Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mr. Independence

I took a long break from blogging lately for a few reasons. However, the main one was that I just didn't feel like writing. This blog is for fun for me (and for being useful), and when it doesn't feel fun or useful, I don't make myself do it. But just in the past couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking - oh man, so many things are changing so quickly for Ben, and I have been noticing things that would be fun to write about. Here are a few!

A funny thing happened on the way to sleep training. Ben had suddenly turned into Mr. Independence at night. Mr. Self-sufficient. Mr. Keep Yo Distance. All of the time now, after he is done with his bottle (yep, he still gets one before bed), he will sit up and point to his crib. He will squirm around to let me know to put him down in it. What a one eighty from a few months ago! I know I should be really pleased about this, and a part of me is, but another more whiny needy part of me is sad my baby doesn't want me to rock him anymore. Now, that isn't to say that we haven't had some occasions where he has woken up and needs rocking, but I don't enjoy those as much as the before bed ones. Because I am so damn tired in the middle of the night!

It's a funny dichotomy that I am sure will occur more as Ben gets older. I want him to be independent enough to do things for himself for lots of reasons. It's healthy for him, and it is easier for Dan and I. But I also want to cuddle him, and I want him  to need me and love me more than anything else in the world. It's hard to see where the line between comforting him and comforting myself ends and begins.

On the other hand I am an impatient lazy person, so that helps push forward for the sake of progress.

Also pushing Ben forward into a new age of independence is daycare. He has been moved to the toddler room! Dan and I have sort of been dreading this upcoming milestone. We LOVE the caretakers in the infant room, and we are all so comfortable in there. While the infant room seems calm and serene most of the time, the toddler room is loud chaos. Dan swears he saw a kid smoking a cigarette in the corner there the other day. It is trample or be trampled. He has been transitioning to the toddler room for the past month by spending increasingly longer increments of time in there. During this transition, he has had about 5 injury reports (he had only had one in the past year total). He is a more active guy now, and that room is a more active room. I am trying to get used to it.

One of the injury reports was due to Ben being bitten. I was sort of devastated. Apparently, he had taken a toy away from the biter kid. I am hoping this is a rare occurrence and really keeping my fingers crossed that Ben doesn't learning biting for himself. I know it is a phase a lot of kids go through, and I was hoping just to skip over that one!

Now that Ben has moved to the toddler room, he does not have bottles or pacifiers at daycare. That transition went pretty easily. At home, he only has one bottle before bedtime. I am planning on phasing that out in July. My plan is to put water in it for a few nights, and then take it away. After that is done, we will work on the pacifiers. At home, we try only to give those at sleep time.

I have decided that I really love this age, and I think I am just going to keep loving it for a while. Yes, there are challenging things to deal with that are popping up now. For example, he is more demanding and has had a couple of temper tantrums when things don't go his way. He is not as easy to redirect. He plays in dog bowls, is a magnet for electrical outlets, throws food, etc. Danger is his middle name. BUT the awesome things are just very awesome. He could not be cuter if he tried. Seeing him learn to do things that he could not do the day before is fascinating. Hearing a new word is cause for a mini-party. Finding something that makes him giggle uncontrollably makes me feel like I won the lottery and is worth repeating at least 15 times. Feeling his slobbery kiss on my cheek followed by a MUWAH! makes me melt. Having him hug my leg unexpectedly is priceless.

Soon we will be completely eliminating the night time bottle and pacifiers. I will make sure to do posts about that when it happens! Also, I am really trying to brainstorm about how we are going to begin "discipline." We are at the point where that is starting to become necessary. However, it turns out disciplining a toddler is like trying to solve a problem like Maria. How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you hold a moon beam in your hands? We aren't completely letting him run wild now, we say "no" of course and direct him away from things. But I need a PLAN. I feeling like I am floundering a bit, and I really want to be consistent. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hear's Tube You! And Sleep Training Update

Haha! I am a wizard with wordplay. A wizard I tell you! Ben is set to get ear tubes Friday morning. But before I dig into that, let's revisit sleep training (which I talked about here).

Ben and I went for a date on a Friday after work to get sushi. Well, he mostly just chewed on this drink top while I ate sushi.
How have I not posted again sooner??? Oops! So, sleep training actually went really well (well, at least in retrospect - things always look a lot sunnier a few weeks down the road). We probably had about three or four nights when we had to do some form of cry it out (with always going in to comfort after about 5-10 mins of crying). It wasn't three nights in a row though, because interspersed in there were just a few nights that he was sleepy enough to fall asleep in my arms or close enough. Also, each time we did the "cry it out" (for lack of a better word), it was less traumatic (i.e. less crying for a less amount of time).

Flash forward to now, and here is our bedtime routine:  after dinner, Ben gets a bath around 6pm. After his bath, I wrangle him into his diaper and PJs. He is a big pain in the patoot about this. He HATES getting his diaper and PJs on. I literally have to physically hold him down, which is not easy because he is freakishly strong and I have just lotioned him up. I think they are teaching him wrestling moves at daycare - like how to get out of a hold. Who knows. Sometimes I just let him run around naked for a bit for a few reasons: (1) I am so so lazy and not looking forward to the fight that is getting dressed for bed, (2) It is nice for his nether regions to get some airing out for diaper rash reasons and (3) the boy just loves being naked. He will run around the room, pat his belly, and try to get into trouble by playing with the trash can or the radio. This is all great until he pees somewhere in the room. That happens about a quarter of the time.

After getting him dressed, we go downstairs and hang with Dan. So Ben will play and chill out and we may read some books. Around 6:45pm, I will warm up his bottle for bed (yep, he still gets a bottle and he likes it warm, dammit!). Dan and Ben have what Dan calls "Buddy Time," which is when Ben gets to have a paci if he's fussy (we have pretty much got rid of these during waking time, except when the poor guy is sick, then I bend my rules a bit) while they chill on the couch and watch sports. While Buddy Time is going on, I will get Ben's room ready for bed and tidy up the bathroom. Then at 7pm, I take Ben upstairs and he has his bottle. Then I rock him for a few minutes and put him in his crib. He is almost always awake now when I do this and hasn't fussed about it for the past few weeks. It is great!
Ben's first time on a carousel. He absolutely hated it and cried the whole time. Memories.
We have had a couple of nights in the last few weeks where he has woken up and just cried off and on the whole night. It is horrible! I feel like it must be teeth or something, because he will have no fever and doesn't seem sick. I don't think it is anything that can be solved by sleep training and it isn't the norm. Normally, he will pretty much sleep from 7pm to 7am (although he may have a crying jag or two somewhere in there, but can normally calm himself back to sleep). Also, occasionally he will take a big poop right after I put him down for bed, which he understandably wants remedied before he falls asleep.

No, onto ears. As Mickey would say - We've got ears, it's time for cheers! (What? You don't watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse everyday? Your loss I guess). We decided to bite the bullet and get Ben tubes. I am currently trying to decide what to do about ear plugs. Our ENT said that they only need them for the first couple of weeks during bath time. After that, they say plugs aren't necessary (unless diving or something, which Ben has PROMISED not to do). I am thinking I might still be cautious though and use them. We'll see. I'll let you all know what I go with and out it works. I am debating the Ear Bandit, Pro Plugs (but I would need to know his size), or some sort of moldable situation. Or all of the above. I am really looking forward to it. If there is one thing that Ben loves, it is to sit still while I shove things in his ear (or while I try to do anything for that matter). Or just to sit still at all!

I am really hoping that these tubes give Ben relief on his ear issues. He had two sets of infections in Feb/March. I thought he had another in April, but just ended up having a lot of fluid in both ears that wasn't infected. I could tell it was bothering him though. As a bonus, tubes are supposed to help relief pressure from flying, which we will be doing at the end of this month.
This is us going for a wagon ride at a fair near our house. Ben couldn't understand why I was trying to get him to look at the camera since the horses pulling the wagon were way more interesting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cry It Out? The Joys of Sleep Training

I always thought I would be great at letting my kid "cry it out." After all, it seems like the easiest thing to do, and I am pretty lazy. Just sit there and flip through a magazine while your kid cries in the background. No biggie. Crying didn't really bother me. Or, I didn't think that it did.

Here he is, plotting his next bedtime revenge. Do you see the devious eyebrow action?
Cut to last night. There is something about listening to my baby cry for an hour that puts me in an extremely bad mood. But for our first night of sleep training, I guess it was a tentative success. Possibly. But let me back it up a bit and talk about how we got to this point.

I think we have been pretty lucky so far when it comes to sleeping. I haven't had to try too hard for everyone to coexist happily and get rest up until this point. Sure, we had the same sleepless nights as everyone else when Ben was a newborn. In fact, I remember getting anxiety at sunset, because I didn't know when my next shut-eye was going to occur. But after that first month, things settled into a routine. At about 2 months (maybe a bit sooner, I can't remember) I transferred Ben from his bassinet to the crib. I did a mini-sleep training at that point (nothing crazy, he was still so young). But, in order to get him used to the crib, I would put him in and just pat him on the back without picking him up (when I knew that he was all fed and changed), etc. etc., until he was almost asleep. Ben, like any normal little infant, would still get up a few times a night, but I could count on a few hours stretch at a time normally. Then little by little, three times up a night went to two, and then two times went to one. I would normally breastfeed him when he woke up, but when he was old enough, Dan would go in first to see if a pacifier would suffice. If I am remembering correctly, he began consistently sleeping for 12 hours straight at about 6-7 months. As a caveat to this, there are always exceptions for illnesses, teething, etc..

Eventually we fell into a routine at bedtime where he would fall asleep while I was nursing him, and then I would put him in his crib. After I stopped breastfeeding, he would be very sleepy after his bottle, and I would just rock him to sleep. I knew while I was doing it that this was all very big No-Nos according to every book ever. BUT, it was sooo easy for the following reasons. First, he would normally fall asleep so quickly that it took very little effort. Second, I really didn't mind doing it, because I liked holding him/rocking him. I could easily read a book on my iPhone while doing it, and I didn't have anything else pressing to do. Again, it was easy and felt right.

Two major things have changed a bit over the past couple of weeks. One, he is not falling asleep so quickly. Before, it would be 5-10 minutes. MAYBE 20. Now, it is like at least 45 minutes some nights. Two, I am not able to peacefully read a book while he drifts off to sleep, because he wriggles around like a maniac (and tries to grab my phone if he spots it). Now that rocking him to sleep isn't the easy and enjoyable process that it used to be, I am sort of over it. When I try to put him in his crib awake, he stands up and cries. Eventually, I would come back in and rock him to sleep (he would be more tired this time).

I knew that I needed to kick in the ole' sleep training, but I just didn't really have the motivation until last night, because he would still have a night here or there where he would fall asleep quickly. However, there were enough nights in a row not like that to get me to start the sleep training. Plus, we have a few trips coming up in the next few months, and I don't want to have to worry about going through a whole rigmarole during those.

So last night, I let him cry for about 15 minutes the first round (which was probably too long for the first time around, but I don't think it made much difference). Then I went in, laid him down, patted his back. He calmed down and fell asleep (whoops! I comforted for too long!). But don't worry, I had another chance, because he woke up again about 15-20 minutes later in a tizzy. This time, Dan went in after a few minutes. Comforted for a minute or two. Then he cried for another 5 minutes, I went in and comforted. Then he cried for another 9 minutes. I went in, then he cried for another 9 minutes, I went in. Then he cried for almost another 9 minutes and fell asleep. He woke up around 11pm and cried for a bit, so I went in and patted him/gave him his paci, and he went right to bed.

So tonight, I will be sure to put Ben in the crib when he is awake, even if it seems like it is going to be one of those quick to rock to sleep nights. I will still rock him of course, I am not a monster robot! But just for a bit to get him sleepy and to be comforting, and then off to bed. I will let you all know if he goes to bed more quickly this time around.