Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why I Decided to Sleep Train My Babies

Sleep training is one of those push button topics of parenting. People's opinions regarding sleep training are almost as strong as their opinions on breast vs bottle. Most parents have a deep belief in one method or another, and if you don't agree with them, they're going to tell you about it. That's not always the case, but look at any Facebook parenting post, and you'll see how opinionated many parents are.

I know I was positive CIO, cry it out, wasn't for us. Then I had kids who refused to sleep without nursing before, during, and after their naps and nighttime sleep. While I could deal with the sleep deprivation, Harrison couldn't and eventually refused to let me help him to sleep. He wouldn't let me nurse him, rock him, snuggle him. We both cried for 5 minutes, and then a miracle happened. For the first time in his 9 months of life, he fell asleep on his own, and stayed asleep for more than 45 minutes. CIO worked really and really quickly for Brooke and Harrison.

With Scarlett and Clark I wanted to avoid CIO. We made sure the babies had designated sleeping places, not our bed, and we put them down awake. We had babies who slept 8+ hours at a time by 2 months. I thought for sure we had lucked out and that maybe we actually knew what we were doing the second time around. Then the 4 month sleep regression hit.


We had moved the babies to their cribs for naps, and they were still sleeping in their rock and plays at night. Naps went from an hour or two to never more than 45 minutes. Clark went from sleeping 10 hours straight to waking every couple hours. Scarlett wouldn't sleep more than 45 minutes at a time, and as soon as I put her in her rock and play, she'd start to cry. I reread Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, and we started light sleep training. Not cry it out, but checking and consoling until they would fall asleep. Clark is a much better sleeper than Scarlett, so she needed a lot more consoling.

3 weeks into sleep training, and we'd made zero progress. Scarlett was still up all night and wouldn't sleep for more than 30 or so minutes at nap time. She was constantly tired and was waking up Clark, making him tired too.

One morning while I was getting the babies ready for their first nap, Brooke came in and started pestering the babies and talking back to me. After asking her repeatedly to stop, she got lippy with me and I smacked her. She rarely gets smacked, so she wasn't expecting it. It threw her off balance and she fell off the bed. Talk about a parenting low. I still hate that I reacted that way.

It was a major wakeup call that things couldn't keep on the way they were. I was exhausted, the babies were exhausted, Brooke and Harrison were desperate for attention. Our entire lives were revolving around the babies sleep, or rather their lack of sleep. Starting that same morning we began stronger sleep training.

We decided we would let the babies cry for short increments and slowly let them cry more and more if needed. 5 minutes, then 7, then 10. Within a couple days, we were seeing major progress. Our naps were back to 90+ minutes. Night wakings started to settle into a predictable routine. We're not anywhere close to sleeping through the night on a regular basis, but that isn't the goal. Yes it's the end point, but I feel like sleep training is a process. I wanted my happy babies back who weren't exhausted. I wanted my sanity back, which I have, mostly. I wanted more time to spend with my big kids, which happens now.

Most nights and naps now, the babies go down without any or with minimal crying. When we messed up their routine with a week at the lake, we had to let some crying happen. They now know how to put themselves to sleep and can make it through sleep cycle transitions. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they still get to come nurse, just not every hour. If they are having a particularly bad nap, I'll let them come snuggle in our bed and try to soothe them back to sleep. It's not about ignoring them all night, it's about letting them learn on their own while still being there when they really need it.


So this is where we are. 7 months in, learning to sleep on our own, but still a ways away from sleeping 7pm-7am, although Clark has done it twice. Scarlett hasn't come close since she was 3 months old. For the time being we're very ok with still waking to nurse. We may revisit our decision again in a couple months, but for now it works for us.

I'm not sure where exactly I'm going with this post, but I feel it's important to talk about some of our not so great parenting moments, and to share some of our more controversial parenting choices. I know sleep training isn't for every family, but for some families it is the right option, and that's ok. It has turned out to be the right option for us with all of our kids. I'd love to hear if and how you decided to sleep train, and how old your kids were when they started sleeping that glorious 12 hour stretch. While we aren't pushing for uninterrupted nights, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the day it does happen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Scarlett and Clark - 7 Months

Seven Months! If last month was all about getting them into a more predictable schedule, this month was all about taking that schedule and messing it up. They proved that they are true champions and rolled with whatever we threw their way. We spent 9 days at the lake which was definitely not ideal sleep conditions. Then once we got back back home and into our usual routine, employee changes forced me to take them to work with me 6 days in a row. It was definitely not ideal, but thanks to their laid back demeanors and a helping hand from our niece, she's a life saver, we made it through the week without too many tears. 

They also had their first bedtime without me here. Even though they don't nurse to sleep, nursing is a big part of their bedtime routine. There may have been a few extra tears, but they rolled with the changes. It helps that our friends that were watching them are parents to two young kids and know what they're doing.


The babies are all about food. They definitely look forward to meal time, and have even come to expect it. If we are eating while they are in the living room, they will let me know they're not happy about it. They've tried cucumber, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, avocado, blueberry, nectarine, banana, kiwi, watermelon waffles, apple sauce, pasta, Happy Baby Creamies, and even a little ice cream. They seem to enjoy vegetables more than fruits right now. Zucchini and carrots are definite favorites. They are doing the whole hand grab to pick up their food, and they're getting pretty good at it. Now that they're eating a couple times a day, they're also getting sink baths a couple times a day. They love sink baths!


When we did have a day with nothing going on, we'd spend it at home trying to get in two good naps. Thankfully naps have become very predictable when we're home. Night time sleep is getting better too. Clark slept through the night, 7:30p-8a for the first time. It only happened once, but still awesome. Instead of waking three times a night, we're down to twice a night most nights, and sometimes only once. Even though I'd love to get a solid 8 hours, I don't mind that they are still waking to eat most nights. Especially with me being gone at work frequently, I think those 10-15 minute nursing and cuddle sessions are good for all of us.


Clark has been working so hard on trying to figure out crawling. He has perfected the backwards scoot, but can't quite get the forward arm movement going. Scarlett still shows zero interest in crawling, but she is doing really well at sitting unassisted. She can sit for 30-60 seconds before needing a balance check. I definitely wouldn't sit her up and leave the room, but she's sitting up while playing all of the time now. Clark can sit briefly on his own, but he'd much rather be on the floor working on his crawling game.



Clark

  • still has zero teeth, much to my surprise
  • loves sleeping in, and often has to be awoken in the morning
  • started iron supplements after I requested his levels be tested. His RLS is almost completely gone
  • still has cradle cap. Mostly it's just on the soft spot on the top of his head
  • started steroid cream to clear up his eczema. His skin looks so much better
  • is constantly distracted by my phone
  • looks less like his brother each day. He still resembles Harrison, but they aren't mirror images anymore like when they were babies








Scarlett
  • is a morning person. She wakes up so happy, and always before her brother
  • has discovered the freckles and moles on my arms and chest. She tries to claw them off while nursing
  • still shows zero interest in leaning to crawl
  • is obsessed with screens. Surfing social media during nursing is becoming a thing of the past
  • has a new favorite person. She lights up when Robbie comes in the room
  • looks bald but has a full head of soft blond peach fuzz








I am really looking forward to the last few weeks of summer with these babes. August is my favorite month of the year. Now that they're starting to sit more reliably, I think there will be many pool and splash pad visits over the next month. Eating out is about to take on a whole new level of fun for these guys too. Exposing H and B to our favorite restaurants was so much fun, and I can't wait to do it with Scarlett and Clark. Indian food buffet, here we come! This is such a fun age of exploration and new experiences, and I can't wait to see these two take it all in.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lake Getaway

Fourth of July week at the lake. One of my favorite family traditions. Both of my sisters and their families came in for a visit. The kids and I packed the van to the gills, and off I went with 4 kids and 1 dog for a 9 day vaca at the lake. Rob didn't have the time off work, so he stayed at home with Jules.

Friday morning we started off with a trip south to check out a Minion silo that had been in the news recently. We made a pit stop to one of our favorite donut shops, and then we headed north for the lake. Friday was all about getting settled in, and then the real fun began.


Saturday my sister and brother in law ran in the 4th of July 5K. Harrison, Brooke, and my nephew, Charlie, got to run in the kid's race which was just a few hundred feet. That afternoon we took the kids to the annual 4th of July parade. The big kids loaded up on candy, and the babies freaked out over the loud sirens. That night was the town fireworks. We woke the babies up so we could all go, and headed out on the pontoon for a cruise and to watch the show. I think the babies were more interested in the fireworks than the big kids.


Sunday was spent swimming, cooking out, and boating. Sunday night was the night for fireworks on the lake. We started to do the sparklers and fountains we bought, but we quickly decided just to watch the shows going on across the lake. Our pier is a prime sopt for watching some of the best private fireworks shows on the lake. Sitting on the pier and watching fireworks with H and B is my absolute favorite thing about Independence Day weekend.


The rest of the week was spent doing much of the same. Swimming, cooking out, boating, not getting enough sleep. Robbie was able to come up and join us on his days off. One of the mornings he was there I even got a chance to ski. Yay!


The lake house is basically two rooms, so all of the beds are in a shared sleeping space. I didn't want the babies to fuss and keep anyone up at night, so it was pretty much a mom and baby sandwich all week long. They'd start in their pack and plays, and by 11 pm, we'd be snuggling the night away. Harrison and Brooke each got their own air mattress for the week, which they thought was great, even if they didn't exactly stay on the mattresses all the time.




One day we ventured back to The Fort to hit up the zoo. Another day we drove up to Michigan to visit with my aunt and uncle at their lake. We hit up the local ice cream shop for corn dogs and sundaes one afternoon. We tried to see hot air balloons at a local festival, but the weather kept them from taking off. Instead we ate festival food and the kids got to have some carnival style fun.







It was a great week that ended too soon. Getting to see Harrison, Brooke, and Charlie run around together for a whole week was worth every minute of lost sleep. Although I'm sure the baies might think differently. Scarlett and Clark were great all week considering how much we messed up their schedule. As long as their milk supply was close, they were game for just about anything.





We made it safely home Saturday afternoon just in time for a quick shower and the big kids to go see Finding Dory. We all had a major vacation hangover for a few days, but we're finally getting back into our usual daily groove. I know my kids and I will get to enjoy a couple more lake weekends here and there over the summer, but nothing beats morning skis, lake hair, sun tans, and living in swimsuits for a whole week, especially when it's done with family. I'm already looking forward to next year when Scarlett and Clark are able to enjoy it a little more.  I love that my babies get to be lake babies just like I was. Until next year, HL.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Scarlett and Clark - 6 Months

6 months! I can't believe we're already half way to a year. The big day was actually on the 28th of last month, but we spent the beginning of the month at the lake, so I'm just now getting around to posting. These two had a big month! First real foods, sleep training, first time to child watch at The Y, first time in the pool, first outdoor movie night, first downtown festival. They just roll with whatever we throw their way, and they're pretty happy regardless of how much we change things up.


We have been working really hard toward getting them to a consistent schedule.We have seen defintite progress in the nap department, and our days are now a little more predictable. Most days look like this:

7-7:30am - wake up
9am - nurse and nap
10:30-11am - wake and nurse
1pm - nurse and nap
2:30-3pm - wake and nurse
5pm - nurse possible third nap (if we are out and about they skip the third nap or doze in the car)
7pm -  nurse and bedtime
11pm - wake up for quick nursing session and back to bed
2am - Scarlett is up to nurse, Clark usually sleeps through
5am - possible nursing session and snuggles in bed


As you can see from their schedule, they eat a lot! Pretty much every two hours throughout the day and still a couple times at night. I would love to get down to just the 11pm or 5am feeding, but am not going to push that too much for another month or two. They have tried a handful of fruits and veggies. Avocado, banana, zuchini, apple, and green beans were all tried before we went on vacation. We aren't doing purees and they still are working on figuring out how to sucessfully hold onto their food on their own. I've been giving them whole food, just in small bites and it's working really well so far. Once they get picking up food figured out a little bit better, we will really let them go at it full baby led weaning style. They definitely want to eat. If they are sitting on your lap any you aren't sharing, they get upset. They usually join us for dinner and will occasionally share breakfast.


They are both all about their twin. There is constant face touching, hand holding, open mouth kissing. Any and all types of physical contact. I don't remember H and B being so touchy feely, but that could just be my loss of memory due to sleep deprivation. Their play time usually starts on the floor. Once they tire of the play mats, they move the the exersaucer, jumper, or piano. They rotate between the three, but I think the exersaucer is the favorite for both babies. The bumbos get used occasionally, but mostly sit on the sidelines. They do still use the bouncy seats when I take shower, otherwise they are a thing of the past. They both weigh enough that the one seat almost touches the ground when we put them in it. 





Scarlett

  • loves to click her tongue
  • has loved all foods except bananas
  • is doing much better now that she's on Zantac
  • still ruins outfits on an almost daily basis
  • loves Harrison best
  • goes by Scarlee and Spitty Face (Thank you Harrison)
  • weighs 18lbs3oz
  • is 26.5" tall
  • wears 9 month and 6-12 month clothes
  • has almost outgrown size 3 diapers
  • has realized the bathtub is a fun place to play with toys
  • still wakes multiple times per night to eat, or con me into an all night snuggle fest
  • is finally taking naps longer than an hour. 2 or 3 per day
  • is putting all of her weight on her legs when practicing standing
  • rolls all over the place when she's left on the floor
  • thinks dogs are absolutely hilarious
  • is starting to have some eye color changes. I'm pretty sure she's going to have mine and Brooke's eyes
  • loves Sophie the giraffe
  • likes playing with Clark's hair when they are laying next to each other












Clark

  • says ma-ma-ma-ma-ma whenever he gets really upset. We figure it's the start of mom or milk
  • is pushing up on his arms and rocking
  • has a backwards crawl/scoot figured out as a means to move around
  • can roll both directions, but will rarely roll from belly to back
  • has one chapped finger from frequent sucking
  • Weighs 19lbs6oz
  • is 27.5" tall
  • wears 9 month and 6-12 month clothes
  • is ready to move up to size 4 diapers as soon as we finish this case
  • puts everything in his mouth. Still no teeth though
  • is definitely a mama's boy
  • loves Brooke best
  • has a nasty case of eczema on his stomach and legs
  • goes by Chubby Man and Clarkie 
  • wants to sleep on his stomach, but cant quite figure out how to get comfortable
  • wakes 1 or 2 times a night depending on Scarlett
  • is shying away from using his paci












This age is so much fun! They experience a new first almost every day. In the two weeks since they hit 6 months, so much has already changed. Knowing they could figure out crawling, sprout a tooth, or decide to sleep through the night at any time, makes each day an adventure. These little twinkies are so much fun, and I love getting to help guide them through this journey of life. Happy 6 Months, Scarlett and Clark!!