Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Held Baby

So that's me.  And that's Theodore.  Just a few days shy of 2 months old, being carried up to his crib ready for bed after being fed to the point of being drunk with milk.  I could have switched shoulders, shifted up or down on my body.. probably could have even dropped him and he would stay sleeping.  (but no, we don't drop babies in this house).
At this point in time, Theo was sleeping roughly 4.5-5.5 hours (a few times he did 6!) every night in his crib, swaddled.  He would then wake, and feed for about an hour.. and then be put down again, swaddled, and would give us another 2-4 hours in his crib.  We thought we had it bad.  We thought Theo should be sleeping better for the second half of the night.  We were constantly getting up and trying to comfort him at 4 in the morning so we could all get a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep.  He was always so gassy, and grunty during that second half.  We thought we needed to do a, b, or c to improve upon our nights.  We thought the feed should last 20 minutes, and back to bed he should go, with little effort.  We thought it could be so.much.better in how we all were getting our rest.
Well... if we only knew then how good we had it.  What I wouldn't do for 4.5 solid hours of sleep these days.  Oye.
I don't know the exact week when things started to change... but I'll go back a bit to see if I can put some of the pieces together.
We were having a few issues with breastfeeding after the 1 month mark. 
(And by few issues I mean extreme pain, burning, itching, shooting stabbing pains going through my breasts after feeds.  I'll spare you all the details and sum it up.  Poor latch.  Vaso spasms.  A Clamping little mouth.  Compressed nipples.  Lazy baby.  Frustrated baby.  Impatient Mom.  Emotional Mom.  At-her-wits-end Mom.  Slight tongue tie for Theo.  Removed.  Everything got worse.  SO MANY LC APPOINTMENTS.  House visit from LC/RN.  A few hundred dollars later, and a shitload of good advice = breastfeeding problems fixed.)
But it was around the 8 week mark when we had that LC visit us at home, and she discussed everything from feedings to sleeping to temperament.  And we mentioned to her that Theo had lost his ability to sleep on his own for day time naps.  He would get put down... and if not within a few minutes, he would wake within 20-40 minutes and just be over tired and cranky... and a be eye tee see aych to put down there after.  So we were always on the couch, very still, for hours at a time while this kid napped.
She had 2 words of advice.  "WEAR HIM".
She was a bit of a hippy herself, and said that her approach with babies is always very common sense.  If a baby wants to be held, you hold him.  If they want to eat, you feed them.  If they want to be put to sleep, you do what it takes to get them to sleep.  Rocking, singing, shushing or alternatively, you wear them.  She was in her late 40's/early 50's and had 2 girls of her own.  She told us her second daughter pretty much lived on her for the better part of her first 2 years.  Her first, she could put her down anywhere, and she'd stay put.  Every baby is different, and it's our job as parents to read their cues, and accommodate their needs.
I get it.  I'm sooo for that.
But Theo doesn't sleep on his own now.  EVER.  And we are a mess in this house. 
After that LC appointment, breastfeeding got better within a few days... and I had a few carriers and slings just waiting to be used... so I started wearing Theo around the house for his day time naps.  At this point, I was already doing 2/3 daytimes naps with Theo in my arms.  So I tired wearing him to see if I wouldn't feed so trapped every time a nap was in the cue.  In Theory, this would mean I could eat, go to the washroom and putter around the house doing simple tasks (or at least that's what our LC told us baby wearing would equal) and Theodore would stay sleeping in the wrap and get whatever rest he needed.  After a few naps I realized that even though I wasn't exclusively couch bound when Theo napped... I wasn't that much better off in wearing him.  He woke easily, and as the days and weeks passed... it just got easier to stay put and rest with him on the couch so he could get his sleep.
And I don't know when exactly it happened.  But Theo started waking at night after being put down to sleep after 1-2.5 hours.  The first few nights, we were shocked and amazed and tried to analyze everything from room temperature to the tightness of the swaddle to outside noises... and after about a week's time, we were mortified (strong word, I know) that he was continuing to wake after just a few hours.  Teething was the issue - or at least we are saying so - but there seems to be no end in his behavior in sight. 
To give me a break, at the 2-3 hour mark when Theo wakes, Daniel gets up and rocks him back to sleep... and in recent night has continued to hold him until the 4-5 hour mark from the last feed would roll around, and he would then hand him off to me to eat. 
Because of my absolute sheer exhaustion, I've decided to co-sleep.  After feeding, I would just slide Theo off my lap into the bed next to me... and try to get some rest myself.  Re-swaddling or placing in the crib has resulted in a baby waking up every 20-40 minutes...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. 
After the first few nights, every time Theo would stir (usually around the hour mark of his sleep) I'd just pull my boob our and nurse him a bit.  He usually wouldn't even drink, and just needed to pacify.  Horrible strategy?  Probably.  But after just a few intervals of 10-30 minutes of rest in a 4 hour timeframe, it's all I had left in me to do. 
I've gotten a bit better at co-sleeping.  I'm able to fall asleep faster and cash in on the precious minutes Theo stays sleeping next to me.  But he's still such a poor sleeper. 
For the past few weeks, our nights pretty much go like this:
- 7-7:30pm Theo gets a bath
- 7:30-8:30pm Theo eats until his hearts content - or until he falls asleep
- 8:30-9pm Theo gets put down in the crib, swaddled (WE HAVE TO START WEENING BUT ARE SO TERRIFIED WE WONT GET ANY SLEEP OF OUR OWN.  But at this point, what have we got to lose??)
- Anytime between 11:30pm-1am... Theo wakes.  Daniel gets him back to sleep again with a few laps around the bed and light humming.
- sometime between 1:45-3am Theo gets handed off to me to eat.
- He feeds while sleeping for about 15-25 minutes.  He no longer poo's in the middle of the night feed (yay!) so no diaper change needed.
- Anywhere between 1:45am-3:30am, Theo is put next to me and I do my best to get comfortable and we sleep.
- Within an hour-2 hours... Theo is stirring to the point where I'm awake, and will soon wake himself.
I scoop him up and put him on my chest.  He falls asleep again for about an hour.  I try to cat nap, but continuously have to pat his bum to keep him asleep every 10-20 minutes (if not every 2-5 minutes).
- By 5:30am, I just cant take it anymore... I feed him again, and pass him off to Daniel to take downstairs.
- From 6am-8am... I get the best quality sleep of the entire night.  Sometimes it lasts until 9am.  During these hours, Daniel is downstairs with Theodore.  He's usually propped up on the couch with Theo on his chest.  Theo usually needs a lot of assistance to stay sleeping during these hours.  Daniel says he sleeps... but the bags under his eyes tells me he does not. 
So yeah, we have totally REGRESSED with sleep.  Or Theo has.  Or we have let him.  5.5 hours + 1 hour feed + another 2-3 hours sounds HEAVENLY right now. 
Theodore is roughly 4 and half months old, and we fell off the rails with sleep around 2 and a half months old.  People could say it was his shots (which he got at 11 weeks old) that changed his sleep... but we were noticing his sleep abilities change around 9-10 weeks.  The vaccinations, in my opinion, made no difference in Theo's temperament or sleeping abilities. 
Everyone we know who has had babies are telling us it's his teeth.  He's been a drooling fool since about 7 weeks old.  But is this how it's going to be forever until he's done with teething?  Or when the first tooth cuts, will it get better? 
People have said to try a pacifier.  We did.  Theo doesn't really take it unless he's in his car seat. 
I am welcoming all advice.  If you have a baby that sleeps well, tell me about your friend who has a baby that does not sleep and what they did to survive.
I was talking with my godmother the other week, and I told her I just couldn't imagine wanting another baby, ever.  I just cant do this again with sleep.  And I asked her how on earth does anyone want to have more children so soon after having a baby when I can only imagine you're more so under slept with the second?  And she said, "Veronica, some babies sleep better than others.  You're not doing anything wrong, you just have one of those babies."  (My godmother had one of those babies too... and she said the only thing that saved them was when her daughter started solid foods.)
But I do feel we're doing something wrong.  I do feel we are molding Theodore's sleep abilities the wrong way. 
Do we "cry it out"?  But isn't he way to young?  But if we do CIO, isn't there a better way to survive as we wait for the 6 month mark?  And does sleep training work for all babies?
Theodore has been exclusively breastfed since birth.  I've had people *coughs*Daniel's mother*coughs* suggest we try a few ounces of formula before bed.  In which Daniel responded, "he's not a science experiment!"  I agree.  I'm not against formula in any way, but I don't feel that's the answer.  Because you know what else would work?  Whisky.  But I don't think that's the answer either. 
(NOTE:  I AM NOT SAYING FORMULA IS A BAD CHOICE IN ANY REGARD!!  I just don't want to interrupt his method of feeding because of sleep issues.)
For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures of "The Held Baby"  Aka, Theodore. 
Don't get me wrong... I love love love this kid, and love holding him while he sleeps.  But Life is changing, and Sleep is getting worse for all of us.  And lazy days on the couch are not so lazy when I'm spending the better part of my awake time trying to get him to sleep.


When Theo was just a wee babe - 2 months old.

Before I knew how much sleep-holding I would actually be doing!

Sometimes, guests come over. 
And if Theo allows it, they can do a holding shift here and there!!
Dan's mom
My mom

Theodore living it up on Dad

chewing his hand off to sleep

Thank goodness for the iPad!
Thankfully on Daniel's days off, he does all the holding.  So on days like today, I can blog!

Friday, 23 August 2013

4 Months of Handsome

I haven't come to this space enough to update about this little fellow who has completely changed my life, and turned it upside down in a way I never thought possible.

He is turning into such a little person of his own, I cannot believe my eyes most days.

Still doesn't like sleeping..

.. we gotta work on that... cuz well.. it's getting a little crazy every day with the singing, rocking, shushing, patting, constant holding and coaxing ...

He's doing OK at night.  He's teething, and things were baaaaad for a few weeks straight.  But he's turned a corner again, and is once again (KNOCKS WOOD) doing 4-6 hours when first put down.  Everything else... we're working out the kinks regarding our strategies for success.

Without further ado

Theodore is 4 months old today.  Well done my boy.  Well done.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Looking back

I don't go on Face.Book very much these days.  Today, I had to go into my messages to contact a family friend.  And this was the last of our message history. 

  • February 24, 2012
  • 8:28am

  • Veronica

    Hi L,
    I'm doing ok - not great - but hanging in there I guess. My spirits have changed a bit since you last saw me... I'm feeling kinda discouraged by this whole "over due" status I'm in.

  • Due date based on my last period put me due at Feb 21. Due date from my first trimester ultrasound (which they say is a little more accurate) put me due for Feb 18. Both days have come and gone... and I'm still reporting news to everyone.... no baby yet.

  • On Tuesday (Feb 21) I had an ultrasound at North York General to check baby's status as I was closing on 40 weeks pregnant - and everything was good. The score they gave baby and womb were all perfect... they just said baby looks very comfortable and was in no rush to come out. I felt good about the news, but when I had another weekly check with my Doc on Wednesday and she told me my cervix is still 2cm dilated (so very little change in a week) and the head hasn't dropped at all. I got pretty down. She'll be leaving for her vaca today, and I'm going in this morning to see her one last time, and she's going to stretch my cervix to see if we can kick start labour for the weekend. I have another ultrasound at NYGH on Monday considering I dont deliver, and then an appointment with the doctor who is covering my doc later in the day to discuss inducing me before next weekend.
    I've been in a funk the past few days with a constant feeling of "whats the hold up???" and I cant help but start to feel like something's wrong with me. I have a lot of anxiety as I'm kind of lingering in "unsafe" territory with baby inside and approaching 41 weeks pregnant. Something just feels very strange as my reality is very different now from what I had perceived the end of Feb to look like.

  • No matter the outcome, I will promise to keep in touch. N called the other night asking about baby news.. and it's getting tough to keep reporting the same news. Nope, no baby. Kinda makes me sad.
    N had plans to come to Toronto for the end of FEB to stay with me as a house guest for a few weeks.. but these plans were kind of based on baby already being here and settled in with me and Daniel. N is still planning on beginning her stay sometime next week... but I dont think she'll be at my place until after baby arrives and Daniel and I have had some time to adjust.

  • Depending on how things unfold with me over the next week - I would love to have a lunch or dinner (or just some couch time!) with you and N in the near future.

  • Thanks L for simply being here if I need anything
  • Lots of love and hugs,
  • Veronica


    I've reread that message probably 100 times.  But it's been a while now since Theodore's been here.  It still makes my heart ache.  It still has me trying to grasp at what went wrong... still has be doubled over inside trying to fix the past, trying to go back and make it right before it went wrong.  I remember sitting in my dining room writing that message.  It was morning, and I had a bit of a breakdown in the car on the way to that doctors appointment.  The appointment where she told me everything was fine.  Where she told me I'd have the baby before the weekend was over.  Where she told me things were perfect as she listened in on his heart with the Doppler for all of 5 seconds.  Where I walked away feeling like I should feel okay before that's what I was being told to do.

    I read that message and I feel like I knew.  I knew then that things weren't OK, but I let it go because I didn't know any better. 

    I still cant believe I had him alive, and I had him well... and I didn't get to have him that way forever.