Sunday, 29 July 2012

Watch Me Grow - Ten Weeks

As I mentioned last week there won't be a lamb mat photo this week since we are still on vacation. But I have a few super cute shots to make up for it! We are learning that Kaitlin is a little social butterfly. We always knew she was super alert and drinks in everything that is going on around here. And now that she has met a million friends and family members (with many more to come this week!) she loves to be around people. She is super social and behaves incredibly well around a lot of people. My parents had a party on her 10 Week birthday and she was a superstar. She had lots of people in her face and she totally handled it in stride. I was even able to get her down for two naps and she slept 8 hrs in a row that night - which means that she isn't getting as overstimulated as she used to!

Other big developments this week - she discovered her hands and feet and went for her first long car ride. She rocked the car ride (all 5.5 hrs of it), only crying when it was time to eat or be changed. I'm feeling so much more confident about taking her out in the car by myself now without a meltdown! And she has put rolling over on hold now that she has discovered her hands and feet. She's noticing her hands a lot more than her feet since they are closer to her eyes, but when she is sitting up she can't stop staring at her feet. Her hands are constantly in front of her face/eyes/mouth and she just stares and stares at them (sometimes all cross eyed if they are too close to her, which is pretty hilarious). She has been "talking" a ton to grandma and grandpa (and she LOVES talking to her daddy).

So far I'd say she's having a pretty good vacation!

"talking" to daddy

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Watch Me Grow - Nine Weeks

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of Kaitlin on her lamb mat this week - or next week for that matter. We are on vacation and the lamb mat didn't make the cut, I had enough stuff in my suitcase as it was! Man, packing for traveling with a baby is tough! It's a good thing she's so small right now and hardly needs any toys to play with, I can't imagine what it's going to be like when she gets older!

Kaitlin went on her first plane ride last on Friday and was a super star. She slept for almost half of it and barely made a peep the rest of the time. She even did awesome in the car ride from the airport to the lake, we lucked out big time!

Last week she also had her two month checkup. She weighs a whopping 10lb 1.6oz and measures 23" long! She's growing fast that's for sure! She had to get three shots for her immunizations and I was super nervous. The last time we had a check up she screamed the entire time, and this time she had to be jabbed with needles?!?! She has been such a good baby lately because she didn't make one peep during the whole check up and when she got her shots she only cried for a few minutes - and I don't blame her!

I may be speaking too soon but I think our "6 week turning point" has finally arrived. Since her 8 week birthday last week she has been amazing. She has been sleeping great (most of the time, she's still a baby after all) and even started to try and roll over all on her own. Naps are going well and she's sleeping really well at night. She has met a ton of people since being on vacation and has handled it all really well. This mom is nothing but smiles lately :)

Here are a few vacation pics of the little one - see you next week!

being a superstar on her first flight!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Second Month

I have a confession to make. I didn't really think the first month of Kaitlin's life was that hard. Sure, it was difficult adjusting to life with a newborn and my physical recovery from her birth was long and slow. But I mostly thought it was awesome, not hard. I wasn't that tired. Breastfeeding was challenging but we made consistent progress which was reassuring. Brian had a week off of work. My parents came to visit for a week and my sister was here for a few days helping out. 

The many faces of KLC

trying to roll over!
I think I was flying high on adrenalin and endorphins because man oh man, the second month hit me like a ton of bricks.

Don't get me wrong - it was still awesome and amazing and all that warm fuzzy stuff - but it was super hard. I shed more tears this last month than I did during my whole pregnancy. Not getting a full nights sleep was starting to take a toll on me. And the constant crying and not sleeping during the day (which lead to more crying) was starting to wear me down. My in-laws were here for a week (which was awesome!) but other than that we were on our own.

After the first month I thought I had it all figured out. I thought we were well on our way to having a nap routine and getting on a schedule. I had heard about the magical "six week turning point" and was constantly waiting for ours to arrive (which it finally might have, at eight weeks - but don't quote me on that just yet). You already know all about my struggle with day time naps (are you sick of hearing about it yet?) and often times my poor husband would come home from a long, stressful day at work and me and the baby would start crying as he walked through the door. Poor guy.

But through all the tears and frustration have come some amazing moments, a lot of laughter and more love than I could have ever imagined.

A few more things I have learned...

Babies don't nap when you want them to
At least not my baby and at least not at this age. Take the above photo for instance. Kaitlin and I used to go on walks every morning. If she ever fell asleep during our walk (which was few and far between) it wasn't until the last few blocks before we got home. But when we walked in the July 4th Parade - when there were hundreds of other families and kids around - she decided to sleep the whole time. During the most exciting walk of her life (so far)!! I'm going to talk more about naps during my follow up post to The Art of Napping next week, so I'll keep this point short.

Love the small stuff
The small stuff - and the gross stuff. Nothing makes me more proud and happy than when Kaitlin lifts her head up during tummy time. Or when she kicks the hanging monkey on the bouncy seat and her eyes light up at the music and lights playing in front of her. Or when she lets out a really big burp after feeding. Or when she starts farting while giving a big stretch after a good nap. Bowel movements? Hilarious. Cooing and goo-gooing and ga-gaing? Music to my ears. Pooping on the changing table after two new diapers already? You'd thought I had won the lottery. Because all of these small little things are what make our day amazing. There isn't much we can do yet since she is still so young, so I have to love and enjoy the little moments that make up our time together. And some of these "little" moments are building up to great big moments - like when she can sit up by herself, or roll over, or start to say "mama" and "dada". Oh boy, bring on the tissues for those moments!

Sometimes, Less is More
In one of the (many) parenting/sleep books that I have I had an Ah-Ha! moment. Actually I've had a lot of those lately but this one in particular was about trying to calm your baby down. It said something like (and I am super paraphrasing here) - All the bouncing, shh-shing, white noise and rocking is actually stimulating your baby, not relaxing him. DOH! Why didn't I think of that? What do you mean Kaitlin isn't falling asleep while I simultaneously rock/bounce/sing lullabies/white noise is playing? That's not relaxing?? I think in my effort to try and soothe her/get her to sleep I just kept adding technique upon technique, instead of trying one at a time (please tell me I'm not the only one who has done this). So I have taken that lesson and applied it to lots of areas. Sleep being one of them (I now either hum and rock or place her in the crib and hum - seems to work *most* of the time) but also during her awake time. I don't try and jam in 9403890 stimulating activities into the 20 minutes that she is in her calm awake state. I try one thing at a time which allows her to really explore the toy/activity and gives me a chance to really observe her tired signs so we can get her to sleep easier.

There is no love like the kind of love you have for your child
Wow, I felt totally grown up writing that sentence. But seriously, it's true (fellow parents back me up). From the first pink lines on the pregnancy test to the first flutter in my belly. From the first kick in the ribs to the first cry of hers I ever heard. From the first time she looked into my eyes to the first time she grabbed my finger. From the first time she smiled at me and every time after. My life was forever changed that first day we found out we were expecting a baby and it has gotten better and better each and every day. I cannot imagine my life without her, and Brian and I feel incredibly blessed to experience such an awesome love. We still can't believe that she is all ours.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Watch Me Grow - Eight Weeks

So it turns out the new "strategy" I had put in place last week to help with naps was a big failure. I gave it a go for a good 5 days and then had a complete melt-down. There were lots of tears, more mine than hers. I will cover more details when I write a follow up to The Art of Napping, but for now I have scrapped all napping strategies and am just focusing on her getting more sleep. I wanted to have every nap happen in her crib, but that was wasting too much time and energy trying to get her to sleep up there every time. If she doesn't fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time I am fine to have her sleep in the swing or even on my chest (and it's a great excuse for me to take a nap too!) - as long as she gets some shut eye I am fine with it. We have been learning the hard way that if she doesn't sleep during the day, she doesn't sleep at night. And I am loving the fact that she only wakes up once per night now within the 12 hours that she is asleep, so lord knows I want that to continue.

Anywayyyyy enough about sleep! We had an EXCELLENT breakthrough on her eight week birthday - we had our first car ride without ANY crying!! This is huge for us. I don't really go out with her that often (see above nap issue) in the car and whenever I do it is usually a huge disaster. The girl cannot stand to have a dirty diaper and when she does and we are in the car she starts screaming bloody murder. A couple of weeks ago I went to Babies R Us with her and had to pull over twice to change her diaper. The store is 7 miles from our house. Needless to say it was stressful and exhausting. With our big trip to New York approaching quickly I have been really nervous about all of the time that we will be spending in the car. But this weekend gave me hope! Granted, we were only in the car about 10 minutes each way, but she didn't let out one peep the whole time - and on the way back she even had a dirty diaper!

Oh happy day!

There have been even more smiles and a lot more "talking". We do a lot of tummy time and she is such a rockstar! Her neck is getting so strong I can't believe it. I've never felt more proud of someone for lifting their head up (or burping or pooping for that matter) - I can't imagine what it's going to be like when she starts rolling over, crawling, walking, talking....ahh! :)

Monday, 9 July 2012

Watch Me Grow - Seven Weeks

I have heard from many friends and read in many books that the six week mark is a turning point for infants. They become less fussy, start to smile and start sleeping longer at night. Two friends recently told me that their infants, once they hit the six week mark, turned over a new leaf and were practically brand new babies.

I am still waiting for the elusive "Six Week Change" to hit my little one. Sure, she is smiling a lot more and even sleeping longer at night. But the fussiness? The crying? Has that decreased at all? Not one bit. In fact, I might even venture to say that it has gotten worse over the last week and a half. 


It's a good thing she's cute :)

(as you can see from this photo she was not in a good mood on her seven week birthday)

If you read my post this week on The Art of Napping you know about our trouble getting Kaitlin down for naps during the day. I am trying a new strategy to get her down for naps that goes along with the eat/wake/sleep routine (I use that term loosely) that we have set up. I am only on day two (day one was a HUGE success and day two is a disaster zone so far) so after a few more days I'll report back how/if it's working.

On a happier note Kaitlin has started "talking" WAY more than she used to. Literally overnight she started cooing, go-gahing and blubbering 10x more than the day before. We have "conversations" about what she is going to wear that day and she tells me lots of stories. When you combine this with her smiling back to me when I smile at her (sometimes she even starts the smiling first!) and you have one happy mom. When she is in good moods like this (usually when her tummy is full) I want to just eat her up!

We had a big day on July 4th. Our neighborhood put has an annual July 4th Bike Parade from the elementary school to the pool. Kids (and adults) are encouraged to decorate their bikes/wagons/strollers in red, white and blue and participate in the parade. It ends at the community pool where there is a BBQ, music and of course lots of fun in the pool for the little ones! Kaitlin managed to sleep through most of the parade (of course - the ONE time she actually falls asleep in the stroller!) but we had a great time being a part of the celebration.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Art of Napping

I should start out by mentioning that I have been trying to write this post for about, oh two weeks. Ever since I have tried to get Kaitlin on a more regular schedule the topic of napping has been on my frazzled brain. Truth be told sleeping has been on my brain for the last three months or so, or whenever it was that sleeping through the night became uncomfortable and non-existant for my heavily pregnant self (and then we all know what happens once the baby actually arrives).

But what I wanted to talk about today was babies and napping. I thought I was the only one who had a newborn who didn't want to sleep. I had read all of these great things about newborns wanting to sleep all the time - it was interrupted sleep, but sleep none the less.  The only time Kaitlin wanted to sleep was when it was time for her to eat, which meant that I was constantly waking her up when all I wanted to do was let her sleep. Especially during those early days and weeks when it was critical for her to eat every couple of hours, for her health and for my milk supply.

go to sleep!
I have ready the book Becoming Babywise several times now cover to cover. I have heard first hand from a few people about how amazing the book is and how it really works. Once my head cleared from the fog of the first few newborn weeks I picked up the book again and was ready to start following it. Now, let me clarify that I am not following the book to a T. There are some things in the book that I don't really agree with and some that I find really helpful. I guess I am merely mixing and matching from a couple of parenting books which (in reality) is what most of us end up doing, isn't it? 

The main point and idea that I took away from the book is that babies and children thrive on routine. And this I have read and heard from many different sources, not just this one book. The second point that I took away from this book was the eat/play/sleep order of events. Once the baby is done eating (and gets a FULL meal, not just a snack here and there) there should be a few minutes of play time. The length of time isn't really the important part, its more about taking advantage of the baby being in a quiet alert state, when they are able to learn new things. Sometimes we read a book, sometimes we play with stuffed animals (OK, I play with stuffed animals), sometimes we do tummy time (after a few minutes of digesting, we don't need the previous meal ending up all over our beloved Boppy). After the baby is tired (which I am STILL trying to recognize all of the different signs) you put the baby down for a nap.


I never thought I could have such a love/hate relationship with this word. Me? I love naps. I think a siesta should be a part of every working day. Napping on weekends, napping on rainy days, napping an hour after you wake up in the morning - give me a nap of any kind and I am happy to have it! Kaitlin, on the other hand, is still learning that naps are a good thing. Lots of people have commented to me on how alert she is and how wonderful it is. This is true - I am very happy that our baby is healthy, curious and alert to the world around her. But getting her to turn the off button on her alertness (or, as I like to call it, her being nosey) is a fight that I have six times a day, every day.

finally napping peacefully

At a minimum it takes me thirty minutes to put Kaitlin down for a nap. Minimum being the key word here. Average time is about 45 minutes. Sometimes she doesn't get a nap because she just refuses to close her eyes. (side note - and thats OK too. She doesn't have to nap after every feeding, but it is critical for her to sleep at least every other feeding. For my sanity and for her health) To say that she is stubborn would be an understatement. Hhmmmm, I would which one of us she got that from? After a fair bit of rocking in the glider and/or in my arms while walking around the room, she will start to close her eyes. Depending on the day/time of day white noise, me singing (mostly made up songs because I am horrible at remembering lullaby lyrics) or talking to her helps to close her eyes as well. Just as those precious eyes are closed they POP back open and the crying begins. The volume/length of crying varies and has been changing as she gets older. Then the eyes close again. The rocking and singing resumes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You can probably see how this gets old.

And sometimes it doesn't even work. Sometimes no matter what I do she won't close her eyes and go to sleep. When this is the case she usually she ends up in the swing, where she often manages to fall asleep (although sometimes when she is being particularly stubborn she stays awake). Car rides? No match for Kaitlins curiosity (and her screams). Going for a walk in her stroller? Very rarely do the gentle bumps and motion of walking lull her to sleep.

The part that kills me is that since she is still so young, she still needs to eat at regular frequent intervals during the day. My pediatrician recommends no longer than 2.5-3 hours between feedings during the day (at night she can sleep as long as she wants until she wakes herself up). Sometimes this means that I am just getting her to drift off to dreamland and thirty minutes later I have to wake her up to eat. Thirty minutes! All that work for THIRTY MINUTES?! 


I know that even these thirty minutes are crucial for proper brain development. Also, good sleep leads to more good sleep. If she can even get in a short nap at least she has gotten a little rest, and is more likely to go to sleep during her next nap (and most importantly go to sleep easily at night). I have seen the devil that is an overtired baby and it is not a pretty sight. And when she doesn't get any sleep (like those times when a nap is skipped in between feedings) it is that much harder to sooth her/get her to sleep during the next nap time.

overtired devil cry

I have to keep reminding myself that she is only six weeks old. She is still a newborn, still getting used to living in the outside world, and still needs lots of cuddling and love and encouragement. It is my job as a parent to encourage her to sleep, since I know that she needs it even when she thinks she doesn't. Mama (and Daddy) know best. And I have to remember that her sleep needs are constantly changing and that we will need to adjust to them as she grows. Sometimes she will need more sleep, sometimes she will need less. Sometimes it will be easier to get her to sleep, sometimes it will be harder. I am hoping that I can instill good sleep habits in her now (which is why a routine is so crucial) so that she eventually becomes a good napper. Knock on wood she sleeps pretty good during the night (much easier to get a baby to sleep when it's pitch dark outside), which I am thankful for.

Do/Did you have problems and challenges getting your newborn/baby/toddler to take naps? Did you find any great solutions that you care to pass along? Share your stories with me so I know I'm not the only one!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Watch Me Grow - Six Weeks

Kaitlin was busy in the week leading up to her six week birthday. Grammy and Pop-pop Cepelak were in town visiting and they kept her very busy! She loved meeting and visiting with them - we took her for walks (when the weather permitted, 100+ F is no place for a baby outside!) and she built up her neck muscles with Pop-pop. And mom got a bit of a break - I even enough time to get a pedicure and a haircut!! I feel like a new woman!

Kaitlin's neck muscles are getting so strong, I am blown away each day to see her lift her head longer and higher than the day before. She has figured out how to "hold" her pacifier in her mouth (which  involves her trying to eat her fist the same time as when the pacifier is already in there) and her smiles are getting bigger each day. Since she doesn't have another doctors appointment until she turns 2 months old, I took her in this week to get weighed. It had been almost four weeks since she was last weighed and I wanted to make sure that she was getting enough milk (since I am exclusively breastfeeding) and was growing at the right rate. She has felt a lot heavier in the last couple of weeks so I knew she was growing, but I just wanted to make sure. Well the little piggy weighed in at 8lbs 11oz - a full 1lb 7oz more than the last weigh in! 

We are still trying to set up a routine, and for the most part we have it down. The hours change slightly each day, depending on when she wakes up in the morning but it is always between 6-7am. We don't get a nap in after every feeding, but I am starting to accept it. As long as she sleeps at least every other feeding then we are good to go (and can usually avoid a meltdown). This week we started giving her a bottle of expressed milk before bed. Since we started that she has slept between four and SEVEN hours at one time. Once she slept six hours and another night she slept seven hours *cue angels singing*. Even four hours at a time is awesome, I won't complain about that!

I have officially retired her newborn size clothes (*tear* they grow up so fast!!) and next week she is moving up to size 1 diapers. How did she get this big so fast?? I have an awful feeling that this whole "growing up" thing isn't going to stop any time soon, and before I know it she'll be driving off to college barely looking back in the rear view mirror at her good old mom and dad. 

And now I need a cookie to make myself feel better. Or maybe a drink. I'll take one of each.