A Colourful First Birthday Party

We recently celebrated our son’s first birthday. Um, how has it been a YEAR already?!

It was a perfect Sunday, sunny and hot. I love late summer just before it tips into fall, and now we have an extra special reason to have a party every year around Autumn Equinox.

I created a Pinterest board to share our photos. Enjoy!

We love you, little man! You’ve brought so much love and joy into our life, wow. And we’re only one year in! Happy Birthday Baby…

Adventures in Sleep Training

adventuresinsleep
DISCLAIMER: This is simply MY experience with MY baby. I’m not espousing any particular method of sleep training or even sleep training itself to anyone. I just wanted to share my story.

For anyone who knows me personally or has been following my blog, you’ll know we went through one helluva four-month sleep regression with our little one. I used to laugh at the term Mombie (Zombie Mom), but now I’ve lived it. I started to hate life. I started to have regrets about becoming a parent. It was a dark and unhappy place. Sleep deprivation has been used as a torture method, did you know?

My baby boy used to nurse to sleep every night and regularly sleep an initial stretch of 5 or 6 hours for the first three months of his life. So we were taken by surprise by the sudden change. I had gotten into the habit of rocking him an extra 20 minutes or so before moving out of the chair to make sure he was in deep sleep (thanks a lot, Dr. Sears!). Sometimes even after checking his “limp limbs” he would suddenly wake up as I moved towards the bassinet, at which point my wife would take over holding and swaying him back to sleep. It started regularly taking us an hour (or two!) to get him to bed, and he was waking 5 or 6 times a night. Ugh.

Then we experienced two incidents of “sleep training by accident”. Meaning, in my exhaustion at 4:30am I put the baby back in his crib after nursing him, STILL AWAKE, crawled into bed fully expecting to be getting up again in 5 minutes, and then us all waking up a few hours later. Meaning, HE FELL ASLEEP ON HIS OWN. TWICE. We knew he was ready for sleep training.

My wife and I were not ready to end our room-sharing arrangement, but we went ahead with a new bedtime routine that involved putting baby to bed awake. None of this, half-drowsy BS, just awake. At this point, nursing to sleep had stopped being our bullet-proof method anyway.

After much reading and researching, we chose the Sleep Lady Shuffle method. Also called Parental Presence, basically you stay crib-side for the first three nights, watching your baby learn to fall asleep on their own. The next three nights you sit in the middle of the room, and the next three nights you sit in the doorway. Then, presumably, you are done and can put them down, sing a lullaby, leave, and your (magical unicorn) baby will then fall asleep.

We waited until my partner had a few days off over a long weekend to start. We had both really psyched ourselves up for it, expecting horrendous screaming and it being a big nightmare. Nothing could have prepared us for what happened. Which was, he just fell asleep. No tears. Nada.

Huh? I thought this was “cry-it-out”?

Yup, our lil’ guy just lay there, fully awake, cooing a bit, scratching the sheet, moving his head side to side, scratching the sheet some more, until one minute he was asleep. It took 40 minutes that first night, and he slept a longer stretch than he had in two months! Needless to say, my partner and I were shocked. And thrilled!

The second night it took 30, the third night it took 25. He went from waking up every 1-2 hours to sleeping 4-5 hour stretches before his first night feeding. And no tears at bedtime.

Naps, on the other hand, were an entirely different story. He wailed. But, since we’d read up on this, we knew that naps take longer to adapt to. At this low point we were often facing 10 min crap naps or motion naps. Quickly, the morning nap became easy, and we often just went with motion naps for the rest of the day, or at least the third one. 30 minute naps became 45, and after a month or so, most naps were no longer a battle. Nowadays he pretty consistently sleeps two 90 minute naps a day- and at pretty consistent times too!

I should also mention here that we decided to be soft on the whole soother thing. After 10 minutes of crying we would give in and he would fall asleep right away. Now we just give it to him when we put him down. So yeah, our baby sleeps with a soother. He also has a little wooly blanket and a lovey for comfort.

Was sleep training our little one and having him learn to fall asleep independently our golden ticket to sleeping through the night? Heck no. He’s 9 months old now and still rarely sleeps longer than a 7 hour stretch. Only recently has he semi-regularly started to need just one night feeding, it’s often still two. Two months ago we went through a few weeks of him waking three times a night. But for us, sleep training was never about night weaning. We just wanted bedtime to not be an hour-long battle anymore, and for him to nap in his crib.

In May we traveled for almost three weeks and our baby slept anywhere and any time, without crying or needing rocking/swaying/nursing to get there, so he’s pretty awesome in my books.

That experience proved to us that he was ready for his own space, so we moved the crib out of our bedroom. Sigh. They really do grow up so fast. I’m happy we kept him close for as long as we did: co-sleeping within arms reach in the bassinet from day one, occasional bed-sharing (mostly to survive the sleep regression), then room-sharing with him in a crib, and now separate rooms. It appears that he’s sleeping better now, and so are we. It’s nice to have our bedroom back!

We are still a ways off from complete night weaning I think, and I’m fine with that. Truth be told, I’ll miss those quiet, gentle night nursings.

So that’s our personal story with sleep training. We waited until he showed us he was ready, and it worked great. It’s such an important skill to teach babies, and vital for parent’s sanity I think! So… does YOUR baby sleep through the night?!

The Real Reason Parenting is So Hard

This is so true… although I think it’s also the sleep dep that makes it feel SO much more difficult to manage at times.

Dear New Mom

DearNewMom
Dear New Mom,
First of all, congratulations! You survived the pregnancy in all its glory and ickiness. You survived the birth; scarred perhaps, physically or emotionally, and stronger because of it. You now hold your precious baby in your arms. The euphoria still lingers, the heavenly scent of their newborn head somehow makes the whole ordeal seem worthwhile. Breathe it in. Because soon reality will hit.

I want you to know that there will be tears. Yours as well as your baby’s. It’s ok. You will be tired. So. Very. Tired. You will likely have moments of self-doubt. Are you really cut out for this? Moments of regret. Maybe this baby wasn’t such a good idea. Moments of resenting your baby for stealing your life, sucking your energy, distancing your childless friends, changing your body irrevocably, and robbing you of [insert your favorite things here] and sleep. Precious sleep.

Then again, I’m overly dramatic and maybe you won’t. Maybe, when you hold your baby for the first time you will henceforth wear a permanent “yay! I’m a Mom!” smile on your face until the day they leave home for college.

But I doubt it.

I want you to know you will make mistakes. Mystery crying will fluster you into giving colic remedy when you should’ve given teething gel, or infant Tylenol when really their pajamas were just making them too hot. You may think you have naps all figured out one week, only to find out how wrong you are the following. It’s ok. This is normal.

For a while you might not recognize yourself in the reflection of shop windows as you walk the streets with your baby. Who is that? You’ve traded in your cute little purses for diaper bags, trendy haircuts for headbands and ponytails, push ups for nursing bras, and late nights for early mornings. In time you will get to know the new you. Don’t worry, the old you is still in there, although it may feel like that you, that life, is over and gone and the scope of what you’ve lost compared to what you’ve gained may make you immensely sad and want to run away. It’s ok. This too is normal.

You will ponder how it is possible for such a tiny mouth to rule your life. Wonder how you will survive months of not sleeping longer than 3 hours in a row. Think of all the Moms in the world, how we’ve all been there. And somehow we make it through.

You will marvel at the fact that everyone starts out life so tiny and dependent, and you will finally fully realize what your Mother went through. You will call to thank her. And apologize.

You will come to do things that you never imagined you’d do. Sniffing butts, powdering scrotums, sucking snot (thank Goodness for noseFrida!), and one day when you’re really lucky, catching vomit with your cupped hands. Again, all normal.

You will be pushed to your limits only to find that you still have more to give. And just when you think you might crack, your heart will break open at their first real smile or giggle or the gentle way they reach their little hand to your face. And as you laugh and beam and cry all at the same time, you finally feel it. That “Mother” feeling. It might feel foreign and scary at first, or it might feel completely natural. Either way, it’s ok. This is normal. All the craziness, the mistakes, the happy highs and the desperate lows- ALL of the emotional roller coaster that is parenthood, is normal. Just hang on and enjoy the ride.

So to all you nervous and giddy new Moms out there, happy 1st Mother’s Day!

5 Great Apps for New Parents

5greatapps
Oh, my iPhone. How I love thee. I loved you before I was a Mom, with your multi-functionality that made my commute and my communications easier and more enjoyable.

Now that I’m a Mom I love you even more, with your ability to entertain me when I’ve been trapped in the nursing chair, and the ease with which I can now snap and share photos of my baby with the WORLD (because, really, the entire world cares about my baby photos).

Disclaimer: I did not “test-tap” hundreds of apps to find the BEST. I’m just sharing a few of MY favourites. (titles are hyperlinked for easy app store finding. You’re welcome.)

1. Instagram & Instacollage
Instagram is kinda like Facebook but just photos. Which I really like. Instacollage takes a bunch of your photos and turns them into a cool mash-up. Win! And companies like Sticky9 will turn your best Instagram photos into magnets! Win-win! (If you do go with Sticky9, be a doll and use my friend referral code FRIENDQZ0H, would ya? Flutter flutter)

2. Photo 365
I WISH I’d had this app from the day my baby was born. It’s super cool to upload a photo (or more) every day to remember the main event and to simply see how much they change. I used the free version first to try it out but then opted to buy it since I thought it was so awesome and was using it daily.

3. Sprout
I was kind of addicted to this app for a little while. It’s a comprehensive baby tracker for pretty much everything: sleep, feeds, pumping, diaper changes, growth, milestones, even tummy time. For a solid month I tracked my baby’s sleeping and eating habits; I thought I might “crack the code” if I could properly interpret the patterns. Ha! If anything it just confirmed for me what HIS normal average is, which is very different than what the EXPERTS say is average for a baby his age. I took a few days off, but now I’m still tracking his sleep. I also love the milestones section where you can upload a photo with the “event”. Again, I tried the free trial version first to check it out and then bought it because it is so useful.

4. Scrabble
At any given time I usually have between 3 and 6 games going. The mental stimulation is good. You can’t cheat. I know lots of two-letter words now that I don’t know the definition of. I’m into words so I like this game more than say, Candy Crush. But to each their own. The free version crashes a lot, so the paid game is worth it.

5. Wonder Weeks
Based on the book by Dutch doctors Frans Plooj & Dr Hetty van de Rijt, the term ‘wonder weeks’ describes the mental developmental leaps babies experience in their first 20 months of life. These leaps lead to exciting new skills for babies but can be miserable for parents. This app doesn’t really tell you what to do about it, but my wife and I have found it helpful to have the insight so we are more compassionate to what our baby is going through.

So there you have it.

And I do all this out of my baby’s sight since I don’t want him to adopt the gestures of our technological age too soon! Yes, we are THOSE Moms who intend to limit our little one’s screen time to next to zero until he is 2 years old at least. He sees me using it as a camera (and already knows to flash his million dollar smile!), phone and when we Skype with our long distance relatives, but I hide it from his sight when I’m texting or surfing the internet. It’s tricky, but I do it. Because it’s MY toy, not his.😉

I’d love to know what YOUR favourite “parent” apps are, please share!

(and let’s connect on Instagram!)

My Belly Button Will Never Be The Same – A Pregnancy Poem

tenmonths

We prayed for you to come our way
didn’t know your face but knew your name
How quickly you answered our call that day
and my belly button will never be the same

I endured leg cramps, heart burn, and feeling sick
Watched my body change from the inside out
Indescribable magic, feeling you twist and kick
My love for you was never in doubt

Overdue by two weeks, you made us wait
Finally one night I felt the pain
So excited, a bit scared, such a state!
It was a stormy Equinox with wind and rain

24 hours later and not as planned
You came into this world screaming strong
Euphoric joy now that you were safe on “land”
and you were healthy and nothing was wrong

So many tears and so many smiles
in the short weeks since you came
a deeper love than we have ever known
and my belly button will never be the same

1977 vs. 2014 Mommy stress

Since the birth of my son, I’ve turned to my Mother from time to time for insight and advice. She raised my brother and I, and we turned out pretty great, so naturally I thought she’d be a wellspring of information on babies.

I. Was. Wrong.

Her response to almost every question I’ve had? “I’m sorry, I don’t really remember.” The next runner-up: “Oh you would know more than me, with all your reading. I was just winging it, being a hippie Mom.”

So this got me thinking about the vast difference in the typical Mommy stress in 1977 compared to 2014.

1977vs2014


What Moms in 1977 worried about:

  • “Feed the baby when it’s hungry.”
  • “Change baby’s diaper when it’s wet/dirty.”
  • “Help baby nap and sleep, but if baby resists, no big deal. Let them stay up late with you, watching TV/jamming with our friends.”
  • “All the other Moms in my Library storytime group seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
  •  
    What Moms in 2014 worry about:

  • “I know breast is best, but should I supplement with formula for the added DHA and Iron?”
  • “My baby is in a high/low percentile for weight/length.”
  • “What kind of diaper should we use? Is cloth diapering really the more environmental option?”
  • “What kind of stroller/baby carrier should we use?”
  • “Should we vaccinate?”
  • “Co-sleeping or crib sleeping?”
  • “Attachment parenting or baby training?”
  • “What method of sleep training should we do?”
  • “How the heck do I get my baby to sleep?! They require 4-6 HOURS IN NAPS A DAY & 10-12 AT NIGHT FOR PROPER BRAIN DEVELOPMENT!”
  • “Did I remember to give the Vitamin D drops/Infant probiotics/homeopathic colic remedy, and stimulate them with black & white high contrast images/songs/story books/tummy time EVERY DAY?”
  • “Is this amber teething necklace really working?”
  • “How do I prevent my baby from watching me text and wanting to play with my Smart Phone?”
  • “All the other Moms in my Stroller bootcamp class seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
  •  
    I guess some things are the same.

    I just try to gently remind myself — whenever I am stressing out over (lack of) naps, forgetting the daily D drops, or my son being in the 5-10th weight percentile — that I truly am doing the best I can and if he’s fed, clean, happy, and the house isn’t on fire, then it’s a good day.

    And now that I’ve already read all the books, websites and blogs, I can just let it all go, trust my instincts and be a carefree millennium-hippie Mom. (I think I just made that term up) I can try, at least.

    Besides, apparently late night TV and second-hand pot smoke didn’t hurt me!

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