Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Separation Anxiety Whoa!

Bug and I are both huge fans of Maroon 5. Their latest CD, Hands All Over, has a song on it called "Stutter." And the lyrics, I feel, really apply to my child at the moment:

All I want is to be with you always
I give you everything, pay some attention to me
All I want is just you and me, always

That pretty much sums up how Bug is right now. In fact, here he is, right at this moment:

Oh yes. He is passed out. On my bed.


just don't understand. This morning, he took his nap without any sort of fuss. I rocked him for about two minutes, then I put him in his crib and said, "Okay Bug, time for night-nights." Then I closed his door and left.

And he slept for an hour and a half. No problems.

This afternoon, I attempt to put him down for a nap and he starts screaming bloody murder. I mean, we're talking "I-am-being-tortured-by-the-Spanish-Inquisition" screaming. So I go in after about five minutes, and rock him. And he's clearly tired, but is attempting to frantically stay awake by clapping his hands, or trying to poke my eyes out. He calms down. So I go, "Okay Bug, time for night-nights" and I pop him in his crib.

And the hellatious screaming begins once more.

Finally, after about half an hour of this charade (so really, about three times of screaming), I give up and take him to take a nap in our room. Hence the sleeping baby on my bed.

I think that in the morning, the separation anxiety isn't as bad, but in the afternoon it kicks in full-force. It's like, we've spent all these lovely hours together, and now my son is convinced that I am going to abandon him and never come back and he is going to miss out on a fabulous time. Which is silly, because I'm rather boring.
What I try to remember is that to him, all of his emotions are extremely intense. Sort of like the emotions teenagers feel when they read the TWILIGHT series (oh!). So I don't discount the apparent angst he feels, and when I rocked and soothed him I tried to calm him.

And honestly, I don't have a problem with him sleeping on my bed during naptime every once in awhile. But what sucks about it is I wind up trapped on the bed, and I do have housework to get done. But he has been sleeping better (6:30 pm to 4:30 am in his crib last night, and then 4:30-7:30 with me!), so maybe the best course of action is to stick to the schedule--but make exceptions when needed.

After all, he won't be a baby for much longer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cosleeping Safety

When I reread yesterday's post I realized that I didn't address any of the safety concerns of cosleeping, and there are many. So I'd like to take Bug's second naptime (I think he's still pretty sick. It's unheard of for him to go down for nap #2 this early) today to address them.

First off, while many countries and cultures cosleep without any problem, here in the US there are a lot of factors that can contribute infant death. I realize that sounds harsh, but it's true. We are a culture that goes to bed on soft, fluffy mattresses with lots of blankets and pillows.

And you can't do that when you are sharing a bed with an infant.

So, the first night I brought Bug into our bed, I did the following:

1. I covered myself up, but did not put any non-baby blankets on him.
2. I removed all pillows from the bed.
3. Since it was just the two of us that first night, I made sure to keep plenty of clear space around him, and I kept him on his back.

Now that Bug is older, I will sleep with a pillow under my head. He's big enough now that if something were to obstruct his breathing, he could push it away. But I still keep him in a sleepsack and do not cover him with any of my quilts or covers.

Another big safety concern for cosleeping is the possibility that one parent will roll over on top of the baby. And this is a concern. For me, I wasn't really too worried about it because I am one of those people who stays in the same exact position while sleeping. I don't really toss, turn, or move around in my sleep--unlike my husband. Interestingly enough, once we started letting the baby sleep with us, Jon stopped moving around so much in his sleep--but for safety reasons, Bug still remained close to me.

Now that Bug is almost a year old, I am a little more relaxed about things. But when Bug joins us in bed, I keep a hand on him at all times. If he moves out of my grasp, I will immediately wake up. And now that he's doing more crawling, sitting, and (gulp) standing, I am ever-vigilant about keeping him in the bed.

There are a few ABSOLUTELY NOTS when it comes to sharing your bed with an infant, and I want to put these out there:

1. DO NOT EVER, EVER SHARE YOUR BED WITH YOUR CHILD IF YOU ARE DRUNK. I cannot stress that enough. I won't even take nighttime cold medicine because I know that it makes me sleep deeper and I don't want to risk any harm coming to my boy. If you are in doubts of your faculties at all, but you don't want to put the baby to sleep in another room, haul a pack n play into your room and let the baby sleep there.

2. Do not let your child sleep facedown on a fluffy mattress.

3. Alert your partner if you leave the bed. This is a big thing for us because I tend to have to wake up and pee during the night (I have an overactive bladder). I will poke Jon awake and make sure he has a hand on the baby before I go urinate. This annoyed Jon until one night when Bug decided he was going to use the circumstance of my absence to try and launch himself off of the bed. After that, Jon agreed it was of the utmost importance that he be notified if I left the bed.

4. Do not use adult coverings on your baby/let your baby overheat. I check Bug's body temperature frequently to make sure this doesn't happen.

There are a lot of great sleep-sharing resources out there, and I am a huge believer in keeping your baby with you. Babies that sleep near their mothers--whether it be in the same bed or in the same room--not only sleep better, but they are far less likely to die in their sleep. And for that reason, I believe a little disruption in the sleep schedule is totally worth it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Confessions of an Accidental Cosleeper

It started innocently enough.

It was the first night that we brought Bug home from the hospital. My husband had gone to sleep in the study, and Bug was comfortably nestled in his cosleeper which stood next to our bed. I, exhausted from the whole labor, delivery, and having an infant, was trying to get a few moments of sleep.

And then he started crying.

"Are you hungry?" I asked this days old baby, trying to nurse him. But he didn't want to nurse. In fact, the moment I held him, he snuggled up to me and fell back asleep. So I attempted to put him back in his cosleeper, but the moment I did, he started crying. Frustrated, I picked him up, laid him down on the bed next to me, and we both slept soundly for about two hours--until he woke up again, hungry.

And thus began my cosleeping adventure.

I had always intended to keep Bug in our bedroom until he was at least six months of age. This is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For that reason, we bought a cosleeper. You can see a picture of it here. This particular cosleeper is made by Arm's Reach and unfortunately is no longer being made, which makes me very sad, because I thought that the blue polka dot pattern was adorable. Plus, it holds babies up to 23 pounds. I thought it would be perfect.

And it was. It was just he didn't want to sleep in there. Not at first, anyway.

I mean, I couldn't blame him. After being all snuggled up in my womb for nine months, why would he want to be in that thing, and not cuddled up with Mommy? So, for about the first month of his life, he spent the bulk of the night in bed with me. And truthfully, both of us slept better.

But I was determined that he was going to sleep in the cosleeper (I had paid money for it, after all), so I started using some of the Baby Whisperer's techniques to get him to sleep in it. And he did. Most of the time. Some nights I would still bring him in bed with me, and he would nestle against me and I would marvel at his baby breathing and how sweet and wonderful he was.

Then, when he was almost seven months old, my husband and I agreed it was probably time to move him to the crib. I was nervous about this. I was convinced that he was going to die of SIDS. I was convinced the crib would somehow implode on him. Moreover, I was quite certain that he couldn't do it.

As it turned out, I was wrong. For about a month, he slept peacefully in his crib every night. He would wake up every morning, cooing and giggling. And I thought, hey, this is cool. This was easy. What is wrong with all these other parents who make their kids cry themselves to sleep every night?

But then, he started teething. And everything sort of went down the toilet after that.

He would wake up, frantic. So we would go into his room, rock him, calm him, cuddle him, tell him it was all okay, and then we would put him back in his bed. This would work for about an hour, and then he would wake up again, screaming. Finally, one of us would reach our breaking point and the baby would wind up in bed with us. Quite possibly trying to shove a pacifier in one of our mouths.

But sleeping in our bed wasn't really working so well this time around. Now used to a certain degree of space and autonomy in his crib, Bug would flail around. He would turn, he would kick, he would backhand me. So we tried to get him to sleep in the crib again, and that was met with even more resistance.

So Jon and I had a serious talk.

We had to do something. None of us was sleeping well. Our marriage was starting to feel the strain of the both of us enduring restless nights and ZERO alone time. Plus, I was starting to look like my husband was beating me. So we came to the following conclusions:

1. We really needed the baby to spend at least part of the night in his crib.
2. We were totally against letting him cry it out.
3. Somehow, the two of these would mesh.

So we did the only logical thing possible. We turned to books.

I revisited Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, but found that nothing in it was really helpful. After consulting with friends, I took a look into Elizabeth Pantley's The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Pantley seemed to have done the same exact thing that we did: gotten her baby so used to sleeping in her bed that he didn't want to sleep in his own.

Pantley believes that to get lasting results, slow and steady is the way to do it. So we decided to refocus our efforts and start with a primary problem: bedtime. Bug had been fighting going to bed for about a month, and we made that our first priority. The goal was to make it so he would fall asleep in his crib and stay there, for at least a period of time. We followed the instructions to the letter: we kept his bedtime routine exactly the same. And after about a week, he was going down with relatively little protest and staying in his bed for at least a few hours.

Now we're working on extending that. But hey, it's a process. All I know is, things are better now because Jon and I are getting time for ourselves--and we all seem to be sleeping better. Hopefully we'll get him sleeping the whole night on his own--but baby steps, right?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

::cough cough::

I am so sick.

Bug is so sick.

My husband, who got both of us sick, recovered quickly from the illness that he so lovingly shared with us. Bug and I have not been so fortunate. He has a pretty bad cough, and I feel like I am about to keel over. Standing takes a lot of effort.

Luckily, now that Bug is down for Nap #2, I can take a minute to share some things with you.

Please, please, please remember that everything in this life is fragile, and this includes your little ones. My heart broke today when I read this story.

To sum it up, a mom left her 13 month old alone in the bathtub and went to play on Facebook. ON FACEBOOK. Her son was not much older than Bug is now; he will be a year at the end of February. I would never, EVER leave him alone in the tub. In fact, I am not a huge fan of leaving my son alone ANYWHERE. He slept in his cosleeper in our bedroom until he was six and a half months old, and the only reason we moved him to his crib was because he was outgrowing it. Today I left him alone for about thirty seconds when I went to go wash my hands after I changed his diaper. On the floor of his room, on top of his changing pad, my son managed to have a rather epic bowel movement and shove his hands into it. And quite frankly, I expect him to do things like that, because he is ten (almost eleven) months old.

I admit, I am rather psychotic when it comes to Bug's safety. There is a baby gate on the door of his (babyproofed) room and there is also one at the top of the stairs. When we are upstairs, the one at the top of the stairs is closed at all times--even if the one to his bedroom is closed and he is in there. I am fanatical about expiration dates and I can tell you every single food he is allowed to eat and at what age. My husband, even though he admires how thorough I am, will tell you that he thinks I am somewhat deranged. I have angered friends and relations because of how strict I am with my safety rules.

And I simply don't care, because at the end of the day, the most important thing in the world is that my little boy is safe, alive, and healthy.

This isn't to say that I'm the perfect parent. I mean, sometimes he does elude my grasp and do things like eat foil. Or a cheerio that's been sitting on the floor. But there are so many things that we can do as parents to protect our children, and I strongly encourage you to evaluate your behaviors. You don't need to know who sent you a message on Twitter when your child is in the tub. When your child is self-feeding, you don't need to check Facebook (because they can choke). Children are a blessing, and so frequently I find they are not treated as such.

Now, I'm going to go stand over my son's crib and thank God for him, and pray for that poor little boy who lost his life, and hope I never hear a story like this ever again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Six Items or Less? How does that work?

I am a very spoiled girl. I have my own closet.

Jon's and my bedroom has two closets, and when we moved in, I claimed the (much larger) one for myself for my (rather large) wardrobe. But the fact is, I really don't wear a lot of it. There are some clothes that still don't fit me quite right because I still need to lose ten pounds of baby weight, but I don't get rid of them in the hopes that someday I will lose said baby weight and fit into everything again. But I obviously don't need all of the clothing that I have, and I'm pretty sure all of us can say that.

So what's the point of my ramblings this morning? Well, I was reading an article this morning that directed me to the website of Six Items or Less, which intrigued me, and not just because of the poor grammar (note from the Grammar Nazi side of my personality: it should be "fewer"). It's a really interesting idea. Here's the premise:

"Six Items or Less began as a small experiment between friends and quickly grew to become a global movement questioning the power of what we don't wear.

The experiment is simple: each participant gets to choose six (and only six) items of clothing and pledge to wear only these six items of clothing for a month.

Logistically, there are exceptions that don't count towards the six: Undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer wear (rain slicker, outdoor jacket), shoes and accessories. You can get multiples of the same item for laundry purposes, but different colors count as separate items.

Most people have asked about the reasoning behind the experiment and most also assume it's a grand statement about consumerism. In reality, there is no dictated driving thought - it's for you to decide its meaning and relativity in your world. It's about putting a challenge out there and seeing what people bring to it, do with it and talk about."

It's an intriguing idea, I think. I'm not sure it's something I'm ready to do just yet, but it might be interesting to try out and see what I learn from it. For me, I think a challenge like this would be a good excuse to try and see what I really need, and perhaps be more mindful when buying clothes as a way to cut down on my impact.

What do you think? What does something like this mean to you?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I Went Cloth--For Me

Note: This post is about my menstrual cycle. So, you have been warned.

Yesterday when my husband got home from work, he went into the bathroom and then, in that I-don't-know-how-I-feel-about-this tone of voice he has, said, "Sweetheart?"


"Why is there a chamber pot next to the toilet?"

I giggled. "It's not a chamber pot. It's for my new pads."

"So, I don't have to empty it, right?"

"No, darling."

After I started cloth diapering Bug 90% of the time, I started thinking about myself. If I was using cloth diapers for my son because I didn't want the chemicals/diaper rash that would inevitably occur with disposables, why shouldn't I do the same for myself? Because I also got diaper rash--from maxi pads.

I haven't used tampons in years because they (no matter what brand, no matter how 'organic' they are) tend to irritate my skin. After about three days of hard core menstruating, maxi pads (same deal, no matter what brand) tend to start irritating my girly bits. Then I read somewhere that most maxi pads had started using the dry max technology that they had been using in disposable diapers--you know, the stuff that gave my poor child a bright red bottom? So I started investigating my options for a more eco-friendly (and quite honestly, Amanda-friendly) option.

And there were a LOT of options!

First, of course, there's the Diva Cup, which got a lot of rave reviews online. But when I looked at it, I wasn't sure. I tend to get infections down there easily, and I was worried about washing it and reinserting it. To me, that sounded like a nightmare. But the idea of cloth menstrual pads appealed to me greatly, so I started investigating my options.

But then, I got busy with Bug, and so it sort of fell to the wayside and I just endured the "diaper rash" every period until about a month ago when I was talking to my sister-from-another-mother, Carly. Her child is three weeks younger than mine (we were actually due to have our babies the same week, but I went early and she went late), and I recently got her into the cloth diapering. Anyway, the point of this story is that this year for Christmas we decided to buy gifts for ourselves and say they were from each other, which worked very well for me. So, the following conversation ensued:

Me: So what did I get you for Christmas?

Her: Oh, you got me Gladrags.

Me: Come again?

It seems she had had the same idea that I did about the cloth pads, but she actually made the effort and went out and she got some Gladrags. So I decided to investigate them online, and I went and got some for myself. And since I was visited by the Period Fairy this morning, I am currently trying them out.

And I have to say, not bad! They are completely cotton pads, and they fasten with a button and they are easy-breezy to use! All you have to do is after you wear them, put them in a bucket with cold water and change the water every day until you wash them. You can wash them with your regular laundry (preferably in a laundry bag) and then you're done! No chafing, no irritation, and no crazy chemicals right next to your girly bits. I will keep you posted, but I feel that I will be buying more of these (I currently only have a starter set).

By the way, while I really like the GladRags, I do encourage you to check out the handmade ones on Etsy. A lot of them have rave reviews, and it's nice to help out a lot of the crafty people who put their work out there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why I Went Cloth

From the beginning, I had a suspicion that disposable diapers weren't the best thing for my son. "Why is his butt bright red?" I asked my husband one day.

He shrugged. "I don't know. I don't really know if there's anything we can do about that."

But I, being my stubborn self, disagreed. See, I changed his diaper every single time that I nursed him in the beginning (so you know, we're looking at 10-12 diaper changes a day, so he wasn't sitting in filth). Every time I detected a hint of wetness I would get him a new diaper. I gave him plenty of naked bottom time. I tried different brands of disposables, telling myself that everybody used these, and there had to be a brand out there that wouldn't irritate my poor little angel's skin.

But the diaper rash just kept coming back. And I started doing research, and finding that a lot of the chemicals in disposables weren't good for babies. Great. I was already hurting my poor innocent child without even meaning to! Massive guilt ensued.

Then, when Bug was about two months old, a friend of mine mentioned to me that she cloth diapered her daughter. So I started looking into that.

Cloth diapers have come a long way in recent years! For starters, they're super cute. I mean, look at Bug in his very first cloth diaper (this is a picture from when he was two months). Look how little he was! Look at the emerging Buddha belly! But I digress. Here he's rocking a bumGenius 3.0, which is a staple of my diaper stash. My three main brands that I use are the bumGenius!, Fuzzi Bunz, and Smarti Pants. I also prefer the BG 4.0 to the 3.0 because the 4.0 is actually larger and seems to be more equipped to handle the fact that my ten month old is well over 30 inches and weighs a good 25 pounds. (We are not short people by any means, and the boy loves to eat). These are all what are termed "pocket diapers"--they have an outer waterproof cover and then liner inserts that you stuff them with.

All of the diapers have different uses. I personally prefer to put him in the Fuzzi Bunz for longer trips/naptimes, because they are the most absorbent. The BG's are perfect for around the house and they are easy to use because they are velcro, so it's really hard to mess them up. I liked Smarti Pants the best for awhile, because you don't have to take the inserts out when you wash them, but they don't seem to hold true to the up to 30 pounds mark. They are already at their last setting and Bug weighs 25.

So how do I do this? Well, it's really simple. I have a trash can with a liner in his bedroom that I use for diaper storage. Whenever he urinates, I take the diaper, separate the liner from the cover (unless it's a Smarti Pants!) and dump it in the pail. If he poops, I take the diaper to the toilet and shake the poop into the toilet. Then I throw it in the pail. Every other day, I wash them on cold with no detergent, and then on hot with a small amount, and then I do an extra rinse and then hang them on my drying rack. I let them dry (usually overnight) and then the following day I stuff them and stick them in my changing table. And. I'm. Done. It's as easy as that, folks:)

The only thing that I haven't been able to do is successfully cloth diaper him at night. Because this child can pee. He apparently takes after me, haha. Anyway, after a few attempts at cloth diapering him during the night I gave up and started using a disposable, and that actually hasn't been too bad. The nice thing is if I give him plenty of naked baby time I only seem to have had a few rashes. However, I am totally open to suggestions, because I would love to cloth diaper him full time.

My other concern is I as he continues to grow and be ridiculously tall, I fear he will outgrow these diapers. The nice thing about the cloth, though, is Bug has gotten to the point where he cannot STAND to be wet. So I think, in time, it will help with potty training.