Friday, August 27, 2010

Hush, Little Baby

In my few years of parenting, I have found nothing more challenging than putting a baby to sleep. I'm not sure what it is, but nothing intimidates me more than this daunting task. It's not just that I'm wishing I could get a fraction of the sleep that the little one is getting. It's also how important I know his sleep is, and how I know that habits, good and bad, are learned early. Before Athan was born, I did my research to make sure I felt prepared to get it right from the start this time. Hudson was a good sleeper, sleeping through the night by 8 weeks, but I remembered that putting him to sleep could be a challenge.

Well, at some point in those early weeks we must have made some mistakes this time, but it's hard to say when it was or what it was. All I can say is that by the end of his first month, I was already frustrated with trying to put Athan down for sleep. It could take up to an hour to get him to sleep. Obviously, that is frustrating for us (me- Jay does help, but it does work, too!). The new complication this time around is having Hudson. I feel so guilty when I'm working with Athan for an hour back in my room and practically banishing Hudson from the room. We got better at it with time, and I realized Hudson's noises were often not the cause of Athan's insomnia. It was just Athan. And to brag on Hudson for a bit- he has been terrific. He has not in the least started to resent his baby brother for taking up so much of Mommy and Daddy's time. He has also complied for the most part when we've asked him not to drum, hammer, or play the piano when Athan is sleeping.

So, back to that little one. We've tried MANY different approaches, often saying to ourselves, "this is it!" We've hovered over the bassinet holding his arms, tried more awake time & less awake time, given him the pacifier an insane amount of times, attempted a strict schedule, let him "work it out" (not cry it out), rocked him and rocked him, walked around, stood in dark closets, and the occasional last resort of just finally driving around the bock.

What have we learned from all of this? We know very little, but will survive. Two months have already passed, and he has actually slept. To my surprise, he does have a bit of a schedule that HE created. Short nap at 10, long nap at 1, medium nap at 4, short nap at 6:30, and bed at 9:30. The predictability does help me.

This week we're employing techniques from the Baby Whisperer, so far my favorite baby book. I spent a good deal of time researching additional information from forums devoted to answering baby whispering questions on Saturday. We came up with a very specific sleep routine. So far it really has gone well and given us more confidence. We're two days into it and not using that stupid pacifier anymore to sleep! :) (It just wasn't working for little A) As I read the posts, I feel like I received permission in a way not to make Athan fall asleep the "right way" every nap. The reality is we have two young children, and it's just not always possible. Our goal right now is to follow his sleep routine for 2 naps a day and at bedtime.

I wanted to record our thoughts right now so that we can see how this sleep journey goes. Since I'm publicly sharing that we're trying this new method I'll have a little more accountability to stick with it. And maybe if you think about it, you can pray for us to wisely teach Athan good sleep habits, but not at the expense of enjoying the journey!

P.S. Thank you, Aunt K, for answering all my sleep questions and reassuring me over and over again! :)

Here's a bit of what we're using.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Athan's Second Month

8 weeks old official picture
8 weeks- relaxing at the Youth Lake Party
6 weeks- lifting up his head
Three key words sum up Athan's second month in my mind: smiles, sleep, and sounds.

Smiles. This is one of the greatest milestones a baby achieves. Being the first real milestone in the first year, it's the first indication that things are going okay. For me, it also serves as the first glimpse into his little self and personality. I saw Athan's first responsive smile in his fourth week as I stroked his head. His little smile let me know that he liked that. We then saw what I consider his first social smile a few weeks later. Daddy got those first grins given in his direction during Athan's seventh week.

Sleep. Oh boy, this has been our issue! During baby's first weeks, eating seems to be the top priority. Nothing else is as important as making sure they are gaining weight and receiving adequate nourishment (which, by the way, is not a problem for this little guy!). Once that was established for us, we turned our attention to the issue of sleep. We've gone back and forth on different approaches and have just ended the month recognizing we're no more sure of how to put Athan to sleep than we were at the start of the month. Still, I can at least say he did sleep about 14 hours a day this month with a solid night of sleep and 4 naps a day. He has his nights well established and mostly wakes only to eat. It just takes a great deal of effort to get him there.

Sounds. The sweet, sweet coos have started. Although life is busy, I try to stop while Athan is happily awake and enjoy these conversations with him. His happiest times are after a good rest, early in the morning and usually after a long afternoon nap. One of his favorite places to be for a good time of talking is his changing pad. Funny, but Hudson also enjoyed that.

Other hi-lights include weekly visits from Gigi and an extended visit with Susu. Grandmothers have helped keep us going! I am so grateful for their help. We also started to get out a little more this month and attempted to make it to church for our regular services.
And, as I said, Athan has been growing like a champ! At his two month check up, he weighed 12 lbs., 10 oz. Way to go, little man.

Our Daily Routine

Here is a little about a life in the day of the Felkers, family 0f 4. One of my favorite things to look back at in Hudson's baby book is the part where I described what our days were like. It's incredible how much change there is within the first year and how quickly you forgot those days. It can seem monotonous at the time (how many times am I going to put this baby to sleep??), but it does change almost without our realizing it.

Right now (now being the key word) this is what we're doing:

Athan usually wakes up twice in the night, around 1 and 5, to eat. It has become like clockwork. His morning wake up time varies, depending on how long it took him to fall back asleep after the second feeding. He sleeps until around 7-9 in the morning. I try to get up before he does to start getting ready. On a good day, Hudson will sleep until 7:30 and get in bed with us if someone is still in bed. Jay gets Hudson ready for the day and feeds him breakfast if he can(thank goodness for flexible hours and a small town without a long commute!!). After Jay goes to work, it's playtime and naptime for the boys. It seems as though I spend a good portion of my day trying to get Athan to sleep. He naps about 4 times a day. We've attempted a 3 hours schedule of eat/wake/sleep, but we've really just made our own version. More on that later. He eats for a total of 7 times a day. That is fairly standard.

While I'm working with Athan, Hudson is great at entertaining himself. His imaginiative spirit has continued to grow as I've been forced to spend less time with him recently. I love overhearing him talk and describe his play. He has gotten interested in the Cars movie/story, so he enjoys acting those scenes out with his cars. It's wonderful. He does have some of the actual characters, but mostly he just plays pretend with regular matchbox cars. I love it and really would rather he do that than have the real ones. As good as he is at playing by himself, Hudson still gets bored and wants my attention. We've increased our TV watching for that reason. I normally try to keep that to 1 hour a day, but it's a little more right now. I'm okay with that. Hudson also loves to play outside, but he really wants someone else to play with him. Sometimes he'll just put himself in his swing and wait for me to come out there to push him. That always looks so pitiful when he's waiting on me.

Back to Athan. He can stay awake for about 1 hour happily, and then he's ready to start working toward a nap. During his awake time, we walk around, lay on a blanket, run errands, or go on a walk. When it's time for a nap, it can take up to 1 hour for him to get to sleep. Can you see why Hudson gets bored?? We're working on that and have seen some recent improvements with Athan. Jay comes home for lunch when he can to help me juggle that time period of fixing lunch/cleaning up/going down for a nap for Hudson. It always seems that Athan needs to get to sleep during that time as well, so an extra hand is much appreciated. It also still allows me to make that time with Hudson enjoyable. The afternoons are slower as Athan usually takes a longer nap at some point, and Hudson rests as well. I try to get some quality time with whoever wakes up first. They're both usually happy then. Jay comes home a little after 5, and we just trade off boys for the evening as we cook, eat dinner, clean-up, play, bathe and then put them to bed. Hudson goes to bed around 8:30 and take forever to fall asleep!! Another point we're working on. Athan usually falls asleep around 9-10. This, of course, looks different on nights when we're out of the house.

I've had a lot of strong feelings about trying to put Athan on a schedule/routine since he was born. I really felt that would be best for us now that we have two children, but as I have gotten in to the reality of bringing home a unique baby with his own temperament and preferences, I have found myself becoming more upset trying to put him on a schedule instead of just enjoying this sweet, fleeting time. I've taken what knowledge I can from other "experts" and tried to incorporate what works into our family. I want to enjoy my children, and this is working for us right now.

One thing I did take from a baby wise mom "professional"...a daily cleaning task. I have enjoyed putting myself on a schedule and accomplishing one tangible thing each day other than just laundry. Jay said to me recently that he doesn't know how I can keep the house so clean. I told him I think that's part of what keeps me sane. I know that my job is to care for our boys, and that is the most important thing I do each day. Still, I enjoy seeing some fruits of my labor and that often comes in looking at a clean house. Strange, isn't it?? :)