Saturday, July 16, 2011

14 Weeks

We've made it to our last week in China! I'm not sure if I'll get a chance to update next week. We'll be on the plane next Saturday, hopefully with a sleeping baby.

This has been a week of some big changes for Brax, and also a slightly more frustrating week for me. Or I should say, part of me gets frustrated with the constant mid-nap wakings and the sudden middle-of-the-night wakings, and the other part of me stands aloof and laughs at what small things become so huge when you have a baby. The big changes we went through? Letting both arms out of the swaddle, extending daytime feeds, and dropping the dreamfeed. Pretty monumental. Right up there with starting kindergarten and puberty, I would say.

Sarcasm aside, it does feel good to have transitioned with those things before we leave and to have a week to adjust before we throw a total day/night reversal at ourselves and our baby. At least we'll know what kind of routine to aim for as we all adjust from jet lag, live in three different places, travel to Georgia, and then travel home. By which time Brax will be 4 1/2 months old and certainly have gone through even more transitions.

Did I mention that he and I will be in a different house every week for the next six weeks? Between now and September 1, we'll actually have been in 7 different houses, 2 countries, 2 states, 3 time zones (not counting the ones we cross), and at least 6 different planes. Fun times! I am looking forward to the Georgia visit. But I'm also looking forward to September 1 and being able to relearn what settled feels like.

Now for the extended version of the weekly summary...

Night Sleep
While Brax is still going all night without being fed, he's started waking in the middle of the night and fussing for a few minutes before falling back asleep. I actually did feed him one night when I woke up and was afraid he had already been crying for a while. But I don't think he needed it. He's also started waking between 6:15 and 6:45 before I get him at 7. Sometimes I don't even realize he's been awake but he's awake when I get him. Other times, he chatters or fusses a little off and on. It doesn't seem to bother him, though.

In the midst of those disruptions, we decided to go ahead and drop the dreamfeed. He was barely waking up for it and barely eating anything. So I thought he might sleep better at night without it. Thursday was the first day without it, and it didn't really seem to change much with the night sleep. So we're sticking with no dreamfeed for now, which means he goes to bed around 8 and gets up at 7. And usually sleeps 10-10.5 hours out of that 11-hour span. It's a very weird feeling to have him sleep so long, but soooo nice to have our evenings uninterrupted!

Day Sleep
The mid-nap waking that was an occasional problem before became more regular this week. He has been waking 30-60 minutes into most naps, fussing for 20-30 minutes, then falling back asleep. I've been confused as to whether I should keep him awake longer before each nap, as he often doesn't seem that tired when we put him down, or if he's overstimulated and needs to go down earlier. After some trial and error, I've decided that overtiredness doesn't keep him from falling asleep that often, even though it's apparently a big problem for most babies. So we're now trying to keep him up longer and not put him down until he really seems tired (either yawning and getting still or fussy). It worked great this morning--he was up for almost 2 hours but then slept soundly with no peeps for 1hr50m! We'll see how the rest of the day goes.

In the midst of all the other changes, I've also decided to mostly drop the 4th nap of the day. He was only usually sleeping about 30 minutes for it. In the process of dropping the dreamfeed and realizing he was sometimes undertired, we decided to shoot for 3 longer naps rather than 4 shorter ones. We've moved to a 3.5 hour schedule for most of the day, but with the last two feeds being only 2 hours apart and without a nap between them. This is day 2 of that schedule, so I can't say whether it's working or not yet. Though he did sleep better last night and fell asleep more easily at bed time.

He's pretty consistent at feeding for 15-20 minutes these days. I tried keeping him on longer a few times when I was afraid maybe he was growth spurting and I needed to increase milk supply, but he simply didn't want to. Our feeding schedule since we dropped the dreamfeed and 4th nap is 7:00, 10:30, 2:00, 5:30, and 7:30 (right before bed). Those are definitely very approximate times. I've also been pumping right before I go to bed at night, just because I'm nervous about keeping up my supply now that we've dropped to 5 feeds a day. I don't have any indications that this might be happening, but I just want to play it safe for now--at least until we go to the pediatrician next and get an accurate weight check.

We discovered Brax's limit on disruptions this week. We took him out for short activities last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, were home Monday, and then tried to take him out for a good chunk of the day on Tuesday to do some touring with some of Pete's Chinese lab mates. He napped pretty well in the sling during the morning. We fed him a bottle sitting on some stairs at the Forbidden City (with lots of people staring and taking pictures), then we had lunch. Our plan was to put him in the sling again and let him nap for the afternoon while we went to the Hutong. However, he hadn't napped well at all for his first nap of the day, then only for about 1hr and 15m for the second nap, and then we kept him up for almost 2 hours before the third. By then, sleep did not come so easily for him. He fell asleep for about 5 minutes but then woke up. And cried the rest of the afternoon. We were walking down the streets of the Hutong with a screaming baby. So fun. We decided we needed to get home, of course, but the taxi ride was still about 30 minutes. Brax screamed for about 20 of those 30 minutes, until I finally calmed him by holding him over my shoulder and patting his back.

Lesson learned: Brax can get overtired from too many disruptions. And his pleasant, sunny self disappears. Better to spread out the disruptions a little more and make sure he gets at least one good nap in the morning!

Growth and Development
Braxon's ability to grasp things and move them where he wants them is getting better. He still loves his gym, but I also sometimes just let him lay on the bed and look around without the stimulation of all the toys. He seems to like that for a few minutes at a time. He's discovering new sounds that he can make with his mouth, as well.

I do think he may have mild torticollis that probably caused the currently crooked flat head. He has great neck control, but when he's upright (standing or sitting), his head definitely tilts to his left. He's willing to sleep with his head turned either direction, but because it's flatter on his right side, that's naturally where he rests it. I kind of hope the pediatrician can give me a helmet that he can just wear while he's sleeping. I think that would solve the problem at this point. I don't want him to have to wear a helmet 24/7 if we can avoid it, but I don't see the flat spot rounding out on its own unless he becomes a tummy sleeper.


I'm getting dizzy from hunger. so I think it's time to stop and eat. One of the bonuses of living in China is that most restaurants do free delivery--with no tip required. But, we've learned that our address is a difficult one for delivery men to find. And Pete's Chinese isn't quite good enough to give them really clear directions over the phone. So we're currently waiting for Indian food to be delivered--and both starving. Come on, delivery man!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finally Some Pictures

Lesley reminded me that it has been a long time since I've posted any pictures. So here are a few from our time here in China. We leave in one week!

At the Forbidden City. One of Beijing's must-sees, though it's not one of the most beautiful tourist sites. This was the part of the day he was happy. He threw a nice long fit that afternoon when we kept him up too long. That was a very fun taxi ride--a taxi driver, our two Chinese friends, and us, all cooped up in the car with an inconsolable screaming baby.

At the Summer Palace, which is one of the more beautiful tourist sites. This is how Brax looks most of the time we're out and about--headless.

Family picture taken with the self-timer function!

He's interested enough to look at cameras--now we just need to work on the smiling part!

Friday, July 8, 2011

3 Months Old!

My baby is no longer a newborn by anyone's definition of the term. And while I feel incredibly wistful and nostalgic whenever I see pictures of him during his first week, it's so fun to be able to play with a sturdier, more interactive baby whose personality is starting to peak through more and more.

I can say that more easily after the past few days, which have been fantastic. The first half of this week was...well, rough. Remember that Wonder Week I mentioned last week? I can now say with certainty that we went through it. The wonder weeks chart shows a fussy stage between 11.5 and 12.5 weeks. The first night where he cried inconsolably for a long time was right at 11.5 weeks, and the last night of it was this past Wednesday, at 12.5 weeks. I can't believe how textbook my child is! Since Thursday, he's been back to his sunny self with the addition of more motor control that I guess was developing during that wonder week--and the ability to roll!

We are winding down our time here in China and very excited to come home in exactly two weeks. I'm looking forward to California weather, a car, my friends, cooking.... I would say I'm looking forward to developing a new routine after we get through jet lag, but that actually probably won't come until September. We'll be housesitting at two different houses for the first two weeks after we get back, as our subletters will still be in our apartment. Then we'll be home for a week before I take off with Brax to Georgia for two weeks to visit family and friends (Pete will be joining us after the first week). I'm excited to see everyone and to introduce lots of family members to Braxon, but traveling is definitely more stressful with a little one! And of course, the whole trip happens to coincide with the next predicted wonder week. I'm praying we sail through that one--or at least don't notice it with all the disruptions!


Now for the longer version...

Night Sleep
We are so fortunate that the wonder week did not disrupt Brax's night sleep. He did take an hour or more of crying most nights before falling asleep, but then he slept just as soundly as before, until 7am. I've been waking him every morning, so I sense that he's ready to extend the night sleep even longer. So, after the wonder week was clearly over, I've started moving the dreamfeed a little earlier every night to hopefully eliminate it soon. I think he could probably make it at least 10-11 hours at this point. I'm hoping that doesn't cause any issues with my milk supply, so I'll be monitoring that carefully, for sure.

Day Sleep
During the wonder week, his naps were pretty awful. He fussed for a little while every time I put him down, but then he woke up within 45 minutes to 1 hour almost every single time and cried. Sometimes he would go back to sleep again, sometimes he wouldn't and I'd just get him up for the next feed. I was watching carefully to make sure it wasn't a growth spurt, as well, but he never seemed any hungrier than usual. The terrible napping was worst on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I was feeling really ragged from listening to crying so much (as a side note--rocking him does not help but just keeps him awake, and he eventually gets even fussier). Then, on Thursday, it was over. Since then, he's been back to sleeping 1hr15m to 1hr45m. In fact, I think he's been sleeping even better than before the wonder week. If he wakes up, he either cries for only a very few minutes before falling back asleep, or he talks to himself happily and looks around. In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, the author says that babies' daytime sleep becomes more organized between 3 and 4 months, so maybe that's what's happening. His fourth nap of the day is usually only 30-40 minutes, so perhaps he'll be ready to drop down to 3 naps soon.

Brax is becoming more consistently faster at nursing. I'd say it takes an average of 20 minutes these days. He spits up a lot between feedings, so I've been careful to not encourage him to keep eating after he pulls off the boob the first time. I also wonder if he's getting fed more often than he needs to. Though I've never read that that can cause spitting up, it makes sense that it would, doesn't it? He's getting 6 feeds a day right now, but after we drop the dreamfeed (hopefully soon), it will be 5. I'm hoping I can spread them out a little more then. Since I've been having to wake him to feed him most times during the day (since the wonder week ended), it seems like he's ready to extend the time between feeds, take longer naps, and then maybe drop the fourth nap. I'm wondering if some of that will just happen naturally as we readjust from jet lag. But he also seems pretty young to go down to 4 feedings a day, so I definitely don't want to push it.

I decided the wonder week was not a good time to mess with the swaddle. But he definitely gained much better arm control over the past week. So, after two great nap days, we decided to try one arm out this morning--his left arm, to encourage him to turn his head to the left and hopefully round the back of his head out a bit! We watched him, and he did seem a bit confused by the fact that his arm could move around. He fussed for a minute or two, then talked for a few more minutes, and then got quiet and fell asleep for a nice long nap! Such a big boy! So I guess we'll probably be able to drop both the dreamfeed and the swaddle before we head home.

Growth and Development
Like I said above, the past week and a half have seen Brax through some pretty big developments. He is really good at grabbing things and moving them around intentionally now and loves doing it. He also rolled over for the first time! While he was doing tummy time one day, he lost his balance a bit on his elbows and leaned over enough to fall onto his side. That was purely accidental, but we started helping him do it sometimes to show him how. Then, one day, he started doing it on his own repeatedly, and making it onto his back! He usually looks startled but then gets excited (though that could be because I'm cheering and clapping my hands). He still seems to forget how to do it sometimes and get frustrated trying to make it happen, but other times he does it completely unprompted by me.

We took Brax out 3 times in the evening this week--way more than ever before. Pete's lab wanted to take us out for dinner one night and another night we were meeting a friend who couldn't meet any other time. We've learned that Brax doesn't really sleep when we take him out at night, even in the sling. He'll sleep in the sling when Pete's walking with it or in a moving vehicle, but not otherwise, and not at night. So he stayed up much later than usual those nights. However, he was so interested in all the new sights and faces that he didn't fuss much (only when we got him home and put him to bed, but that was also during the wonder week). He did well enough that we decided to go out to dinner ourselves last night, since it was our anniversary, and he again did great and, this time, went to sleep more quickly when we got home. We had brought bottles the other two nights, but I actually nursed at the restaurant last night with my handy nursing cover. We're not sure if that's culturally appropriate or not. The Chinese rarely bring young babies out, so we've never seen a woman breastfeeding in public here. Hopefully they're okay with us doing it. If not, we can still play the ignorant American card at this point. And the nursing cover keeps things modest :).

Enough time spent baby-gazing, I think. Happy weekend!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wonder Week 12

The Short Summary
There's a baby book out there that some of you may have heard of called The Wonder Weeks. The basic premise is that babies go through major leaps in their mental and physical development at around the same times--around 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 19 weeks, etc. During these developmental leaps, they are often fussier, clingier, and generally different than normal because their world is changing so rapidly. It's one baby book that I actually don't own and haven't read. However, I've heard enough about it from other moms to know that many have found it very accurate and helpful.

We are supposedly in the middle of Wonder Week 12 here. This was helpful and encouraging information this past week, which has been a more difficult week in some ways (outside of a couple of angel-baby days). Part of the difficulty was that I was single-momming it for the first half of the week. The rest was just that Brax was simply fussier than usual for several days. I actually resorted to nursing him to sleep at night twice, out of desperation. However, he has definitely been making some major strides in hand control, which is fun to watch.

Braxon was also apparently fantastic for his first ever non-grandparent babysitting experience. We dropped him off at our friends' apartment last night around 6:15. They were amazed at how good he was. We were a bit amazed, too, since he was coming off of several fussy days. But he took his bottle well and went to sleep easily. I think our friends were a bit jealous. They have identical twin boys who are now 6 but were apparently quite the handful as newborns--the kind that never stopped crying. I can only imagine!

That's the quick summary of the week. Read on  for more details, but I won't be offended if you skim :).

The Longer Version

Night Sleep
Still doing great in this department. The wingy days haven't affected his night sleep yet. Even the one night when he fussed and wouldn't sleep the whole evening, even after I tried nursing him to sleep, he still went right to sleep at the dreamfeed and slept until our morning wake time, which was a full 9 hours later. I think we're going to wait another week or two and then think about dropping the dream feed, though I want to either be finished with it before we travel back to the US or not mess with it until after we get there and are adjusted to CA time.

Day Sleep
We had two nearly perfect nap days, where I went down for naps without a peep and didn't wake up until I woke him. The rest of the days he often woke early, sometimes putting himself back to sleep and sometimes not. I also think he's at the point where the fourth nap of the day only needs to be a catnap of 30-40 minutes, especially if he's slept well all day. But we'll see how things even out with that.

Since we got to China, we got in a habit of putting a light blanket over his Pack n Play when he sleeps. This was because when we first got here, my in-laws were in what is now his room, and he was sleeping in an area that got really bright in the mornings. Then we were afraid to remove it in case he wouldn't sleep without it. But I decided to buckle down and try without it this week, and now he's pretty much weaned off it. I'm not sure if he really noticed the difference or not when I first took it off. He was waking up early from most naps, but it's hard  to say if the lack of cover was affecting that.

Brax has gotten one or both of his hands out of the swaddle a few times this week and still slept okay, so I think he's starting to drop it. We're still swaddling but are allowing the swaddle to be looser during the day. If his hands come out, we just leave them so that he'll learn to sleep like that. He's definitely into sucking his hands, so I'm hoping they might become part of his self-soothing process.

I definitely think he's taking in more and more during most nursing sessions. He must be, since he only gets 6 a day and is still gaining weight very well (up to about 13 pounds 10 ounces today). He still takes just as long, but I doubt he's getting much by the end on each boob. I'm probably letting him suck longer than he needs to since I'm usually engrossed in a book* :). But since neither of us is in any rush, I figure it's good bonding time for us--and easy entertainment. He's also started pulling off sometimes to smile and talk to me, which is pretty cute and funny. And he's started to grab my boob or clothes with his hands.

If the Wonder Weeks thing is for real, he's supposedly making a big leap in learning about "smooth transitions." I guess this means he'll be less jerky with hand and other movements. We have certainly noticed that he can move his hands and grasp things with more intentionality. He's paying attention to toys that he never showed interest in before. And he could be happy forever in his activity gym, grabbing the toys and staring at himself in the mirror. He's also finally gotten interested in books! This is very exciting for me. He will actually look at the book the whole time while I'm reading to him now, and yesterday, he was clearly trying really hard to touch it--and succeeding sometimes. I've been moving his hand to turn the pages, and he did it by himself once or twice last night. Who knows if it was random or not, but it definitely made my bookworm heart soar! Finally, he has rolled himself from tummy to back a few times. It's still accidental, when he's propped on his elbows and then leans over enough to fall over. He seems surprised but a little excited about it, so maybe he'll start doing it on purpose soon.

Witching Hour?
Like I said, I resorted to nursing Brax to sleep in the evening twice this week. And I tried several times last night, and he wouldn't stay asleep. But I'm wondering if he's experiencing a touch of a witching hour. Since Wednesday, he's had big problems falling asleep for his official bedtime (around 7:30-7:45) every other night. I know most babies experience this starting earlier than 12 weeks. But since he'll fall asleep fine for his daytime naps but then get so upset about being put to bed in the evening, I wonder what's going on. However, like Pete reminded me, it's only been 3 nights--and they weren't 3 in a row--so we can't really make any conclusions yet. I know it's not a good idea to let babies cry it out if they are experiencing a witching hour. But when, like last night, he won't calm down with anything else (rocking in various positions, nursing, playing, swaddled or not), what else can we do? If we had a swing or a carseat here, I'd definitely try those. Since we don't, Pete wants to give cry it out a real go if it happens again. At least our next-door neighbor here just moved out, so we don't have to worry about a screaming baby bothering her! I might need to listen to music with headphones to keep from crying myself, though.

Awake Time
I wanted to write down what we usually do when Brax is awake between nursing and going down for a nap. He seems to need much more awake time than many Babywise babies. Other moms talk about their babies only being about to handle 45-60 minutes at this stage, including feeding time. Brax, however, usually goes 75-90 minutes. If we put him down too early, he protests much more than if he's really tired. And getting overtired doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. This leaves me with a lot of time to keep him entertained during the day! I usually make sure to fit in a good chunk of independent play time (in his activity gym with me close by) and tummy time several times during the day. Three times a week, his afternoon awake time is with his daddy, while I go to language tutoring. His evening awake time (right before bed) is usually spent strapped in his stroller near the table while we eat dinner--the stroller is the closest thing we have to an infant seat here. The rest of the time, I sing to him and do motions, talk to him, read to him (not always baby books--I've read Shakespeare and Nourishing Traditions to him this week, both of which he was thrilled by), let him play with toys, and find other interesting games to play. I've also strapped him facing outward in the sling a few times while cooking or doing laundry. He enjoys this, but he's getting heavy and I tire out quickly! I don't know how people who believe really firmly in baby-wearing can do it all day! I guess you develop strong shoulder and back muscles.

I think that's about all I wanted to record for posterity this week. A good friend of mine just had baby #2. Of course we haven't been able to visit yet, but it's so cute looking at the pictures and watching the older sister, who will be 2 in September, meet her new baby sister! It makes me actually look forward to having our next one, though I'm definitely not ready to think about being pregnant again yet. We haven't decided how long we want to wait before trying again. I'm guessing it will take a looong time for my body to start ovulating again. But I'm really hoping and praying that pregnancy--and my improved diet and lifestyle--has done good for my hormones, and that the next one will happen naturally.

*I'm currently engrossed in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's beautifully written, though fairly dark and sad and emotionally affecting, at least for me. Part of the premise is essentially that infertility has become more widespread because of pollution, etc. It's all very interesting and imaginative. Anyone else read it? I'm also always open to other book suggestions now that I get so much time to read!