Archive for October, 2012

First Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

This time last year, I was the one in a frightful state. This year, Sam and Cate got dressed up for Halloween for the first time. Thanks to Susan and Mike for loaning us these cute jack-o-lantern costumes. Trick or treat!

Cate and Sam with pumpkins

Split nights, and the corner

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Sleeping continues to be the top priority goal around here. For most of the last year, we survived only because of overnight reprieves three nights a week. Stacy came on Friday nights, Bill slept in NC hotels two nights a week, and Sheila covered for me the two nights that Bill was gone. We were only functional because of the less-interrupted sleep we got those nights, but they came at a really high price. Both the night nurses and the unreimbursed travel were brutal to our cash flow. Since Bill’s NC consulting gig ended August 22nd, we’ve toughed it out ourselves.

Almost immediately, we adopted a new coping tactic: split nights. Once we’ve cleaned the kitchen and are ready for bed, we split up. Bill stays in our bedroom to read/rest in bed and “cover” the girls, binking them when they wake/fuss and getting them back to sleep, while I go to the office to get a good 3 or 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. When I wake up to pee, I come back to our bedroom to sleep and cover the girls so that Bill can get 3-4 hours without getting up. With Bill taking 7 pm to 2 am, and me taking 2 am to 7 pm, we should both be able to get at least five hours of sleep.

Splitting up coverage definitely helps, but it isn’t a solution, because by early September, their sleeping got still worse. Cate started fighting bedtime, staying awake an hour or more later than Sam. She also started insisting that Mama do it, which meant that instead of going to bed by 9 pm, I was often up until 10 or 11 pm. Around the same time, Sam started demanding Mama in the middle of the night. I would fall asleep in the office, then sometime between 11:30 pm and 1 am, I would wake to the sound of Sam yelling for me. Even though Dad was holding and soothing her, she wouldn’t quiet until I came back to the bedroom to hold her, and sometimes, nurse. After a week of this, Sam even learned to say, “Mmmmmaaaa,” to make it clear what she wanted. We understand that both are going through normal separation anxiety, but between the two of them, my window for uninterrupted sleep got very, very short. Something had to change.

* * *
Dr W told us that it’s time for sleep training. But as I mentioned previously, we really aren’t comfortable with the “cry it out” approaches. My friend Pete recommended a book by Kim West called, The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, which explains a gentler method. West observes that “one in four children under the age of five has sleeping problems,” and that “most childhood sleep problems are behavioral, not physical.” Sleeping may be required, but one’s expectations about when and how to fall asleep are all learned. West lays out:

“step-by-step changes in bedtime, napping, and overnight routines so that your child can develop sleep independence, go to sleep on her own, and sleep more soundly and longer while feeling confident that Mom and Dad will be nearby and responsive.”

We like the sound of that! Especially relevant to our situation, West says this:

Reflux babies can develop sleep problems that persist even after the reflux symptoms are controlled… While a baby without tummy problems is learning to rock himself to sleep, a reflux baby dealing with projectile vomiting may miss out on the chance to learn how to self soothe and fall asleep on his own! As we comfort our babies, we may inadvertently reinforce poor sleep habits. Then, even after the reflux has passed or been controlled, our babies still don’t sleep well. They must then learn, or relearn, how to put themselves to sleep without being walked, rocked, fed, put in the swing, the car seat, or ridden around the block — you know the drill.

As with a colicky baby, reading reflux babies’ sleep cues can be difficult. I suspect this is because they don’t learn to differentiate their cries because pain, vomiting, hunger, and tiredness all sort of blur together for them. We then have more trouble figuring out what they’re crying about and may not respond as consistently to whatever it is they’re trying to tell us. So you have to be more diligent about watching the clock, not just your baby. Keep track of when he ate. As he gets older, you’ll want to stretch out the time between feedings as long as you can without provoking more vomiting, particularly ovenight. Also pay attention to how long he has been awake. Make sure he naps on time. The last thing he needs is an overlay of exhaustion on top of his burning esophagus. Taking him into a quiet, dim room for a while before nap or bed often helps. He may show his sleepy signals more clearly in such a setting. Also, the quiet environment may cue him that it’s time for bed. (p.340)

Saturday was Night 8 of our Sleep Lady Shuffle, and slowly but surely, the girls are learning to fall asleep independently. And for the first time, they finished settling by themselves and drifted off to sleep while we were lying halfway across the room in our bed. Hooray!

Things aren’t a lot better yet. But… it finally feels like they may improve in the foreseeable future.

Chef’s tables!

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Our daughters first enjoyed “solids” in our bed. It’s where they ate milk and formula, and seemed like a natural place to expand their repertoire to oatmeal.

Within a week or two, we shifted solids operations to the dining room. It worked well for me to sit and feed them while Bill prepped other food in the kitchen. But as the girls matured, expanded their fare, and ate more quickly, they got ahead of me. I often found myself standing in the kitchen prepping the next food while they sat by themselves in the dining room.

Then a week or two ago, it occurred to me that we could have chef’s tables, and I moved their boosters into the kitchen. Sometimes I sit on the step stool to feed them and sometimes I orbit around them prepping food and cleaning up, but now they can see what’s going on and be part of the action.

Sam and Cate eating waffles while Bill cooks eggs

Pee and blogging

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

There are so many fun things that I’d like to blog:

  • “boat” rides,
  • birthday pics in the pumpkin patch,
  • birthday party with grandparents,
  • first words,
  • chef’s table, etc.

… but there hasn’t been time. I used to blog during the girls’ morning nap. But lately, it’s only been 45 minutes to an hour long, which is just enough time to do some small subset of pee, eat, start a load of laundry, read a few (but not all) emails/texts, return some (but not all) phone calls, etc. One of the girls almost always wakes up before I get to blogging.

Worse, we just endured several weeks during which Tibbs repeatedly peed in all sorts of inappropriate locations (e.g. our bathtub, the hall, the girls’ toy box, etc.). In our sleep-deprived state, we thought that he was telling us that he was mad at us and/or the babies, so we cleaned it up and worked hard to give him more attention, but the rampant peeing continued.

Then, Amy observed that it seemed odd for him to suddenly be discomfited again after months of seeking out the girls for attention, and suggested that he might have a UTI. A quick vet trip Monday confirmed that Tibbs had a bladder infection. He’s now on antibiotics, and I feel bad that he suffered needlessly. We also wasted a lot of time washing up pee.

Fortunately, the issue seems to be resolving, freeing up that time for more rewarding endeavors, like blogging. With luck, I’ll post more soon.

First steps: Sam!

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Over the last few weeks, Sam has been eagerly walking while holding on to an adult’s fingers. She’s also cruising along while holding on to gates and furniture with increasing confidence.

This afternoon, she quietly let go of the gate and took two unassisted steps to reach Claudia in the middle. And later, when I was closer by, she let go of the gate to take three steps to reach me and collapse in my lap. Yay, Sam!

Peekaboo in tandem!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

We’ve been playing a lot of peek-a-boo and variations around here lately. During the last week of September, first Sam and then Cate mastered self-directed peek-a-boo, in which they pull up fabric in front of their own faces to play the game.

Last night, Sam and Cate played some peek-a-boo at the same time, and I managed to catch it on video. Enjoy!

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Up and over: climbing!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

It’s official: the sky is the limit. In mid-September, over the course of about a week, Cate and Sam both figured out how to get themselves off of the ground!

As a warm-up, they first tackled the front edge of our low futon couch. One afternoon, Auntie Em was giving Sam some water on the futon, and Cate was at her feet. But then Emily was surprised to suddenly find Cate standing at her shoulder to be part of the futon party. Hi, Cate!

Some time later, Sam climbed the futon, too. Tempted by a cute rattle placed at the back of the seat, she scrambled up until she could reach it. Once up, Sam immediately commenced trying to scale the back of the futon. She’s made it a few more inches up the back by digging her toes into the cushion, but so far she hasn’t topped it to reach the plasma TV. Thank goodness!

One morning soon after, Cate managed to get herself up onto the bench that Bill’s granddaddy built. Tempted by a toy that had fallen under the bed on the other side, she reached across to the far edge, hiked her belly up onto the bench, then pulled her knees up as well. Bill caught her in action with my iPhone:

Cate on top of the bench

The next day, Sam hiked herself up onto the crate in the corner of their mat area. She leaned over the top, laced her fingers into the gate on the far side, and tugged herself up on top. She promptly pulled herself to a standing position and began contemplating how to scale the pile of stuff on the adjacent sideboard. Claudia kept her out of trouble just long enough for me to snap a photo:

Sam on top of the plastic crate (and the piano Chris loaned us)

Afterward, I took Gram Nancy’s advice and moved the crate to the very middle of their play area. The idea is that there’d be nothing to hold onto, and no route to escape baby jail. But having proved to herself that she could get up, Sam immediately went to work to do it again. And she did, before the day was out.

So, our daughters are continuing to get more mobile. And though we haven’t finished baby proofing floor level, it’s time to baby proof everything else.

* * *
On a tangent… I had (what I thought was) a fun idea for this crate. But since I’m unlikely to get around to doing it, I will at least write about it here. Within moments of my moving the crate onto their mat, the girls used it to pull up to a standing position. The two of them standing there everyday remind me of adults bellied up to the counter in a coffee shop.

So I thought it would be fun to stage two steaming cups of coffee/tea and some scones, take a photo looking directly down on them, then make a large print of the photo, and tape it to the top of the crate. That way it would look like Sam and Cate were meeting for coffee. Fun! It also occurred to me to do one with red wine, crackers, and cheese (or perhaps, small tumblers of bourbon) for their evening visits. But alas, these are likely to remain only funny visuals in my head.