Posted in Infant, Parenting

What Do You Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed?

Because that’s how I’m feeling right now.

I don’t know how to go about writing this.  I don’t want this post to seem like I’m wallowing in self-pity, but something needs to come out and this is one of the only ways I know how.

I just got off the phone with my partner who announced that he’d be home around 7.  I wasn’t even able to finish the conversation in a civilized manner; I hung up quickly and burst into tears.  I don’t remember ever being so emotional, but these past few days (or weeks, or months – honestly, I don’t know) have been trying.

I feel as though I can’t catch a break.  When my son was a newborn, I was nursing for hours at a time, then he hit a growth spurt, then we started having problems with gas, after that we entered the “wonderful” world of wonder weeks.  Then came sleep deprivation due to prop dependency (where I was getting up 10+ times a night for a month just to put the pacifier back in) followed by sleep training, a tendonitis for me, teething, a growth spurt/wonder week combo and now, teething again.

I feel like all I do all day is try to function.  My son has taken to screaming at different moments; I never know when it’s going to happen.  Sometimes it’ll be for naps, or at bedtime or when he wakes up in the middle of the night.  Other times it’ll be when I sit him down on the floor or when I change his diaper.  It’s maddening because it just goes on and on and on.  And then, I have people around me asking me how are things.  All I can say is “good” (that *is* the correct answer, right?).  What do you want me to say?  I have no idea what an easy baby and what a difficult baby are like.

I’ve never had so many headaches in my life.  I’ve never cried so much in so few days.  My home is a mess – even by my standards – and I feel so alone – and feel guilty about it.

I’m lucky enough to be on paid maternity leave, I gave birth in November and am only going back to work in August.  My partner tries to help with a lot of things, but I think he’s feeling a little overwhelmed with how to manage work (he’s been having to put in extra hours), house chores, and this little human that’s taking up so much room in our lives.  I go out because otherwise I’d go crazy, but while I’m going out, I’m not taking care of the house and I’m not resting.  I love my son to death and I wouldn’t go back to my pre-baby life; he brings too much joy in my life.  But sometimes, like right now, I just feel like I’m losing it.

How do you stay at home moms/dads do it?  How do you working moms/dads do it?  How do you single parents do it?  Please tell me that I am not the only one.

I never thought that becoming would be easy.  But I also never thought that 6 months in, I would become an emotional mess at times.

There.  I said it.  I feel somewhat better.  I think.

Posted in Infant, Parenting

Surprise, Surprise

Well…

I put Mr. Cranky down for a much needed catnap on his back about 45 minutes ago (no, actually, I put him down around 16:10 and he fell asleep around 16:45, but that is besides the point) and lo and behold when I go in to get him upon hearing him wake up with a panicked cry, I find the little man on his tummy.

He was definitely on his back when I left his room earlier.

Oh yeah, I am in for a fun night, I reckon.

And I really have to put his mattress down a notch now…

Posted in Infant, Parenting

Wonder What’s Going On? It’s Probably A Wonder Week…

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a little while now, but have lacked both the time and energy to do so.

You see, for the past month or so, my son has been going through the notorious pre wonder week fussy period.  Much like last time, it lasted a whole month.

Here are a few of the telltale signs that his little brain is about to go through another developmental leap:

  • – Naps and nights were a NIGHT’MARE.  It got so bad that on a few occasions I had to step out of the house for a few moments as he screamed at the top of his lungs (I swear, it was like he was being tortured) to calm down.
  • – He needed to be stuck to me all the time.  I could hardly ever put him down for a few seconds without him getting into a crying fit.
  • – He wanted to be entertained continuously; if I wasn’t chatting with him or letting him in on some fun activity, he would start screaming at me.
  • – Diaper changes reminded me of the time he was a newborn, they were spent with him screaming and kicking and twisting around.

– I started to question my ability as a mother.  This is probably the strongest telltale sign for me.  Every time I’ve started to feel that way in the six months that I’ve had my son, it always turned out to be right before a wonder week.

Of course, though, wonder weeks aren’t all bad as they are a surefire sign that your baby is about to start rocking some awesome new skills.

What awesomeness comes out of wonder week 26?

Here are a few of the things that I’ve observed so far:

  • – He can play with something using both hands.
  • – He grabs a ball that is rolled towards him.
  • – He knocks over containers to see what is inside.
  • – He throws things away (he is actually VERY adept at this now…).
  • – He drops things from his high chair.
  • – He is fascinated with laces, ribbons and the tags on stuffed animals and pieces of clothing.
  • – He observes adult activities.
  • – He pays a lot of attention to smaller details or parts of a toy or other object.
  • – He selects a toy to play with.
  • – He is starting to make connections between actions and words (such as hug, kiss, nap, let’s go).

– He puffs and blows.

What is wonder week 26 exactly?

Well, according to the authors of the book, it is at this moment that babies start to perceive the distance between two objects.  This explains why separation anxiety usually hits shortly after; they understand that their primary caregivers can go away without them.  They also become more adept at understanding relationships by associating a sound to an action or  an action to a consequence.

The best part?

Once the fussy period is over, I get my sweet happy baby back!

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Posted in Parenting

What Makes A Good Pediatrician?

On Wednesday, Little Dude had his 6 month appointment at the pediatrician’s office.  This was our fourth well check since his birth and though I love the clinic and staff and rather like the woman, I found myself questioning whether I should stay with her or find another.  Not that I think she’s a bad doctor, only that perhaps I may be happier with her if some small things were different.  Perhaps an example would help make my point.

Yesterday’s appointment looked like this and is a good example of what typically happens:

We arrive at the clinic on time and register with the receptionist who smiles at my son and greets him telling him how handsome he is.

A nurse comes to fetch us and after exchanging civilities, asks me to undress my son so that she can weigh him.  She comments on the cloth diaper and shows him a stuffed animal as he is seated on the scale.  I then put the diaper back on and then my son length and head circumference are measured upon which time I am prompted to wrap him up in a blanket and go back into the waiting room.

We are then called in to the pediatrician’s office.  I am greeted with a warm smile and again we exchange civilities before getting down to business: “Hello, how are you doing?”, she asks.  “Oh we are doing pretty well, aren’t we Charles?  Except, we’ve been having some trouble with nighttime sleep this past week”, I answer.  “Good, good”, she answers while she looks through my son’s health booklet.  “I see you’re still breastfeeding”, she adds “do you have enough milk?”, she asks.  “Absolutely”, I answer.  After all, we get a plentifully wet diaper each time he nurses.  She nods.  “And how are solids going?”, she asks.  “We haven’t started yet.  We were actually going to start today at lunchtime”, I answer.  “Oh”, she replies as she looks back down upon her growth chart, “well that’s good, he just barely gained the acceptable amount of weight since his last appointment”, she adds.  I was floored.  Did she not understand that my son had been exclusively breastfed for six months.  Does her chart take into consideration that at the same age, most babies have already started solids around here?  I think not.  Doesn’t she know that typically, in breastfed babies who went through a rapid weight gain in the first months (as was the case with my son) that the weight gain slows down after a few months?

She gets up and gestures towards the examination table.  As I rise to bring my son there, she looks back down upon her file: “how’s his eczema?, she asks”.  “Oh, it has cleared up”, I reply.  Once my son is seated upon the table, she examines him (or tries to) as he attempts to grab everything to put it in his mouth – stethoscope, tongue depressor, that thing you use to check the ears – and so begins my monologue to my son, explaining what is happening and why.  She puts him on his back and presses his tummy, stretches and folds his legs, removes his diaper to check if everything is OK there.  “Everything looks good,” she says, “come back in three months”.

That was it.  In and out in five minutes.

As I was driving back home I couldn’t help but wonder.  Shouldn’t she at least be asking if he’s able to roll over?  Shouldn’t she be inquiring as to how we’re introducing solids?  Shouldn’t she be talking to him, at least a bit, as she’s examining him?  Shouldn’t she be taking into account that he had not had anything other than breast milk for 6 months before telling me that her standardized growth chart indicated that he’d just barely gained enough weight?

I don’t know, perhaps I am being overcritical.  I know that I’m doing a good job as a mom.  I know that I shouldn’t worry about the fact that his weight gain has slowed down (he gained 2.25kg between 2 weeks and 2 months, 1.43kg between 2 months and 4 months and .79kg between 4 and 6 months); my son is content after feedings and showing no signs of being undernourished.  I also concluded that our difficult week was due to a growth spurt/wonder week/ 3-2 nap transition.

What do you think?  What are your experiences with pediatricians?  What makes a good pediatrician?

Posted in Infant

OK Son, I Am Demoting You To Newborn Status.

Four month sleep regression, wonder week #19, four month wakeful… whatever you want to call this period, it just plain sucks.

S.U.C.K.S

(Seriously, Unquestionably, Categorically, Kick-myself-in-the-head, Stinks)!

So what’s the deal?  Here I was, happily raising a baby (a happy baby, I might add) who, by the time he was 7 weeks old was already sleeping a 6 hour stretch after bedtime and who, by the time he reached the 3 month mark was generally down to two night wakings and had even graced me with sleeping through the whole night three nights in a row!  (I know, I know: I was lucky.  My son positively SPOILED me with regards to naps and sleep since birth when he wasn’t going through a growth spurt.  But hey, I’m still going to complain).

Anyways, getting back on track…

After having been spoiled by my son, he hit his darned 3 month growth spurt and then, out of nowhere, he started freaking out at bedtime.  From thereon in, things got  from bad to worse.  He went from taking three 1.5 h naps and one 3/4 h nap to maybe sleeping 45 min for three naps and screaming his head off for the catnap (which, we ultimately ended up giving up on), to waking up after 30 minutes, to sleeping a whole hour total during the day (on a good day).  Of course, the screaming fits kept going on for bedtime and he started waking up prematurely during the night as well.

I can deal with a baby that wakes up often at night.  What I can’t deal with, is a baby that takes forever to get back to sleep, no matter what we do.  To give you an idea of what my last three weeks of nights have been like, here is a log for a couple of nights ago:

  • 18:40 – Start of bedtime routine: feed / bath / cream / PJs / kisses
  • 19:40 – Go to room / white noise / lights off / pacifier / rock / CRY HIS HEAD OFF for 15 min
  • 20:00 – Asleep (whew)
  • 23:20 – Wake up fussing : nurse / put in crib / pacifier / soothe him until asleep (5 min)
  • 23:50 – Wake up SCREAMING HIS HEAD OFF : go to crib / pacifier  *falls back asleep
  • 23:55 – Wake up screaming : pacifier
  • 00:00 – Wake up / Spits out pacifier / Wide awake, playing with feet : pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
  • 00:20 – Wake up fussing and kicking legs : pick up and rock until asleep (15 min)
  • 03:25 – Wake up fussing : nurse / put in crib / pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
  • 03:50 – Wake up screaming : pacifier *falls back asleep
  • 03:55 – Wake up screaming : pacifier *falls back asleep
  • 04:00 – Wake up screaming: pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
  • 05:00 – Wake up fussing : pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
  • 05:30 – Wake up fussing : pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min)
  • 05:50 – Wake up fussing : Nurse / pacifier / soothe until asleep (5 min) finally fell asleep at 06:20
  • 08:30 – Up for the day.  Giggling as he was playing with his feet I might add…  It’s a darned good thing my baby is so cute!

So,what’s the problem?  Nothing has changed in our bedtime or nap time routine ever since he was 7 weeks old.  He started acting really fussy a week before we stopped swaddling.

Well, fortunately (or unfortunately, depends on the way you see it) we aren’t the problem.  The thing is, he has been getting ready for wonder week 19: The World of Events.  According to authors van de Rijt and Plooij:

The first phase (fussy period) of this leap into the perceptual world of “events” is age-linked and predictable, and starts between 14 and 17 weeks.

^^Yup, my son definitely fits the bill in that regard!

The authors go on to explain that “The World of Events” is all about understanding smooth sequences.  It is the difference between a 12 weeker for whom it takes all the concentration in the world to just grab and object and a 16 weeker who will aptly grab an object within arms reach, examine it, put it in his mouth, shake it around and throw it on the floor.

This is a BIG milestone that requires a LOT of energy from our little ones!  They are just discovering one thing after another and their brains are going 100 mph!  As one blogger noted (and I’m sorry I can’t cite, I’ve read so much on this during my sleepless nights that I cant remember where I got this information from), it’s quite normal for babies to have so much trouble with sleep when we, as adults, suffer through sleep problems when we have something on our minds.

How do I know that my son is going through WW19?

Here are the signs that apply to my son:

  • Having trouble sleeping : I think the log I included in this post speaks for itself…
  • Becoming shy with strangers : Oh golly is he CLIN-GY when there are new people around him.
  • Demanding more attention: He can’t seem to keep himself occupied these days.
  • Always wants to be with mommy: Which is why I bought another carrier.
  • May lose appetite: Only because he’s now soooo easily distracted (sucksucksuck “Oh what’s that sound?” sucksucksuck “Hi mommy, I love you” sucksucksuck “Who just moved right now?” sucksucksuck… “I think I’m full now”…
  • May be moody: Oh yeah.  He can go from laughing to crying to screaming his head off to smiling in a 5 minute time span.  Sometimes, he even tries to do all of the above at the same time…

But it is all worth it (or I try to convince my sleep-deprived-moody self) because he has already shown MAJOR developmental changes and I know they will keep coming.  Here are just a few things that have changed in the past three weeks:

  • Sits up straight with minimal support
  • Enjoys moving his mouth, has discovered his tongue, makes different shapes with his lips
  • Grabs onto my nose and mouth (especially when I’m talking to him)
  • Puts EVERYTHING he can get his hands on in his mouth
  • Deliberately throws a plaything on the floor (oh yes, this is one of his favorite games!)
  • Holds a book in his hands and stares at the pictures
  • Stares in fascination at the movement of my lips and tongue when I talk
  • Loves to watch repetitive movements (he loves to sit on the counter, in his Summer Infant seat and watch me cook)
Oooh!  What's that?  How about that?  What are you doing now?
Oooh! What’s that? How about that? What are you doing now?
  • Responds to his own name!
  • Will respond appropriately to an approving or scolding voice (not that we use a scolding voice often, but hey, when I haven’t slept in nearly three weeks and I’m at the end of my rope…meh, you get the picture)
  • Recognizes the opening bars of a song (oh yes!  And I sing really often to him too).
  • Makes new sounds using his lips and tongue
  • Makes noises when yawning and is aware of them
  • Stretches his arms out to be picked up
  • Gets grumpy when becoming impatient (most definitely!)
  • Turns away from the feeding when full on his own accord
Ok mommy, all done!
Ok mommy, all done!

This is just a small selection of the skills he has gained and there are many more that he is likely to gain in the next few weeks.  I can’t help but be amazed at all of the things he has learned in four short months.  It just goes to show how  quickly babies develop!

Posted in Infant, Parenting, Product Reviews

5 Meters of Fabric

Last Sunday I was going CRA-ZY!

Seriously, my son has been a pain in the proverbial bum these past weeks.  I’ve never heard him cry so much for no apparent reason.

Apparently, he is getting ready for wonder week #19 (more on that in another post)…

He needed to be held pretty much all the time.  And, well, he’s getting rather heavy (I swear, I’m going to be as strong as Superman by the time he no longer wants to be held).  So, I decided to invest in a new carrier.

I already have a Morph carrier.  But, I wanted something less bulky (thus less heavy) and figured that I may as well buy a carrier that was more ergonomic for my son (ie: not a “crotch dangler”).  After quite a bit of research, I figured I’d buy an Ergo; it had great reviews from the babywearing community and seemed less scary than a wrap.

So, about an hour before all the stores would close, I grabbed my cranky son (who, by the way, had slept a grand total of one hour during the day) and hopped in the car.

Imagine my disappointment when, upon lugging my sleeping (finally) son all the way from the car to the very small carrier section of my local (20 minutes away) Babies ‘R Us store, I realized that there were no Ergo’s to be found!  It was, it would seem, an online purchase only.

So, I put my son’s car seat on the floor to give my arms a break, took a breath and thought about my options:

  1. I could just go back home and be thankful that I was actually able to get my son to nap.
  2. Look at the other options that were in front of me and buy something other than an Egro.

I picked option #2 partly because I was slightly annoyed at myself at having driven 20 minutes for nothing and partly because I knew that my son was going to keep being his clingy little self-centered self (but that’s OK because he’s only four months old!) and he wasn’t going to get any lighter.

I looked at the (tiny) selection as I tried to make up my mind:

  • Baby Björn: Nope.  Too similar to the Morph pod that I already have.  I’ve heard (read) that the straps are rather uncomfortable, plus it’s a “crotch-dangler”.
  • Infantino: Nope.  It was “disrecommended” (for lack of a better term) by some babywearers because of an incident related to the sling.
  • Morph: Nope.  I already have that one.
  • Mamankangourou Amerigo:  *Hesitates*.  Darn, it’s a wrap.  *Looks around to see if there are any Ergos hiding somehow*.  *Looks back at the wrap*.

I actually ended up buying the wrap, figuring that I can surely figure it out.  Besides, I had to get a move on because my son was starting to stir and there was no way I wanted to deal with a screaming-himself-hoarse-because-he’s-tired-and-cranky baby in the middle of Babies ‘R Us if I could help it.

I got home, left my little bundle of joy still bundled up in his car seat on the living room floor and opened my new carrier.  5 meters of fabric.  “Oh s***, I thought”.

And then I looked at the instruction booklet.  It *looked* easy enough.  Just to be sure, I popped in the DVD that came with the product and followed the steps to wrap this thing around myself.  And you know what?  It’s actually rather easy!

Want to see? (I’m showing you anyways.  Oh, and don’t mind my PJs or the fact that you can’t see my face; I’m rather camera-shy (not that the PJs have anything to do with the fact that I’m camera-shy…).

P1010415
The “kangaroo” position. It’s my and his favorite. I find it really comfy and he loves it because he is facing outwards and can play with his feet (the hand you see is holding one of his feet)!
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The “hip carry”. I still have to work on this one to make it a bit more comfortable for me. After some experimentation, I was able to tie it at the right height so that my son could nurse. GREAT for public transit!
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The “tummy to tummy”. This one is really comfy for me and allows my son to look around if he wants to and put his head against my chest if he gets tired to take a snooze. I went out and took a walk with him (with my maternity coat over us both) and it was awesome!

I’m in LOVE with the wrap!  Now, I really want to buy a woven so that I can do other carries including back carries (when my son gets older) and perhaps a sling!

Do you use a carrier?  Which is your absolute favorite?

 

Posted in Infant, Newborn

Wonder Week Alert!

Urgh.  As if growth spurts weren’t enough…

I quite recently learned the term ‘wonder week’ through my daily incursions into the baby center community.  As parents, we all know that growth spurts are going to happen.  We also pretty much know when they’re going to take place.  They are easily recognizable by the fact that baby’s eating pattern changes and s/he starts to eat more often and by the fact that they seem to outgrow their clothing overnight (yeah, my little dude is now sporting 3-6 to 6 month clothes).

However, it seems that they also go through wonder weeks which also happen at predictable intervals.  As I understand it, a wonder week is comparative to an intellectual spurt.  Remember the week my son discovered his hands, began using a social smile and started really cooing seemingly out of nowhere?  That all happened because some intense cerebral connections were being made.  Of course, just as a growth spurt has its hardships, wonder weeks have theirs too.  Now, remember how in the post previous to his developmental milestone post I was going crazy because my son was not acting like himself?  At first, I was convinced that it was because of gas.  But now that I’ve reread the post, I know it was due to his brain getting wired up for his next abilities.  Namely, his change in attitude meant a wonder week was happening.

So, what are the signs that one needs to look out for to spot these imminent developmental bounds?  Well, first there’s your child’s age.  In their book “The Wonder Weeks” authors Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooji claim to have identified ten of these brain rewirings.  According to their research, these happen during roughly the fifth, eighth, twelfth, 19th, 26th, 37th, 46th, 55th, 64th and 75th weeks of life.  Then, for each week the authors list a few behaviors that can help parents realize that their baby is going through one such leap.  In the case of my son, who is getting ready to getting into the week of “smooth transitions”, ten behaviors are listed:

  1. Cries more often: This is definitely the case with my son these days.  For the past three days, in fact, he has been really whiny and has been spending more time crying than usual.  He also starts crying more easily.
  2. Wants you to keep him busy: Oh yes!  When he’s awake, I pretty much have to either have him in my arms or really actively play with him ALL THE TIME.  Whereas he used to be able to play with his foot piano for a good half-hour alone, he now starts to fuss after five minutes if I’m not sitting next to him chattering with (or rather to) him and cheering him on.
  3. Loses appetite: This doesn’t seem to be the case with my son.  If anything, he wants to nurse a bit more frequently, but he’s still nursing for about a quarter-hour each time.  I have, however, noticed that he is more prone to falling asleep at the breast.
  4. Is more shy with strangers: Definitely!  Actually, I would say that he is more shy with anyone that isn’t his mom or dad.  His grandparents learned that the hard way yesterday when they came to visit then babysit him in the evening and he was whining, crying and fussing every time they held him.  Poor them!
  5. Clings more: My son, clingy?  Oh yes!  It’s cute, I’ve noticed that he’s recently taken to wrapping his left arm around my neck when I burp him now.  He also wants to spend more time in my arms during the day.
  6. Wants more physical contact during nursing: This is definitely happening also.  When I nurse him on his Boppy, he generally has both hands on either side of my breast.  Sometimes, he’ll get really squirmy, but will calm down if I hold his hand.  When I nurse him lying down, he will hold his own hands and will keep eye contact with me until he’s done.
  7. Sleeps poorly: Last night was good.  It was a typical “wake at 2am then at 7am” night.  However, the three previous ones were grueling as he was waking anywhere between 4 and 8 times.  Mommy had some serious bags under her eyes.  Nap-wise, it has also been harder recently.  It takes him more time to fall asleep and he’ll sleep for shorter periods.
  8. Sucks his thumb, or does so more often: Though my son hasn’t found his thumb yet, he does need to suck more often.  He’ll be sucking on his hand more frequently and seems to need a pacifier more often these days.
  9. Is less lively: This isn’t really the case with my son.
  10. Is quieter, less vocal: I have noticed this, but not to the extent of some of the other signs.  Though he interacts less (smiles and coos) he’s still VERY vocal about his crankiness!  😀

A trying as these weeks are, I know that they pass and that everything falls back into place quickly once they’re over.  Plus, now that I know about wonder weeks, I’m excited to see my son’s new skills.