Friday, March 28, 2014

Super Rough Night

It must've been some kind of karma after posting my mostly good sleep post...Monday night was one of the most frustrating, scariest evenings I've had EVER.

Mr. GG was out of town, so I decided to take Dylan to Panera for dinner. First, I'm basically done with Panera after a years-long love affair. The last few times I've been have been less than satisfactory. Their kid's meals are mac n cheese or deli meat on white bread. I got ham for Dylan and subbed wheat bread, but it was just meat and a slice of American cheese. It came with go-gurt which he wouldn't touch. Next time I would just order a side of the chicken they put on salads and a fruit bowl. He did like my black bean soup though...

But that's not the story. Dylan was eating okay and wanted bites of my apples (which we've done before many times). He basically scrapes off little bits of apple where I've already eaten off the skin. But he got a bigger chunk (I think because the apple was so small) and choked. I left at the table everything and ran him outside to pound on his back. He basically resolved it himself because he was breathing fine and didn't throw up or anything after a few seconds. But my nice idea of a meal out turned into a scary, frustrating night-mare of a trip.

We sang Hullabaloo songs on the way home, got out of the car, I said "hi" to my neighbor who passed while walking her two kids.

I carried Dylan and a few other things toward the house...and then I saw Dylan's life flash before my eyes.

There are two, just two steps leading up to my front door. I completely tripped and we both fell all the way to the cement ground. It happened so fast, but I remember wondering how I could protect Dylan while falling, but I couldn't do much because it was so fast. I saw him come down, saw how close his head came to the door post. Then heard the deafening silence as he geared up for a long terrifying cry. It was the longest silence ever and I was sure he had a concussion or worse...

But when I finished calming him and checked him out, I couldn't find a mark...not one. I think I was able to turn sideways enough that I hit with my hip first and somehow kept my arms under Dylan. I lost half of my big toe nail and have a nice bruise, but luckily we are both fine.

It's just so scary how quickly bad things can happen! I have no idea why I tripped. I wasn't multi-tasking or talking or hurrying. I was just walking.

The whole thing was just such a shock and I keep replaying it over and over in my mind.

Has spontaneous fun ever turned in a disaster for anyone else?

(My favorite pic of the week...)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adventures in Sleep...a Compilation of the First 14 Months

I'm seeing lots of sleep posts out there and I know many of you have little ones younger than Dylan. I thought it would be a good idea to share a general summary of our sleep journey in case it could help someone else. I do believe that Dylan is somewhat of a naturally good sleeper, but that doesn't mean we haven't had some very tough nights.

I've read lots of sleep books.  Here are some reviews:
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth
Babywise, Ezzo & Bucknam

I also read The Happiest Baby on the Block, Guide to Great Sleep by Dr. Karp which advocates the 5 S's (which are okay for infants, don't work later), and white noise among other things, but I never got around to a review.

So what we ended up doing is somewhat of a combination of everyone's advice with a priority placed on research. I do not have any major issues with CIO (cry it out), but I didn't feel that it worked in our specific situation. I didn't want Dylan losing calories from crying that he desperately needed. Also the couple times we did let him cry did not go well at all. So we primarily pursued other methods. Here are some previous sleep posts if you are interested in seeing the progression.

April 17, 2013 - Sleep (3 months adjusted)
May 11, 2013 - How the other half lives? (4 months adj.)
May 28, 2013 - Sleep Update (4 months adj.)

The Four Month Sleep Regression
I had seen people talk about this before we hit it, but it sure is a real thing! This was the phase where I could be seen walking circles around the house trying not to lose it with a crying baby in my arms. But the hardest part was that the walking and bouncing never seemed to stop the crying. It was very frustrating and sad not to be able to adequately calm my baby. So we resorted to walking around the block until he fell asleep. Often this was Mr. GG's job. I was afraid the whole time about creating a dependency on motion to fall asleep, but this was the easiest way for us as well as Dylan. We could easily manage walking around the block and it seemed to help so we used this method for quite awhile.

Eventually, on nights where he was calmer, we didn't walk. This was our transition. On these nights we did our normal routine: bath, stories+bottle, then lullabies+bottle (Dylan is a very slow drinker and I needed him to take in every milliliter possible.) Then I'd put him down usually completely asleep. And I still worried that I wasn't teaching him how to soothe himself to go to bed independently. I wondered whether I should gently shake him slightly awake like Dr. Karp advised. (I didn't. That sounded like potential disaster - but my sister did this very successfully with her son.)

Eight to Twelve Months
During this phase we pretty much never needed to walk around the block. Since Dylan was more aware and it was darker outside, we added another level of transition. I'd have a dim lamp on during reading time, then I'd turn it off and turn on the Twilight Turtle during lullaby time. Also...I always get his A & A blanket out of his bed for story-time; that's his transition item and he gets excited when he sees it because he loves to snuggle it.

During this phase, Dylan started to kind of snuggle in when he was ready (sometimes after a half an hour or more) and then just go to sleep on my chest! It was pretty cool. Then I would try to figure out the right amount of time to wait before putting him down in his crib. Too soon and he'd bolt upright and cry and we'd have to start over again.

Twelve Months Plus (Dylan is currently 14 months adjusted)
For the past couple of months, Dylan has been much more aware at bedtime and I can only think of one time recently (a really rough night) when he actually fell asleep on me. We are using the exact same routine.

Sidenote - What "sitting in the chair" actually looks like. After the lights go off this is basically what happens: Dylan crawls around to every corner of the chair. Attempts to get off the chair. Attempts to stand up on the arm rest to precariously reach for something on the shelf. At some point he wants his milk and spends a good twenty seconds calmly drinking. Then he climbs over me to open the curtain, usually with a knee in my neck, to look outside. We say "night night outside," well...I say it, hoping it's the last time. He tries to get off the chair again. He gets interested in his milk again. Repeat. Repeat. And then at some point, he puts his head down and kind of tripods and pushes his blanket down under him. This is when I know we are close...

Since he doesn't fall asleep or sometimes even seem extremely sleepy i.e. a big yawn will be followed by climbing and laughing, I have to decide when to put him down. It's a mental exercise in risk v. reward every time. But more and more if he's done his first little snuggle move, he'll go down without crying.

So what I've learned from just my own situation is that you can't completely ruin sleeping independently by using sleep crutches. For us, the crutches allowed sleep to happen and allowed sleep to mostly be a positive experience. But things change quickly. Our overall routine has stayed the same, but a couple of weeks ago Dylan went on a two day nap strike. I WAS TERRIFIED! On these days it was also harder to get him to sleep and there was lots and lots of crying. on one evening, I went back in 3 times to give him more milk/calm him (primarily I do try not to go back in...I'm ok with the kind of whiny sporadic cry, but usually when he's standing up and/or hard crying, it won't end without help).

I'm a big believer in routines and transition items. He is able to process what is about to happen and get used to it before I just "plop" him in the crib.

One thing that never ever works for us is earlier bedtime. There have been so many days where the nanny has said "I think he'll go to bed early tonight." And I naively believe this time will be different. We follow his sleep cues as much as possible, but if I start too early, it usually ends in frustration for both of us. Lesson almost learned.

We also still use white noise (on a pretty low level). I've felt like the biggest benefit for white noise is helping to prevent full wake-ups. I feel like it's a calming "normal" thing that reminds him it's still sleep time. he doesn't really need it at night anymore, but it's helpful for naps when outside noises are louder.

Lastly, I know sleep is the bane of many people's existence. I think most of sleep is genetic, so I don't mean to tell you that if you try any of this that it will work and all of a sudden, you'll have a good sleeper. But I hope to relieve some of the stress that one specific action will "ruin" your kid's sleep for the rest of his life because the reality is much more complicated.

Walking to sleep saved our lives during the 4 month sleep regression and since then, having a routine and a transition item have been really helpful.

I wish all of you a good night's sleep tonight!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Whole New Routine: Thanks Daylight Savings :/

I have absolutely no complaints about Dylan in the sleep department. We were blessed with a 12 hour-sleeper and we also get a 2 hour nap to boot. Back in the old days, before DST, Dylan's 12 hours started at 6:30 pm. I know it's kind of early, but it was also pretty awesome.

Old routine:
I get home at 4:00. I take Dylan and Stella to the park. Dylan eats dinner around 5. Then bath, stories, and bed with scattered playtime in between. Many nights Mr. GG was home early enough to do bath-time, so I'd put Dylan to bed while he put dinner together and we'd eat after Dylan was asleep.

Mr. GG does mornings and is generally a morning person so 6:30 worked well for us and he got quality time with Dylan before the nanny came at 8.

I figured I'd just do everything an hour later and it would be fine. I definitely didn't want to do anything to screw up good sleep! was harder than I expected to add an extra hour into the evening. I just naturally started trying to put him down around 6. AND THAT DID NOT WORK. Cue 3 nights of frustration on everyone's part as we learned how to turn dinner into family dinner (which is hard when I don't cook...still working on this).

New routine:
I like the fact that I have extra time with Dylan between getting home and dinner because we have a lot more flexibility. We can go get dinner somewhere, go to Target, go to a farther away park...the options are endless. And I like eating dinner as a family. But Dylan never got into the "hour later which really is the same time as before" routine and now he goes to bed at 8. Don't get me wrong, this is not a problem and I love having more time with him. It's just an adjustment. My evening look different than before and I just don't roll with transitions as easy as I used to! Mr. GG and I are pretty much in bed before or right at 10 anyway.

I know this parenting thing will continue to be a series of adjustments. I was just surprised that I seemed to have a harder time with it than Dylan did. (Although he did completely nap strike 2 days last week (with the nanny). Freaked me out! But we're back to the usual.

How did Daylight Savings affect you and/or your lo?

(I need to take more sleeping pictures of Dylan! But here's a bath pic.)


Wordless Wednesday


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mommy Dylan Date Night

My husband goes out of town frequently, so I'm pretty used to solo-parenting in the evening. But he's usually home on weekends, so when he's gone on a Friday night, like he was this week, I like to do something a little fun (for me mostly although Dylan likes getting out and about).

We have this awesome restaurant chain in California called Tender Greens. It's super-delicious, reasonably-priced farm-to-table type food (and lots of super tempting desserts!). And their kid's meal is just $6 and includes chicken or steak or grilled cheese with mashed potatoes and a variety of veggies! It's exactly the type of food I want Dylan to be eating. (On this trip he had Salt and Pepper Chicken which he loved as well as some type of roasted carrot. He's not a fan of mashed potatoes right now.) I had the Fried Chicken with the Tender Greens Salad and took a carrot cake home for dessert.

Anyway. The location I chose to go to was at a mall and we got there a little early. Dylan was in a good mood so I was able to browse through a few stores. Real shopping with a toddler is virtually impossible, but I found a shirt at Anthropologie that I could try on over the tank I was wearing and so I decided to get it. This was right at the point when Dylan was making it clear that he needed food stat. We got in line and I nearly had a heart attack when I realized that I left the entire diaper bag (with my wallet) in the car at the very farthest end of the mall from where we were. Curses! I made it there and back in record time.

When we go to Tender Greens I get a corner booth and let Dylan crawl around while we eat. It buys me more time and sometimes it's just too much work to fit a stroller and a high chair in a tight space and I just don't want to deal. I successfully kept Dylan away from the knives and got a decent amount of food in his mouth (while eating my salad with my hands, sorry).

We even had time to go back and buy my shirt on our way out!

Dylan is at a super fun age where he gives kisses freely and smiles every time he sees me. (Although it would be REALLY nice if he could learn how to talk right quick. If I could speak his weird alien language we would prevent A LOT of frustration on both our parts.)

The weather has been purely summer-like out here recently (sorry East-Coasters) so we've spent a lot of time outside. Here's Dylan enjoying his new water table this afternoon.

He just wanted to chew on the little pirate...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bottle Weaning Part 2: I Changed My Mind.

The Take n Toss cups were a good transition cup for us because they were a cheap way for me to make a decision and have enough cups to have a nice rotation. But...they're cheap! Dylan bites holes in the spouts and Stella (the dog) has eaten a few of the cups whole. I made sure to hand wash them, but the newest study about the dangers of plastic reinforced my concerns that they cups break down too easily (this is based in no way on science...just my own feelings about the cups).

This morning I decided that Dylan and I would take a field trip to Home Goods. He loves to look around at stuff and do I. I'm a terrible decision maker when it comes to most things, but especially things for the house, so the only things we actually purchased were from the kid's section. I got a really cool Hape activity cube which Dylan already loves. I finally bought The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and it did a great job of amusing Dylan when he got tired of sitting. He seriously loves books.) And I bought a couple of Oxo Tot sippys that actually transition into regular cups.


They are spill-proof and it really seems to be true. I only saw a little spray when dropped really hard. But they have a really nice speed, slower than the Take and Toss cups, but not too slow. And I guess that all Oxo Tot lid types fit the same cup. So I can just buy straw cup tops when I'm ready and use the same bottom half (which has ounce and ml measurements - key for those of use who really need to keep track of what lo drinks). I got ones that have handles even though Dylan is fine without them, but they are also removable.

It's probably kind of nerdy to write a whole post about sippy cups and to actually be excited about it, but I am! I need to go back and get a couple more later this weekend! (At Home Goods, they are $2 off the Amazon price!)

And to summarize our overall bottle weaning process, it took about 2 days to be fully on sippys and it did not seem to bother Dylan too much. His total volume has decreased about 6 ounces to just 12 ounces a day which is not awesome, but it's enough and he has upped his solids intake a bit to compensate. At our last appointment, we learned that he's still stuck at 17 1/2 pounds (13.5 months adjusted, 17 actual) and has been since around Christmas. He is getting taller, which means he's getting skinnier! The doc revised her expectation for us...she now wants him to maintain 18 pounds through age 2. So we are still battling, but Dylan will eat a wide variety of foods which is great, we just need to keep pushing the volume!