity I just barely started, I know he will give me the biggest smile. That makes the sleep deprivation, backaches, messy apartment, and smelly coffee breath totally worth it. Every single time.

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I got the smile!

Our Cry-it-Out sleep training lasted one day

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A few weeks ago, our pediatrician suggested sleep training. Mary immediately got two books (The Sleepeasy Solution and The No-Cry Sleep Solution) and devoured them. And after two weeks of nagging, I finally also read The Sleepeasy Solution.

So on Sunday we began sleep training using the method detailed in The Sleepeasy Solution. This book is basically the same method as the Ferber Method, part of a family of sleep training methods called Cry-it-Out, a.k.a. the extinction method. The gist of it:

  1. Put your baby onto bed awake, say good night, and leave the room. Ignore any crying or fussing.
  2. After 5 minutes, go back in and check on him. Don’t touch him, but reassure him verbally.
  3. After 10 minutes, go back in and check on him again.
  4. After 15 minutes, go back in and check on him again.
  5. Repeat Step 4 until he is asleep. This may take hours.

The theory goes: falling asleep is a learned skill, and the baby needs to learn how to do it on his own – without parental assistance.

We tried it on Sunday for Nap 1, Nap 2, and Bedtime. Here’s how they went:

  1. Nap 1: Baby lays there not complaining for the first 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I check on him. Soon thereafter, he starts crying. Then after 3 more minutes, he falls asleep. Total time until sleep: 8 minutes.
  2. Nap 2: Baby lays there and starts complaining after a few minutes. After 5 minutes, I check on him. He starts crying, and then continues crying for 7 more minutes. Total time until sleep: 12 minutes.
  3. Bedtime: Baby starts crying immediately. After 5 minutes, I check on him. He keeps crying. After 10 more minutes,  I check on him again. He keeps crying. At this point Mary capitulates and goes in to soothe him.

So there you go. We lasted all of a single day before Mary declared defeat. The main sticking point for her: there is a difference between the baby’s fussing cry and scared cry, and the baby was starting to give the scared cry.

The good news is that the next day (today), the baby fell asleep during his naps without any intervention or regimen. Maybe my training did do some good.

Frustrating the baby

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Just out of reach

Sebastian can’t really move, so his toys are often out of his reach. I used to watch him, and when this happened, I’d grab the toy and give it to him immediately.

But recently, since watching Mary interact with him, I’ve stopped doing this. Mary will encourage Sebastian to struggle to get the toy for himself. Sebastian stretches out with every muscle in his tiny body. He will kick the mat in an ineffectual manner but move a centimeter at a time. And when he finally does get the toy, it looks like he’s very satisfied with himself.

And then he will forget the toy.

(Just to be clear: there’s a limit to the baby’s frustration (dependent on age), and at some point, like if he starts wailing, Mary and I still just give him the toy.)

Mary calls this process: teaching the baby to manage frustration. And also: how rewarding it is to work for something and eventually get it.

I’m all about character education, and I think that all actual achievement follows from character. I am very impressed with my wife for finding opportunities for character education within the mundane and everyday.

Given her expertise, I am sure she will raise a baby better adjusted than me. Either that or he will be really neurotic.

 

The babysitter log

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Mary and Tommy received an invitation to a wedding on March 5th, and they asked me at least two months in advance if I was free to babysit. The wedding was over 50 miles away and they planned to be away from 1 PM to 1 AM. That was the longest time that they would be away from the baby, but my family and I have gotten comfortable with the babysitting routine. I love spending time with my nephew, but this night turned out to be a true test of my patience and skill.

12:45pm
My dad and I arrived at Mary and Tommy’s place. Mary reviewed how to use cloth diapers, told us there was extra milk in the freezer, and set out some books and toys. I’m sure Mary and Tommy were happy to get some time for themselves but were probably nervous to leave us in charge.

2:00pm
The baby was ready for his first nap. I had to walk around with him to calm him down and get him snuggled, then I laid him down on his mat and covered him with his blankie. My dad took this opportunity to leave because he usually goes to church on Saturday nights. He would be back around 7pm. That left me 5 hours alone with baby.

2:30pm
I heard the baby start fidgeting, and after 10 minutes, he was very awake and active. I changed his diaper, fed him, burped him, then did tummy time. We read a few board books, and I carried him all throughout the house and talked to him. I love to shower his fat cheeks with kisses and hopefully he likes it, too. I was the perfect auntie.

5:00pm
I definitely lost track of time. The baby and I were having so much fun playing and he didn’t show any signs of being sleepy. Mary had told me a hundred times that he needed to nap approximately every two hours, but the baby was fine! Or so I thought.

6:00pm
The baby was getting a bit fussy. He didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want a pacifier, and I checked repeatedly that his diaper was clean. Oh yeah, the baby needs to nap! Duh! So I turned off some lights and put the baby down. He finally fell asleep, and I took advantage of this break to raid the refrigerator. I finished off the carton of Rocky Road ice cream and sat down on the couch.

6:10pm
The baby woke up! Oh no! I tried saying “Shhhhh” gently and putting my hand on him so he knew he was safe. It didn’t work. He was awake and making noises. Did he need food? But he just ate before his nap! I let him stay lying down, then tried walking around with him to get him sleepy. Nothing worked.

7:00pm
My dad brought sandwiches for dinner and he ate while I held the baby. I told him how the baby only got 10 minutes of sleep, and he was being so fussy. My dad took a turn with the baby while I ate my sandwich. He talked to the baby and tried to reason with him: “Listen here, you have to get some rest, ok?”

8:00pm
After another hour of fussiness, I was able to put the baby down on his mat in the bedroom. My dad and I were already exhausted.

8:30pm
Baby started crying. I picked the baby up to walk with him, but he screamed even louder. So I put him back down and he was still crying. My dad told me to put the baby in his rocker chair and bring him in the living room. My dad rocked the baby and let him cry. We knew he was so tired that he couldn’t sleep. I was very frustrated and thought, “What kind of person needs sleep and is too tired to sleep so he stays up and cries?” Babies are so irrational.

9:00pm
The baby fell asleep in his rocker. He sometimes woke up and started crying, but he fell asleep several minutes after his outbursts.

11:00pm
Mary and Tommy came home early. Praise the Lord! The baby was asleep like a mischievous little man. My mom asked how babysitting went, and I replied with “Never am I ever babysitting him again!”

I now know that I need to enforce the baby’s sleep schedule and have him ready for naptime even before that time comes. There is no point getting frustrated with a baby because it won’t help the situation and could make things worse. I still love to see the baby and spend time with him, and I tease him about that night when he was a little terror baby.

Two days later, there were no more hard feelings:

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Babyproof Your Telephone Jacks

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Before
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After

When I started baby-proofing, I immediately zeroed in on the power outlets. But I ignored the telephone jacks. I haven’t had a landline in years, and thinking of them as just data jacks, I thought they were harmless.

Wrong, as my electrical engineer father-in-law pointed out. Those plain old telephone jacks carry 50 volts DC. They aren’t digital, but analog. They used to power phones even if the power was out.

And my apartment had a telephone jack right above the baby’s sleep area.

My dear wife kept complaining, repeatedly, over a span of about two weeks, that Sebastian was looking at the telephone jack right above his head, and was starting to reach for it.

I ignored her. I told her it was a harmless data jack.

I finally looked it up on Wikipedia to silence my wife – to prove to her that they were actually harmless. And that’s when I discovered they weren’t.

The Solution

The solution is simple. You don’t use the landline anymore. Replace the telephone jack wall plate with a blank one. I bought a metal one from Home Depot for $1 that will probably survive a nuclear blast, and is definitely tamper-proof.

It takes 5 minutes and can be done with a flathead screwdriver.

  1. Unscrew the telephone jack wall plate.
  2. Disconnect the wires from the wall plate. Tape them off and separate them so they don’t short. Stuff them into the hole.
  3. Install the blank wall plate in its place.
  4. Don’t tell your landlord. Fix it before you move out.

My baby sleeps better than me

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Bash will be 4 months old this week. For the most part he takes regular naps and spends most of the night asleep. He still wakes frequently to feed, but after eating he goes back to sleep very quickly. I’m slowly trying to get him to sleep for longer and to eat less at night.

I wish I could fall asleep that easily. Tonight is especially rough because Tommy is away for the next few days. I know that I’m 100% capable of watching Bash, and frankly I care for him during the night anyway while Tommy sleeps like a bump on a log. That being said, I miss that slobby bump.

I’ve personally shared a bed for as long as I can remember. Before moving out of my parents’ apartment my sister and I would share a bed. Now Tommy and I sleep together, and Bash is right next to me in his own little space. I’m so tempted to bring Bash into bed with me all night. I know I won’t sleep good at all so I’m not worried about hurting him. However, it isn’t Bash that needs the physical closeness, it’s his mother. Sad I know. I turn on his white noise toy more for myself than for him. Although I often complain that my life is dull, I crave routine. When something is thrown off, like Tommy being away, I don’t know what to do with myself. No wonder Bash was a wreck when Tommy and I left him with my family for 10+ hours to attend a friend’s wedding.

My ambitions for Sebastian

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I have many unfulfilled goals – just like everyone else. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a rewarding life and I’ve gotten to do many things I would have never imagined. But there are also many things I’ve imagined that I’ve never done and probably never will. I still dream though. I have an active imagination.

But one big thing has changed recently. Before, when I’d imagine some awesome achievement and reward, I’d always picture myself. But now, sometimes I think of Sebastian instead.

That makes sense right? We’re finite. We’ll die someday. Some doors are already closed to us (just a few!) due to the choices we’ve already made.

But Sebastian – yes Sebastian – all doors are open to you. You’re born into the wealthiest and most dynamic country on Earth with a silver spoon in your mouth. You can do anything. I know you can’t even crawl yet, and you shit yourself multiple times a day, but you can do anything. I know it. Eventually.


We tend to see our children as extensions of ourselves. If we’re not careful, our unfulfilled ambitions can be a burden on them. We want to live vicariously through them, to play back history, but at a key moment, make them succeed where we stumbled. Even though that game is over. Even though people don’t even play that game anymore. Even though that moment’s long forgotten by everyone but ourselves.

And as a result, these burdened kids grow up with expectations, a plan, a formula. Some get depressed they can never live up to their parents wishes. Others rebel in various unproductive ways. And most finally grow out of their shackles and get to be their own person. But it is still a burden. Our dreams have become a burden.


How can I dream for Sebastian in a helpful way – without burdening him? I have no idea, but here are some possible things I can do:

His interests, not mine. The world will be vastly different in 20 years, and he’ll “get it” in some ways much better than me. I’ll need to respect that. He needs to choose his own fields to endeavor in. You can’t predict what will be important.

Introduce possibilities. To help him discover what he likes, I could show him a variety of places and things: zoos, aquariums, nature, labs, buildings, museums, books, the Internet, and historical bulls**t.

Provide resources, not orders. Within reason, provide him with all the resources I can afford for him to pursue his interests (assuming a reasonable rate of return). Don’t tell him what those interests are.

His fire, not mine. Obviously I do not want him to be on the couch smoking weed all day. Hopefully, if he can pursue his own interests, he won’t. But there’s no way I can order him to do things (beyond you-must-try-it-for-at-least-a-month I guess).

No outdated prejudices. You know how your moderately racist or homophobic parents or grandparents are kind of embarrassing and wrong? That’s going to be me about robosexuals and transracial people in 20 years. I can’t burden Sebastian with outdated thinking.

Any other suggestions?

 

 

 

Hair everywhere

Bash was born with a perfect head of hair. It was just beautiful. The color, the style…everything.

20160219_083445Well now that he is 3 months old, most of that lovely hair has fallen out. He essentially has a bald ring around his head where it rubs against the mattress. Not only that, but the little hairs that have come out are everywhere! It’s like having a pet dog. Sometimes these hairs end up in his diapers. During tummy time I’m sure he eats a few of them. I’m hoping he doesn’t get a hairball stuck in his body somewhere. I believe that actually happened. Sort of. A few years ago there was a news story about a girl who was addicted to eating her hair and had a hair ball accumulate in her stomach.

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My standard hair loss after a shower

I’ve also started to lose hair as well. It’s still not at the normal level it was before I was pregnant, and I’m not worried about balding. What is a pain is the mess. Before pregnancy, I used to be embarrassed at work because we had light colored floors. People would know it was my hair on the floor because it was so long and dark. I miss not having to vacuum everyday because pregnancy slows your hair loss.

Tommy has wild hair which he never combs. It’s all over the place. Both in the apartment and on top of his head. There’s also a bunch of it stuck to the car ceiling. I almost wish he would go bald.

We are all very lucky to have ample heads of hair. It’s just a pain when you want to keep the place clean. I got very happy this morning when I mopped and put out a fresh, hairless blanket for the baby. During my pre-pregnancy days, going to Six Flags would have had a similar effect. It’s pretty sad.