I went the other way around the lake.
Then I decided to let Z cry it out for 10 minutes at bedtime.
Note to self – these things don’t help.
I went the other way around the lake.
Then I decided to let Z cry it out for 10 minutes at bedtime.
Note to self – these things don’t help.
I’ve been putting off updating the blog. I guess I’ve been waiting for something to change – either for Z to mellow out and live up to the promise of a 3-month-old baby, or for my attitude to change – to feel more positive, or accepting, or maybe just a little less exhausted. None of those things is happening. So in the interest of recording both the good and the bad, I’ll stop procrastinating and put the truth out there.
It’s not getting any easier.
This is partly due to the fact that Dave went back to work last week. Okay – that has a lot to do with it. I know that I was completely spoiled having him home all summer. Most people’s partners get three weeks – if that. And I got a full three months. Amazing. And I knew it would be a hard transition once he went back, but I wasn’t prepared for the complete exhaustion of having Zeke to myself all day long, day after day.
We are slowly but surely coming up with a routine, which helps. Here’s basically how it goes.
Sometime between 7 and 9 am: roll out of bed. This is a big improvement over the former 6 am wake up call and is mostly due to the fact that I bring Z into bed with us after the 3 or 4 am feeding. He kicks and punches us a lot before nodding off, but then sometimes sleeps again until after Dave leaves for work.
I change Z’s diaper and get him dressed, then it’s my turn. I put on some music and put Z in the bouncy seat while I make the bed, brush my teeth, sometimes even take a shower. (A friend of Dave’s suggested that I bring him in the bathroom while I shower since he’d be distracted by all the noise, steam, etc. and it works! We even play peekaboo around the shower door. I’ve gotten a smile or two that way.)
Then I feed Z and we play for awhile, sometimes in the gymini (though he’s getting very aggressive with the hanging toys – I’m afraid he may rip them right off!), and sometimes on a blanket with a bunch of new toys borrowed from his friend Nela. We do some tummy time and some baby yoga. I try to eat breakfast (usually just a Clif Bar) and check my email (a quick glance to make sure there’s nothing I need to do immediately).
I try really hard to get Z to nap for an hour sometime before 11am, but this is a huge challenge and often conflicts with our first outing of the day – either yoga, a walk around the lake, or something else – just to get us out of the house. I may prioritize the napping if things don’t improve soon, but for now, I’m prioritizing my sanity and my need to interact with other adults at least once every day.
Ideally – the first outing will last until 3 or 4 pm when we come home, I feed Z, and we have some quiet play time – reading books, singing songs, playing in the crib. I’d love to get him to nap again for a couple hours between 3 and 5 pm, but I just can’t figure out how to make that happen unless we walk again – which we do a lot. (I don’t know if I’m more tired from lack of sleep or from circling the lake so many times.)
Dave gets home sometime between 4 and 6pm. If it’s earlier, I try to get some work done while Dave and Zeke play. If it’s later, we all hang out together for a little while before bath time and bed – which is sometime between 7 and 8 pm.
This all would be okay, except for one main thing. The boy hates to nap – which means that he inevitably gets overtired and overstimulated which leads to periods of hysterical crying at least once a day, usually more – and usually when I’m trying to get him to nap. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s totally exhausting.
Even when he’s happy, Z is exhausting. He never stops moving – constantly kicking his legs and waving his arms. If I hold him, he squirms like crazy, launching himself left and right, even trying to stand up – his whole body tensed – stomping up and down on whatever surface is beneath him. He’s also incredibly LOUD. He’s definitely discovered his voice – and when he gets going, his screams are deafening.
All this moving and shouting would be cute if he didn’t seem so aggravated all the time. He does this thing where he lies on his back, makes little fists, tenses his body, and grunts – turning bright red. It’s like his brain wants to do something but his body just won’t listen – so he gets really, really mad. I feel so bad for the guy, and I want to help him, but I have no idea how.
On top of all this, Z is still waking up about three times a night. He used to sleep from 7 or 8 pm straight through to 12 or 1 am. Now he consistently gets up around 10:30 – 11 pm. Then again around 1 or 2 am, and 3 or 4 am. Luckily I’m still awake for this new early feeding, but it cuts into the one time of day that I have to myself, and that has been really hard.
From 8 to 11 pm (sometimes later though I usually regret that), I recharge my batteries. It’s different (and almost more important) than sleeping. It’s the one time of day I can do anything uninterrupted. I eat, check my email, do some work, talk to Dave. Sometimes I clean. I love this time of day. I need it. And when Z wakes up before I’m ready to go to bed… well… it’s hard.
I’ll end with the positive. When Z’s in a good mood – he’s such a total joy. He smiles, he giggles, he takes everything in with these beautiful steel blue eyes (not mine, not Dave’s, if anything, like his Uncle Jeff’s, but really something all his own). He’s learning and growing so fast – it’s amazing. And taking care of him has brought out depths of patience, gentleness, and restraint I didn’t know I possessed. When things are good, it feels like an absolute priveledge to spend my days with him. And there are times when I feel that he loves me too – when he’s tired and buries his face in my neck, when he stops crying if I pick him up, and when he smiles at me when I come back to him after being away for just a few minutes. These are the things I need to focus on. And I need to remember that these days are few and precious, and that in another month, or two or six, it will get easier.
Zero napping, hour long jags of complete hysteria, and a bedtime so bad the neighbors probably thought we were trying to murder our child. That’s the day that followed our glorious yesterday. So am I still sustained by our one wonderful night? Ask me after a couple glasses of wine…
As you can see, Z is sitting up pretty well on his own. He consistently holds his head up for most of the day, and keeps it up during tummy time for as long as he can stand being on his belly (still mostly hovering around 5 minutes).
He grabs pretty much anything you put in front of him and puts it in his mouth. He’s obsessed with these bear blankets we got as gifts – so much so that we have one in his crib and one in the car seat that we take with us everywhere. He cuddles it, rubs it all over his face, and sucks on it constantly. It’s pretty adorable. He seems much less interested in the toys on his gymini. I tried to change the placement of everything in hopes of keeping his interest, but he wasn’t fooled. Though he does like to chew on the lion feet for a little while – screaming his frustration if he can’t get a good grip.
He loves to stare at our turtles and fish. He’s completely mesmerized. We prop him on the arm of the couch and he just gazes for a good long time. I think we need to get him his own fish tank pretty soon, but Dave says we need to wait until he can take care of them himself.
Another milestone – his first laugh. At his two-month appointment, the pediatrician asked us if he was laughing yet and we both kind of shrugged. But when it actually happened, it was unmistakable. About a week ago, Dave was holding him horizontally – lifting him up and down to his chest – what he calls “baby curls”. Zeke was grinning ear to ear, and then he let out the most adorable little giggle. We stopped and stared at him – wondering what that new sound was. And after a few more curls, he was giggling up a storm. Now we spend part of every day trying to get the boy to laugh – it’s sooo darn cute. The most effective method is to basically toss him in the air and plop him down with a big sound – a “weeee!” or “kaboom!” He freakin’ loves it.
At three months, we still have our challenges – especially around sleeping. But on the whole, we’re starting to have some fun.
2 days after Zeke’s 3 month birthday (and unfortunately one of his worst days yet) we had one of the best days yet. As I type this, Zeke is sleeping, having fallen asleep with no bouncing, and more importantly – NO CRYING. I’m stunned, completely stunned. And I would have started typing this earlier, but I was so stunned that I just sat and watched him sleep for half an hour. I’m wracking my brain to figure out what we did differently. Was it because he napped well today? Did I time his last meal just right? Did he like his bedtime song? Is it a full moon? Do the baby gods feel bad for me since the past couple days have been so hard?
I’ve said before that I wasn’t expecting any magic once he passed the three month mark. But I couldn’t help myself – I really, really wanted to have a good day to celebrate this milestone – the end of the fourth trimester. Unfortunately, little Zekey had a different idea and he cried and fussed more that day than any I can remember. I couldn’t do anything to make him happy – he didn’t eat well, he didn’t nap well, he absolutely *screamed* himself to sleep, and he kept us up most of the night – waking every 2 hours all night long. Yesterday wasn’t much better.
But today was different.
Maybe it was because Dave and I were together all day. Maybe it was because we went to a fabulous wedding in a beautiful setting and I had him in my arms for most of the afternoon. Today we got lots of smiles, some giggles, four good naps (2 in my arms), and this miraculous bedtime.
I spent a long time theorizing with my friend Ana (mom of a fairly fussy (but adorable) 11 month old) about what was going on with Z those two terrible days. There’s a big growth spurt that happens around 3 months, and there’s also a developmental leap that happens around the same time. Also, Dave started work again which is causing stress for all of us, and I have some of my own work starting up again. All this combined to create a perfect storm of crankiness, and Zeke knows how to express that much more honestly than the rest of us.
Bedtime was so bad last night that I thought Zeke might have hurt himself. He cried so hard he choked. Nothing would comfort him. And he finally just passed out from exhaustion. I was dreading bedtime tonight – not having the energy to go through that again. We dragged out bath time for as long as we could – letting Z swim and splash around for awhile. I tried to get him to nurse for longer than he wanted to – forcing him back on the nipple three or four times. We sang extra songs and just sat quietly before swaddling him (when the crying inevitably starts). Finally, I lay him down to swaddle him – and he smiled at me! Sure it wouldn’t last, I didn’t smile back (didn’t want to overstimulate him). But as I pulled the final wrap tight, he was still calm, and Dave suggested I just put him in the co-sleeper right away.
I lay him down, put my hand on his chest, and started humming Baby Mine over and over again. Still no crying. I don’t know how long I hummed and rubbed for, but, miracle of miracles, he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep! He usually wakes up after 10 minutes (when we generally pick him up and bounce him again) and so I waited. Sure enough, he woke up. But I was still there, rubbing and humming. And he went back to sleep! He did that a couple more times before I finally left – now about an hour ago. And he’s still asleep. I really just can’t believe it. Wow.
I have no doubt there will be many, many more nights of screaming before bed, probably tomorrow (or even later this evening). But this one night may just sustain me for the next three months.
I read somewhere that 12 weeks and/or 12 pounds is the key to your baby sleeping through the night. Well, Zeke is now 12 weeks plus, and he’s edging up to 13 pounds. And no, he’s not sleeping through the night. I’m not sure where these baby myths come from, and I would say they’re evil except that the *idea* that he may sleep through the night at 12 weeks/12 pounds gave me a bit of hope when he was, say, 10 weeks and 10 pounds.
I will say that nap time has gotten a lot better recently. More than once, he’s yawned a few times, we’ve swaddled him, put him down in his crib or co-sleeper (trying to put him in the crib more often to get him used to it – though he looks so tiny in that huge bed), and he’s asleep within minutes – for at least a half hour, often longer. No crying or complaining. He even seems to welcome it. And he still sleeps well in the car or stroller, though it can be tough if he doesn’t get a long enough stretch before we get where we’re going. We’ve definitely circled the block a few times in hopes of extending his car naps.
Evenings are still a challenge. We’ve played around with the time we put him to bed (still between 7-8pm) – hoping that if we wait a little later he’ll fall asleep a little faster, to no avail. I don’t understand why he fights sleeping at night when daytime naps are so pleasant for him. We try really hard to keep the time before bed very calm and quiet – a nice warm bath, a song or two, some bouncing… and he still writhes and fusses and cries for at least 30 minutes (sometimes an hour) before he’ll finally fall asleep. It’s exhausting for us and I’m fresh out of ideas to make it better. We’ve tried a pacifier. We’ve tried putting him in the co-sleeper drowsy, but not asleep. We’ve tried shushing. We’ve tried patting and rocking. The swaddle is a given. The only thing that really works right now is time. And honestly, after 8pm, I want some time to myself – ideally a little bit of time where I’m not sweating and frazzled from trying to calm a crazy little monkey named Z.
Once he’s asleep, we still get a good 4-5 hours before he wakes up for his first night feeding. He’s up between 12 and 1am, and then, on a good night, he’ll sleep again until 4:30am or so. This would be fine if he ate and went back to sleep one more time. But recently, this 4:30am waking turns into nursing followed by a couple hours of writhing and grunting and complaining and lifting his legs up and slamming them into the mattress WWE wrestler style. I can only imagine that he has terrible gas pains, and again, I have no idea what to do about it. I try to burp him and lift his little legs in the air to help him out. I rub his belly. Sometimes he’ll go back to sleep in my arms – holding him upright seems to help. But at 4:30am, this is not ideal.
Sometimes Dave will take him into the living room at 5:30 or 6 am and get him back to sleep in the swing for another couple hours while I catch up on some sleep myself, but again, not ideal. And once Dave starts school again (next week), this is really not going to work since he leaves around 6:30am and I can’t hear Z in the living room if I’m sleeping in the bedroom. Either I’m going to have to learn to go to sleep at a more reasonable hour (instead of 11pm-12am like I’ve been doing recently) or we’re going to have to find a way to get Z back to sleep in the co-sleeper in the early AM.
A lot of things will have to change once Dave goes back to school. I’m nervous about it, especially since I have my own work to do now and it’s been really hard to find time to do it when Dave is here. I’ve thought about a nanny share a couple afternoons a week, but the thought of giving Z up to a stranger for any amount of time at this point makes my heart hurt. Lots to think about as he reaches the 3 month mark.