My little xiaohair is 10 weeks old! 10 weeks sounds old to me, for some reason. The first half of this week was a little off, but the second half of this week has been great. His off-ness actually helped us accidentally happen onto a new evening schedule that has extended his night sleep. Now I can sometimes get just enough sleep between his dreamfeed and when he wakes up in the morning! With no interruptions! Yippee!
We'll start off here since I was just talking about it. At the beginning of this week, our routine was to feed him around 7pm, do a bedtime routine (reading a book, singing Amazing Grace), and putting him to bed. Then we would go to bed around 9:30, and I would set my alarm and wake up at 11 to do his dreamfeed. That was painful--waking up about an hour after I've gone to sleep. And it kind of defeats the point of a dreamfeed. Anyway, he was generally waking up hungry between 4:30 and 7am. If it was after 6, I would treat it as his first morning feed and let him be awake afterwards. But it was more often before 6, so I would feed from one side, then put him back down and hope he went back to sleep, then wake him by 7:30 for the first morning feed.
He seemed to be having trouble extending that night sleep much longer than 6 hours, even though I felt like he could go longer without eating. However, this past Tuesday was one of his wake-early-from-naps days. I decided to go with it and feed him when he woke up and see if it was a mini growth spurt. This meant that everything got moved up through the day, and his evening feeding took place at 6. We put him down for bed, and I was planning to let him sleep until 11. But he woke up around 9:30--very uncharacteristic of him. He had worked his right arm out of his swaddle (another recurring theme this week). I went ahead and fed him again and put him back down, and we went to bed. Next thing we know, it's 6am and he's just waking up! I had always heard that moving bedtime earlier can extend night sleep, but you never believe it will work for you. But I can go with that! So we've kept that schedule. He still wakes up before 6 sometimes, and I treat it as a night feed, then wake him back up shortly after 7 to eat again. I then bump his schedule up through the day so that his last feed is around 6pm and he's going to bed by 7, then I dreamfeed around 9:45, and we go to bed and hope for a good night!
Naps have gotten better by the end of this week, but I've just accepted that they are rarely going to be perfect. Waking early happens at least once most days, and he still often needs to fuss a bit before falling asleep. No big deal.
One sleep issue we've started having this week is with the swaddle. If he wakes early from a nap or in the middle of the night, the most common culprit is a right arm that has worked itself free and then startled him (I'm guessing). I really don't think he's ready to drop the swaddle, though. He's definitely gaining more control over his arms and hands, but they're still jerky at times, and he still has the startle reflex. We use the Summer Infant SwaddleMes. We have aden + anais muslin blankets, but keeping him swaddled in those is hopeless. So, we've started putting him in one SwaddleMe and then wrapping the top part of a second one around his upper body. If we do this tightly enough, it seems to hold for now. The other issue is that he's getting close to being too long for our swaddles, and I'm not sure where I would go about getting bigger ones while here. I'm hoping we can make it with this size and not have to buy new ones before we can wean off the swaddle. (We do also have one Halo Sleepsack with the swaddle wrap, but he's even managed to work his arm through the arm hole and out of that one. It would probably work if I pinned the arm holes shut.)
Growth and Development
Braxon has discovered his voice this week and become quite the talker! It's really fun--we can carry on nice conversations with him :). It seems like he makes a new sound (and facial expression to go along with it) every day. He sometimes lays in his bed cooing for a while before falling asleep, which makes me think he's exploring his voice and enjoying it. Like I said earlier, his hand and arm control is coming along nicely. He absolutely loves his activity gym and could lay batting the toys--and now grabbing them and pulling them and talking to them--for a long time. I give him independent play time in the gym most days while I sit far enough away that he doesn't know I'm there.
Nursing is still going great, not too many changes other than the schedule. I had a nice adventure trying to get a new breastpump. Like I mentioned last week, I had a major brain fart and plugged my Medela Pump-In-Style straight into the wall without a voltage converter. Stupid. It popped and is basically useless now. At least I didn't pay for it--someone gave me a hand-me-down. I managed to find a baby store here in BJ that had a nice website in English and sold Medela pumps. They were way more expensive than in the US, though. So I decided to go with the cheapest one--a manual pump--to tide me over until I make it back home. It was still $50, and the same one on Amazon was only $30. Ah well. I hated the caged feeling of not being able to pump at all. Like many stores here, they do free delivery. So I ordered my pump online and a delivery guy arrived the next day at my door! I can't complain about that part. I've actually been surprised with how well the manual has worked. I get about the same amount as I did with the electric--about 2 oz on a good day (since I pump between feeds, I don't get much more than that and don't want to compromise how much I have for Brax's next feed). And it doesn't take that much longer, since I usually had to sit there squeezing my boobs one at a time to get enough out with the electric anyway.
We did our first evening outing with Brax in a while last night. Another American professor and his wife had us over for an early dinner, and we brought Brax. He was really fun and interactive while we were there, which was fun for them. He was awake for almost 2 hours straight, though, with lots of stimulation. I could tell he was approaching the edge around 7. We started to leave around 7:15 and put him in the carrier. He fell asleep right away in that, but then we had to transfer him to his bed when we got home. He was not happy about being woken so soon and cried loudly for about 20 minutes. Pete finally went in and rocked him to sleep. Evening outings are hard.
I thought I'd put in a few words about myself. I have been super lucky with postpartum recovery. I did have tearing and lots of stitches (honestly, have you ever heard of anyone who didn't have any tearing? I think that's a false hope we cling to while pregnant. The OB who delivered me even remarked on how roomy and stretchy my vagina was, which I could attribute to the faithful perineal massages and kegels I did. And my baby had a nice small head. But I still couldn't avoid the tearing). That area was painful, uncomfortable, and bleeding on and off until about 7 weeks PP. But the rest of my body recovered fast. I fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans within the first week after delivery. My goal was to stay about 5 pounds heavier than pre-pregnancy for at least a few months, but I haven't been able to manage that here in China. It's hard to eat enough, I guess, and I do a lot more walking and bike riding on a very heavy bike. And I have been doing yoga and other aerobics to get my core strength back and ease the sore back. So I'm back to pre-preg weight, and I'm pretty sure my boobs are at least 5 pounds heavier. I'm hoping I can gain a little back when we get home. I really want to start cycling on my own after weaning, at least, and not return to the HA realm. But I feel great. My biggest complaint is the size F boobs, which mean I still can't fit into a lot of my shirts without looking like a porn star, especially here in China where women tend to be...much less well-endowed. Since I plan to keep breastfeeding until around a year or so, I guess I'm going to have to live with them for a while.
To what do I attribute the easy postpartum recovery--other than luck and breastfeeding, which burns an amazing amount of calories? I think the biggest factor was probably that I kept exercising throughout my pregnancy. And I didn't walk, which is supposedly one of the best prenatal exercises. I did dorky prenatal exercise videos and yoga at home. The advantage of these is that they work your whole body--especially core, back, legs, etc. I really think muscle strengthening exercises help a ton during pregnancy. I never had lower back pain and only had upper back pain at the very end, when everything hurt. And then my body was ready to bounce back quickly. Not that I felt like I was in good shape the first few times I exercised post-partum (I started light yoga about 10 days after delivery and tried jogging within 2 1/2 weeks. I don't recommend that to everyone--I may have been pushing it a bit). I worked up slowly. The sore back I had at the end of every day, after toting a growing baby around all day, was good motivation.
I also only gained 26 pounds through the pregnancy. I didn't feel like I had to eat much more than usual to gain the textbook pound a week after the first tri. And my biggest pregnancy irritation was constant gas pain, which definitely dampened my hunger. But the big take-away: if it's not too risky in your situation, exercise while you're pregnant, and focus on appropriate muscle toning more than cardio. By the end of your pregnancy, walking up a flight of steps will be plenty of cardio on its own! Other than that, I think a lot of how your body reacts to pregnancy is kind of random and not in your control. I expected things to be much harder than they were postpartum. But I had prayed a lot about it while pregnant, with the trip to China and everything, and God has been gracious.
I think that's long enough. We're going for a nice massage later this afternoon to celebrate Father's Day. 80 kuai--about $12--for an hour-long full-body massage! And that's at a more expensive and thus reputable establishment. I'm sure it could be cheaper if we didn't care whether or not the massage parlor would be willing service us--namely, Pete--in other ways.