Friday, August 28, 2009

Nap Deprivation

No, I'm not the one being deprived; it's my daughter. In her ongoing quest to become a big kid, she stopped napping when she was tired sometime between the ages of three and four months. Things came to a head about a week ago when I somehow realized there was something wrong with my little girl. She was exhausted and constantly fussy, but she would not sleep during the day. On top of that, she seemed to be having more and more trouble getting to sleep at night.

Some Internet research revealed a few things. First, I discovered that her bedtime was way too late. That, combined with a lack of consistent daily structure, was affecting her daytime sleep. A baby Samantha's age needs about 15 hours of sleep each day! And keeping her up doesn't help her sleep better; she will wake up around the same time each morning regardless of when she went to bed. I also discovered that lack of sleep was bad for her brain!

That night I decided to let her "cry it out." I was so desperate for my baby to get the sleep her little body needed. So I read her a story, sang a few songs, and got her tucked in. We both cried for 90 minutes until she finally went to sleep. While I was waiting for her to go to sleep, I was still desperately searching for answers. Clearly just tucking her in and leaving her to cry was not the solution for us. So after asking for help from friends, message boards,, and my old pal Google, I put together a reading list.

What I came up with was a combination of knowledge, advice, and schedules from Richard Ferber, Marc Weissbluth, and Tracy Hogg. I have been following a combination of Hogg's EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) structure for our day, Ferber's gentler version of cry-it-out, and Weissbluth's plan that includes a super early bedtime to help get naps back on track. The last few days have been full of sleep ups and and downs with Samantha crying through some naptimes and sleeping through others, but we are definitely making progress. Today things are definitely looking up and right now she's playing happily with her toys instead of yelling at them! Last night she went to bed with minimal fuss and I had several evening hours free to get some schoolwork done for the first time in months!

I know the road ahead is full of bumps and crazy turns, but we are on our way.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My 16 week old traveler

Well, little Samantha is almost 4 months old, and not quite as little as she used to be. As I write this, she's laying on the bed beside me kicking away, watching the ceiling fan, and giving me a big, toothless grin every so often. We're on the bed because I'm trying to get her to nap but it isn't really working, so we'll settle for a little quiet time.
The last few weeks have seen some amazing changes in our baby girl. In the span of two weeks she learned to roll over from her back to her tummy, grab her toes, make popping sounds with her mouth, and (the best one) giggle!
I love that all of Samantha's grandparents are 100% behind us in all our parenting decisions and don't try to make choices for us. We are both so blessed with wonderful in-laws! My mom got out a bunch of my old baby items for us to use while we were visiting in Colorado. She slept in my old crib, on my old blanket, in my old pajamas. She wore my old socks because the socks I packed for her were too small (it's been too hot to wear socks at home so I wasn't aware how much her feet had grown). She played with my old toys and sat in my old baby seats. It was a great walk down memory lane (though I'll admit that many of the items I really don't remember). Can you believe that parenting books from the 1970's encourage solid foods around 3 months of age, say babies should sleep on their tummies, and are OK with parents holding their babies in moving vehicles? A lot has changed in the past 30 years.
We had a great time on Samantha's first big trip. She slept in the plane all the way there. She did wonderfully in the airport on the way back despite the four hour delay, and she slept all the way back, too. The best part on the way back was that there was an empty seat and the airline allowed me to use her carseat in it. What an arm-saver! We had to nurse when we arrived due to the delay, but it was no big deal since it was about 2 am and there was nobody at baggage claim by the time I got there! Traveling with her was fairly easy and I'm sure I have lots of vocal mothers who traveled before I did to thank for that in addition to people who are just generally kind. The airline doesn't charge for checking carseats or strollers and allows gate check of those items. The TSA allows milk for the baby to pass through security in containers greater than 3 oz. Restaurants and coffee shops happily give away free cups of hot water to mommies who need to warm bottles. Flight attendants assist overburdened moms who drop things on their way off the plane. Pilots help figure out how to unlock collapsed strollers at 2 am. And random strangers are more than happy to help entertain bored babies during airport delays. It was, overall, a great experience.

In Colorado, Samantha spent lot of time with her Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Lisa. She had a blast. She visited Dinosaur Ridge, where my mom volunteers, and saw some interesting dinosaur exhibits and fossils. She particularly liked the maps that showed continental drift (future geologist?). She spent time with our dear friend Betty at her beautiful home with a pond and several huge trees in the backyard. She met her first dog (an extraordinarily large one at that) and met some cats with hair (hers has none)! I had a great time, too. I got some great runs in while my parents baby-sat. I just ran around the neighborhood, but those hills were killer for a flatlander like me. We visited the Old Spaghetti Factory, a restaurant I went to as a baby. The trip was tons of fun and we can't wait to go back at Christmas.