Friday, February 26, 2010

Sleep progress

I really wanted to wait until Lacey was closer to 6 months old. I wanted to wait until her cold was over. I wanted to wait until I was sure her reflux meds were working. But, I didn't, I couldn't.

When Lacey was born until she was 3 months old, I thought out loud (big mistake)--I have a great sleeper--YAY! Then over the course of the last two months I have slowly watched her sleep patterns get worse and worse. The 4 hour stretch that disappeared. The every 2h at night go to every single freakin hour. Every night. For weeks. The final straw came early this week after another horrendous night of night wakings when all of her wakeful time during the day she spent fussing. She wanted to be held and walked. She could barely stay awake for an hour and when she napped it was only for 30 minutes. On Monday she took probably five 30 minute naps and was miserable in between. I just couldn't do this anymore. I missed my happy baby, I was utterly exhausted and I decided that on Tuesday we would start sleep training. So I pulled out my books. We were putting Lacey to bed WAY too late. She never had a consistent nap schedule. Her naps were too short. And of course the night wakings that were making me crazy have to be reduced. I recognize that at barely 5 months she still probably needs to eat overnight, but not every hour or even every 2 hours. So first I wanted to teach her to self-soothe to fall asleep and then see if the naps could be extended and the night waking frequency to be decreased. The other issue we have is she is still swaddled, arms in, b/c of the eczema. When she gets an arm out, she scratches and wakes herself up. So here we go--I braced myself.

Night One: 7:30 bedtime. We tried arms out on the swaddle. She cried hard at first for about 10 minutes, then fell asleep. Not bad. 45 minutes later, she woke up and cried for a few minutes, then fell asleep for a few minutes, then up and down many times until about 10pm. I fed her at 10pm, swaddled her arms in and she slept for FOUR HOURS!! I fed her again and she slept another 3 hours. It was wonderful.

The next day, we took Lana to preschool, Lacey fell asleep for about 30 min on the ride home and was fussy after that. I put her down for a nap drowsy but awake about 30 min after we came home. She went to sleep with no crying and slept for 30 min. When she fussed, I let her be. She cried for 5 min and went to sleep again for an hour!! WOW! She had another 2 naps like this that day and she was in bed at 7:15 for the night. The second night she woke up every 2-3h and I fed her most of them. The third night she slept from 7-12:30!! That's 5h!! This is going very well.

Today was day 3 and Lacey took 3 great naps--all 1.5-2h in duration. For each nap and at bedtime, she goes down awake, fully swaddled (arms in) and there is little to no crying. I can't believe it. I feel like I have my life back and my happy baby back. She and I are still catching up on so much lost sleep and severe overtiredness, but I am optimistic, things are better for all of us.

The first night was rough on me. I was wound tight. I didn't like to listen to her cry. I hated her hoarse voice. My husband was not sympathetic to my pain, but he is not a mom. We moms are wired differently. But today, just 3 days later--I am happy, I am laughing, I have more patience. I feel so proud of Lacey for getting it and doing so great with it. When we sleep trained Lana, she cried for a long time. Many nights, for many minutes for many weeks. Her cry was intense and persistent. Lacey yells a lot, but does not have the same intensity in her cry, which makes it a lot easier to deal with. Things are not perfect. She still is night waking way more than she should. The swaddle is a problem too--I want her to sleep in a sleep sack without scratching or startling herself awake. Plus we have to take Lana to school and then pick her up a few hours later and Lacey always falls asleep in the car which messes up the rhythm of her nap schedule for the entire day. There is nothing we can do about that. So we are going to stay close to home for a few weeks to see if we can come up with some sort of consistent sleep pattern for her. Some kids can just roll with the punches and sleep wherever, whenever. Neither of my girls are like that. I am just so happy we have made progress and I have slept for more than 2h straight. Wish me luck that the good habits continue!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Things I love about Lacey

I sure do enough complaining about how little sleep Lacey gives me, but really other than that, she is the sweetest little thing in the world! I look at Lana and wonder how just like a minute ago she was a baby and now look at her--a little person, who is growing up a little too fast for me sometimes. I know in the blink of an eye these girls will be all grown up and will prefer the company of their friends rather than their mom and dad. Its no secret that I don't really love the baby phase. Babies are hard for me to figure out. But, there are things I want to savor and remember, things I don't remember about when Lana was a baby.

My favorite things about Lacey in no particular order:

1. She loves a good cuddle. She takes comfort in my arms. She loves to be held--all day long if she had her wish.

2. Her eyes are dark and shiny like 2 marbles, or chocolate chips. I love it when she looks right at you, eyes wide and observant.

3. Her soft duck-fuzz hair. Now that her cradle cap/eczema is gone, I love to rub her head, so very soft and fuzzy. It smells good too--like sweet baby.

4. Every single time I come into her room when she wakes up, I am greeted with the best, biggest gummy smile. Every times she sees herself and me in a mirror--the same huge smile. It never gets old. Never!

5. She laughs! Lana never laughed as a baby. The laugh is infectious and I would do anything to hear it. You bet I will make a total fool of myself just to hear the giggle and see the smile again.

6. When she is finished nursing, she pops off, turns her head, is usually asleep and she does this thing with her mouth that is almost like a pucker and it is so cute.

Seriously, is she adorable or what?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The decline of healthy eating

I used to be a fairly healthy eater. Growing up we almost never ate dessert, there were very few sweets in the house, no pop/soda and I remember drinking my first glass of Kool Aid at a friend's house. We had snacks, just mostly salty stuff, rather than the sweet stuff. There were special treats--ice cream and cake, but it generally was reserved for birthdays and holidays and honestly, I don't ever remember wishing we had more sweet stuff in the house.

One of my college roommates (hi, if you're reading) got me into eating dessert--she is totally into chocolate and really introduced me to the pleasure of enjoying chocolate in all forms. Bad day? A pint of Ben and Jerrys will help. Hard exam? Chocolate mousse cheesecake will right any wrong! We still ate pretty healthy, especially for college students on a limited budget. But we did grocery shop and some simple cooking. When I was in grad school my dad gave me a copy of the Joy of Cooking, which totally changed my life! I didn't want to eat Lipton noodles and canned soup recipes forever, so I splurged on some ingredients and learned how to cook anything that sounded good from the cookbook. I had the smallest kitchen in my apartment. It reminded me of the kitchen in airplanes--it was that small. But I managed to cook a pretty delicious Thanksgiving dinner one year and had many small dinner parties (with fancy drinks of course) with my friends. Cooking was fun! With my new love of cooking came a love for fancy grocery stores with nice ingredients. When I met Bill, he introduced me to the Asian market, which in Chicago meant a stinky, dirty store with really fresh Asian produce and fish, more varieties of tofu, fresh noodles and dried things I couldn't identify. But he also exposed me to lots of Asian food, from sushi to pho to Korean BBQ.

When Bill and I moved to California, we ate SO well. I cooked every night, searching for fun recipes online during down time at work. The availability of produce and seafood in California was great--so fresh and affordable. On weekends, we both cooked and enjoyed trying new wines to go with it all. It was so fun. And yummy. We ate fruit for dessert every night and we always ate stir fried Asian green veggies. We were so healthy! We had so much time on our hands!

Then we had kids. What a difference a few years have made. I still make my best effort to cook nearly every night. I try to cook veggies every night, although we eat a lot more standard veggies like broccoli, spinach and green beans rather than the Asian, fiber-rich, vitamin-packed green leafys. But my recipes are quickies, nothing too exotic, nothing that takes longer than 30 minutes to throw together and most importantly nothing that Lana won't eat. I am bored with what I cook and because I am usually trying to just get it on the table, it doesn't taste as good--I don't have the time to put the "love" into the food. I make a lot of soups b/c Lana will eat them. I make a lot of braised meats b/c they are soft and Lana will eat them. I really can't complain about Lana's eating habits b/c she is not that picky, although there are a few things she will not touch: green beans, potatoes, chicken breast, pork chop or anything remotely spiced/spicy/flavorful.

Not only am I bored with my cooking, but I seriously have some bad eating habits of my own. I eat a lot of frozen crap for lunch. Bill gets the leftovers from the night before and I scavenge from whatever is in the house. Lana eats a lot of it too--mac n cheese, chicken nuggets from the freezer, canned soup. She and I have eaten so many turkey sandwiches (on wheat at least)! I am ashamed at how often I visit a drive thru, usually McDonalds--not good. Drive-thrus are the only viable option when your baby who never sleeps is finally asleep in the carseat and there is no way I am stopping the car and moving the seat even a millimeter. I wish there were more drive thru options--why can't Chipotle be drive thru? (Not that that is any healthier, but it would be yummier). Also, I drink way too much sugar in the form of juice, Vitamin Water and carbonated beverages. I got addicted to Vitamin Water when I was pregnant and I still really like it. Costco has those San Pelligrino sparkling juices that are SO refreshing and SO high in sugar.

Snacks are also a big problem in our house. Lana snacks a lot. So do I. Sometimes out of boredom, I think. Sometimes a few hours after breakfast she will say, "Mom, I need a snack--something unUSUAL" Which means junk. I am like, "You may not have junk at 10am! Your choices are fruit, popcorn, edammame or cheese and crackers." She always picks fruit. Always. This kid easily eats fruit 5 times a day. She eats so much fruit we have to buy it from Costco every week. This week we bought: strawberries, blueberries, navel oranges, grapes, mangoes. That will only last ONE week--Costco sizes people! Its nuts.

I suppose there are worse choices like cookies and candy, but fruit still has sugar. Between the fruit and the juice (which I always dilute 50%) and then the treats like the birthday cupcakes at school (which seem to be like every day) there is still a lot of sugar in her life. It is also getting harder to keep the candy and other goodies away from her. Like at the Valentines Party at school--we were instructed to bring Valentines to exchange with the other students. Every single Valentine (except hers) had candy attached to it. Great. I really needed those 10 pieces of candy to negotiate with her over the next week. I put it away, but she did not let me forget that we had it and that she NEEDED it. She doesn't really dig raw veggies or hummus and I can't entice her with yogurt or string cheese. What are your kids healthy snacks?

So part of me wants to make sure Lana snacks healthy, but sometimes when I look at what I am eating, its like 10 times worse than what she is eating. I have been blessed with the genetics that keep me slim, no matter what I eat, but that doesn't take into account what's going on on the inside. I want to be in better health. I want to exercise so that my scrawny little body has some muscle on it and I don't have these granny legs. I don't want to pick up Lana and go, "Ugh, my back!" I definitely don't want diabetes or heart disease or cancer. I think about this all the time, but then I have no self control when I am hungry and reaching for something I shouldn't. I feel like the girls will learn good habits from me, so I should be better about my choices. I am really going to try. After I finish the brownies my mom made and brought over!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year

We celebrated Chinese New Year at my inlaws' house for dinner on Sunday. It was a big one this year because Lana is finally able to make homemade dumplings. She did great! She took the wonton wrapper, added some meat mixture, dipped her finger in water to wet the edges of the wrapper and she finished it by folding and pinching the dumpling together. She could have done this all day long and was disappointed when we were done. I was so proud of her, a big kid indeed! She didn't eat any of them (she has a cold and a decreased appetite), but that's okay. She was so cute too, giving her grandparents "hong bao", the red envelopes containing money. I love watching her embrace these traditions and hope that she always feels like its special, rather than different, to have this as part of her family and life.

I'd like to say we had a great long weekend, since Bill had Monday off, but we had some good times and rough patches. Lana came down with a bad cold on Saturday. She didn't seem phased by it, even though her nose was a faucet and she probably sneezed 200 times. One of said sneezes shot mac and cheese into my hair and my soup--yuk! Motherhood is so glamorous. Sunday was probably the best day because Lana and I spent some time together on the outside--we went to lunch and to Michaels for a craft re-load, followed by our Chinese New Year's celebration. Monday was horrendous. Lana and I went to Super Wal-Mart for groceries. I will NEVER go to Wal-Mart on a weekend ever again. It was so crowded and it took longer to check out than it did to shop. We were gone 2h. During this outing I reprimanded or yelled at Lana countless times. I can't remember such a contentious outing in quite some time. She sat in the cart and kicked me, hit me, used her outdoor voice repeatedly. She wasn't having a tantrum, she was just acting out to get my attention, my negative attention. I did not react well or appropriately. It was embarrassing. I was so mad at her b/c every time I told her to stop or to be quiet she thought it was funny. I did not. Lana does this thing when she is either A) bored, B) overtired or C) sick--she talks nonstop. When she runs out of things to say, she makes noise. Things like: meana meana meana meana or blah blah blah blah. It makes me crazy. Add a crying baby to this noise and I want to jump out the window, or at least run really fast. And I don't run. I think its possible I get overstimulated with noise. Its also possible that I was the one in the bad mood, not Lana. Give me a break people, I haven't slept for more than 2h in a row for at least 2 months now. Lacey and I now have Lana's cold, which I am so excited about, so more sleep is not likely any time soon. But I am happy that we had a nice Chinese New Year and that the family is together. There is something so nice about hearing the house full of people and then sitting down to a family dinner. After all of those years living away from family, its nice to be together again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My princess

Lana is going through a HUGE princess phase. Okay, I am not really into the whole princess-you need to be rescued by a man thing or the whole thing about being beautiful is the key element in landing your true love and that happily ever after is your dream come true. I really don't think Lana reads into it at all--she is just seizing an opportunity to dress up, put on jewelry and (gasp!) even a little makeup. But as I read the fairy tales, I am practically dry heaving when I read that Sleeping Beauty dances with Prince Philip and instantly falls madly and deeply in love with him. I try to instill in her that it is more important to be kind than it is to be beautiful and its super great to be smart, but humble. She gets a lot of attention for being pretty--strangers stop us all the time to tell us how pretty she is, which is nice and all, but I don't want her thinking its all-important to be attractive and that's it. I like Mulan because she is strong and independent-ish for a Disney Princess. But like I said, she is just playing dress-up, so its cool for now. Here she is in all her glory:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dear Readers (all 9 of you!)

Thank you for all the helpful and sympathetic comments on my last post. Whenever I am feeling down and totally alone in my petty struggles, all I have to do is vent on the internet and a whole bunch of wonderful friends give me support, hugs and advice--how lucky am I? So, I am going to respond to each of you, Babycenter style,--LOL, plus a little tidbit on how I "know" each of you. I say "know" because many of my internet friends I have never met in real life.

Desi--Yeah, its no coincidence that our babies are pulling the same crap at the same time, since they are what, a day or two apart in age. I really don't know how you are managing to work during all this nonsense with the sleep deprivation. Man, if I was working, I don't know how I would be keeping my eyes open during seminars, meetings and at my desk. You are a rock star! If you ever find yourself near Seattle--please let me know!

Desi and I have been chatting via facebook pretty regularly. She has been so helpful and sweet. Its great that not only do we have new babies the same age, but the older siblings are the same age as well. I think we first "met" on the BBC May 06 board.

A.--Thanks so much for your comments and for visiting my blog! I don't really think I have a great attitude at the moment, although I am trying! Yes, we have considered the idea of allergies. We know Lacey is allergic to milk, so I am dairy free (man, do I miss pizza!). We have not yet had her allergy tested for other food intolerances, although we have not ruled it out. Milk allergies are so common in babies, as is eczema and the pediatric dermatologist assured me that its too early to get all freaked out about food allergies b/c most babies do outgrow the milk allergy and eczema is also very common. I also wonder about how accurate the blood tests are for food allergies. The other thing I could try is cutting soy from my diet, but if I did that, I should just go to hypoallergenic formula b/c my diet has a lot of soy--we eat so much Asian food. My ped doesn't think I need to cut soy for now b/c her skin got better, until the latest cold virus. But this is uncharted territory for us, so really, what do I know?

I have never met A., but we know someone in common. I found her through my friend Donna's blog. I'm not sure if you know it already A., but I too am a former scientist, although I am permanently on sabbatical--LOL. I met Donna when she was a grad student and I was an undergrad. See, even on the internet its a small world. I think that being a mom and having a scientist-mind is not a good combination--I always try to gather data and with babies, there is too much variation!

Maria--thanks for your support, always! Vacation? Yes, that will be in April for Bill's birthday and we are going to Kauai, Hawaii. Its so easy to get to from the west coast--direct flight to somewhere warm and tropical. It will be our first trip with both girls--I shudder thinking of the gear we will bring, but I know Lana will enjoy the pool and beaches. I hope Lacey won't try to eat sand. It should be fabulous!

I believe I "met" Maria once I began blogging, probably through LauraC's blog.

Beth--I will totally check out your early blog entries. I didn't realize or remember that you had such trouble with William sleeping in the early days. Oddly, I do feel comfort in the whole "misery loves company"--what does that say about me? If one more perfect stranger asks me if my baby sleeps through the night, I will clock them! Do I look like a person who sleeps? Check out the bags under my eyes and observe the lack of patience I have with my older daughter. I think I am starting to adjust to not sleeping very much, although I still get pretty pissed off in the middle of the night, which is really stupid--being pissed off at a baby. I am not really pissed at her, just the situation.

I met Beth the year we lived in DC. We initially met on BBC and then we met in real life when William and Lana were about 6 or 9 months old! We even got together last year when my dad was sick and we visited him in VA--Beth took a day off to drive halfway to meet us for lunch. Great friend!!

Donna--thanks for the suggestions, I will try them and hope for a pattern to form so I can repeat whatever works! One of the issues is that every single day is different. One day she will have crappy short naps and then she sleeps great (relatively) that night. The next day she has crappy short naps and that night is a disaster. I just can't seem to figure this kid out! I think in all of my whining, I totally misrepresented Lacey and her temperament. While she has all of these issues, she is such a happy, smiley, content and non-fussy baby. I know fussy. Lana was fussy--her colic lasted well beyond the 3 months--but Lacey is just happy. She just doesn't sleep or follow a schedule of any kind. I am totally aware and grateful for her temperament b/c if she was fussy on top of this, well I would be way way crazier. She even laughs! I don't remember Lana laughing as a baby--its miraculous that we ever got photos of her smiling b/c she just seemed so very unhappy. Lacey is so sweet and cuddly--I just wish she would sleep more without waking up every stinking hour.

I met Donna a million years ago (doesn't it feel that way?) when I was an undergrad and got a job at the Cancer Center in the lab where she was doing her PhD. She taught me so much about science, which led me to follow in her footsteps. She still has an awesome career and 2 great boys :)

Joanna--I totally agree that the books make you feel like you have to do something about everything. Its kind of like going on the internet with symptoms and you convince yourself you have a really serious disease. I forced myself to close the damn books--my kid doesn't go by the books and that is OKAY. I also agree that in the short term I can ride this out, but over the long haul it is not good for me physically to never sleep.

I have never met Joanna in real life, but I would like to. I have a feeling she would just make me laugh my ass off nonstop.

LauraC--I think about you every single time I do laundry (which is every day) b/c I am amazed at the amount of laundry with 2 kids and I think--imagine baby laundry with twins, especially one (or both) with reflux--holy crap! Lana was just like Nate with the fussiness, colic, swaddling super tight and the sleep training taking 3 weeks (not 3 days like the books say). It was brutal and as sleep deprived as I am right now, I am so grateful for Lacey's sunny disposition--whew!

Everyone knows LauraC is like a blog-celebrity! I "met" you through Beth's blog.

--thanks for the support :) Yeah, we are super excited about vacation! Not exactly the types of vacations we used to take pre-kids, but still.

I know Jessikahsd from my time in San Diego. She was a tech in the lab where I did my post-doc. It was a nutty, nutty place, but we had a great time making fun of all the weirdos we worked with and for. Now she is about to get her PhD and is achieving great things!

Megan--thanks so much for the comment. It was just what I needed to hear! Not just that you went through it too, but that at some point, poof, it was behind you and you can almost not remember it. Hope! I need hope! Dude, driving on the highway at 2am? That is pretty crazy.

I also met Megan through Beth's blog.

So thanks again to all of you for making me feel better during this rough patch, which I know shall pass. I gotta go to bed now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hello again

Miss me? Our computer got a virus--the devastating, can't turn on anymore kind, so it was in the "shop" getting fixed. Then my husband has been monopolizing it to plan a vacation!!!! No complaints there, he is an awesome vacation planner--all I have to do is pack the bags and show up. Its awesome! So I am finally getting around to catching up with everything internet-related.

Its been a rough few weeks with Lacey's feeding issues, then the thrush, which seriously threatened my ability to continue breastfeeding. My lactation consultant helped me to get back enough supply so that Lacey was satisfied with nursing and I have abandoned pumping and bottle feeding altogether for now b/c I think Lacey was getting used to sucking down bottles fast and then not wanting to work at the breast. I am more comfortable (although not totally pain-free) following a course of anti-fungals.

So the feeding has become easier, but her sleep is horrendous. If there was any thought in my mind to have a third baby, the last month has convinced me that two is plenty. I am struggling at night. Lacey wakes up SO often. A good night is every two hours with a longish stretch of 3-5h at the beginning of the night. A bad night is her waking every hour from midnight till 7am. Its brutal and the bad nights outnumber the good nights. I do not know why she is waking. She sometimes just needs me to pop her paci back in, but more often than not, she takes a few drinks from the boob and drifts off into peaceful slumber (for a whole hour). Is it the itch? She still has some eczema around her eyelids, behind her ears and around her mouth. We had completely cleared it up and then she got a cold. Turns out viral illness can cause an outbreak, which means she will probably always have some patches since we are almost always sick around here. She is still being swaddled arms in b/c of the itching--when we take her arms out she scratches the crap out of her head and eyes, which wakes her up of course. Could it be unresolved reflux? She is on zantac AND prevacid, but she still has some days where she is so fussy during feedings. Does she just want to cuddle? Is it that she wakes up every sleep cycle wondering where the hell her mommy is? I don't know. We let her cry the other night to see what happens--she cried for an hour and fell asleep for...a whole 2h! What reward for enduring the screaming (note sarcasm). My ped said she is just barely of the age where they can actually learn from sleep training and that we should wait a few more weeks to try it in earnest. In the meantime I am so freakin tired from being up all night. Its hard for me to determine whether she has some physical discomfort, is truly hungry or if she is just workin me over. I need this phase to be over soon b/c I am driving myself nuts trying to make it better. I have decided to change my attitude as a means of coping. I used to read read read as much as I could to find out strategies to "fix" this problem--parenting websites, books, sleep books, etc. I obsessed about what a 4 month old should be doing (i.e. sleeping through the night or at least getting close to it, having some regularity in a schedule, feeding every 3-4h). But I have since decided that it doesn't matter what should be happening because Lacey is just not that baby. She has not fallen into a pattern for eating or sleeping, she feeds whenever--sometimes 2h, sometimes more like 4h, her night is all over the place and despite my best efforts to impose a pattern on her, all it does is make me feel like I am doing something wrong b/c she is not having it. So I have closed my books and decided to go with the flow. The important thing is that she is happy and growing. I just really want some sleep tonight. Send me some good vibes. Lack of sleep makes a mommy a crazy lady.

At least we are going on vacation!!! In April.