This is my summary of Brax's ninth week of life (from 8 to 9 weeks old), which technically ended on Saturday. Woops. I will warn you that it is long and potentially boring :). Braxon turned 2 months old on Thursday--I can hardly believe it, though in some ways it has been a long 2 months (in a good way). I guess he's two-thirds of the way through with being a newborn, if you count the first 3 months as the newborn period.
Babywise calls the first 8 weeks the "stabilization period," so we are theoretically stabilized. Do I feel stabilized? Not really. We have our textbook, perfect-nap, happy days, and we have our crazy, unpredictable days. And we almost always have at least one weird nap each day. But the textbook days are more numerous than the crazy ones. And he's still rarely fussy for no reason, and definitely more often happy than upset.
Many people do Babywise for the simple promise that Babywise babies sleep through the night early on. This is not why we're doing BW, but we are definitely looking forward to when it happens. And happy about where we are. For the past week or so Brax has consistently slept over 6 hours in one stretch at night, after his 11pm dreamfeed. He even made it over 7 hours a few nights. This means that he has technically eliminated the middle-of-the-night feed. This is wonderful and in some ways totally astounding. In other ways, it presents a challenge, because it means he wakes up in the morning only an hour or two before my desired morning wake time of 7-7:30. I've tried both treating his wake-up time as the first feed of the day and treating it as a night feed and putting him right back to bed afterwards and then waking him at 7:30 to eat again. I'm not sure which works better, as he often doesn't go back to sleep after the 6-ish feeding. Time will tell...and maybe he'll start stretching that night sleep longer anyway.
Daytime naps are definitely much less consistent than night sleep, which I guess is normal. I think we've gotten pretty good at reading Brax's sleepy cues (usually several yawns in close succession) and getting him down, and he's pretty good at falling asleep on his own. Actually, he's a champ at falling asleep on his own. He cries or makes noises sometimes for a little while, but he always goes to sleep. The inconsistency comes when he wakes up. Some days I have to wake him to feed him within 3.5 hours of the last feed. Other days, he wakes up crying after only 30 minutes to an hour. Those are my less favorite days. I'm then left to figure out if he's hungry or just got roused during a sleep transition, and if I should feed him now or put him off. If he does it consistently for several naps in a row, I usually just go with it and feed him so we don't get our feed/wake/sleep thing too off-kilter and in case he's going through a growth spurt. He seems to have mini growth spurts about once a week if that's the case. I just always hope they're on days when I don't have to go to language tutoring so that I can flex with his schedule and not have to leave Pete to give him a bottle--especially now that I blew up my Medela Pump-in-Style and will be making do with a cheapo manual pump until we get back to the US. (I fault the so-called mommy brain. Why else would I suddenly forget to plug the pump into the voltage converter first?)
Braxon is still a champion eater. His pattern is about 10-15 minutes per side these days (around every 3 hours, on average). He stays awake easily while eating now, except for sometimes at the 11pm feed. He's also becoming more efficient, taking fewer pauses while eating than before. I love hearing that satisfying suck-suck-swallow! I still haven't had any major boob issues other than a couple of plugged ducts in the first weeks :). No thrush or mastitis, though, thank God. I find I really enjoy breastfeeding. And it gives me lots of time to either read or practice my Chinese (using the amazing Pleco app on my Ipod Touch).
Growth and Development
I'm amazed at how much Brax is learning and changing every day! He became much more interested in our faces this week. I think he could stare at us and make faces back all day, which is super fun. I always feel very special when he lights up so much upon finding my face! He also started looking at me more often while nursing which is pretty cute. He even smiles at me while sucking away sometimes, which of course distracts him from the task at hand. Speaking of hands, he is figuring them out more, as well. He often finds them and sucks on them a bit. And he loves batting his toys in his activity gym and occasionally (accidentally) grabbing them He still loves "standing" and is getting better at holding himself steady. He likes tummy time for about 2 minutes and then starts getting frustrated with it, even though he can hold his head pretty high I often put him on my chest for tummy time, which he likes okay, but then he starts pushing himself forward with his feet and then rams his head into my chin. He continues to grow physically pretty quickly--up to somewhere between 12.5 and 12.8 pounds at the end of this week (our scale is not the most accurate). Judging on the way his clothes fit, most of that must be going into length and not width on him.
Praise God, the only issue we've faced so far (besides the occasionally gassiness and lots of spit-up) is heat rash. I can deal with that. I've found that daily baths and wiping his skin with baking soda (dissolved in water) clears it up. He does still definitely favor turning his head to his right side and consequently has a flat spot on the back of his head since we can't get him to sleep with his head to the left. I emailed our pediatrician in CA and she said not to worry about it for now, and she'll check on it when we get back (when he'll be 3 months). Other than that, he has been amazingly healthy considering how dirty his environment is and how bad the air is here! And how his parents are not the most fastidious when it comes to germs (it's just too hard here).
We ventured out with Brax three times this week. I know that doesn't seem like much, but it's just much harder and more complicated to pull off here, and the air's so bad, that we usually go out one at a time. We've learned that the stroller is no good if we won't be moving the whole time and we want him to sleep, so he comes with us strapped to his dad's front in our baby carrier (we have the little-heard-of Maximom, which has a terrible name but is totally awesome and highly recommended if you are in the market for a carrier!). Pete just can't be still for too long. We've even taken him like that on a bike sometimes--so illegal in the US! He came to church with us on Sunday and slept great until I woke him to nurse near the end of the service (in a corner in the overflow room, not in the main auditorium). We went out to lunch with a couple of professors on Thursday, and he came a slept through the whole thing. Then we went to a clothing market on Saturday and brought him. He was a little fussier this time. We're not sure if he was hot or just tired of staring at Dad's chest We do flip him around sometimes to face out, though his neck muscles are only barely strong enough. Wherever we go, we get tons of attention from the Chinese. They are not used to seeing white babies, let alone such young ones and being carried in a carrier. The women usually tell us what we're doing wrong (he should have shoes on, he shouldn't be out, he's cold, he should be horizontal, etc.) which Pete understands for the most part. We've learned that giving advice is a way of showing kindness in China, so we take the criticism in that spirit.
I think that's about it for this week. Stay tuned for the thrilling 10-week report in a few days! It's really amazing how important the minutiae of a baby's life becomes to a mom....