Genetics or Parenting? How Our Daughter Slept Through the Night at 2 Months

There’s no other way to say it: We are blessed. Blessed with a baby who, like her momma, loves sleeping. Blessed to have had full restful nights of sleep starting when she was around 2 months old. 

Y’all, I don’t claim to have had any influence in this phenomenon. I think she’s just an enigma of infancy. However, if anything we have done in our parenting thus far has actually caused her to sleep like an angel, I suppose I should document our sleep regimen here so I know how to try it again next time around.

No doubt about it, the newborn phase was rough. And we were realistic going in to it. We fully accepted that most parents turn into zombies when they have a newborn. We expected sleepless nights for several months. We expected our marriage to struggle under the weight of new responsibilities. We expected it to be … much harder than it turned out to be. So in a lot of ways, our harsh expectations made it easier to cope when the newborn phase was upon us.

The first week, we were shocked when Adelaide slept for a 5-6 hour chunk at night. They say a number of factors can cause that – she had thrush, she was jaundiced, she had an average birth weight but lost nearly a pound her first week, and breastfeeding was taking a little bit to get going. It wasn’t until the doctor told me I should be waking her up to nurse that I thought I was doing anything wrong.

But she didn’t like being woken up. She wouldn’t nurse well, she was more fussy, it just didn’t make sense to her. Plus she was gaining her weight back just fine. So I followed my wise mother’s advice and chose to just follow her cues. I let her sleep till she woke up, then we nursed. She took a nap every couple hours during the day, and had a nice 5-6 hour chunk of sleep at night. Now, there were some nights, probably during her growth spurt periods, where she was waking up every 2-3 hours, and those were hard. But they never lasted long.

We started a regimen from day one that worked for her. We swaddled her tight, arms in, in a Halo Sleepsack, and rocked/swayed/pat/sang/danced/walked/paced/bounced whatever we could do to get those eyes to close and the paci to fall out. Many nights, I would walk in circles around the house until the furnace kicked on in the laundry room, and I’d go sway with her in there because the loud noise soothed her. We also always had a white noise machine next to where she slept. So once she was paci-out asleep, we would lay her down in the Fisher Price Rock-n-Play, and tuck another blanket around her (the day she was born, it was 8 degrees outside, the girl needed some warmth). Sometimes she would get jostled awake in the transition from arms to bed, so I’d rock the Rock-n-Play for a bit till those eyes closed again.

That was how she slept till she was about 3 1/2 months old. I know a lot of people would scoff that I didn’t crib-transition her sooner, but I’ve been staying with my family out of town while my husband has been deployed these last few months and I couldn’t very well move her entire crib out here with us. Plus with all that transition, I felt the Rock-n-Play was the most comfortable for her at the time, it’s how she slept the soundest.

Forgive me for boasting, but the results speak for themselves. At around 2 months of age, Adelaide was sleeping for 8-9 hours straight, waking to nurse and play for 1 hour, then going back down for another 3-4 hours. 

At 3 1/2 months, she started being able to roll from back to tummy and tummy to back. We noticed she was starting to drift off to sleep while laying flat on her back a couple times. Again, following her cues, we then decided to transition her to sleeping flat in her Pack-n-Play. After about 2 weeks of learning what worked best, we’ve figured out that her best sleep now is swaddled in a Halo Sleepsack, arms out, in the Pack-n-Play – we start her out laying on her back, but she almost instantly rolls to her side or her tummy to sleep. I don’t correct her anymore. Now that she is coordinated enough to get herself turned back if she needs to, I don’t worry about suffocation or discomfort. She puts herself in that position and sleeps. 

So. For people who need lists. Here are our sure-fire sleep-inducers for Adelaide:

1) White Noise – hair dryer, vacuum, car, clothes dryer, furnace, TV, white noise machine, anything loud and consistent keeps her down through the little creaks and squeaks of houses and everyday life (and dogs with loud tails). We even had a portable noise machine for on-the-go white noise to keep her asleep on grocery or car trips.

2) Halo Sleepsack – we tried other brands that people had bought us, but she was always able to get her arms loose and then she’d wake up. Not with the Halo. It is the essential swaddle for dummies. Zip, tuck, tuck, done. The first one we had was the newborn fleece one, nice and thick for winter. Once she outgrew that we got the next size up in the thinner material, works like magic. Until she got through that flailing arms phase, she just needed having the arms tucked tight to sleep.

3) Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper – I liked that it was angled and cradled her in. We have a happy-spitter baby, so it put me at ease to know she wasn’t going to choke on her spit while she was sleeping. We also enjoyed that if she woke up fussy, I could often just rock it by hand and she would coax back down. Plus this was a much cheaper newborn sleep option than a proper “bassinet.”

4) Swaying – our girl almost always needs some movement when going to sleep. Whether it’s in momma’s arms (preferable) or in her Mamaroo (which she enjoys about 50% of the time), she just likes being moved. She likes being pat on the tushy and swayed back and forth, sometimes bounced lightly too. During the day, I would sometimes “wear” her in a Baby K’Tan wrap (again, only liked this about 50% of the time) so I could get chores done. The rocking and swaying of moving against me almost always put her to sleep.

The only advice I could give that I believe would work for any baby is to just be creative. If something doesn’t work, adapt and change it up. Try something different, don’t get flustered. If she’s having a day where she will only sleep in your arms, give her that day and try something new tomorrow. Remember, your arms are getting crazy buff holding that little chunker all the time.

And now a video of my absolute favorite part of the day, waking up in the morning to this sweet, warm, heavenly-smelling angel. I’ve never been a morning person in my life, but I can’t wait for this moment every morning with her.

My Husband is Deployed (and It’s Not THAT Bad)

There’s a look people give me when I tell them my husband is deployed overseas. It’s a mix between surprise, pity and what-do-I-do-with-my-hands? It’s usually followed by “I can’t imagine what you must be going through,” “I could never do what you’re doing,” or the quintessentially Southern, “Bless your heart!” I’ve found that my automatic response so far has almost always been, “Oh, thank you. But you know, it’s not that bad.”

And guys, it really isn’t that bad. My husband is fortunate enough to love his military job. He’s deployed for a few short months a couple times a year, and that’s much less than many men and women in the armed forces. Not to mention he has great internet connection where he is, so we get to FaceTime often and I send him dozens of Snapchats of our adorable 4-month-old daughter.

But can we stop playing the comparing-one-milso’s-suffering-to-another game for a second? Because it’s hashtags like #deploymentssuck that have gotten me in the habit of having to reassure people that my husband may be living across the world for part of the year, but it’s not that bad.

Before you go thinking this lady must be dead inside, let me be openly honest. I used to suffer from crippling separation anxiety. The idea that when we’re married, I would be spending several months a year separated from my best friend would have sent me into a full-on panic attack just a few short years ago. There was no way I could get through life on my own, not seeing him every day. Just imagining saying goodbye was agonizing to me. I could never in a million years be a military spouse.

But then I married this airman. We spent 7 months of our first year of marriage apart while he was in training. We moved across the country, away from family, friends, everyone we knew. And guess what? It wasn’t that bad. We made it through because whether or not it’s spent in each others’ company or separated by thousands of miles, the day is still 24 hours long. The sun rises and sets, you breathe in and out and just keep on living. You find new ways to connect with people. A handwritten card, a designated Skype date each week, a phone call on the way home from work, that becomes the new normal.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was from a seasoned Air Force wife who told me, “It doesn’t matter if he’s at home or away, you have to learn to be okay. That means being okay when he’s deployed and you’re the only one home taking care of the kids, and being just as okay when your husband is there with you.” 

I’ve taken this advice to heart and I’m now trying to apply it to our first deployment. At night, I lay my head down on my pillow and he’s not there next to me. He hasn’t gotten to hear our daughter laugh yet. At any given moment, one of us is horribly behind the other on one of our TV shows and might accidentally slip a spoiler (I know that seems trivial, but if you’re married, you know it’s a big deal). 

But I’m choosing not to count down the days till he gets back. I’m choosing to be okay, instead. Because if I lived like that, I would go crazy. I wouldn’t be the mother I need to be if I were constantly thinking I’m not enough for our daughter. I wouldn’t be the wife I need to be if I wallowed in how upset I am that my husband isn’t here with me. It’s unfair for me to put that on him. His job is a blessing, not a curse. It’s our living, not the death of me. His sacrifice does not merit my complaint, and I strongly believe that it is my job as a military spouse to be supportive of him whether he’s sleeping in the same bed as me or on a cot in the desert.

Y’all, 1 day or 1 year, deployments suck. I won’t say they don’t. I miss doing life together. I miss his smell, I miss how he makes me eggs and bacon in the morning, and Lord knows I miss keeping up on our TV shows together. But I choose to believe it’s not that bad. I choose to be positive, for myself and my little family. Whether he is home or away, I love him the same. Sometimes the Internet cuts out in the middle of our daily FaceTime. Sometimes our daughter is melting down and all I want is another pair of hands to take her for me. And sometimes I wake up from a dream and turn towards the other side of the bed to tell him about it, to find he’s not there. 

Remarkably, through it all, I make it to tomorrow … and so does he.

2 mos pp 

I hate to start a blog post with “I haven’t posted in a while…” but there’s no way around it. I haven’t posted in a while. I gave myself a 2 month hiatus while I have adjusted to this completely different life I now lead called motherhood. 

I knew I would want some time off from blogging in this short time with my newborn and husband before he deployed 2 days ago. Now that he’s gone and my dear daughter is beginning to show glorious signs of a real sleep schedule, I think I am ready to get back in the swing of things.

I have so much to share. From her birth story to first days, early weeks of sleep deprivation, spit up being a part of every outfit, dancing to the sound of the furnace, baby products I can’t live without, baby products I shouldn’t have wasted my money on, and so many moments in between that I could have never imagined would make me so unbelievably happy.

I’m now officially a Mom Blogger, y’all.

And now, introducing my beautiful muse: Adelaide River.

  

39w4d

Lost: my ankles. Last seen about a week ago, between my feet and my calves. Pale-colored, bony, bendable. Cannot seem to locate. In distress.

The pressure is on, folks. She’s due on Friday. It will be 2016 on Friday. We’ve been praying for months for a 2015 baby. Multiple reasons, most important one being that our girl’s godparents are currently visiting us from Alabama and we would love for them to experience her birth with us before they leave on Friday. Godmama is 14 weeks pregnant with a little lady of her own as well, so it would be fantastic to be able to share this with her. I believe that God is good, His timing is holy and perfect, He answers prayers and keeps promises. But every morning I wake up without labor starting, it gets harder to keep that faith. Thank goodness for my husband, and his trusting heart.

We’ve tried spicy food, oregano & basil, red raspberry leaf tea, foot massages, hand massages, hot baths, bouncing on the exercise ball, walking, sledding, singing loudly, begging, bribing, and a healthy dose of marital bedroom relations. Nothing seems to make this girl wanna come out before her due date. I swear if my father-in-law says “Babies come when babies come” to me one more time, I’m gonna blow a gasket.

I know he’s right. At the end of the day, there’s nothing I can do to really control when our daughter chooses to join us (apart from actual induction, which we vehemently want to avoid unless absolutely necessary). But literally as I was typing this paragraph I received texts from 2 different people asking “Is she here yet?!” And I’m sent into anxious mode.

Man these last days are no joke! Emotions all over the place. Lots of last minute preparations. I have my post partum pads and granny panties. We installed the car seat. I got my nails done (for the first time since my wedding, if that is any indicator to how often I get myself pampered like this). I keep mentally repeating to myself I’m ready, we’re ready, I’m ready, we’re ready, COME OUT ALREADY!

Sweet Adelaide, I want you to come when you’re ready. I know the Lord’s timing is outside of my understanding, and I trust it. I trust that for whatever reason, you want to cook just a little longer. Just know your momma and daddy are dying to meet you, so that may make us a little impatient. Waiting for the best gift ever is not easy! We’re just ready for our lives to be changed, forever. Please come soon, dear one. I really want my ankles back.

Christmas in Snomaha

Woke up early this morning and knew we must have had snow. There’s a different kind of light from through the shades when it snows, it’s a blueish white light, and it’s brighter than mornings usually are. It’s like nature goes “Quick! Wake up and enjoy this white blanket of beauty before it gets touched!”

I smiled, checked my phone and indeed we were having snowfall last night into this morning. I rolled over, grunting and huffing with the weight of my 39-week belly, and caressed my dear husband’s face in the pale blue light. He made a sweet sound and turned his body toward me, nuzzling his head into my arm. I kept petting his hair for a while, and the thought occurred to me that these are the last few days I’ll ever have him totally to myself, without our children demanding his or my attention. I got suddenly sweetly jealous, but the feeling was quickly overwhelmed by the warm sensation of total adoration for this man I have chosen to live my life with.

Without opening his eyes, he mumbles, “You know what’s the most reassuring thing to me?” “Hmm?” I mutter. “That you look at me the same way I look at you.”

Today we’ve had a most welcome snow day. Our dogs have had the time of their lives romping around in the perfect white 6 inches outside. We took them on a long walk, which left me rather embarrassingly winded, and hubs started working on a big luge track in our backyard hill. Unfortunately due to the snow being a total surprise and the roads not being treated, we’ll have to skip the Christmas Eve service at church and our annual tradition of hibachi dinner. 

Something tells me though, that God has a very sweet, significant evening and first Christmas Day away from home & family planned for us. His plans are always better than ours anyway. While we wait not-so-patiently for the arrival of our favorite Christmas present to join us, I know He will continue to fill these moments with glorious meaning, and that this will be a time in our lives we will never forget.

  

37w

Just an update, more for myself as a personal journal entry than anything, feel free to be too bored to read 😉

Doozy of a week! Started out with the aftermath of some truly psycho emotional struggles that finally fizzled out, and thank God I’m back to being mostly sane again. 

Then my body started really feeling 9 months pregnant. Had some intense cramping, soreness, what felt like contractions (?) that all kept me up at night, struggling to be mobile. It’s like all of a sudden my body was compensating for having a ton of extra weight put on, and man it hurt. Thankfully I’ve gotten used to it or something, and I’m feeling less physically strained for now, at least.

I had a “contraction” in the middle of the video game aisle at Target which was pretty funny. I put it in quotes because I really don’t know for 100% sure what a real contraction feels like, as this is my first pregnancy, so I have to assume they’re either just the Braxton-Hicks practice contractions, or maybe even not a contraction at all. Anyway, my whole tummy got crazy hard and started feeling like it was squeezing up, and my lower back nearly gave out on me in front of the Nintendo 3DS display. Lasted about 20 seconds. Not too bad. Hubs got a little freaked out about how funny I thought it was.

The Ob still hasn’t checked my progress because she says I don’t “look like” I’ve been in enough pain to have had any labor progress yet. Ok. I mean I’m 37 weeks pregnant, most women are told by now if they have any dilation or effacement, and I just happen to have a high pain tolerance anyway, but ok.

Bad acid reflux today. It was the Chinese food, I know. But it tastes so delicious and gosh dangit I still have leftovers that I fully intend on indulging in for dinner tonight. So it will likely be another long night of heartburn and nausea. Worth it, maybe.

Had a pretty sucky thing happen in the grocery store the other day. I was struggling to lift this 50lb bag of dog food into my cart (yeah I know, I’m a feeble pregnant woman who shouldn’t be trying to lift anything heavier than a Boppy pillow, so sue me) and this guy in the aisle, obviously noticing that I’m struggling, hastily grabs his bag of dog food and books it away from me like I’m a dang time bomb. Like…really, guy? The sight of a 9 month pregnant lady made you feel so awkward that you couldn’t find it in yourself to help her, let alone be in the same vicinity as her? Add that with the multiple eyerolls and sighs of exasperation thrown at me by impatient Sheila’s and Nancy’s who couldn’t handle waiting for me to get out of their way with my too-heavy shopping cart, and it was just about the most embarrassing grocery trip I’ve ever had. It made me miss the South, with its quirky but warm hospitality and charm. People don’t act like this there. They actively show care and concern for their fellow man in public, certainly to a pregnant woman. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one to feel entitled to special treatment just because I’m carrying a baby. Heck, I don’t even park in the designated pregnant lady spots in the parking lot. But even if I wasn’t pregnant, I would expect at least some amount of sympathy for practically falling over while trying to lift a 50lb bag of dog food into my shopping cart. Alright, alright, rant over.

Getting close to Christmas and I’m definitely missing home. This will be our first holiday season away from friends and family. Still processing it emotionally, but I’m sure it will be sweet, regardless of the homesickness. And hopefully we’ll have our special gift arrive early, in time for Christmas 🙂 (fingers crossed!)

P.S. We finished the nursery! Will write a detailed post with photos soon.

36w

Being a woman, I’ve always been at least somewhat of an emotional person. Emotions have tended to direct my actions and decisions since adolescence. Thankfully with age, some of the “crazy” has subsided a little, while other craziness has taken over (ex. the uncontrollable desire to adopt every dog I see, to the point of tears). But throughout this whole pregnancy, I hadn’t fully tapped into the insane pregnancy-related emotionality I’ve heard so much about … until this week.

I expected it sooner, to be honest. I expected to be a sopping mess from day 1. Certainly to at least feel a little out of control by half way through the pregnancy. And lord, by that 3rd trimester, I’d be a goner. But it crept up on me. Sneakily. When I had gotten to the point where I decided I was just going to finish this thing out totally well-adjusted, it hit me all at once. The feels.

Yesterday I was beebopping around on my phone before hubs and I were going to go grab some dinner. I came upon a video on Facebook titled “Dogs know their owners’ hearts.” Do not watch this video if you are easily moved. Without going into details (because if I do, I’ll likely lose my mind again) it was essentially a video about organ donation featuring an elderly gentleman and his faithful canine companion. Set aside the fact that the background music was the score from Disney/Pixar’s Up (like seriously, take me out of the oven, I’m done…), the video just pulled all the most intense heartstrings possible and by the end of it, I was actively sobbing. Not like sniff sniff sobbing. I’m talkin boo-hoo, hyperventilating, snot running from my nose, uncontrollable, irrational sobbing. 

My husband ran into the room totally freaking out, thinking something truly terrible had happened. After grasping my breath a bit, I was able to sputter out what I watched and went on a tirade about dogs and the elderly and the baby and friendship and love and everything my crazy emotional brain spat out in the moment that was making me so insanely upset. I was just so intensely sad, I couldn’t calm myself down from it. Even in the moment, I’m sure it was truly comical to see me falling apart like that, but hubs just sat down behind me and rubbed my back and took my reaction seriously. That couldn’t have been easy. Bless him.

Since that incident, my emotions have been off the charts, bouncing off the walls, every color of the rainbow. I feel so sensitive to everything, in a way I haven’t felt since I was a fragile teen. The tiniest statement or event can set me off or break me down. Like right now I’m festering over a text from a close friend who asked me, “So are they going to induce you soon or what?” I’m not totally irrational, I know she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but holy cow those words hit me like a train!

I’m a crazy pregnant woman. I feel large and unattractive. I feel out of control. I feel terrified. I have never felt so vulnerable, in every sense of the word, in my entire life.

I’m accepting this is just where I’m at right now, and it’s okay. My emotions are silly, and someday I’ll be able to laugh this all off. What I’m going through is not abnormal, but it’s not stupid. It’s not nothing, but it’s only temporary.

So while I stand in front of my mirror for the dozenth time today, grieving for the once-thin form that used to stand there and wondering if I’ll ever see it again, I’m determined to let myself feel whatever it is that I am going to feel. To find peace with it, not to fight it. I’ve got a month left to be pregnant, and there’s much worse things that I could be going through than having a fragile heart.

“This too shall pass…”