Big Boy

Dear Love Bug,

We sold your last (other) Pack N Play yesterday. That feels like a big step forward, and a part of me is sobbing over the piece of your infancy that was just given away. The woman who bought it sent us a photo of her tiny 9-week-old sleeping in the bassinet, and oh, how my heart twinged. This particular Pack N Play has been at Nonna and Opa’s, welcoming you for naps and an occasional overnight, for two and a half years. You’ve cuddled up in it with your Heehee and your friends for endless hours. 

Thank goodness you’re still in your crib and I can pretend you’re a baby (“No, I’m a big boy!” you say.) just a little bit longer. 

Maybe we’ll leave you in there until you’re 18. With the video monitor–ha!

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

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aye yuv yoo

19 months

I can only imagine you’ve gone through some major cognitive leap recently. Your understanding of the world and how it works grows exponentially on a daily basis, and your ability to express yourself is mesmerizing.

Daddy and I like to play a game with you where we ask you who says what. It goes like this:

“What does the cow say?” we ask.
“Moo,” you say.

“What does the sheep say?”
“Baa.”

“What does the duck say?”
“Quack quack.”

The other day, Daddy asked you what Opa says. At one point when you were very young, Opa started saying “heh heh” to you, and you’d say it back. In fact, before you learned to say “Opa” you called him “Heh Heh.”

So when Daddy asked you what Opa says, you responded “heh heh.” Not surprising.

Then Daddy mixed it up a bit and said, “What does Daddy say?”

You responded: “Aye yuv yoo.” We were floored.

Daddy then asked, “What does Mamma say?” And you answered the same way: “Aye yuv yoo.”

My heart nearly burst from the joy! I think maybe we’re doing something right? (Thank goodness you didn’t say “Ethan, no!” which you may hear nearly as frequently as “I love you.” Toddlerhood is in full swing.)

You’ve just become much more affectionate, coming to us for hugs and cuddles, running up to us (Daddy especially) and throwing your arms around our legs while burying your face in a thigh, and giving kisses when requested. You make a “mwah” noise when  you do it, too, which just about kills me. And it’s not just for us! You kiss photos of people like your grandparents, and you kiss yourself in the mirror. You’ve also become lovey-dovey with your favorite toys, giving Simba, Heehee (your blankie), Lamby (a relatively new fave) and Max kisses just because. But it doesn’t stop there; you have your toys kiss each other, going “mwah mwah” as they do. This holds true for your Disney characters and rubber duckies, puzzle pieces, Little People and anything with a mouth, really. I love that you do this, and I love that you’re kissed so often it seems natural to you to make your toys give kisses, too.

Lest you read this at some point in the future and think you were the most perfectly charming toddler ever, let me assure you that all of this cerebral development has come with its fair share of downsides. You’ve become majorly, heels-dug-in willful, insistently demanding and, quite frankly, pretty bossy. “Daddy, fix it.” “Mamma, hold it.” Or, even more frequently: “Cookies!” or “Pancakes!” Over and over and over. You’ve also recently begun saying “I want,” which allows for some impressive sentence construction: “I want s’more mango.” “I wanna play.” If you don’t get what you want, you will often throw stuff, push things over, swing your arms around to hit something or completely melt down into a mini-tantrum. Not your finer side.

You’ve also started waking up in the middle of the night again. It’s not every night, but it’s more often than not, and it’s always weirdly in the 2 a.m. hour. I thought it might be the 18(ish)-month sleep regression, but tonight I spotted that first lower molar breaking through your raw, angry gum, and I have a feeling that’s the culprit. We’ve been plying you with Hyland’s Teething Tablets, which generally help you drift back to sleep pretty quickly.

The teething doesn’t seem to have affected your appetite, though. You must be going through a growth spurt. How else can I explain the two-hot-dog lunch? Or the entire-whole-banana-plus-blackberries dessert? Tonight, you kept asking for “more broccoli” so I’m not complaining. I’m thrilled you’re eating as well as you are, especially after a period of extreme pickiness that seemed to accompany your most recent illness (and amoxicillin treatment). We thought it was just that you weren’t feeling well, but one night you kept saying “that” and pointing to your plate. We’d given you everything on it, and you’d turned your nose up to all of it. Somehow, we realized you were talking about the plate itself. We put it on your tray and handed you your fork and spoon, and you left not a crumb. Apparently, you were on a hunger strike because we were still portioning out your food rather than allowing you to eat like a big boy off your plate.

Aye yuv yoo, Munchkin.


  
  
  
  
 

goodbye dream feed, hello food-food

22 weeks

I don’t want to brag or anything but you are amazing.

Last week, as you we struggled with some nighttime waking magically reversed by Baby Merlin’s Magic (they don’t call it that for nothing) Sleepsuit, we also were working to wean you from your “dream feed.”

Since you were born, we’ve been giving you a late-night feed to help get you through the night. Once we had you on something resembling a regular schedule, you were feeding at 11 (pretty miserable for all of us, especially since it was followed by feedings at 3 and 7 a.m.). When your pediatrician gave us the green light to stop waking you throughout the night to feed you and you showed us you were able to sleep more than four hours without waking, we moved that late feeding to 10 (better, not great). Eventually, we settled on a feeding at 9:30; this worked out pretty well, as it allowed us to eat dinner, clean up, shower, get ready for bed and tuck into the couch for some TV before we needed to wake you for that “dream feed.”

But eventually, we realized, you’d have to be weaned from that feeding and start going to sleep at a normal baby hour and not at 11 when we were going to bed. Interestingly, you started weaning yourself. You became more and more difficult to wake at 9:30 (after going down for your after-dinner nap between 7 and 8), and you’d take less and less food. Sometimes, you’d only make it through one breast’s worth of milk or sometimes you wouldn’t want to eat at all. But we were reluctant to give up the dream feed out of fear you wouldn’t make it through the night.

Last Friday, after prepping you all week by giving you half an ounce less of formula each night at your dream feed and by moving your “dinner” slowly back from 5:30 to 6:30, we put you down in your crib and in your MMSS at 7:45 and, holding our breath, we bid you an official goodnight. There’d be no seeing you at 9:30. Or rather, you wouldn’t see us. We checked on you before we tucked into bed, of course. You were still beautifully, blissfully sound asleep.

Much to our surprise–especially given your recent stint of night wakings–the next thing we knew, our 6 a.m. alarm was sounding. You hadn’t made a peep. I rolled out of bed and did a little jig. I woke you up and kissed you a million times. I’m so, so, so proud of you. Nothing, not since being cleared after your first month to stop waking you multiple times a night to get your weight up, has revolutionized our lives like bidding adieu to the dream feed. It’s like we’re normal adults again.

We’re going on a full week of dream feed-less evenings, and other than minor hiccups (a brief crying stint one night at 3:30 that was quickly fixed by popping in your paci), you’re sleeping straight through for 10-11 hours. And you’re going a full 11.5 hours between feedings. You. Are. Amazing.

Last weekend, we also attempted something else for the first time: We strapped you into your high chair (which I love; it sits on top of one of our dining room chairs and occupies hardly any room at all), and we let you try a carrot.

We’d done some research on introducing solid foods, and we really like the philosophy behind Baby-Led Weaning, which has made its way across the pond from the U.K. and, contrary to the American English interpretation, has nothing to do with weaning babies from, say, nursing. It’s about weaning them onto solid foods, and the beauty of it is that it involves no purees or single-grain cereals that have to be spoon fed to you. Instead, through Baby-Led Weaning, we’re letting you feed yourself with “normal” (non-mush) foods that you can pick up and put in your mouth yourself.

So that’s how we found ourselves staring at you as you reached for a boiled carrot and efficiently popped one end into your mouth. You seemed to like it at first–you kind of sucked on it–and then I think you couldn’t figure out how to get it out of your mouth. You made a stink face and started fussing. That was with a warm carrot.

We tried giving you a cold carrot–one that had been chilled in the fridge–and you seemed to like that more. I think it felt good on your gums, much like your chilled teething rings do.

We’ve tried giving you carrots several more times, and your reaction is always lukewarm. You tolerate sucking on it for a few minutes once you manage to get it into your mouth, you slam it down onto your high chair tray a few times and then you get tired of it. But the important part is that you’re learning how to feed yourself through hand-mouth coordination, and you’re starting to try out new flavors and textures. You’re getting zero calories from this food (which is fine–you’re still getting four-plus breast milk/formula feedings a day), but you’re having some fun with it. This weekend, sweet potatoes are on tap.


This Week in Guppy Growth

  • You’re starting to tuck your knees under you while you’re on your tummy in a kind-of early attempt to crawl (maybe).
  • You’re really starting to be entertained by your kitties (you study them intently), but nothing has made you squeal with joy like Roxy, your friend Anthony’s dog.
  • Mamma’s starting to wash your 9-month clothes because your 6-month stuff (footies especially) is getting pretty snug on you.

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chasing sleep

21 weeks

Here’s a life lesson for you: Don’t be smug. Or: Don’t count your chickens.

Daddy and I had gotten so blissfully used to your herculean sleep patterns. With very few exceptions, you’d slept through the night since you were four weeks old when we stopped waking you to feed you. You weren’t a half-bad napper, either, often giving us a break of a couple of hours, even a couple of times a day, to get things done while we were home with you.

When others would ask us how you were sleeping, we’d puff up our chests and proclaim with great pride that you’d been sleeping through the night since you were a month old. We knew how fortunate we were, how rare it was to have such a cooperative newborn. We were so pleased with ourselves. Clearly were were doing something right.

Then, right around the December holidays, you got a cold and you had trouble sleeping because you couldn’t breathe. Totally understandable.

But your naps never recovered; we’re lucky now if we get 45 minutes out of you. This didn’t bother me much, though, because you were sleeping through the night. And I’d gladly trade marathon naps for a solid night’s sleep.

But then, about 10 days ago, the nights went out the window, too. You started waking consistently at 1 a.m. and then again toward morning: somewhere in the 3 o’clock hour, somewhere in the 5 o’clock hour, definitely before the alarm went off. And we, so used to having to wake you once we were up ourselves, started panicking.

I got through nearly a solid week of this before the lack of sleep–on Saturday night, you were up at 1, 4:30 (after which I never fell back to sleep), 5:30, 5:45 and finally 6:15–reduced me to a crying, sputtering mess. Mamma needs her sleep, perhaps more than your average bear; she’s always been an excellent sleeper (perhaps you got those genes?), and she loves sleeping. So it takes very little lost sleep to wreak havoc on her system.

In addition, you were very fussy this weekend. It’s probably related to your not sleeping, but since we can’t ask you what’s going on, it’s a bit of an enigma. You are an adorable (mostly) puzzle that we have to solve. We ran through some hypotheses:

  • teething (possible, although we haven’t seen anything erupt; still, you seemed to respond positively to the Hyland’s teething tablets we tried on Monday morning, and you went to town on the teething rings we introduced you to)
  • growth spurt (definite; I tried to put you into 6-month footies the other night, and they were a full 2 inches too short–and you’d just worn them last week!)
  • overtiredness (duh)

There’s also this pesky “4-month sleep regression” that we’ve heard so much about. Apparently, you’re undergoing a huge cognitive and developmental leap this month, and it’s throwing your whole world into disarray.

Your sleep cycles are maturing, meaning you’re spending more time in REM (as opposed to the lovely deep sleep you enjoyed as a newborn), and when you surface from a sleep cycle, you’re not quite sure how to self-soothe back into restfulness. That would explain the 1 a.m. wakeups; all it takes is us popping your paci into your mouth (if we have to get up at all; sometimes you cry for a minute and then put yourself back to sleep), and you drift off again. But the later wakeups are trickier; you might fall back to sleep, but you don’t stay down as long.

We’ve also been planning for some time to begin weaning you off of your “dream feed,” your last meal of the day, served promptly at 9:30 p.m. Until now we’ve been too scared to do it, as it’s always been our insurance in support of a full night’s sleep. But we have to wake you specifically to feed you (a travesty), and it’s getting to be time to transition you to an appropriate bedtime for a baby, sometime in the 7 o’clock hour. The thing about weaning from a dream feed, though, is you have to be confident in your baby sleeping through the night. Because if your baby isn’t doing so, you have no way of knowing what’s causing your baby to wake if, after eliminating the dream feed, you’re faced with middle-of-the-night wakings. And you definitely don’t want to start reintroducing night feedings. That’s a whole other nasty can of worms.

If you’re not sleeping through the night consistently–so consistently we’d be shocked if you weren’t–the dream feed needs to stick around. Sad for you and sad for us.

Luckily for all of us, Daddy and I got a little bit smart Tuesday night, despite our sleep-deprived states. You’ve been using a Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit (or the MMSS, as we call it) since you were three months old to help you nap, as it keeps you from doing that typical baby flailing that inevitably wakes you up once you’ve drifted off. We’d never put you in it for your overnight sleep, primarily because you’ve never really had trouble sleeping through and also because we’ve been wary of encouraging sleep crutches. But you know what they say about desperate times. So in you went, and through you slept–all the way to 5:50 a.m., just 10 minutes before the alarm went off, without so much as a peep. Night Two of our experiment confirmed the results; we had to wake you at 6 a.m. We are converts–and if this is what it takes, so be it; we’ll just have to wean you off the MMSS eventually. For now, three uninterrupted nights’ sleep in, we’re enjoying the rejuvenating rest.


This Week in Guppy Growth

  • You’re now blowing raspberries, which is the cutest thing ever. You smush your lips together, motorboat them and spit everywhere.
  • You’re supporting a lot of weight on your legs and can push up to stand if we’re holding your hands. Still no sitting by yourself yet, but your core is extraordinarily strong. My guess is that within two weeks, you’ll be sitting unsupported.
  • You’re even more obsessed with your feet than ever.
  • You talk. A lot. It’s a lot of hard G sounds right now, but I’m training you on those M’s. (Can you say Mamma?) Daddy is doing the same with D’s. You also squeal, squawk, grunt, roar and generally sound like a baby dinosaur.
  • You had your first ride in a real swing–not just your little baby swing at home–and on a carousel!

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