Friday, July 31, 2009

Four Months

Dear Elliott,

Today you turned four months old. We went to the pediatrician for a well-child checkup and vaccinations, and I learned a lot of what my gut had already told me. I figured that you waking up twice a night was pretty normal, but there were several books saying you should be sleeping through the night by now, so we started "sleep training"- which is synonymous with torture, I think. You haven't slept through the night yet, but I think the more scheduled day is doing us both some good. You are right on track for most things, and the pediatrician gave me the go-ahead to try cereal if I wanted.

This month had a few unexpected twists. We were back at Peachtree for a little over a month, and my boss decided that I should be home with you rather than back at work. I was really worried there for a while, but new doors are opening up and luckily your Daddy is amazing when it comes to rolling with the punches. Therefore, the two of us have spent a lot of quiet time at home, and the rest of that time I toted you around to various places with other mom's from our play group.

We went to the annual summer art festival with another mommy and baby and had to get creative when the only changing table on the block had a line that wrapped around the building and teenagers loitered in the only convenient places to nurse you.

We went to the Ypsilanti Beer Festival and laughed as Daddy's friends used you to get free beers (this did not work for mommy's friends. Ladies tend to get dirty looks when asking for beer with a baby on their hip).

We went to Borders' story hour with our play group and took up half the store with our strollers.

We went to swanky baby boutiques and took over their play areas too. We've even made friends with several of the moms and their babies, which has been great for me as I try to figure out what I am doing.

You have gotten very strong and prefer to stand instead of sitting or laying in someone's arms. You talk to everyone, shove whatever you can get ahold of in your mouth, and focus on your toys and pictures and people. You have even rolled from tummy to back a couple of times, although I don't think it was on purpose so I haven't recorded it in your baby book yet.
Having you has been a little like stepping into a time warp, where days whiz by so fast that I have to think really hard to figure out what month it is. I remember being younger, waiting until I was FINALLY 10, 13, 16, 18, 21 years old, and then time picked up a little bit after that. But the day I gave birth to you someone pressed fast forward, and I am scrambling a little to keep up. I just seem to think, really? You've outgrown those shoes?! You can handle solid foods? You can support your weight? I'll see enormous pregnant women and try to meet their stares to empathize with being THAT pregnant in the summer, and they just see a normal lady with a chubby baby and I know they must not realize what's coming. That those clothes they haven't even taken the tags off of will be packed away after only being worn twice. That the baby who sends them to the bathroom 15 times a night and kicks them in the ribs is going to be consumed by his jowls and double chins before they know it.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

The young and the restless

Sigh. So the sleep? With the plan and the earplugs and the REM cycles? Did. Not. Go. Smoothly.

We didn't get him into bed when I planned, but he was asleep by 9:30. According to the plan, I could feed him again at 3 am, which shouldn't have been that hard. During the day he was doing great waiting for 3 or 4 hours to eat. He woke up at 12:30 and I readied myself to shhhh and rock and bounce him back to sleep. Just not feed him yet. Normally he will grunt and kick when he wakes up, and then let out a couple of half hearted cries to let me know he's awake. I've never tested it to see what happens afterward.

What happens is we wake the entire complex with screams that could wake the dead. David's earplugs were apparently worthless. Shushing, and swaying, and rocking, and bouncing? Did nothing. Just endless and furious wailing, and rooting around like "I know you have them and I can scream all night if you don't feed me." I would look at the clock thinking, It must be one by now. The clock would laugh and read out 12:36. I did manage to keep it up for a half an hour. Finally David said something to the effect of "Why are we doing this?" and I replied "I want to sleep!" I gave up a little after one and fed him, and I cried the whole time. He nursed for twenty minutes, and then slept until 5. Which, admittedly, is progress. Painful, awful progress.

So I fed him twice last night, and he is able to go back to sleep with some shushing (he stirred from 6-8 every 30 minutes or so, but I only went to the crib once. I'm going to try super hard to figure out his napping and eating schedule today so that we can do a better job tonight. I'm also going to be really nice to my neighbors when I see them, lest we get handed an eviction notice or are cited for disturbing the peace.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So a month ago I wasn't convinced enough to "train" Elliott to sleep through the night. I figured he was so young, and still eating so frequently, that surely if I gave him time he would start eventually sleeping for longer intervals.

I was wrong.

Instead, Elliott has regressed somewhat, and last night he woke up no less than 5 times. This has happened on and off for a couple of weeks, and I give in. I'll probably end up ranting later on about how babies DO NOT TRAIN for sleep. But I'll give it a try. I really, really want to sleep longer than four hours, and it hasn't happened in months.

At first, I tried to stretch Elliott's feeding intervals, but he seems to be doing that on his own now, without my trying really. My friend Georgina tried to coax me into doing this for him, but I caved, and now he did it on his own. HOWEVER, instead of sleeping at longer intervals at night, he has one good stretch then constantly wakes up for the rest of the night. Or at least, I think he's waking up, but according to lots of baby sleep experts, he may just be having a wakeful period and I am rushing to his noisy side before he can go back to a deeper sleep. We share our bedroom with him, and David is a light sleeper. I'm usually launched out of bed before he's whimpered.

Tonight, however, David has been advised to wear earplugs. I am going to feed him at 3 am, but then not again until it is time to get up for the day. I may die. I'm just hoping I won't cave. It is so hard to be rational at 3 am. And it's so easy to just let him nurse for five minutes and put him back in his crib. I just don't want to do it 6 times a night anymore. I have to think big picture.

Big picture, Nicki. You're the mom. You can do this.

I'm so dead.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stories with Daddy

About a month ago I realized that Elliott was having some separation anxiety whenever I left him with someone else. I tried to figure out why he was having such a hard time, and realized that I had pretty much taken over every baby related activity, so he hadn't really bonded with anyone but me. All of the baby books that I read recommended that I have David bring the baby to me for feedings and change and burp him after, or share the late night feedings, but it seemed silly to have us both get zero sleep. When I noticed Elliott needed a diaper or bath, it seemed lazy to make David do the dirty work when I discovered it. Pretty soon I had assumed all duties and David was kinda left out. No wonder Elliott freaked out when I suddenly disappeared every two hours.

Now things are much better. David is in charge of bathtimes and a bedtime story each night (which, admittedly are the most fun tasks so far) and Elliott does much better when I leave him. I love to listen in, and David is pretty awesome at both. Sometimes he'll throw in a song or an accent, and it is really fun to watch Elliott and him together.
I went to the library on Wednesday and picked up a few new books by my favorite authors so far- Mo Willems (who wrote the book they are reading in the pictures, Knuffle Bunny), Eric Carle (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?) and Sandra Boynton (The going to bed book). Elliott seems to enjoy the bright pictures and rhythm of our voices as we read, and I hope he grows up to love reading as much as we do.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cash fans.

I found this onesie when Elliott was still tiny. I've been waiting to break it out, and today was the day. Today is also the day that Elliott has not had a nap. So I'm crawling an entirely different line. I think it's a line of exhaustion.
He's really starting to get this tummy thing down, and lifts up to see everything around him.

He even gets a little cocky sometimes. "Pshhh, I'll just move my arms and crawl the line right over this pillow. "
His arms aren't super strong yet though. Which means baby faceplant.
At least he didn't cry about it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

There may be something wrong with me...

My mom's group has been trying to get together for playdates so we can all get to know each other a little more. I hosted my first one this morning, and since I was hoping to make a new friend, I did this:
Which is exactly what I did before going in to be induced with Elliott- so I could make a good impression on the Labor and Delivery nurses. Did someone bribe me with brownies at some point to be their friend? I wonder if at some point I'm going to turn into the wicked witch that lures Hansel and Gretel into her candy house or something. Geez.

Anyway, we had a good time with our new friends, and I snagged a couple of cute pictures.
This one is my fave.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saturday with friends

Yesterday we went over to our friends' apartment for a little grilling and volleyball. It was a beautiful Saturday and we decided to take advantage of the weather. It was pretty sunny, so I tried out some sunglasses that another lady from my mom's group let us have. As you can see, I have another item to add to the list of accessories that Elliott hates: Sunglasses.If you give him long enough, he either falls asleep or forgets they are strapped to his head, so I finally got a shot of him wearing them. He doesn't look happy, but I'll settle for indifferent, I guess.
We played around with the camera a little and got a few good pictures of each other with Elliott.
After a little while, Elliott got a little fussy, and we had to fight for a long time before he would take the bottle. We finally figured out that if he has to settle for a bottle, he doesn't want to work to eat. The strange bottle designed to be more like the breast (which other nursing moms have told me was the only thing that their child would eat from) does nothing but tick our little guy off. We tried the regular old bottle that practically pours milk down his throat, and he finally drank it all and managed to chill out.
I've also discovered in the last few days that he has added a few new tricks to his repertoire. If you talk on the phone while looking at Elliott, he thinks you are talking to him and will coo and smile back at you. Also, I can put him on his playmat in the floor, turn around, and he will somehow end up under the kitchen table by kicking his legs and inching away, millimeter by millimeter. He's sneaky, this one.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New pics of Elliott

We tried tummy time a little differently, since he does really well but then faceplants into the ground when he gets tired. Elliott seemed to appreciate the adjustment. Toys are much more interesting when you are lifted up to see them, I guess. Picky, picky.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lean on me

So, becoming a mom is difficult. Everyone knows this, and warns you, but it is often hard in ways I didn't anticipate. For example, how do you keep your grace and composure when you have had no more than 4 hours sleep in the last 4 months, and people give unsolicited and often rude advice? Enter the women I met through my mom's group. I love them. LOVE them. I can go in and talk to 10-12 women who know exactly what I'm going through. Or can at least sympathize, and give suggestions of what they did in a similar situation. I look forward to Thursday afternoons every week! I'm so glad I joined.

Here are the sweet babies from our group. We managed to only have one screamer. So sweet, poor girl. Elliott is the baby in highwater overalls. Whoops.
**UPDATE** Notice the two babies on the very far right? They are twins, and are holding hands in this picture. So sweet!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This smile...

...can really help on a bad day. The only thing better so far is the sounds he makes when I tickle his double chins.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Someone stamp "Sucker" on my forehead

David and I are still working on developing a bedtime routine for Elliott. Preferably one that allows him and me a reasonable amount of rest and sanity. David is giving him a bath and reading him a story, then we say goodnight. I was just practicing guitar since we had laid Elliott down, and I heard a funny gasping sound coming from our bedroom. I came in to check on him, and he had a tear rolling down his cheek and stuck out his bottom lip. I scooped him up, fed him for a second, and it dawned on me that I hadn't even let him start crying before I swooped in to "rescue" him from bedtime. I warned David that this might happen, but I didn't realize that it would only take tears (which are probably resulting more from allergies than sadness) and a pouty lip to snap me into sympathetic mommy autodrive. I've got some work to do.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Training-for sleep

I come from a long line of champion sleepers. My mom and dad both at one time could outsleep anyone- and I learned to do the same. I can usually sleep through a freight train plowing through my living room, and at one point in my life I was known to crawl up on top of the huge speakers at my dad's band practice and snooze on top of them until someone put me to bed. So of course, since Elliott's arrival my sleep habits have dramatically changed.

That isn't to say that he doesn't sleep well. He likes to snooze, and will sometimes pass out in the middle of playing. However, one of the major drawbacks of exclusively breastfeeding a baby how often they need to eat. It's great for my figure, but has done NOTHING for the dark circles under my eyes.

After speaking with a friend, I have been encouraged to space out feedings so that he isn't used to eating every two hours. I did a little experiment today, and I don't feel great about the results. The thing is, Elliott doesn't consistently eat every two hours. Sometimes it's two hours, sometimes four. But he lets me know he wants to eat, and I usually let him eat. Today, making him wait seemed a little strange, because all it did was work him into a frenzy. By the time I fed him he was almost too worked up to focus. I realize these routines take time, but I'm not sure either of us are to the point where I want to call in "baby sleep experts" to fix us. I mean, sure, it would be fantastic if I got a REM cycle in. But it seems wrong to make a generally happy baby scream for his food. It almost hurts. Besides, if I can go three months with spotty sleep, surely I can go four.